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Rabindra Nath Tagore, India's poet, artist, composer, philosopher, Nobel laureate, and social reformer, hailed the era of Contextual Modernism in India, through his works.

By Renata Nathania

From the snow-covered Himalayas, to the three waterbodies in the south, Tagore's vision of India was wholesome, in his rendition of Jana Gana Mana. It is not just an anthem that is esteemed by every Indian, but a complete map of what India stands for as a nation, and as a people. On Independence Day, and Republic Day, the national anthem pierces the skies across the country, as India's citizens raise their voices, and sing, chests bursting with pride, and voices echoing the years of love and loyalty.

Tagore in Beijing Tagore visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing in May 1924wikimedia

Rabindra Nath Tagore, India's poet, artist, composer, philosopher, Nobel laureate, and social reformer, hailed the era of Contextual Modernism in India, through his works. His ideas represent the divine through nature and metaphors. The National Anthem of India is one such instance, where he weaves together the cultural, religious, and geographical heritage of the country. The anthem begins with a description of the mountains, rivers, and the states of India.

Tagore, very interestingly, provides a map of India that circles in the anticlockwise direction, from north to south, and back to the north. He says that these regions come together to seek the blessings of the Bharata Bhagya Vidhaata, or the Dispenser (Creator) of India's Destiny. The lesser-known stanzas of the anthem detail the religious and traditional richness of India. The practice of pilgrimages, and the motherly image of the country, along with descriptions of revolutions guided by the sound of a conch shell, weave the idea of an all-inclusive, nationalistic, and nurturing country.

RabindraNath Tagore at iowa university.wikimedia

As one sings the anthem, it is inevitable to recreate mental pictures of what the freedom struggle might have looked and felt like. The music is metered to the point where at each crescendo, with every drum roll, one cannot help but feel proud of being an Indian. It is believed that at the time the anthem was written, in 1911, it was to hail the arrival of King George V, the new Emperor of India, who is referred to as the Dispenser of India's Destiny. But Tagore, himself, has refuted this claim, stating that no George could ever be the Lord of Destiny for India.

When the Constituent Assembly adopted our National Anthem at the earlier reckoning of Subhash Chandra Bose, the last line, "Jai Hind" was employed as the national slogan. This year marks the 75th year of Independent India. Tagore's India has been left, as our country has advanced into new realms of scientific thought, technological initiative, political discourse and global distinction.

The singing of the national anthem does not elicit feelings of victory against the British regime anymore, rather, it serves as a reminder of the journey from the past, to resolve once more to become a part of a magnificent Indian history.


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