An Alternative National Anthem for India

September 24, 2015, Chennai

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VandE mAtaramThe so-called National Song, “VandE mAtaram” written by Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay in 1876 was set to music by Tagore.


When that was originally proposed as the national anthem, the Muslims in  the Congress Working Committee objected because  parts of the song contained the names of  Hindu goddesses, Durga and Lakshmi and that would  violate their religion if they sing it since India itself was being deified in the song. So the proposal was dropped.  The first two stanzas alone were sung at various sessions at the discretion of the local committees.

The national anthem of India, “Jana gana mana..” written by poet-laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Bengali was adopted in its Hindi script version by the Constituent Assembly on January 24, 1950 on the eve of India being declared  a Republic.  It was first sung on December 27, 1911 at the Calcutta (now Kolkata) session of the Indian National Congress. There were 5 stanzas in the song of which only the first stanza is used for the National Anthem. Tagore himself rendered it in English which starts as “Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people, dispenser of India’s destiny”. It goes on to say “thy name” rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravida, Orissa, and Bengal. It talks about the Vindhya and Himalaya Mountains, the rivers Ganga and Yamuna and the Indian Sea.

The poem was composed in December 1911, about the time George V and his Queen visited India for Delhi Durbar after coronation the year before. Some people consider that it was a paean in praise of “the overlord of India’s destiny”. It was sung at the Indian National Congress session at Calcutta and the agenda of that day included a loyal welcome to George V. It was reported by the British Indian Press at that time as a welcome song to the Emperor. However, Tagore was reported to have repudiated such an assumption and insisted that he was approached by a British official to do so but resisted that effort. Instead he wrote the song declaring “victory to BhAgya Vidhata (God of Destiny) of India”. However, others felt uncomfortable about the mention of throne, King, Queen, and Rajeshwara in the latter part of the song (although that is not sung as part of the anthem).  In 2005 there was a clamor to drop “Sind” from the anthem and substitute it with Kashmir since “Sind” went with Pakistan. Some opposed that measur
e as well claiming that “Sind” is still part of Indian culture. The Supreme Court refused to let the anthem be modified.

So at this point “Jana gana mana” is the national anthem. Since there is still some lingering dissatisfaction in some quarters about “BhArata bhAgya vidAtha”, the situation calls for a change. Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi was no less a patriot in India than any other of his time. He wrote several patriotic songs some of which do not refer to the nation as God or goddess and hence overcome the objection of Muslims. I am suggesting the following song “PArukkuLLe nalla nADu” in an abbreviated form be adopted as the national anthem.  When set to proper musical score by someone of the caliber of A. R. Rahman, it could be very melodious and sung under one minute per the current requirement. Only a portion of the song written by Bharathi is reproduced below. Bharathi himself suggested that it be sung in the rAgam HindustAni tODi.

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The song is given below in transliterated Roman script.

PArukkuLLE nalla nADu – engaL BhAratha nADu

GnAnaththilE para mOnaththilE uyar mAnaththilE annadhAnaththilE GAnaththilE amudhAga niRaindha kavidhaiyilE uyar nADu – indhap (pAruk) dhIraththilE paDai vIraththilE nenjil IraththilE upakAraththilE SAraththilE migu sAththirang kaNDu tharuvadhilE uyar nADu –indhap (pAruk) nanmaiyilE uDal vanmaiyilE selvap panmaiyilE maRath thanmaiyilE Ponmayil oththiDum mAdhartham kaRpin pugazhinilE uyar nADu –indhap

PArukkuLLE nalla nADu –engaL BhAratha nADu.

The version in Devanagari script is given below.

पारुक्कुळ्ळे नल्ल नाडुऎङ्गळ् भारत नाडु

            ग्नानत्तिले पर मोनत्तिले उयर् मानत्तिले अन्नदानत्तिले

            गानत्तिले अमुदाग निऱैन्ध कविदैयिले उयर् नाडुइन्दप् (पारुक्)

            धीरत्तिले पडै वीरत्तिले नॆञ्जिल् ईरत्तिले उपकारत्तिले

            सारत्तिले मिगु सात्तिरङ्ग् कण्डु तरुवदिले उयर् नाडुइन्दप् (पारुक्)

            नन्मैयिले उडल् वन्मैयिले सॆल्वप् पन्मैयिले मऱत् तन्मैयिले

            पॊन्मयिल् ऒत्तिडुं मादर्तं कऱ्पिन् पुगऴिनिले उयर् नाडुइन्दप्

पारुक्कुळ्ळे नल्ल नाडुऎङ्गळ् भारत नाडु.

Here is the meaning:

Our land, BhArath, is a great country in the world!

In wisdom, composure, dignity, (food) charity, nectar-filled poetry and song, our land has it all.

In courage, martial valor, mercy, mutual help, and resplendent scriptures, our land has it all.

In benevolence, physical strength, abundance of wealth, bravery, and the famed chastity of our women (who are like golden peacocks) our land has it all.

In truth, mental stamina, equanimity, sharpness of intellect and the poets who impregnate the truth in their writings, our land has it all.

 Our land, BhArath, is a great country in the world!

This religion-neutral song can be adopted as the new national anthem without any prejudice. It glorifies the land and describes the character of its citizens. It is a tribute to the country and its people. It will exhort its citizens to reach for integrity and excellence which is required of a national anthem.

Sethuraman Subramanian

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are that of the author and the Chennaionline’s role shall be seen only as a publishing platform.