In a colonial situation like the British Raj, when a great part of the colonial administration was manned by Indians, patriotic songs were often a surrogate for overt action for many Indian government officials. Such songs played a significant role in shaping the mentality of people who came of age at the time of independence. Anyone with an ear for music and a fondness for poetry would have imbibed notions of his or her identity as a citizen of a free country in terms of patriotic songs heard while growing up. This presentation tries to collect and render some patriotic songs (about 200) in Sanskrit language, Tamil language, Telugu language, Kannada language and Malayalam language. Bengal produced five poets of considerable ability who could sing and were capable of setting the tune to the words of lyrics they had written (poet-composers). These five were Rabindranath Tagore, Rajanikanta Sen, Dwijendra Lal Roy, Atulprasad Sen and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Political songs were only a small fraction of their creative output.
The Bengal situation provides a few insights in such an exercise for performing arts. There are two ways of worship in the Indian tradition; one is private prayer symbolized by puja-karma or by the namaj done at specific times of the day, and the other is congregational prayer in a temple or mosque. The genre of patriotic songs identified the land of one's birth with divinity, and the words and tunes appropriately corresponded to a piece of intensely devotional music.
Music is only a reflection of people's moods; it is no substitute for action. The Bengalis are often considered a sentimental people. When one listens to the songs of Tagore, Atul Prasad or Rajanikanta there is lot of love for motherland. The musical legacy of the Swadeshi period has a strong Hindu communal element in it, especially when mass mobilization was part of the nationalist struggle after the 1920s. D.L. Roy's songs were never banned. He suffered more during freedom struggle period. Nazrul had a strong sense of national identity as well as provincial loyalty and did not see any contradiction in it as Subramania Bharati of Tamil Nadu.
The populist bhakti nationalism of Paluskar, sacralized music, music became respectable and many more women could claim professional performance space. Music teachers became modern incarnations of ancient gurus. Bathkande's musicology and pedagogical publications gave Indian music its classical history. But this national project represented by Bathkande and Paluskar is resisted by the ustads. Even today, most famous musicians are not trained in institutions but in gharanas. Women could aspire to the status of Hindu, male and Brahminic guru, but never to that of an ustad.
(Last Updated on : 16-08-2014)
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