Of Anthems…

Anthem for the Universe
Anthem for the Universe

Its a commonly held misnomer that the Indian National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana‘ was written by Tagore in praise of George V. Tagore who had the guts to refuse knighthood, would not write in praise of any George.

The anthem was written as Ode to God – intentionally to let the British think its in praise of King George V. This is a common route that poets take against to mock the establishment.

Tagore was a well read person. He was once asked what he would write as the anthem for the universe. Tagore replied that that had already been written by Guru Nanak. He was referring to the following:

ਗਗਨ ਮੈ ਥਾਲੁ ਰਵਿ ਚੰਦੁ ਦੀਪਕ ਬਨੇ ਤਾਰਿਕਾ ਮੰਡਲ ਜਨਕ ਮੋਤੀ ॥
Think of the sky as a plate, the sun and the moon are the lamps. The stars and their orbs are the studded pearls.
ਧੂਪੁ ਮਲਆਨਲੋ ਪਵਣੁ ਚਵਰੋ ਕਰੇ ਸਗਲ ਬਨਰਾਇ ਫੂਲੰਤ ਜੋਤੀ ॥੧॥
The fragrance of sandalwood in the air is the temple incense, and the wind is the fan. All the plants of the world are the altar flowers in offering to You, O Luminous Lord. ||1||
ਕੈਸੀ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥
What a beautiful worship service this is!
ਭਵ ਖੰਡਨਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਆਰਤੀ ॥
O Destroyer of Fear this worship is worthy of You.
ਅਨਹਤਾ ਸਬਦ ਵਾਜੰਤ ਭੇਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
The Unstruck Sound-current of the Shabad is the vibration of the temple drums. ||1||Pause||
ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਨੈਨ ਨਨ ਨੈਨ ਹਹਿ ਤੋਹਿ ਕਉ ਸਹਸ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਨਨਾ ਏਕ ਹੀਤ ॥
You have thousands of eyes, and yet You have no eyes. You have thousands of forms, and yet You do not have even one.
ਸਹਸ ਪਦ ਬਿਮਲ ਨਨ ਏਕ ਪਦ ਗੰਧ ਬਿਨੁ ਸਹਸ ਤਵ ਗੰਧ ਇਵ ਚਲਤ ਮੋਹੀ ॥੨॥
You have thousands of Lotus Feet, and yet You do not have even one foot. You have no nose, but you have thousands of noses. This Play of Yours entrances me. ||2||
ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਹੈ ਸੋਇ ॥
Amongst all is the Light-You are the source of that Light.
ਤਿਸ ਦੈ ਚਾਨਣਿ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਚਾਨਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
By this Illumination, that Light is radiant within all.
ਗੁਰ ਸਾਖੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਪਰਗਟੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
Through the Guru’s Teachings, the Light of knowledge shines forth.
ਜੋ ਤਿਸੁ ਭਾਵੈ ਸੁ ਆਰਤੀ ਹੋਇ ॥੩॥
That which is pleasing to Him is the lamp-lit worship service. ||3||
ਹਰਿ ਚਰਣ ਕਵਲ ਮਕਰੰਦ ਲੋਭਿਤ ਮਨੋ ਅਨਦਿਨ ਮੋਹਿ ਆਹੀ ਪਿਆਸਾ ॥
My mind is enticed by the honey-sweet Lotus Feet of the Lord. Day and night, I thirst for them.
ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਜਲੁ ਦੇਹਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਸਾਰਿੰਗ ਕਉ ਹੋਇ ਜਾ ਤੇ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਇ ਵਾਸਾ ॥੪॥੩॥
Bestow the Water of Your Mercy upon Nanak, the thirsty song-bird, so that he may come to dwell in Your Name. ||4||3||

Guru Nanak penned this when he reached Jagannath Puri (in 1510 AD), and watched the Arti (worship service) and noted its futility. He preached that God is omnipresent, his scent in everything and in every being – not housed in a small temple with destructible idols and extinguishable lamp.

Share