Saturday, April 30, 2005

Aspects of a song

The Indian national anthem is excruciating in its detail and correctness. It is blatantly geographic & the slight element of poetry lies, in my opinion, in putting such details to verse. Contrast this to the national song which, essentially, describes, from the poet's point of view, the Indian experience - never mind the constituents which the anthem places more stress on. So while Tagore documents the primary rivers of India, Chatterji dwells on the quality of these waters. The anthem, in its historical context, is also servile in its theme; while the song, since the day it was composed, remains the most powerful evocation of Indian nationalism. The full poem - and only a part of this is the national song - is also a wee bit polemic because of its particularly strong Hindu flavour second stanza onwards, the fact that its language never fit any accepted form or grammar, & that it was written in parts over a period of time.

The many governments of India, primarily of the Congress party until recent years, has always deemphasized the revolutionary period of the Indian struggle for Independence of which the national song was an inseparable voice. And while the martyrs hardly find a place in public memory, the song continues to capture generations of Indian psyche in its wake just like it did more than a century back.

Or, at least, that's what I like to think.


Usha said...

hi yes, I like Vande maataram more than Jana gana mana ...and even better is "saare jahaan se achcha" and its haunting tune.Nice analysis.
Did you hear about some people wanting to purge the word, sindhu from Jana gana mana because it's no longer a part of India? (or was there a litigation for this?) I found it very amusing because the mantras Hindus use for all our poojas talk of waters from ganga, yamuna,narmada, sindu and kaveri - wonder if there will be a litigation for that too!

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I hadn't heard about the purge 'sindhu' move.

The river "Sinhu" is in a way inseparable from the cultural history of India. The persians coined "Hindustaan - or the land across the river Sindhu - out of some ostensible inability to pronounce 'Si'. But I could very well be imagining this.

Iqbal old chap after writing all that juicy stuff (particularly the last stanza rhetoric of 'Hindi hain hum') actually pushed off to Pakistan. I am not sure but I think he didn't like the stay there too much.

Thanks as ever for your thoughts.