Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Rabindra Jayanti

I don't know if Rabindra Jayanti, the birth day of Tagore, can be classified into one of those 'Happy' days - like New Year, Diwali, Christmas etc. - when people wish happiness and good luck to each other. In fact not many birthdays are considered 'Happy' days. Jesus is very lucky. His might be the only birthday that gets the maximum 'happy' and 'merry' wishes. Our Lord Krishna comes to a distant second, at least in India, because few people do wish each other on Janmashtami, if not in the same way they do on Christmas. Nevertheless the online greeting cards portals have brought back some heritage and cultural feelings among us and they remind us from time to time to wish each other on many of these 'happy' days. In India most of the 'happy' days are religious or social - Happy Diwali, Happy Dussera, Happy Holi et al. Lately the various relations day, like Happy Mothers' Day, Happy Fathers' Day, Happy Husband Day, Happy Lovers Day etc have become quite popular and I'm sure the portals and the florists make quite a good amount of money in these occasions.

Somehow I find it a bit ironical why the birth days of real people in flesh and blood never attain the status of one of those Happy Days. Have you ever heard of wishing each other a Happy Gandhi Jayanti or for that matter a Happy Rabindra Jayanti? Gandhi and Tagore are perhaps among the most important personalities who have shaped the modern India. Above all both of them taught us to love each other. Without a Gandhi India would have been a Pakistan by now and without a Tagore Bangladesh would have been the same. Pakistan is doubly unlucky that they lack both Tagore and Gandhi and Bangladesh at least has Tagore to keep them away from becoming a Pakistan too soon. It's India alone who has survived in the subcontinent amidst all her folly and feigns, trouble and pains, terror and reigns. We still love to stay together, we still love not to pounce upon others at the first possible opportunity, we still take pride in our culture but welcome people and cultures from round the world. We uphold the tradition of thousands of years but still have a very modern spiritual and cultural outlook. Our post colonial indigenous education system, much of which is inspired by Tagore's ideas and the political backbone, much of which is still based on Gandhi's thoughts are perhaps the two major factors that have kept us distinguished from our neighbors. Religious intolerance and fanaticism is still not that alarming that it can fill venom in the blood of every Indian.

So can't the birth day of Tagore and Gandhi be one of those 'happy' days.

Tagore is one of the persons whom I love and learn to love in a new way each time at all phases of my life - the time I first fell in love, the time when I feel dejected and rejected, the time I see success and also the time I fail miserably - there's something always that soothes me and this grand old bearded man seems to be always with me. I'm never alone even if I'm stuck in the loneliest corner of the world, I'm never extravagant even if I'm wrapped with all the wealth of the world, I'm never sad even if the whole world leaves me, I'm never hopeless even if nothing happens as expected. Rabindranath is there always at my disposal. His songs keep me enriched, his words keep me awake and his thoughts drive me always. For me his 150th birthday today surely one of the 'happiest' days where I'd like to wish happiness to everyone I love.

After a very long time I was watching the movie Kabuliwala in one of the Bengali channels. I'd forgotten many of the scenes and sequences. That's why I enjoyed again watching it so much. No doubt that's one of the finest movies made in any Indian language. At the end of the movie one thought just dawned in me - whatever may the rest of the world think about Afghanistan, but the Bengalis will always have a totally different picture of the fierceful by still not dreaded, very rough and tough but still so loving Afghans - all thanks to Tagore's depiction of a country and its people in such a poignant way. It's irony that in the course of just 100 years have become the most dreaded nation in the world.

Rabindranath's elder brother Satyendranath Tagore was perhaps the first Indian to pass the ICS exam. He was posted in what's now Dakshin Kannada district or Karnataka, the area around Karwar which includes the beautiful Kali river. It was during his official tenure that his youngest brother Rabindranath used to visit him during the 1870s. Rabindranath was in his teens then. Looks like he was awed by the serene and virgin beauty of the Western Ghats and specially the shores of the rivulet Kali. People who have visited those areas would understand how serene those places might have been some 150 years ago. There's no doubt that a poet and a nature lover would fall in love with this place. KSTDC still acknowledges Tagore's love for these places and they have a resort run by Jungle Lodges on Kali river at a place called Dandeli. In fact I came to know of these trivia only from a KSTDC pamphlet where they very proudly advertised how much Tagore loved these places. They also claimed that Tagore wrote his first drama (perhaps Rajarshi) on the banks of Kali/Dandeli rivers. Next if you go to Karwar, you can see that there are multiple places named after Tagore. That's also because Tagore used to frequent Karwar a lot and considered the beaches on Karwar best in India. No wonder, Jungle Lodges have one of their best resorts on an island on Kali river near the mouth in Karwar. Also if you've seen the Karwar beach, just south of Goa, it's indeed one of the finest beaches in India.
Perhaps the most interesting connection with Bangalore is that Tagore started one of his best, and my favorite, novels Shesher Kabita, here. The story goes like this - he was visiting Bangalore along with P C Mahalanabis and the later's wife Rani Mahalanabis, both very close to Tagore. PC Mahalanabis founded ISI in Calcutta much later. Rani and few of her friends were quite young in 1930s, perhaps in their twenties, and all of them requested the old septuagenarian Tagore to write something interesting for the youngsters like them. Tagore took the challenge and started telling them a story about two very romantic people Amit and Labanya, who met literally accidentally on the hills of Shillong. After a short while the story became quite interesting and that's when they requested Tagore to make a novel out of it!!

Well, I think Bangalore still keeps up to the reputation of being a city of youngsters!!

1 comment:

Shivoo said...

Good post Sudipto