Saturday, June 13, 2009

Meaning of National Anthem

National anthem written by Hafeez Jallundhri was recorded in 1954. Eleven singers included an unknown immigrant from Hyderabad (Deccan) who later became one of the best-loved voices in Pakistan. His name was Ahmad Rushdi (surely, you must have heard ‘Ko Ko Korina’).

Lyrics consist of three stanzas of five lines each. The first line introduces an issue and every subsequent line takes us deeper into the layers of the same issue. Hence montage of simple phrases builds up to a climax in each stanza.
Stanza 1

May the Pure Homeland prosper!
May the beautiful country prosper!
You are the sign of high determination,
O land of Pakistan,
May the pivot of certainty prosper!
Italics are mine, to help you see that odd-numbered lines emphasize spiritual aspects while even-numbered lines emphasize earthy aspects. Pure Homeland (line 1), sign of high determination (line 3) and pivot of certainty (line 5) are spiritual realities which have now appeared in the physical form of the beautiful country (2), the land of Pakistan (4).

Stanza 2
Order of the Pure Homeland:
Power of brotherhood of the people;
Nation, land, state –
May they last forever illustriously!
May the destination of aims prosper!
Here again the odd and even lines contrast with each other (odd lines refer to the state while even lines refer to the people) but the most noteworthy point in this stanza is that the second line mentions “the power brotherhood of the people” and the third line dramatically introduces “nation, land, state” as if they are derived from the subject introduced in the previous line, i.e. the brotherhood of the people. Hence the power of this brotherhood becomes manifest: countries die while people live on (according to Iqbal), and hence “nation, land, state” derived from this power “may… last forever illustriously”. The final line unifies these elements in “the destination of aims”.

Stanza 3
Flag with star and crescent,
Guide for progress and perfection,
A reflection of the past, magnificence of the present,
The spirit of the future,
The shadow of God Almighty!
This stanza is entirely about the national flag. Since banners are always carried in front of contingents, the flag can be called a “guide.” Its star becomes symbol of progress (“stars” are commonly used as measures of rating) while its crescent signifies an unceasing quest for perfection (this interpretation of the waxing and waning of moon also comes from Iqbal). Past, present and future unite here to replace the rule of emperors (who were called “the Shadow of God”) with the rule of this banner and all that it stands for. As usual, the contrast between odd and even lines can be seen in this stanza too: odd lines are about things which exist while even lines are about things desired.
Next post: Trendsetter will be about a later poet through whom these linguistic experiments reached their peak. If you are not subscribed to this newsletter, join the Yahoo! Group or send email to for receiving subsequent posts directly in your inbox.


  1. Thats really a very very nice work by you sir.
    You have translated into English in a very impressive way and really touching.

    When i was in school we had a "rules and regulations book",there i found English version of Anthem first time, but after reading yours i see the difference between both, its really rhythmic as well as simple and easy to understand.

    Thanks Alot!

  2. The balance between spiritual and earthly is a human being. Who is neither an angel nor an animal, but a higher being, who exercises equilibrium. The absence of this equilibrium creates an opaque that leads to profanity, cruelty, selfishness and meanness that we are faced with. The beautiful rendering of national anthem shows what that balance is all about, which is desired in every Pakistani, Muslim and human being

  3. After reading this, I wonder why nobody never explained these meanings to us? We learn it by heart in our youth but never know such deep meanings.

    Hafeez Jallundhri might be the poet of youthfulness, but our youth is directed towards rote learning this anthem rather than incorporating in themselves the values this anthem offers.

    But well, I will give credit to the composition of the anthem. We used to recite this anthem every morning, and the tune really make us feel patriotic.

  4. The translation of your National Anthem - as
    written by Hafeez Jallundhri - along with these receptive and perceptive comments - also thrill and inspire me. I particularly like the vision that spiritual ideals and an equilibrium of the spiritual and the earthly help to overcome the past and the defective and archaic rule of emperors.

    May I have permission to make a blogpost out of this entire combination - ie Anthem plus comments from each of you? (For One Heart For Peace blogpost?)I can do comments anon. or use your blog or real name? IF so, I'd also like a short note on Igbal by you, Sir.

    Take your time making decision since I am not in a hurry on this one.

  5. ReeBz, Akhtar, Rehan and Connie, thanks.

    Reebz, please share that translation with us. It is always good to compare multiple translations, since each translator has her or his own interpretation and I may have (or must have) left out something which has been covered in the other. I am curious to see that translation, if possible.

    Connie, please feel free to pass it on through your blog or other means. Just check if the video is working before you embed it. I usually keep the people anonymous when I quote from their comments in my posts (you must have noticed since I have often quoted from you as well) but I guess it would be okay if they are named exactly by the IDs which appear here, since that is how they have chosen to be identified - and this page is public too.

    Readers, please let's know what you think about this.

  6. Hello and I hope you are each well...

    Soon, I want to post this page with the National Anthem, notes, video and your comments quoted anon. as suggested above. However, let me tell you about the post I just put on my blogsite - the one which gives me a sense of satisfaction like none other - go to Sunday's post on oneheartforpeace and find an interview (for Sunday) with the debut Pakistani novelist, Ali Sethi along with more about him. I loved his interview. Let us all know how like it as well.

  7. The beautiful translation of National Anthem and its excellent explanation by you and moreover your curiosity of seeking another translation led to following translation by me for you Khurram Sahib. It’s only done to register that we love our National Anthem and find it inspiring and motivating:

    Blessed be the Land of purity
    Blessed be the beautiful country
    You are the symbol of high courage and determination
    Land of Pakistan
    May this center of faith glow in ecstasy

    Order of the land of pure
    Lies in power of peoples love and affection
    Nation, Country, State
    May flourish in everlasting glaze
    Blessed be the destiny of ambition

    This Flag of Star and Crescent
    Guide of progress and excellence
    Reflective of past and brilliance of present
    Future’s inspiration
    Be under God Almighty’s care and protection.

