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A visit to Jorasanko ThakurBari

DSC05670Jorasanko Thakur Bari (জোড়াসাঁকো ঠাকুর বাড়ী) is the ancestral house of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Jorasanko, north of Kolkata, West Bengal, India- popularly known as Jorasanko Thakur Bari. This ancestral house of Thakurs  (anglicised to Tagore) is now  a museum dedicated to the life and works of the Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. This palatial building was built in the 18th Century by his Grand father Prince Dwarkanath Tagore. It is the house in which the great poet Rabindranath Tagore was born. He spent most of his childhood here and also died on 7 August 1941 in this house.DSC05676Rabindra Bharati University, started from this house and was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru then PM of India, on Tagore’s birth Centenary, 8th May 1962. But now the University has been shifted to a new Campus on BT Road. The “Maharshi Bhawan” named after poet’s father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, is now a museum (Rabindra Bharati Museum) that has galleries dedicated to Tagore, members of the family and the Bengal Renaissance. The Galleries provide glimpses of intimate family photographs, portraits and Tagore’s evolution as a poet & philosopher.DSC05671Visitors will be impressed to see that the house has been restored and well maintained to reflect the way the household looked when the Tagore family lived in it.The sprawling rooms, corridors reminds the days of Tagore’s childhood and the evolution days of becoming poet. While walking the corridors one can feel that Tagore walked the same corridors, may be while thinking of his compositions. There is a room where poet used to write. His sister-in-law Kadambari Devi, was his inspirations. She used to inspire him to  write. In that room there is a photograph of Kadambari Devi and mentioned as his inspiring Bouthan (বৌঠান) (Sister in law). (For details read “Tagore & Kadambari Devi”)DSC05661There is a Japanese & USA Galleries separately where poet’s photographs during his visits of Japan and USA have been displayed. Japanese room has been well decorated with colorful Japanese lanterns/ lights. The room is very neat & teady and well maintained. It is understood from the sign board there that the gallery is especially maintained by a Japanese company Mitsubishi Corporation.           DSC05674A visit to Jorasanko Thakur Bari is always an exhilarating experience. Apart from the heritage routine, every year Rabindra Bharati Museum of Kolkata celebrates Poila Baisakh, Pochishe Baishakh (birthday of Rabindranath Tagore), Baishe Sravana (the date of poets’ demise) and the birth anniversaries of other famous poets.

DSC05669One can reach the place by Metro ( Metro station “Girish Park” or “Mahatma Gandhi Road”) or by Car/Cab through Central Avenue or Rabindra Sarani. On the both roads there are beautiful Gates, written on it “Jorasanko ThakurBari”, standing to welcome the visitors. Thakur DalanThakur_Dalan surrounded by three sided inner balconies. Durga puja for the Tagore family used to be celebrated here till poet’s father, Maharshi Debenranath Tagore, religious reformer became active in Brahmo Samaj and became Brahmo.DSC05658The timings are 1000AM  to  0630PM except on Monday, being closed. Entry fee is Rs. 10.00 per visitor only and inside photography is strictly prohibited. You have to be happy with the outside photographs.

 
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Posted by on 23/06/2016 in History, Uncategorized

 

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Khuku -in memory of a musical genius

Amita Sen (Khuku) Border
Amita Sen—affectionately called Khuku by Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore. Life of Khuku, too was short like her name. She was born in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh) on 19 May 1914 and died on 24 May 1940, at the age of 26, just over a year earlier than Tagore. She joined Shantiniketan at the age of 9 years in the year 1923. Then there was another Amita Sen who was senior and later became friend of Amita Sen (Khuku). Senior Amita Sen (who is the mother of Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen) recalls Khuku’s arrival at Shantiniketan in 1923, of an unsophisticated but charming nine-year-old girl. Khuku was black complexioned but having sharp features. She possessed a natural, with a clear, open voice. She used to be the one whom Tagore used to try his songs in her voice. She used to sing such songs in open throated in the open of Shantiniketan. শান্তিনিকেতনের মাঠে ঘাটে সে উদ্দাত্ত কন্ঠে খালি গলায় সেই গানগুলি গেয়ে বেড়াত। Keeping her in mind, Tagore composed a song – “আমি তোমার সঙ্গে বেঁধেছি, আমার প্রান, সুরের বাঁধনে…..“I have entwined my life with yours through the bonds of music.” Although Sen was much younger than Tagore—by over half a century—and his acolyte, the emotional bonds between them were strong.

