Sep 23, 2010

Night of the werewolf !!

Shot with a handheld Handycam at 40x zoom.

Sep 22, 2010

On Tagore's trail ... rare photograph

In the 1900's, Tagore went around the World, familiarising foreign audiences on his works and Indian philosophy. During one such interaction The Gitanjali (the English translation) was born which won him the Nobel in literature. In 1917 he went on a lecturing circuit to Japan and US. Here he is seen visting San Diego, CA for the exposition.

Sep 4, 2010

The mayhem on our National Anthem

The wikipedia article on Jana Gana Mana... sports a controversy on the Indian national anthem which is doing rounds on the net. Some blogs question the timing of the song (the Coronation of George V) where the song actually is a clandestine attack on British Imperialism. It is but natural that Tagore had to be surreptitious writing the song in 1911. There are even lesser mortals who question the absence of names of few states and accuse the poem to be regionalistic. This is my attempt to educate such blissfully ignorant brethren.

Its quite common among us Indians to babble on subjects little known to us. People who talk of Nehru in not so favorable terms, especially about his plans for India – have little knowledge of the socio-political situation of India at the time of Independence; his vast knowledge as exemplified by his two epics – ‘Discovery of India’ and ‘Glimpses of World History’(which BTW are one of the most authoritative works of history and regarded worldwide); and are unable to compare the two states – Pakistan and India liberated on the same ‘night’ but our neighbours not having the IITs, SAILs, BHELs and the contributions (of these institutions established by Nehru) to India’s development. Similar is the case with Gandhi and Netaji. People just love to talk.

Without knowing for example, that Tagore was the greatest writer in modern Indian literature, poet, novelist, educator, and an early advocate of Independence for India, was instrumental in setting up Universities (not limited to Santiniketan whose illustrious alumni include the other Nobel laureate of India – Amartya Sen), and gave up his Knighthood to protest the Jallianwala Bagh incident. Much of Tagore’s ideology come from the teaching of the Upanishads.

I am not sure how many of the above even understand and appreciate poetry. Have anyone of you even attempted writing one in your childhood? To imagine that the names of every Indian state should be captured in a poem to express the expanse of our motherland! Crib and question the artistic ability of the only Indian blessed with a Nobel in literature! Its both irritating and amusing at the same time. I wonder who these critics are who have today tried to measure-up Tagore – a name revered by the greatest litterateurs of the world.
Glorifying our pasts seems to be the favorite pastime for us, since we are a frustrated with our politicians lacking vision for the future – without a true attempt to research the real history of our civilization, dominated and enslaved by centuries of Muslim and British rule. Today some religious radicals talk of racial conservatism without realizing how open our culture was before these invasions. They would cover the temple architectures with burkhas if they had their way. The best works on Indian history (atleast those easily accessible) are those written by the British – obviously through their looking glasses.

The complete poem goes thus. At places Tagore refers to "the Mother" (Was George a transgender!)
Jono gono mono odhinayoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Panjab Sindh Gujorata Moratha,
Drabido Uthkolo Bongo
Bindhdho Himacholo Jomuna Gongo,
Tobo shubho name jage,
Tobo shubho ashish mage
Gahe tobo joyo gatha
Jono gono mongolo dayoko joyohe,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Ohoroho tobo ahban procharito,
Shunithob udaro bani
Hindu Buddho Shikh Jeino Parshiko,
Musolman Krishtani
Purab poshchim ashe,
Tobo shinghashono pashe
Premohar hoy gãtha
Jono gono oik-ko bidhayoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Potono obhbhudhoyo bondhur pontha,
Jugo Jugo dhabito dathri
He chirosharothi, tobo rotho chakre,
Mukhuritho poth dinratri
Daruno Biplob majhe,
Tobo shongkhodhoni baje
Shonkoto dukkho tratha
Jono gono potho porichayoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Ghor timir ghono nibir nishithe,
Pirit murchhito deshe
Jagroto chilo tobo obicholo mongolo,
Notonoyo ne onimeshe
Duhshopne atangke,
Roksha korile ongke
Snehomoyi tumi mata
Jono Gono Duhkho Troyoko joyo he,
Bharoto bhag-go bidhatha
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.

Ratri probhatilo udilo robichhobi,
Purbo udoyo giri bhale
Gahe bihongom pun-no shomiron,
Nobo jibono rosh dhale
Tobo korunaruno rage,
Nidritho bharot jage
Tobo chorone not matha
Joyo Joyo Joyo He, Joyo Rajeshor
Bharoto bhag-go bidhata
Joyo he joyo he joyo he Joyo joyo joyo joyo he.
Oh! the ruler of the minds of people, Victory be to You,
Dispenser of the destiny of India!
Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maharashtra,
Dravid (South India), Orissa, and Bengal,
The Vindhya, the Himalayas, the Yamuna, the Ganges,
And the oceans with foaming waves all around.
Wake up listening to Your auspicious name,
Ask for Your auspicious blessings,
And sing to Your glorious victory.
Oh! You who impart well being to the people,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

Your call is announced continuously,
We heed Your gracious call
The Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsees,
Muslims, and Christians,
The East and the West come together,
To the side of Your throne
And weave the garland of love.
Oh! You who bring in the unity of the people!
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

The way of life is somber as it moves through ups and downs,
But we, the pilgrims, have followed it through ages.
Oh! Eternal Charioteer, the wheels of your chariot
Echo day and night in the path
In the midst of fierce revolution,
Your conch shell sounds.
You save us from fear and misery.
Oh! You who guide the people through torturous path,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

During the bleakest of nights,
When the whole country was sick and in swoon
Wakeful remained Your incessant blessings,
Through Your lowered but winkless eyes
Through nightmares and fears,
You protected us on Your lap,
Oh Loving Mother!
Oh! You who have removed the misery of the people,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!

The night is over, and the Sun has risen
over the hills of the eastern horizon.
The birds are singing, and a gentle auspicious breeze
Is pouring the elixir of new life.
By the halo of Your compassion,
India that was asleep is now waking
On your feet we now lay our heads
Oh! Victory, victory, victory to you, the Supreme King,
Victory be to You, dispenser of the destiny of India!
Victory, victory, victory to You!
I’d like to draw the attention of of Tagore's critics to the following :
4. Wikipedia entry on Jana gana mana

In a letter to Pulin Behari Sen, Tagore later wrote, "A certain high official in His Majesty's service, who was also my friend, had requested that I write a song of felicitation towards the Emperor. The request simply amazed me. It caused a great stir in my heart. In response to that great mental turmoil, I pronounced the victory in Jana Gana Mana of that Bhagya Vidhata (ed. God of Destiny) of India who has from age after age held steadfast the reins of India's chariot through rise and fall, through the straight path and the curved. That Lord of Destiny, that Reader of the Collective Mind of India, that Perennial Guide, could never be George V, George VI, or any other George. Even my official friend understood this about the song. After all, even if his admiration for the crown was excessive, he was not lacking in simple common sense."

Hope some sense dawns on our confused brethren.  Let me also repeat those golden words from Geetanjali:

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.
Let not your reason and intellect be lost in the dreary desert sands ...

Fellow Indians:
Be proud to be Indian, but please try to know your country first.