Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The anthem of a State that inspired Tagore to pen Jana Gana Mana

Jana Gana Mana, India’s national anthem, in highly Sanskritised (Tatsama) Bengali,  is the first of five stanzas of a Brahmo hymn composed and scored by Nobel Laurete Rabindranath Tagore.
It was first sung in the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress on December 27, 1911.
Jana Gana Mana was officially adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the Indian national anthem on January 24, 1950 and December 27, 2011 marked the completion of 100 years of Jana Gana Mana since it was sung for the first time.
However, what many do not know is that the inspiration for Tagore to pen Jana Gana Mana was the erstwhile anthem of the Mysore State, “Kayo Sri Gowri.”
Though every princely state in India has its own flag, ensign and anthem, it was the Mysore anthem that touched Tagore and inspired him. Unlike the anthem of other states, “Kayo Gowri…” was hummable, easy to understand and it was penned by a well-known writer of the times. The Mysore anthem was more an invocation to the Goddess rather than glorifying any individual and this is what made it a hot with the masses. This is where Kayo Gowri differed with the Gaekwadi of Baroda, Ya rab Humare Badhsh Ko of Hyderabad, God save the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, Jai Jai Maharaja of Nawanagar and Jai Bhavani of  Kolpahur.
The origin of the Mysore anthem is interesting. When the British handed back the reigns of administration to the Wodeyars in 1881 by the act of Rendition, they also restored the Kingdom to Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar.
To commemorate this occasion, Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar asked Basavappa Shastry, the court poet of Mysore, to compose a state anthem. 
Basavappa Shastry (1843-1891) was a native of Mysore and he is today better known as Kannada Nataka Pitamaha.
Basavappa Shastry was just 18 when he joined the Mysore court and he served in various capacities as the Rajaguru, Astana Vidwamsa and Rajapurohit. He also published a compilation on Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar called Krishnarajabhyudaya.
He wrote 28 books and they included eleven translations, twelve works in Sanskrit and five in Kannada.
He composed “Kayo Shri Gowri”  in Sanskrit, written in Kannada script. In the course of time, the anthem or song became extremely popular with the Mysoreans and even outsiders.
The song is an invocation to Gowri or Chamundeswari, the reigning deity of Mysore and the Wodeyars. When Muslims and non-Hindus sang the anthem, they were allowed to substitute Gowri with the word Devaru  or God as a prayer made to the Great God and Father of Mankind.
The anthem soon became a favourite of  Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar. He had it set to tune with the help of Maharaja’s Band Master, Bartels and Veene Seshanna (Vainika Sikhamani Seshanna). 
Very soon, it was sung everyday by thousands of school children and by others to herald the arrival and departures of the Maharaja at all public functions.
In 1919, the Vice-Chancellor of Mysore University, Sir Albion Banerjee, invited Rabindranath Tagore to visit Mysore. When Tagore was in Bangalore on January 12, 1919 to deliver a lecture  on “The message of Forests”,  the then Diwan Sir. M. Kantharaj Urs and other attended the function.
When the Mysore Anthem was sung, Tagore was impressed. He had already heard of the anthem several years before and realised that the lyrics are based on Raga- Dheerashankarābharanam. This raga is known as Bilawal in the Hindustani  and the Western equivalent is the C major scale, Ionian mode.
This raga is one of the most popular scales across the world though it is known by different names in different musical styles. Tagore based the Jana Gana Mana  on the same Raga and also on the same scale.
Sadly, the Mysore anthem is today almost forgotten but its influence on the national anthem cannot be taken away. Even today, many Mysoreans recall with fondness the anthem as it reminds them of their school days. The anthem today is more an eulogy of noatalgia.
The lyrics of the anthem are as follows:

ಕಾಯೋ ಶ್ರೀ ಗೌರಿ ಕರುಣಾಲಹರಿ
ತೊಯಜಾಕ್ಷಿ ಶಂಕರೀಶ್ವರಿ
. ವೈಮಾನಿಕ ಭಾಮಾರ್ಚಿತ ಕೊಮಲಕರ ಪಾದೇ
ಶ್ರೀಮಾನ್ವಿತ ಭೂಮಾಸ್ಪದೆ ಕಾಮಿತ ಫಲದೇ
. ಶುಂಬಾದಿಮ ದಾಮ್ಬೋನಿಧಿ ಕುಮ್ಬಜ ನಿಭ ದೇವಿ
ಜಮ್ಭಾಹಿತ ಸಂಭಾವಿತೆ ಶಾಂಭವಿ ಶುಭವೀ
. ಶ್ರೀ ಜಯಚಾಮುಂಡಿಕೆ ಶ್ರೀ ಜಯಚಾಮೆಂದ್ರ
ನಾಮಾಂಕಿತ ಭೂಮೀಂದ್ರ ಲಲಾಮನ ಮುದದೆ
During the reign of Maharaja Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV (1895-1940) and the Regency of his mother, the third stanza was modified as under:

ಶ್ಯಾಮಾಲಿಕೆ ಚಾಮುಂಡಿಕೆ ಸೊಮಕುಲಜ ಕೃಷ್ಣ
ನಾಮಾಂಕಿತ ಭೂಮೀಂದ್ರ ಲಾಮನ ಮುದದೇ ||||

When Jayachamaraja Wodeyar (1940-1950), became the Maharaja, the last stanza was once again modified and it was set to music in Raga: ShamkarAbharana in Trishrajati Eka tala by Vainika Praveena V. Venkatagriyappa.
It went thus,

ಶ್ರೀ ಜಯಚಾಮುಂಡಿಕೆ ಶ್ರೀ ಜಯಚಾಮೇಂದ್ರ
ನಾಮಾಂಕಿತ ಭುಮೀಂದ್ರ ಲಲಾಮನ ಮುದದೆ ||


  1. The first VC of Mysore University was H.V. Nanjundaiah during the period 1916 to 1920. You have erroneously mentioned the name of VC during 1919 as Sir Albion Banerjee above. May be you would like to verify and make the correction. Thank you. Venkat sundaresh

  2. Yes Nr, Venkat Sunderesh. You are absolutely right. The first VC of Mysore was indeed Mr. Nanjundaiah and he died while in harness. Mr. Banerjee officiated for a very short time and it was only a temporary phase. It was during that time this incident occurred.