 The Shantiniketan’s early-twentieth-century residents  described her as a musical genius and an exceptional student—one of Tagore’s favourites. Amita Sen (Khuku) was one of the early stars of Rabindrasangeet and in the 1930s, she was a household name among the intellectual and artistic families that revolved around Shantiniketan. Today she is no more remembered and that’s why her centenary year passed away silently.

She was very close to Tagore. Tagore used to love her for talents and Tagore was dependent on her for organizing songs and other works. Even once Tagore thought, she would be the custodian of his songs in future. Tagore wanted her to live in Shantiniketan and for that he offered her job and requested her to come back to Shantiiniketan when she was busy in Calcutta, pursuing higher studies at Calcutta University.

While in Calcutta, she met and began a relationship with a fellow student, Shambhu Ganguly. Her conservative family was not ready to accept that relationship and that may be the reason she struggled all along to establish her friend.

“I’ll be very pleased if you can come to the Ashram and join us in our work,” Tagore  wrote to her in 1938. Tagore further wrote- “because you will collect the songs I have composed, use them and expand them, for which I am eager. You have power, love and a beautiful voice, which is why I have long desired to have you do this work for me. I was worried that your ambition was on a different trajectory. If that is not so, and if you harbour any respect for me and devotion to the ashram, give up whatever work you’re doing and come over.”

She went back to Ashram and worked there for a short period. One day she expressed her willingness to continue there but on one condition – if her friend Shambhu also given a job there. Tagore did not like and took this condition very badly. Still he did not refuse but left to the authorities. Because he wanted Khuku to remain.

Khuku  had chosen to be with her love, who she valued most, above her opportunities and close association of Kaviguru. An unfortunate difference between the mentor and his student cropped up. She left the job and never returned to Shantiniketan again. She wrote a bitter letter to Tagore from Calcutta. Tagore  retaliated by refusing her permission to record any of his songs, and stopped the publication and reproduction of her earlier albums. Perhaps Tagore was unhappy with the actions of his “Khuku” who was one of the most favorite students, who was showered with his fatherly affection and love.

In January 1940, when she was admitted in a Calcutta Hospital and fighting with the death, Tagore wrote to her with his blessings, saying “worried by the state of your health,” and was praying for a quick recovery.  This was the time when Tagore ordered to release those records for publication and sale again. She expired in the same year in Dhaka on 24 May, four days after her 26th Birthday.

In a letter of condolence to her uncle, Tagore wrote “I had great affection for Khuku, but I failed to save her from an evil fate.”

A short obituary in the ashram’s newsletter in July 1940 said, “By her death Bengal has lost one of its most talented daughters … long shall we mourn the abrupt end of a youthful life so rich in possibilities.”

With all these tragic happenings, ill fated khuku left us too early abruptly leaving with  those few songs in her magical voice. Though she was a musical genius but today she is a forgotten star. This post is written in memory of the musical genius to mourn the abrupt end of her journey.

To listen few of her songs (Rabindrasangeet) in her magical voice please visit my youtube channel : youtube.com/acm365  or click the links below :

“Aadheko ghume noyono chume”

“Je chhilo aamar swapanacharini” 

“Phire phire dak dekhire”

“Oli bar bar phire jay”

Chinile na aamare ki

Jodi prem dile na prane

Acknowledgements : http://www.caravanmagazine.in & Anandabazar patrika

 
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Posted by on 04/06/2016 in Memory, Uncategorized

 

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Drink to me only with…… The immortal love song

Rosy wreath
The song “Drink to me only with thine eyes” was written by Ben Jonson in his poem “Song to Celia” in the year 1616, yes exactly 400 years ago. This immortal western song inspired Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore to compose a song in Bengali (Rabindra Sangeet) “কতবার ভেবেছিনু আপন ভুলিয়া” (“Katobar bhebechinu apano bhulia”) in 1885. The lyric of the beautiful western song goes like this :

“Drink to me only with thine eyes, And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup And I’ll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove’s nectar sup, I would not change for thine.”

“I sent thee late a rosy wreath, Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope that there It could not withered be;
But thou thereon didst only breathe, And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear, Not of itself but thee!”

This western song and the Tagore’s composition “কতবার ভেবেছিনু আপন ভুলিয়া” are presented here. Both the songs sung by the same versatile singer have been put in a single video which can be accessed (my you-tube channel) by this link  : Listen both the songs here.

