Rabindranath Tagore and the ‘women’ in his arts!

Posted on by Sakshi Behl
 
  

Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, at a recent function in the State, raised a very pertinent point. He said: “Rabindranath Tagore, while writing the national anthem, had praised the ‘angrezi shaasak’ (English ruler) by writing ‘adhinayak jai ho’, and it is about time that this be amended.

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This is a no-brainer, but we never noticed it, and even if we did, we chose to look the other way because change unsettles us, because replacing ‘adhinayak’ with ‘mangal’ would mean disrespecting the sentiments of Rabindranath Tagore.

At the time of writing, did Rabindranath envision a free India? If he did, why use the word ‘adhinayak’ in the Indian national anthem? Sections of historians claim that the song was written and first sung to praise and felicitate King George V and Queen Mary on their visit to India in 1911. ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was officially adopted as the Indian national anthem on 24 January, 1950. Without any change!

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We blindly follow our heroes, but have they always led us in the right direction?

Rabindranath Tagore is a saint-like figure in India. His art work, the purity of his poems and the passion with which he worked towards transforming the world for the better, helped him win the noble prize in 1913.

Yesterday, I was watching Suman Ghosh’s controversial movie on Kadambari, which was released in Kolkata on May 8th. This movie has portrayed the life and complexities of Kadambari, who was the sister-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore, with whom she shared a special bond. Kadambari Devi, who married Jagindranath, Rabindranath’s elder brother, filled the void in Rabindranath’s life by being his playmate. She also cooked him his favourite food!

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They grew together, not requiring anyone’s support. According to the biographer, Mukhopadhyay, Rabindranath’s marriage to an illiterate 11 year old, whom he renamed Mrinalini, was unexpected and sudden. After 4 months of his marriage, Kadambari committed suicide by opium overdose. All the diaries and letters, including suicide note, were suppressed by the family and was not made public.

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There have been speculations about Kadambari being in love with Rabindranath Tagore. Most of the paintings of Rabindranath Tagore were reproductions of the aura of Kadambari. He chose to keep his feelings to himself. Confessing in his 70s to Nandalal Bose about his painting being made keeping Kadambari in mind, was fruitless.

The lines, “But where is the sweetheart of mine who was almost the only companion of my boyhood and with whom I spent my idle days of youth exploring the mysteries of dreamland? She, my Queen, has died and my world has shut against the door of its inner apartment of beauty which gives on the real taste of freedom.” Clearly illustrates the love both shared.

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Even in his late 60s, he harboured hopes of finding a partner.

‘Dear Gurudev, days are endless since you went away” – she wrote…

“when we were together we mostly played with words and tried to laugh away our best opportunities. Whenever there is the least sign of the nest becoming a jealous rival of the sky. My mind, like a migrant bird, tries to take … flight to a distant shore.” – he wrote.

This was a soft and low pitched affair developing on the banks of the river plata which seasoned in unforgettable two months. Victoria Ocampo, a dove tailed beauty with immense wealth had a thing with then empty handed Rabindranath tagore.

The recently exposed secret relationship of Rabindranath Tagore with Dehradun-based professor Mira Devi has created a lot of controversies. “Rabindranath and Mira had lived together in Dehradun, leading to rumours of an affair between them,” Bandyopadhyay said.

Rabindranath Tagore cannot be faulted for being in love, or for being uninhibited about it. But I feel it’s important for us to know

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