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Tagore and mails making him turn in his grave

Thursday, October 28, 2004
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Recently I received a mail in my account. It was one of those forwarded mails that everyone just keeps on passing for the "good" of humanity (in their opinion, that is). It related to how our National Anthem was not actually the praise of nation but it was abt the king of Britain (whor ruled over the Indian Colony). It took me by shock that people could believe all that without even verifying anything that was written in the mail. And they were not just believing it they were leading several other morons to believe the same by fwding the mail.
Here's the mail and my reply to it.
---The original mail that I received----

hi guys,
Please note that I do not mean to insult the national anthem by any means through what is written below. But it certainly provides some food for thought.
Please do read it. Every word of it.
I don't know how authentic this article is, but it made me think seriously. Are 100 crore Indians so dumb they will be singing praise of King Geroge for 55 years even after Independence, there is something seriously wrong somewhere...

A thought for our (Indian) National Anthem!
How well do we know about it?
I have always wondered who is the "adhinayak" and "bharat bhagya
vidhata", whose praise we are singing. I thought may be God! Our current National Anthem "Jana Gana Mana" is sung throughout the country. Did you know the following about &nbs! p;our national anthem?
I didn't. To begin with, India's national anthem, Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka, was written by Rabindranath Tagore in honor of King George V and the Queen of England when they visited India in 1919. To honor their visit Pundit Motilal Nehru had the five stanzas included, which are in praise of the King and Queen.
(And most of us think it is in the praise of our great motherland!!!) In the original Bengali verses only those provinces that were under British rule, i.e. Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha ...etc. were mentioned. None of the princely states were recognized which are integral parts of India now - Kashmir, Rajasthan, Andhra, Mysore, Tamilnadu (old Karnatak) or Kerala. N! either the Indian Ocean nor the Arabian Sea were included, since they were directly under Portuguese rule at that time. The Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka implies that King George V is the lord of the masses and Bharata Bhagya
Vidhata is "the bestower of good fortune". Following is a translation of the five stanzas, which glorify the King:
1st stanza (Indian) People wake up remembering your good name and ask for your blessings and they sing your glories.

2nd stanza Around your throne people of all religions come and give their love and anxiously wait to hear your kind words.
3rd stanza Praise to the King for being the charioteer, for leading the ancient travelers beyond misery.
4th stanza Drowned in the deep ignorance and suffering, poverty stricken, unconscious country? waiting for the wink of your eye and yo! ur mother's (the Queen's) true protection.
5th stanza In your compassionate plans, the sleeping Bharat(India) will wake up. We bow down to your feet O' Queen, and glory to Rajeshwara (the King).

This whole poem does not indicate any love for the Motherland but depicts a bleak picture. When you sing Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka, whom are you glorifying?
Certainly not the Motherland. Is it God who is praised here? The poem does not indicate that. It is time now to understand the original purpose and the implication of this, rather than blindly singing as has been done the past fifty years. Nehru chose the present National anthem as opposed to Vande Mataram because he thought that it would be easier for the band to play. It was an absurd reason. But today, for that matter, ba! nds have advanced in technical skills and they can very well play any music. So they can as well play Vande
Mataram, which is a far better composition in praise of our dear Motherland -India.
Wake up, it's high time! Vande Mataram should be our National Anthem. Forward and spread this truth to as many as people you can.
Don't forget to do it.....
---My first reply----

Ok, Actuallly, ahem......
Well, before forwarding this mail dutifully (as asked in the end of the mail), did u ever try to find out if the facts were true.
It clearly says "I don't know how authentic this article is," but even then that guy and then u just blindly forwarded it. If u say "I do not mean to insult the national anthem by any means through what is written below." then i'd say that it is sheer lying cuz if one has even a bit of respect for his/her national anthem he/she wud not forward such a mail without checking out the facts.
Everything in the article is based on an stupid hypothesis.
If the mail mentions "Is it God who is praised here? The poem does not indicate that." then it doesn't even mention that it was king George.
The 1919 provinces of 'British India' did not include Sindh, Gujarat or Orissa. At that time, the first two were part of the province called the Bombay Presidency, and Orissa of the Bengal Presidency. Sindh and Orissa were created as provinces only in 1937, and Gujarat and Maharashtra - the province of the Mahrattas - were created only in 1961 - after Independence!
The vast majority of the provinces of 'British India' are not recorded by the anthem: Baluchistan, The North-West Frontier Province, The United Provinces of Agra & Oudh, the Province of Central India and Berar, the Bombay Presidency and the Madras Presidency, the provinces of Upper and Lower Burma, the province of Ceylon, etc.
And the portuguese DID NOT control the Arabian sea and Indian Ocean in 1919, they lost this centuries ago.
SO, please refrain from just mindlessly forwarding such things. Atleast the mails which attack ur nation or its integrity.
---The Sender's reply to my reply---

before saying anything, did u verify the facts or just went onto replying for the sake of replying,
i said it's a food for thought,
it needs some thinking before inferring and replying,
i don't forward mails for the sake of forwarding,
every word written in the mail is true to my knowledge,