The lyric of the Tagore’s Bengali Song (Rabindra Sangeet) is also given below :

কতবার ভেবেছিনু আপনা ভুলিয়া LYRIC

 
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Posted by on 06/09/2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Tagore and Kadambari Devi

Rabindra nathRabindra Nath Tagore at young ageKadambari+Devi+small
Kadambari Devi

The mystery that surrounds Tagore’s relationship with his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi has attracted biographers as well as researchers over the years. I was too curious knowing that she committed suicide after the marriage of Tagore with Mrinalini Devi. Curiosity lead me to go through articles here and there and added those pieces together to understand their relationship and the circumstantial facts behind her suicide.

Kadambari Devi was wife of Jyotirindranath Tagore, the elder brother of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. She was married to Jyotirindranath Tagore, on 5 July 1868 at the age of 9 years. Then Rabindranath was 7 years old. They were almost of the similar age group. When Kadambari came to in-laws house, Rabi being similar in age, became her playmate and companion. Tagore’s Biographer Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay has written- “He had been her playmate and companion ever since her marriage.” They grew up to adolescent and then to their youth.

Jyotirindranath was a multi-talented personality having interests in theatre, paintings, translation and editing, music and also in business ventures. While staying in Ahmedabad (1867), with his elder brother Satyendranath Tagore, he learnt sitar and painting, picked up French and Marathi and he translated many books, mainly dramas, from different languages into Bengali. He also having some family businesses which were looked after by him. He ventured new business of shipping in Khulna (now in Bangladesh). There was stiff competition in the business and he incurred heavy loss due to competition and finally he opted out of that business in 1889. He served as secretary of the Adi Brahmo Samaj from 1869 to 1888.

Jyotirindranath was a open minded person. He supported the cause of education of women those days and he arranged for his wife Kadambari’s education. He not only arranged for her education, but also taught her horse-riding in the public grounds of Kolkata, defying the conservative society of those days. Later Tagore wrote in his childhood memory that Jyoti dada and Bouthan (sis-in law) used to take horse rides to Eden Garden through the Chitpur.

With this background of Jyotirindranath, it is understood that he hardly could spare any time for Kadambari. It is understood that she was a neglected and lonely lady.

At the age of 22 years, Tagore was suddenly and unexpectedly married (As per Biographer Mukhopadhyay, Tagore’s marriage at the end of 1883 had been “sudden and unexpected.”) to Bhabatarini Devi of 11 years age on 09 Dec 1883. She was renamed as Mrinalini by Tagore. After 4 months and 10 days of his marriage, on 19th April 1884, Kadambari committed suicide. The family might know the reason of suicide but it was suppressed and never made public.

Kadambari Devi’s death was profoundly felt by Tagore which  can be established through his own words. Much later, in 1917 Tagore said in a letter to Amiya Chakravarty : “Once, when I was about your age, I suffered a devastating sorrow, similar to yours now. A very close relative of mine committed suicide, and she had been my life’s total support, right from childhood onward. And so with her unexpected death it was as if the earth itself receded from beneath my feet, as though the skies above me all went dark. My universe turned empty, my zest for life departed.” Tagore was moved by the unexpected and sudden death of Kadambari Devi. He lost his companion, friend and what not because she was his total support for life as told in his above letter. There are number of poems that speak to or about the deceased Kadambari Devi. After 4 years of Kadambari’s death Tagore wrote a poem which is a well known Rabindrasangeet “Tobu Mone Rekho…”. This was written in her memory being in her place as if she is telling him –  ”Yet, do remember, if I move far from here, Yet, do remember. If the old love is smothered by a love’s new snare” and so on.

Marie Seton, in her book  “Portrait of a Director : Satyajit Ray” (1971) ,is all about Ray’s research on Tagore before his translation the “Nashtaneer” story into a film named “Charulata”. It was established that the story of “Nashtaneer” was written by Tagore keeping Kadambari in mind. It’s the story of Kadambari Devi, Her husband Jyotirindranath and himself. In this book Marie Seton at one place adds parenthetically that Bengal believed the sister-in-law “committed suicide following ‘Rabi’s marriage.”

Kadambari Devi never wanted Rabi to Marry and thats why she, once said, when she was told to search a bride for Rabi, that she did not get any bride for Rabi in Jessore (now in Bangladesh). But perhaps due to some unknown reason Tagore’s marriage was suddenly arranged by senior members of the family. Kadambari then secretly tried to stop it. Here we can understand her position, she did not want this marriage to happen but she was not in a position to oppose it openly or strongly which only indicate a doubtful relationship of her with Rabi. So she secretly tried to stop it but she could not. Finally Tagore was married to Bhabatarini Devi on 09 Dec 1883 and Kadambari committed suicide on 19th April 1884, after four months and 10 days of Tagore’s marriage.

