In an interview of several politicians—ML As, MPs and also some ministers and government executives, by a reporter of a private television channel, a few days before the independence day, revealed that many of them did not know our National Anthem and National Song. A few who knew the difference could not sing more than the first few lines of the songs. There could be nothing more shameful and sad than not to know the symbols and identity of Independent India.

Four of our National Symbols—The National Anthem, National Song, National Flag and National Emblems are the symbols of our national pride. They are deeply embedded in our rich heritage and culture, and history of our freedom struggle.

It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every citizen of India to know about them, understand the depth o their meanings and hold them in highest respect and close to their hearts.

Let us first take up the song — “Vande Mataram” — meaning salute to the Motherland. This National song was written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, one of the greatest nineteenth century writers of Bengal. The song was written by Bankim Babu as a prayer, when the British were trying to foist on us their own “God save the Queen” in 1870. Initially the song was contained in the novel “Anandmath” as a marching song of a group of revolutionary monks who sang to inspire mass rising against the suppression of the rulers. In 1896 after Rabindranath Tagore sang it in the convention of Indian National Congress, it became the song of the people.

Later when the British tried to weaken the revolutionary Bengal by dividing it into East and West Bengal, people began chanting the song in protest at the Kolkata Town Hall in 1905. This then became the war cry of people that shook the mighty British so much that they banned the song and the slogan “Vande Mataram”. One must read the song against the background to appreciate the depth of soul stirring love and emotion with which the poet had charged the song. The song ‘jana-gana-mana-adhinayak-jaya he’ was written in 1912 by no less than the greatest poet born in India, and a Noble Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Many believe that the song was composed by Tagore in honour of King George V of England as a welcome song for his first visit to India.

This is not true. In fact, Rabindranath refused to have done anything with the welcome of the King and wrote the song as a tribute to the indomitable spirit of India, which binds together every Indian, to whichever cast or community he may belong. It is this spirit, which is our driving force and the sons of our great Motherland — Bharat, always seek her blessings and sing to her glory and for her victory. The complete song has five stanzas, but only the first stanza has been adapted as the National Anthem.

Our Anthem should be on every lip on whichever occasion the song is sung, while standing at attention and the head held high with pride for the Motherland.

Of the four National Symbols, the National Flag is most visible and therefore, everyone recognizes it. What need to be known are the history of our flag and the significance of its different parts? The National Flag was adapted by the constituent Assembly on 22 July 1947, just three weeks before we got our Independence. Indian Flag is also known as Tricolour because of its three equal horizontal bands in three colours — Saffron, White, and Dark Green.

Saffron stands for renunciation, valour and sacrifice; Pure White for truth and peace, which are virtues, emphasized in every religion; and Dark Green represents life, fertility and prosperity. The navy blue wheel (Chakra) at the centre has 24 spokes and represents Motion, Progress and Dynamism.

Seen in this light one will be able to appreciate that our flag reflects the Nations philosophy and should therefore, command utmost respect and pride for it. Also, we cannot forget that for being able to hoist the flag on the Red Fort on the 15 August 1947, precious lives had been laid down by our freedom fighters.

Our National Symbol has a history that dates back to 255 B.C., when Ashoka the Great, one of the greatest Kings in the world, gave up his lust for power and adapted Buddhism, being moved by the horror of the Kalinga war, which was his own creation.

Our National Emblem is an adaptation from one of the Ashokan Pillars in Sarnath on which his edicts for Peace and Non-Violence are inscribed. At the top of the pillar is the ‘Lion Capital’ on which our emblem is designed. The emblem shows three lions standing back to back (actually four lions in the Capital).

At the base there is a wheel at the centre with a galloping horse on its left and a bull on its right. The motto ‘Satyameva Jayate’ meaning ‘Truth only Triumph’s’ is inscribed at the bottom. The lions represent awe, majesty and power, the horse is the symbol of energy and speed and the bull signifies hard work and steadfastness. The wheel, the symbol of “Dharma”, also finds a place in our National Rag. Thus, our emblem stands for qualities and virtues every citizen of free India should emulate.