When he’s not working,Milind Sabnis,a drawing teacher,is busy gathering information on national symbols. A highlight of this hobby is his collection of 133
By profession,Milind Sabnis is a drawing teacher. But his passion for the country comes forth through his unique collections. Sabnis has a collection of 133 rare vocal recordings of Vande Mataram from a 1905 recording by Rabindranath Tagore to the 1999 album by A R Rahman. This 45-year-old teacher at Nagarkar School has been putting together rare collectibles related to Vande Mataram; the National Anthem; the National Emblem and even the Tricolor. In fact,on the occasion of 100 years of the National Anthem,Sabnis even released his book – ‘Jana Manatil Jana Gana Mana’.
Since my school days,I have nurtured the habit of reading. This led me to research on various nation-related subjects, he says. In 1999,I went to Bankim Chandra Chhatopadhyays birth place Naihati,Kantalpada in West Bengal,where he wrote Vande Mataram in 1875. There,I met with a historian Anant Kumar Chakraborty who gave me 25 rare recordings and details about them, he adds,keenly sharing some of his prized information: The first tune for Vande Mataram was given by Yadu Bhatt who was Chattopadhyays music teacher. Later,Tagore also took music lessons from Bhatt.
His collection of Vande Mataram recordings include that of Master Krishnarao Fulambrikar who sang in front of the Constitutional Committee in 1948,Timir Baran who made his own tune of the song as a Marching song for Subhash Chandra Bose’s Azad Hind Sena,M S Subbulakshmi,Hemant Kumar,Bhimsen Joshi,Pandit Jasraj,Lata Mangeshkar,and others. Based on his research and collection of various articles,translations,notations and details of recordings related to Vande Mataram,Sabnis even wrote a book called ‘Vande Mataram Ek Shodh’ in 1999. It has three editions in Marathi and has even been translated in English and Hindi.
His book on the National Anthem is a treasure trove of information. The book is in Marathi and is completely devoted to information about the National Anthem,” he describes. Sabnis also has 11 rare recordings of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ including one sung by singer K Ashwathama in 1935. He shows his collection with pride. Soon,his book ‘Mudra Bhadray Rajate’ on the National Emblem of India,that is,the four lions of King Ashoka,will be published,he says.
Among his other works are two books for children on Indian freedom fighters,namely ‘Chaphekar Brothers’ and ‘Vasudev Balwant Phadake’. He has also written a critical review on the book Anandmath written by Chattopadhyay,titled ‘Anandmath: Aakshep and Khandan’ in Marathi. “On the 100th anniversary of the National Flag hosted by Madam Cama in Germany on August 22,2007,my Marathi book – ‘Rashtra Dhwaj Prachin Te Arwachin’ – was released,” he says.
In 2001,Sabnis started the Janmada Pratishthan,an organisation which conducts programmes to commemorate anniversaries of freedom fighters,the National Anthem,Vande Mataram,and the like. Ask him what’s the next ‘national’ work lined up and he says,”An encyclopedia on Vande Mataram will be out soon.”