Rabindra Nath Tagore was in no way a supporter of patriotism,
He had

reservations about patriotism, which, he argued, can limit both the freedom to engage ideas from outside "narrow domestic walls" and the freedom also to support the causes of people in other countries.
y i'm tellin u this b'coz he did never tried to make india separate from the other parts of the world , his vision of this land was a part of the world and it should not be left behind , or cut off for that reason ( patriotism) from the rest of the world, and one thing,
at that time in the eyes of many leaders of the day, loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the Emperor were identical. King George V had proclaimed on Dec.12 the annulment of the partition of Bengal. There was therefore nothing unnatural or extraordinary in a Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, composing or singing a song in praise of the Emperor out of gratitude.
want to see what the newspapers of that time said:
The news papers reports had the following comments on Janaganamana:
"when the proceedings of the Indian National Congress began on Wednesday 27th December 1911, a Bengali song in welcome of the Emperor was sung. A resolution welcoming the Emperor and Empress was also adopted unanomously." (Indian, Dec. 29, 1911)"
"The Bengali poet Babu Rabindranath Tagore sang a song composed by him specially to welcome the Emperor." (Statesman, Dec.28, 1911)
"The proceedings began with the singing by Babu Rabindranath Tagore of a song specially composed by him in honour of the Emperor." (Englishman, Dec.28).

---My Final Reply----

Well my frnd,
That is what I want to infer. Food for thought is not "processed" through newspaper reports but hard facts. Media can write anything they want.(Like with one failure they can just lambast a cricketer over his bad technique and then write another full page report on his deftness and skill just 2 days after when he makes a ton) How do they know for sure what was the purport of the song. BTW, did u notice that all the newspapers quoted were run by the english.
>Rabindra Nath Tagore was in no way a supporter of patriotism,
And just where did u find out that Tagore wasn't patriotic. In fact, Tagore was a proud and ardent partiot.
He renounced his knighthood in 1919 as a protest against the Amritsar(jalian wala baag) affair in a letter to the Viceroy which is among the great documents of freedom.
In 1939,Tagore asked Gandhiji to lift the ban on Subhash Chandra Bose and have his cooperation cordially invited in the "supreme interest of national unity". What do u call that???
And even if he wasn't patriotic then why the hell was " his loyalty towards nation = loyalty towards king" cuz as per ur words he didn;t have any loyalty towards the nation at all. So if LHS doesn't exist then how come RHS does???
If he had reservations abt patriotism and wanted that lands shud not be separate, then why did he write "Amar Sonar Bangla" (which is now the national anthem of bangladesh)
Look at this excerpt from the official website of nobel prize (nobelprize.org):

For Tagore it was of the highest importance that people be able to live, and reason, in freedom. His attitudes toward politics and culture, nationalism and internationalism, tradition and modernity, can all be seen in the light of this belief.11 Nothing, perhaps, expresses his values as clearly as a poem in Gitanjali:
Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls; ...
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit; ...
Into that heaven of freedom,
my Father, let my country awake.
Rabindranath's qualified support for nationalist movements—and his opposition to the unfreedom of alien rule—came from this commitment. So did his reservations about patriotism, which, he argued, can limit both the freedom to engage ideas from outside "narrow domestic walls" and the freedom also to support the causes of people in other countries. Rabindranath's passion for freedom underlies his firm opposition to unreasoned traditionalism, which makes one a prisoner of the past (lost, as he put it, in "the dreary desert sand of dead habit").

So, we can clearly see that waht his reaservations about patritism were. He di want India to be freed. He was the most avid supporter of freedom but what he didnt want was that one is chained in traditions and that u r not open to outside world. But it didnt mean that he wanted to be ruled over by someone.
Again from the site, I quote this:

Tagore was predictably hostile to communal sectarianism (such as a Hindu orthodoxy that was antagonistic to Islamic, Christian, or Sikh perspectives). But even nationalism seemed to him to be suspect. Isaiah Berlin summarizes well Tagore's complex position on Indian nationalism:
Tagore stood fast on the narrow causeway, and did not betray his vision of the difficult truth. He condemned romantic overattachment to the past, what he called the tying of India to the past "like a sacrificial goat tethered to a post," and he accused men who displayed it - they seemed to him reactionary - of not knowing what true political freedom was, pointing out that it is from English thinkers and English books that the very notion of political liberty was derived. But against cosmopolitanism he maintained that the English stood on their own feet, and so must Indians. In 1917 he once more denounced the danger of ‘leaving everything to the unalterable will of the Master,' be he brahmin or Englishman.21

Tagore was strongly involved in protest against the Raj on a number of occasions, most notably in the movement to resist the 1905 British proposal to split in two the province of Bengal, a plan that was eventually withdrawn following popular resistance.

Tagore's criticism of the British administration of India was consistently strong and grew more intense over the years. This point is often missed, since he made a special effort to dissociate his criticism of the Raj from any denigration of British—or Western—people and culture.

He wanted to assert India's right to be independent without denying the importance of what India could learn—freely and profitably—from abroad.
So, I can say that people just read one or two lines about him, quote them out of context and then try to make others believe. That line abt narrow walls, if u read it in this complete context now as given above, u'll understand that it meant that India and Indians should be free from aoutcracy of british rule but they shouldn't have reservations about accepting the good things in their philosophy.
In the end, I'd say that all u got is a few newspaper reports (infact opinions of english writers) and one quote , presented out of context.
On the other hand, what I offer u is hard facts.
Its for u to decide what u want to believe.
- Blindly accept someone's opinion
- or see the facts and decide for yourself

Actually the point is that what the mail wanted to tell might actually be true (though I whole heartedly believe its not and even if it was then the song might have meant something else that time but now it means something completely different to all of the Indians and that is what matters), but still one should not believe anything without verifying anything. And nowadays every mail that one receives listing one hoax or the other is sent to the complete address book by almost half the population using internet.
Think about it.