Thursday, August 09, 2007

A-A-A on the Song of Hind

Some time ago, we wrote about songs of Hind. We didn’t cover the song of Hind — Iqbal’s Tarana-e-Hind (audio and lyrics here). We did, however, discuss the song.


I read something by Naipaul to the effect that Iqbal never identified with Hind. I don’t really remember what Naipaul said. But here’s what I’ve been thinking.

Iqbal says: Sare Jahan se achachha Hindustan hamara, hum bulbulen hain iski yeh gulistan hamara. Generally we assume he means everyone in Hindustan. But then he also says: Aiy ab-e-rood-i-Ganga woh din hain yaad tujhko, utra tere kinare jab karavan hamara. Here he seems to be talking about Muslims specifically when he says hamara.

If one use of hamara seems to be as a Muslim, then isn't it inconsistent to interpret the other hamaras as meaning Muslims and Hindus and Christians and Buddhists and Jews and Sikhs and tribals and Zoroastrians and Jains?

But then, he does say: Mazhab nahin sikhata apas men bair rakhna, Hindi hain ham watan hai Hindustan hamara. And when he says aapas mein, it seems to imply different religions...

So my query about Ganga is, in this bit of song he seems to use hamara for Muslims, whereas other bits are supposed to be all communities. Of course Muslims are part of hamara, so it's not necessarily wrong, but I was just wondering what he was thinking.


I think Iqbal seems to be using a nuanced multilayered concept of identity. He has a sentence mentioning himself: Iqbal! koi mehram apna nahin jahan men Ma'loom kya kisi ko dard-i-nihan hamara. Then there is the Muslim identity in the Ganga line. And overlaying all this is the Hindi identity.

Another reading of it could mean all hamaras are referring to Muslim Hind. But when he says Hindustan hamara (hamara being Muslim Hind), he isn't suggesting Hind is no one else's (unlike the Hindutva brigade). Rather, he means Hindi Muslims are Hindis and Hindustan is their watan. That is, he rejects Muslim separatism and urges Muslims to accept a sort of Hindustan nationalism.

This reading is just as valid.

One way to decipher this is to see where the poem was originally published.


Here is what google pulls up.

“Centenary Of Iqbal's Tarana-e-Hind
by nkdatta8839@[EMAIL PROTECTED] (nkdatta8839) Aug 20, 2004 at 06:25 PM
Mohammad Iqbal composed the poem "Tarana-e-Hind" on August 10, 1904,
and sent it to Munshi Daya Narain Nigam, editor of Zamana of Kanpur. It was published in the September issue of the journal. The following month it was published in Makhzan of Lahore, edited by Abdul Qadir “

Check this line out: Yunan-o-misr-o-Roma sab mit gaye jahan se, ab tak magar hai baqi nam-o-nishaan hamara.

Surely the reference to the surviving civilization when Greece, Rome and Egypt are destroyed refers to the recorded Desi civilization of 4500 years. And he uses hamara here, so clearly he identifies with that as well, which Naipaul and the Hindutva moan doesn't happen. There we go, this guy identifies with everyone. He is one comfortable guy. He belongs everywhere.


Iqbal is clearly identifying with Hind, there's no doubt about that. Naipaul and the Hindutva are clearly wrong on this (and many other) count. The question is, whether he is urging only Muslims to identify with Hind, or is his message directed at everyone.

I presume these magazines were in Urdu, with primary readership being Muslim, and thus it's probably safe to say that he is urging his fellow Muslims to accept Hindustan and reject Muslim separatism. Mind you, this doesn't make the poem sectarian by itself — non-Muslims can still identify with Hindustan just as much as anyone else.


While I agree these magazines were probably in Urdu, I don't think we have any reason to think he is focussing on Muslims. He wrote in Urdu, so he published in Urdu magazines. Why would he be appealing to Muslims any more than to Sikhs or Hindus? I have seen plenty of old timers, Sikh and Hindu, who were familiar with Urdu (one relative was still subscribing to Urdu papers in Delhi in the 1980s, another who was English principal made a hobby of doing Urdu crosswords), and the editor of the first magazine also seems to have been Hindu.


You're right. Urdu was used more widely than Hindi 100 years ago and his readership probably included as many non-Muslims as Muslims. Okay then, he was definitely endorsing Hindustan nationalism — so Naipaulian Hintdutva types are wrong. Even the most sectarian interpretation of this is championing Hind.


Yeah man, championing Hind, even if it means fantasizing a rule over Nepali-Tibetan glaciers: Parbat woh sab se uncha hamsaya aasmaan ka, woh santari hamara, woh pasban hamara.