After Tagore’s marriage, what was Kadambari’s feeling, her sufferings which led her to suicide, we don’t know. She has never scribbled anywhere. But analyzing the events it can be concluded that she did not approve the marriage because she by heart did not want her brother-in-law Rabi to marry Bhabatarini and she even tried to stop it. The way she ended her life after 4 months of the marriage, it was not the question of her wanting of the marriage, there was something more which we do not know but we have to take help of some imagination by joining pieces of events.  The marriage separated or distanced them from each other, there was no doubt in it. Rabi, the most dearer and nearer, her companion her playmate since childhood was no more with her and all of a sudden she lost all her un-written rights on Rabi which she gained over the years. All this she could not tolerate in her mind. All trouble because of Bhabatarini but nothing could be done to her.

Secondly, it is also said that she was a neglected (by husband) and lonely lady. She was also issueless. In this situation, there was nobody near her other than Rabi to be  her companion in her youth too. That Rabi too was no more her companion after his marriage. We know Tagore gave her a nickname “Hecate” the name of a Greek Goddess, linked to moon but also to witchcraft and magic. It shows that they were enjoying the teasing relationship which normally exists in this relation with sister-in-laws. This relation is a beautiful one which we can find it in Bengal and some other places of India. In this relation, there always be affection towards brother-in-law (husband’s younger brother). Society never minds with this type of relationship, and they are allowed to mix freely in the family. But at the same time it may turns to be dangerous too.  This relationship might evolve out of affection into love by crossing the fine line of the “affection”. This what happened to Charu in the film “Charulata” (Directed by : Satyajit Ray) which is the story of Tagore himself, his sister-in law Kadambari and her husband. So it can be concluded that love blossomed in them and they were having a play tonic love.  It was a natural thing to evolve love because she was lonely and starved for companionship. When Tagore got married to Bhabatarini Devi, she might felt deserted again and she lost her companion forever to a much younger woman. She might have thought of not to die by inches but to die forever because there was no solution in sight to her problem which led her to the extreme step.

 Read the Bengali version (বাংলায় পড়ুন)

 
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Posted by on 09/05/2015 in Rabindranath Tagore

 

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Walk alone (একলা চলো রে ) – a protest song by Tagore

Tagore3


“Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ase Tobe Ekla Cholo Re” (Bengali : যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে,) was written by Rabindranath Tagore at Giridih  town now in JharkhandIndia.  It was one of the 22 protest songs written during the Swadeshi Period of  Indian freedom movement and along with “Amar Sonar Bangla“, it became one of the key anthem of the Anti-Partition (Banga Bhanga) Movement in Bengal Presidency in 1905.


Ekla Chalo Re was first recorded by Rabindranath Tagore himself sometime between 1905 and 1908. Eminent Rabindra Sangeet singer Suchitra Mitra recorded this song twice, first in 1948 and then in 1984. In 1949, she sang this song for a Bengali Movie too. You may listen it in my youtube channel.


The song exhorts the listener to continue his or her journey, despite abandonment or lack of support from others. The song is often quoted in the context of political or social change  movements. Mahatma Gandhi, who was deeply influenced by this song, cited it as one of his favorite songs.


“If they answer not to your call walk alone


If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall,


O thou unlucky one,


open your mind and speak out alone.


If they turn away, and desert you when crossing the wilderness,


O thou unlucky one,


trample the thorns under thy tread,


and along the blood-lined track travel alone.


If they shut doors and do not hold up the light when the night is troubled with storm,


O thou unlucky one,


with the thunder flame of pain ignite your own heart,


and let it burn alone.”

 ——-

“যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে।
একলা চলো, একলা চলো, একলা চলো, একলা চলো রে॥
যদি কেউ কথা না কয়, ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি সবাই থাকে মুখ ফিরায়ে সবাই করে ভয়—
তবে পরান খুলে
ও তুই মুখ ফুটে তোর মনের কথা একলা বলো রে॥
যদি সবাই ফিরে যায়, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি গহন পথে যাবার কালে কেউ ফিরে না চায়—
তবে পথের কাঁটা
ও তুই রক্তমাখা চরণতলে একলা দলো রে॥
যদি আলো না ধরে, ওরে ওরে ও অভাগা,
যদি ঝড়-বাদলে আঁধার রাতে দুয়ার দেয় ঘরে-
তবে বজ্রানলে
আপন বুকের পাঁজর জ্বালিয়ে নিয়ে একলা জ্বলো রে।।”

