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National Anthem: A Spiritual-Cultural Hymn For Holding Nation Together? – Analysis


By R. Upadhyay


The objection by a section of Indian intelligentsia against the November 30, 2016 Supreme Court Order on national anthem that all cinema halls in the country shall play it before the start of the film suggests that even after seven decades of country’s independence they continue to be under the siege of colonial and enslaved mindset. They seem to have no emotional attachment to the glorious nationhood of Bharatvarsh which has been holding it together for millenia.

Although, a cross section of political leaders welcomed the order of the supreme judiciary, some wise people like the former Attorney General and eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee “questioned the order terming it as an example of judicial over reach”.(Indian Express dated December 2, 2016).

Similarly, the members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian sect in India believe the singing of national anthem an act of unfaithfulness towards God. They are even planning to approach the Supreme Court to reconsider the order. (…)

These and similar statements from a section of the intelligentsia have encouraged a section of people to disbelieve that Bharat has been a nation since Vedic days. Hence this paper to disabuse such people that India has been a united cultural entity from times immemorial.

In fact eulogising this nation our scripture Vishnu Puran says:


“Gayanti devah kil Geetkaani, Dhanyaastu te Bharat bhumi bhaage,

Swargapavarga aspad margabhutei Bhavanti bhooyah purushah suratvaat”

(Bharat is the way of all of the heavenly pleasures and even salvation. It’s a very welcome piece of fortune to be born as a human being on this soil of Bharat in spite of being a deity).

While referring to the geographical boundary of Bharatvarsh Vishnu Puran says: “उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् । वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ”

(The country that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; where dwell the descendants of Bharata known as Bharati.)

The name Bharat is a result of joining of two words- ‘Bha’ and ‘rat’. The term Bha is etymologically derived from the Sanskrit verb ‘Bha’ that means light and the term ‘Rat’ means immersing or devoted. The term ‘varsh’ which means country was added with Bharat and therefore the complete meaning of Bharatvarsh is a country where people are deeply immersed to (Divine) Light. Since the natives of this region were noble beings, anyone addressing elders used to call them Aarya and this land of nobles was also known as Aaryavart.

Thus, the name Bharatvarsh became the spiritual-cultural heritage of this land which forms the basis of a nation and its people are found proud of it from generation to generation. Unfortunately, the conquest of this land by outsiders who were unaware of the country’s glorious past tried to destroy its nationhood by changing its name from Bharatvarsh to Hindustan by Muslim invaders and later India by the British. Both the alien rulers played the politics of re-naming it with a view to re-shape its socio-cultural and political conditions according to their respective native traditions.

According to Wikipedia “A national anthem (also state anthem, national hymn, national song etc.) is generally a patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation’s government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people”.

Although there is a reference of the word ‘rashtra’ (nation) in our Veda, the people of anglicised and ‘secularised’ mind set call it a myth. They believe that prior to the advent of British rule there was no concept of nationhood for Bharatvarsh. They were perhaps not aware that Bharatvarsh was a ‘Rashtra’ from times immemorial. In Yajurveda there is a hymn praying the Supreme Power for the spiritual, economic, defence, education and agricultural growth of the nation. The hymn is as under:

आ ब्रह्मन् ब्राह्मणो ब्रह्मवर्चसी जायतामा राष्ट्रे राजन्यः
शूर इषवयोऽअतिव्याधी महारथो जायतां दोग्ध्री धेनुर्वाढानड्वानाशुः
सप्तिः पुरन्धिर्योषा जिष्णू रथेष्ठाः सभेयो युवास्य यजमानस्य वीरो जायतां निकामे निकामे नः
पर्जन्यो वर्षतु फलवत्यो न आषधयः पच्यन्तां योगक्षेमो नः कल्पताम् O Supreme Lord! May there

–Yajur Veda, 22.22

“O Brahman! Let there be born in the kingdom ‘brahmanas’ with ‘brahmatejas’ (divine lustre) who are well versed in the Vedas; let there be born the ‘rajanyah'(kings), heroic, skilled kings, archers and mighty warriors; cows giving abundant milk; load carrying oxen; the swift coursers; industrious, cultural women. Let the person who holds the yajna have brave and triumphant charioteer youth capable for addressing meeting. May ‘Parjanya’ (clouds) send seasonal rains; may our fruit-bearing plants and trees ripen; may the ‘yogakshemam’ (spiritual and prosperous well-being) of our people increase steadily.”

In fact this hymn was the national anthem of ancient Bharatvarsh. Even today this hymn is chanted by the people at the end of any religious function in many parts of the country.

After Independence, our Constituent Assembly instead of reviving the name of ancient Bharatvash registered it under a dual and bilingual identity – ‘India,that is Bharat’. In fact Bharatvarsh was a geo-cultural boundary bound by common history and heritage as well as also a juridico-political conception. There were many kings who ruled in different territories of this boundary but the entire region was under one spiritual-cultural umbrella of a nation called Bharatvarsh and those kings who conquered the whole Bharatvarsh were known as ‘Samrat’ like Ashoka and Chandragupta.(

Irrespective of their varied caste, sect, region, local customs, food habits, costumes, professions and languages, the people of Bharatvarsh believed in polytheistic Sanatana Dharma that originated from the liberal Vedic texts – EKAM SADVIPRAH BAHUDHA VADANTI (He is one, wise men call Him differently) and the spiritual voices of their ascetic ancestors that permitted complete freedom to worship the deities of one’s choice without any ill-will against any other faith. With such spiritual strength and freedom they maintained the cultural unity of their motherland and gradually contributed to the internationally acclaimed civilisation, as its people were deeply immersed to the root of the name Bharatvarsh.

Despite this historical fact it is surprising that during freedom movement Jawaharlal Nehru preferred the term ‘Jai Hind’ (Victory of Hind) as the battle-cry in preference to ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ (Victory to Mother Bharat). Unfortunately, no Indian leader has so far raised the issue to replace the prevailing salutary term Jai Hind in our army and police with the term Jai Bharat.

After Independence, our constitution makers incorporated ‘JANA GANA MANA …… ’ a poem composed by Rabindranath Tagore as national anthem in the constitution to revive our cultural and spiritual legacy for instilling a sense of patriotism and nationalism for which people should be proud of.

The key words of the SC directive were to instil “committed patriotism and nationalism”. This is apparently a message that the people should revive the sense of their glorious national pride which was enslaved and colonised by the alien rulers. To pay respect to the national anthem is paying respect to the nationhood of the motherland. The highest judiciary has perhaps sensed the indifference of Indian people over national pride which has pushed them towards the ideology imposed on them by the West sowing the seed of destruction and disunity and therefore SC directive is only to empower the people with national self and pride.

Even our former president APJ Kalam had written a beautiful poem to express his patriotism and nationalism. In the last stanza of the poem he expressed:

“Oh Almighty, bless all my people to work and transform
Our country from a developing into a developed nation.
Let this second vision be born out of sweat of my people,
And bless our youth to live in Developed India. APJ”.


Any effort however small it may be to remind ourselves of our glorious past and to sustain the unity of the country should be welcomed and not objected to for narrow sectarian reasons.


SAAG is the South Asia Analysis Group, a non-profit, non-commercial think tank. The objective of SAAG is to advance strategic analysis and contribute to the expansion of knowledge of Indian and International security and promote public understanding.

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