(January 6, 2021) Singing the Indian national anthem evokes fervour and patriotism. Some hum the British and American ones. Well, not fully, but at least some words! Yet, this Indian boy’s anthem repertoire is something that will take you aback. The 15-year-old Indian anthemologist Yathaarth Murthy is a two-time Limca Book of Records holder for singing the highest number of anthems in the world. He disarms with his eager smile as he shares how he mastered a whopping 260 national anthems – that is how many there are in the world, incidentally! That’s not all, this teen is also an avid environmentalist and was one of the 20 winners of the India 20 Under 20 organised by White Canvas, a mentoring organisation recognised by Niti Ayog.
Born and raised in Bengaluru, Yathaarth’s first tryst with anthems happened when his Hindustani classical music teacher tutored him to perform anthems of four countries – India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Japan — on the keyboard. “That was back in 2014. It got me hooked. I liked the lyrics and wanted to explore more anthems. So, I began researching on YouTube and Wikipedia, and taught myself several more countries’ anthems,” the Indian anthemologist tells Global Indian.
Onward on, one anthem at a time
Anthem spurting became a passion for the student of Vidyashilp Academy. “It lit a spark and there was no turning back,” he says. Soon he was spending hours pouring over anthems of different nations. While he understood the gist of a few, he enjoyed the lyrics and tunes too.
While Yathaarth, the only child of architect parents, found the accents and pronunciation a bit difficult, he kept at it. “The first few tries were difficult. As I continued to practice, I got a hang of the pronunciations too. Before I knew it, I was able to sing more than 100 anthems,” says Yathaarth. Incidentally, the term “anthemologist” was something he coined to describe his unique feat.
It was around this time in 2017, that he told his mother about wanting to apply to the Limca Book of Records. To his surprise, he had in fact made the record. That’s how a young Bengalurean came to hold the Limca record for singing the highest number of anthems – 112 at the time. “When I first picked up learning these various anthems, I didn’t think I’d one day become a record holder or a TEDx speaker,” says the class 10 student. Yet, he soon broke his own record when he learnt all 260 anthems, and once again set a new Limca record in 2019.
Saving the environment, one lake at a time
As a primary school student, Yathaarth used to love watching TedX videos and wanted to be on the hallowed platform himself. His dream soon came true when he was invited to deliver his first TED talk in 2018 at age 12. “My first talk was about my journey as an anthemologist,” says the youth who has so far given four TED talks, the most recent in December 2020. The topics have been varied: environment, anthems, and on pursuing one’s dreams.
After he’d set his second Limca record, Yathaarth wondered, “What next?” “How could I give back to the community and do something meaningful? It was around then that I began learning more and more about the environment and climate change. I watched Greta Thunberg’s speeches. Shortly, I began working in the environment sphere in my own small way,” he adds.
Soon, Yathaarth was holding climate strikes and working on a school project for the World Federation of UN Association which earned him more accolades in 2019. “I worked on a project with four friends. We decided to revive Manae, a 4.5 acre lake on the outskirts of Bengaluru. The city was once filled with beautiful lakes, but today most are highly polluted or encroached upon,” says the environmentalist, who launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise Rs 8.27 lakh for the lake’s revival. He worked with Anand Malligavad, also known as the Lake Man of India, to revive the lake and would often visit the lake in his free time.
“When we first visited the lake, we could see the barren lakebed and there was barely any flora and fauna. Today, the lake is thriving and hosts various birds like peacocks, has beautiful flora and is the water source for a neighbouring village,” beams the boy who still visits the lake sometimes. His work to revive this lake earned him a spot on White Canvas’ India 20 Under 20 list.
Making time count
Anthems and the environment apart, Yathaarth is also a basketball and music lover. As he gears up for his board exams, he has already begun planning for a future as a diplomat representing India at the United Nations. “I’ve chosen sociology, global perspective, history, and environment management, so I can apply to colleges abroad, and work towards working with the UN,” says the teen who spent the better part of the pandemic trying to conduct relief work. From distributing food to the needy through the iCare brigade to organising Housie for a Cause, and diverting funds towards Covid relief, Yathaarth has been busy doing his bit to spread cheer in otherwise dismal times.
Follow Yathaarth Murthy on LinkedIn