 
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Posted by on 02/05/2015 in Rabindrasangeet, Tagore song

 

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Remembering Tagore on his 150th. Birthday

A Tribute to Rabindranath Tagore on his 150th birthday on Pachise Baishakh as per Bengali Calender, which falls on 09th May 2010, Sunday.  Through various functions at Shantineketan and Kolkata, 150th Birthday of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore will be celebrated through out the year. In the year 1961, his birth centenary was celebrated when his daughter Meera, and eldest son Rathindranath was alive .  Many of his students and close associates of Gurudev were also alive then. But today, on his 150th birthday,  none of his  relatives  are alive.  150 years have passed, many changes came in the society  but the popularity of his works  remains as it was 50 years back and  no change is observed.  I believe, in the next 150 years also, this popularity will continue.

Rabindranath Tagore is the first Asian person to be awarded with the Nobel prize in 1913 in literature for his book “Gitanjali” and probably the most prominent personality in the cultural world of Indian subcontinent. He is mainly known as a poet, but his multifaceted talent showered upon different branches of art, such as, Poetry, novels, short stories, articles dramas, essays, painting etc. He was a social reformer, patriot and above all, a great humanitarian and philosopher. To understand his multifaceted talent, his works, one has to do research work on him. It is amazing the way he has written so much in his life time.

Bangla culture, especially music of Bengal (India) and Bangladesh too has been greatly influenced by Rabindranath Tagore – by his thousands of songs and poetries. The songs known as Rabindrasangeet is still popular. The songs of Tagore have an eternal appeal and is permanently placed in the heart of the Bengalis. In Bengal its like a rituals in their lives that in every house children learn and practice Rabindrasangeet.

Amartya Sen in his book “Tagore and His India” says : “Rabindranath is a towering figure in the millennium-old literature of Bengal. Anyone who becomes familiar with this large and flourishing tradition will be impressed by the power of Tagore’s presence in Bangladesh and in India. His poetry as well as his novels, short stories, and essays are very widely read, and the songs he composed reverberate around the eastern part of India and throughout Bangladesh.”


 
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Posted by on 08/05/2010 in Tagore

 

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Pachise Baishakh – a tribute to Tagore

A Tribute to Rabindranath Tagore on his 148th birthday on Pachise Baishakh as per Bengali Calender, which falls on 08th May 2008.

Rabindranath Tagore is the first Asian person to be awarded with the Nobel prize in 1913 in literature for his book “Gitanjali” and probably the most prominent personality in the cultural world of Indian subcontinent. He is mainly known as a poet, but his multifaceted talent showered upon different branches of art, such as, Poetry, novels, short stories, articles dramas, essays, painting etc. He was a social reformer, patriot and above all, a great humanitarian and philosopher. To understand his multifaceted talent, his works, one has to do research work on him. It is amazing the way he has written so much in his life time. Here is a piece of his work from his “The  Gardener” :

IN THE DUSKY PATH OF A DREAM

by: Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

In the dusky path of a dream I went to seek the love who was mine in a former life.

Her house stood at the end of a desolate street.

In the evening breeze her pet peacock sat drowsing on its perch, and the pigeons were silent in their corner.

She set her lamp down by the portal and stood before me.

She raised her large eyes to my face and mutely asked, “Are you well, my friend?”

I tried to answer, but our language had been lost and forgotten.

I thought and thought; our names would not come to my mind.

Tears shone in her eyes. She held up her right hand to me. I took it and stood silent.

Our lamp had flickered in the evening breeze and died.

Bangla culture, especially music of Bengal (India) and Bangladesh too has been greatly influenced by Rabindranath Tagore – by his thousands of songs and poetries. The songs known as Rabindrasangeet is still popular. The songs of Tagore have an eternal appeal and is permanently placed in the heart of the Bengalis. In Bengal its like a rituals in their lives that in every house children learn and practice Rabindrasangeet.

Amartya Sen in his book “Tagore and His India” says : “Rabindranath is a towering figure in the millennium-old literature of Bengal. Anyone who becomes familiar with this large and flourishing tradition will be impressed by the power of Tagore’s presence in Bangladesh and in India. His poetry as well as his novels, short stories, and essays are very widely read, and the songs he composed reverberate around the eastern part of India and throughout Bangladesh.”

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