  8. The Nation Anthem notes were so absorbing that could not comment on Rashid Minhas biography’s chapter five. This chapter is full of narratives on beautiful landscapes of Pakistan and very innocent reactions of the children in the story. I enjoyed the comment of Shahid for endless moments.

  9. Connie L. Nash
    I have no objection if you are going to mention my ID or my nick in your blog post,i think i would like it more in this way :)

    Sir,here is the translation,i'm pleased that i have been given the chance of sharing it :)

    Blessed be thou sacred land,
    Happy be thou beauteous realm,
    Though symbol of high resolve,
    Land of Pakistan,
    Blissful be thou citadel of Faith,
    The order of our sacred state,
    The might of brotherhood of man,
    Shine in glory ever-lasting,
    The goal ambition,
    Our flag of crescent and star,
    Guide to progress and achievement
    Embodier of the past,glory of the present,
    Soul of the future,
    Shadow of God omnipotent.

  10. These various translations help me as a very young student (mentally) in understanding of your founding history & principles. Reebz, ok, I will use that ID ReeBz - right? :) for your items. Find my response to your clearly spoken dream under your COMMENT just now on oneheart blog as well as a response to the earlier one you left some posts down. Perhaps you would send a kind of log or journal or just random notes from time-to-time on your work with the displaced? Don't worry about them being "perfect" at all. I am sorry not to keep track who among the readers/commentors here are technically "students". Yet I see myself as one here and all of you my teachers. With gratitude!

  11. Akhtar, ReeBz, Connie, thanks. Sorry about delay in approval of some comments, since my internet wasnt working on Sunday and most of Monday.

    Akhtar Sahib, your translation is smoother and more idiomatic - thanks for posting it :D

    ReeBz, I like that translation too. Thanks for sharing it so promptly. "Thou" not "though" in Line3, and it seems that one line is missing in Stanza 2, the one which would translate "Qaum, mulk, Saltanat" :)

  12. ReeBz, see if you want to revise your translation just a little per host Khurram Sahib's suggestion? Then, ReeBz and Akhtar Sahib would you be willing for me to post your translations as well and both of you with your names? The other comments can go anon. or even the translations if wished?

    What is the best way to address you Akhtar here and also if different for the blog - as I know you are a professional as well as Khurram Sahib? Does Sahib mean teacher?

    I am learning everything here and daily realizing how ignorant I am (smiles :) so thank you, all of you for your patience with me. Be sure to correct me often!

    I sure hope SOMEONE here will translate just a few paragraphs into English from chapter 5 on Rashid Minhas - especially on the landscapes of Pakistan and the innocence of the children - since it will be a long long time until I am able to read in URDU and the comments are so compelling.

  13. @Connie
    You can post National Anthem translation by me with my full ID, and you can address me as Akhtar, Wasim or Dar, I feel comfortable with all of them. Sahib is a salutation, which shows respect and is similar to Sir, you can plainly address me without this!

  14. Conie
    i'm very sorry for replying late, as you might have some info about khi's powerplants problem. there is no electricity since yesterday evening in almost all da city. coming to da topic, i've checked da translation again,there is no mistake in da translation as compare to da book from which i copied. however i really think that khurram sir is right, and those lines are missing which he mentioned.
    i wouldn't suggest you now to put it on ur blog as it has mistakes.
    sir khurram's translation is nice and da other one posted by some one else is really worthy.

  15. I think I'm a little late to post a comment on this post, however, some recent reading compels me to post one anyway.

    1) The national anthem discussed above is almost sacred to us not merely for its words but it owes its sanctity to the very fact that it is our national anthem.

    2) Long before this national anthem was written, the founder of the nation had approved another national anthem for Pakistan. This first national anthem was written by Prof. Jagan Nath Azad. The use of this anthem was abondonned after the Quaid's death.

    3) Interestingly, Prof. Jagan Nath was an Iqbal scholar and his love for Iqbal has been instrumental in reviving Iqbal as a revered poet in India after the partition. Legend has it that Prof. Jagan Nath suggested to Gen. Zia ul Haq for the creation of the Iqbal Chair in the Punjab University.

    Although much more needs to be said about Prof. Jagan Nath but unfortunately there is so little material available on him.

    Can anyone help in searching for the complete text of the first national anthem of Pakistan???

    I would like to end this comment with the following words from Prof. Jagan Nath:

    Meray Yaqeen ko dekh amal per nazar na kar
    Mera Yaqeen hai daulat-e-eeman leay huay
    Ahl-e-haram mujhey na hikarat say dekhna
    kafir hoon eik qalb-e-Musalman leay huay

    - Adil Mulki

  16. my apologies for bringing this issue here but... AAP SUB KO PAKISTAN KI T20 CRICKET WORLD CUP MEIN KAAMYAABI BUHOT BUHOT MUBARAK HO... :) ... Congratulations to all for Pakistan's victory in the T20 Cricket World Cup.
    The use of "Dil Dil Pakistan" during this tournament as a de facto National Anthem can not be denied. This perhaps means that public consent and sentiment can and do carry consequences which might be at variation from the "official" versions.
    Once again.. it was really touching to hear such masses shout out "Pakistan Zindabad" after such a long time...
    Pakistan Zindabad

  17. Vagabonds' Ventures s
    Its very happy for me to see, everywhere there are celebrations and joy about the worldcup.

    Today i stumbled across so many blogposts on the same issue.
    nd i'm so happy to mention here about a party going on at harry potter forums "hpana" in the "pakistani thread"
    its an awesome party by those folks :)