Thursday, June 22, 2017 | ePaper

Tagore : Versatile genius

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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
Rabindranath Tagore is acclaimed as a versatile genius-a great litterateur as such. His contributions in the field of poems, novel, short story, drama, music speak volume about his extra-ordinary Godgifted talents. Born in the purple in 25 Baishakh Tagore contributed largely to the enrichment of Bengali literature. Lanlord Debendranath Tagore was his father and his mother Sharda Devi was Rotnogorva (giving birth to jewels). He belongs to Thakur family located in Jorasako, Calcutta.
Known mostly for his poetry, Tagore was prolific composing novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, and thousands of songs. Of Tagore's prose, his short stories are perhaps most highly regarded; he is indeed credited with originating the Bengali-language version of the genre. His works are frequently noted for their rhythmic, optimistic, and lyrical nature. Such stories mostly borrow from deceptively simple subject matter : commoners. Tagore's nonfiction was grappled with history, linguistics, and spirituality. He wrote autobiographies. His travelogues, essays, and lectures were compiled into several volumes, including Europe Jatrir Potro (Letters from Europe) and Manusher Dhormo (Religion of Mankind).
Tagore was a prolific composer with 2,230 songs to his credit. His songs are known as Rabindra Sangeet (Tagore Song), which merges fluidly into his literature, most of which- poems or parts of novels, stories, or plays alike-were Iyricised. To cite Wikipedia: "Influenced by the thumri style of Hindustani music, they ran the entire gamut of human emotion, ranging from his early dirge-like Brahmo devotional hymns to quasi-erotic compositions. They emulated the tonal color of classical ragas to varying extents. Some songs mimicked a given raga's melody and rhythm faithfully; others newly blended elements of different ragas. Yet about nine-tenths of his work was not bhanga gaan, the body of tunes revamped with 'fresh value' from select Western, Hindustani, Bengali folk and other regional flavours 'external' to Tagore's own ancestral culture. Scholars have attempted to gauge the emotive force and range of Hindustani ragas."
Tagore songs are melodious, romantic and sad with tunes deeply touching our heart and mind The male singers who are natural bar in tone can sing Tagore song well of course with tuneful rendition. They perform all with the depth of their voice in tandem with traditional Indian musical instrument and orchestra. The appeal of the songs are universal taking hold of even the children of the contemporary generations.
We can mention a host of Tagore songs: Aji Bijono ghore, Maya bono biharini, Bodhu kon alo laglo chokhe, Ami chinigo chini tomare ogo bideshini, Keno chokher jole bhijiye .. , Amar ridoy tomar apon hater, Je rate mor duarguli, Amar jibon patro uchholia madhuri koreso dan, Kotobare bhebe sinu aponaro hate, Prangone mor. fagun mase; Ogo bodhu sundori, Megher kole rod heshechhe .. , .. ridoy he momo, Jodi tor dak sune keu na ase, tui fele esheschis kare; sedin dujone, Ore grihobash, Pagla hawar badol dine, Tumi kebol chhobi, Nai nai bhoy, Jokhon porbe na mor payer chinno ei bate, Bhanglo bhanglo milon mela, bhanglo., Joubono sorosi nire milono shotodolo.  
Tagore did not have formal education at educational institutions.
His views about education was quite different as he believes in possession of knowledge through continuous learning with a good deal of perseverance. Only thirst for knowledge is the only way to insight development. Tagore used to concentrate on the study of literature, philosophy, religion, law, humanity, society, politics and music. At the age of 8 he started composing poems. At the age of 15 he wrote poetic novel Bonophool.
His essays, poems and other golden pieces were published in Bengali dailies, jounals. and periodicals. He worked as editor of Balaka-a domestic monthly.
In 1911 he translated Geetanjalee into English. In 1913 Tagore won Nobel Prize. He was awarded Knight in 1914. Calcutta University conferred upon him the honorary degree-D.L it and Oxford University honoured him with a Doctorate of Letters.
Tagore was deeply entrenched in home education with a vast library brimful with books. Reading was his pleasure and hobby. Tagore largely avoided classroom schooling and preferred to roam the manor or nearby Bolpur and Panihati, idylls which the family visited. His brother Hemendranath tutored and physically conditioned him by having him swim the Ganges or trek through hills, by gymnastics, and by practising judo and wrestling.
He learned to draw Anatomy, Geography and History, Literature, Mathematics, Sanskrit, and English-his least favourite subject. Tagore loathed formal education-his scholarly travails at the local Presidency College spanned a single day. Years later he held that proper teaching does not explain things; proper teaching stokes curiosity.
To gather pedagogical experience he moved to London In 1921.
His profound love for education to gain an entry point in to the whole world of introspection propelled Tagore lay the foundation of Viswa Bharati. His brief chat with Einstein, "Note on the Nature of Reality", is included as an appendix to the latter. On the occasion of Tagore's 150th birthday an anthology (titled Kalanukromik Rabindra Rachanabali) of the total body of his works is currently being published in Bengali in chronological order. This includes all versions of each work and fills about eighty volumes. In 2011 Harvard University Press collaborated with Viswa Bharati University to publish The Essential Tagore, the largest anthology of Tagore's works available in English.
Tagore was a lover of mankind-a philanthropist as such. Being a lanlord he was exceptional full of sympathy for the poor whose lives became downtrodden by the exploitation and persecution of the zamindars and various intermediaries. Tagore spent a part of his Nobel Prize money on poverty alleviation.
In 1921 Tagore created Sriniketon. He said, "the objective of Sriniketon is to bring back life in its completeness into villagers, making them self-reliant, acquinted with the cultural tradition of their own country and competent to make use of modern resources for the improvement of their physical, intellectual and economic conditions."
The Bengali month Boishakh is significant deeply anchored in our way of life. It is a month of cultural reawkening and the month heralding the advent of Tagore. There is an inrinsic connection between Tagore and Boishakh. Such connection takes to the reminicenses of Bengali tradition with cultural connotations. Tagore composed the song like 'esho hey Boishakh esho esho! taposh niswash baye, mumursure dao urae (come, come, 0 Boishakh, come with your severe hot breath blow away all that is frail)

(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Professor, department of Public Administration, Chittagong University)

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