Today is Rabindra Jayanti – ‘Ponchis e Baishakh’, by the Bengali calendar. Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7th of May, 1861, and left the mortal body on 7th of August, 1941, immortalising his works and infinite contribution to the society. I won’t write what Rabindranath Tagore means to a Bengali and/or an Indian. He is beyond shackles of borders and narrowness of nationalism. I will istead talk of something else here. Rabindranath Tagore’s words have influenced me to the core and some of them have touched my heart. I created some art for art and am sharing them here.
Interestingly, just last week we celebrated Budhha Purnima. So I was reading the poem ‘Mulyaprapti (মূল্যপ্রাপ্তি)’ – ‘The Due Price’ by Tagore. He was highly influenced by the life and teachings of the Buddha. Some of Rabindranath Tagore’s words on Buddha are, “I have one guru as you know him. He is Buddhadev (LordBuddha).” Buddhist influence is strongly observed in many of his works- novels, prose and poetry.
'The Due Price' by Tagore.
The poem speaks of Sudas, a florist, who has only one lotus in the off season. He meets a stranger in front of the palace of the the king, to whom he wanted to sell the lotus. The stranger was going to Lord Buddha and he wanted the lotus for him. He would pay one gold grain to Sudas. In the mean time the king had just left the palace for meeting Lord Buddha. Now, the King wanted the lotus for offering to the Buddha. When both the stranger and the King kept offering more and more to Sudas for the single lotus which blossomed in the off season, Sudas thought that he must go to Buddha himself because that would fetch him maximum possible price, even more than what the king or the stranger might offer. So he went to Lord Buddha and then what happened is given in the last lines (in English):
Suddenly he fell himself down on the floor
And placed the flower on Buddha’s feet.
The Lord smiled and asked him in a sweet voice, ‘What is it that you want, my son?’ Choked with emotion Sudas said, ‘My Lord, Nothing more than a grain of dust of your feet’.
Rabindranath Tagore’s Words – https://www.tagoreweb.in/Verses/kotha-39/mulyoprapti-2345
Tagore's Women aren't Cliche
Some of Tagore’s strong women are characters which still influence. Every one speaks of these significant women. However, I feel, Rabindranath Tagore saw every woman as an epitome of strength and power. Even the simplest of his woman characters exudes grace. He didn’t care if she was rural or urbanised, if she was fair or dark, if she was educated or uneducated. He just saw a woman as a woman. I am very fond of the Rabindrasangeet, ‘Krishnokoli’ where he describes a dark lady from the village. Rabindranath Tagore’s words are empowering. This lady here is not bound by the shackles of the imbibed idea of ‘beauty’. She is an uneducated and unsophisticated, dark skinned rural girl with joint eyebrows. He mentions that she is busy working in the fields and so has no time to feel ashamed and cover her head. The society has the idea of shame as a virtue of a woman, thrust upon them. It is fake. This lady represents the power of being the true self. Goddess Kali must have been in the poet’s mind.
The Song 'Krishnakoli'
The English is translated by Rabindranath himself:
Her neighbours in the village call her dark -but she is a lily to my heart, yes, a lily though not fair. Light came muffled with dark clouds, when first I saw her in the field; her head was bare, her veil was off, her braided hair hanging loose on her neck.
She may be dark as they say in the village, but I have seen her dark deer-like eyes and am glad. The pulse of the air boded storm. She rushed out of the hut, when she heard her dappled cow low in dismay.
For a moment she turned her large eyes to the clouds, and felt a stir of the coming rain in the sky.
I stood at the corner of the rice field, if she noticed me, it was known only to her (and perhaps I know it).
She is dark as the message of shower in summer, dark as the shade of flowering woodland; she is dark as the longing for unknown love in the wistful night of May.
Rabindranath Tagore and Faith
Rabindranath Tagore’s women characters are incredible. But I am so attracted to some of the so called ‘insignificant’ ladies whose presence in his pieces actually speak a lot about his perspective of women. Speaking of such women and Lord Buddha again, the poem ‘Pujarini’ must be mentioned. Here Rabindranath Tagore’s words express the idea of strong faith. Resilience in faith doesn’t exist if you are a king, queen or a maid. It exists in the mind irrespective of gender, class, caste and creed and it is a choice which has to be taken without fear.
This is a poem of a simple maid who stands strong to her faith. Faith is her strength, she is stronger than the queens. Her service to God is unaffected. Pujarini Dasi is a maid to the Queen in Emperor Bimbisara’s palace. Bimbisara was an ardent follower of Buddha and had built a white stupa in the palace gardens where the ladies of the palace worshipped every evening. His son, Ajatshatru, forcefully took over and imprisoned his father. The new Emperor announced that worshipping of Buddha in the palace must be stopped. Not a single lady came down to worship, including the queen. This Pujarini Dasi, after failing to summon others, decided to continue the evening aarti all by herself. The flames of the lit lamps near the stupa caught the palace guards’ attention. On asking them she replied that She is Pujarini, Buddha’s Dasi. She no longer calls herself the maid of the palace but devotes her service to the lord. Finally the guard kills her with his sword and red blood splits on the pure white marble of the stupa. Rabindranath Tagore’s words- https://www.tagoreweb.in/Verses/kotha-39/pujarini-4012
Rabindranath Tagore on His Mother
The poem, ‘I can not Remember My Mother’ is etched in my soul. With Mother’s Day coming next week, this poem is reverberating in my mind. Rabindranath Tagore’s words are like paintings and I painted for this poem based on the following lines:
I cannot remember my mother
but when in the early autumn morning
the smell of the shiuli flowers floats in the air
the scent of the morning service in the temple
comes to me as the scent of my mother.
The Impact of Rabindranath Tagore's Words
Rabindranath Tagore’s work keeps influencing me at every stage of life. They encourage, empower and enlighten. His love for nature is remarkable. I am overjoyed when I read about his love for the Himalayas. His writings are divine. Rabindranath Tagore’s words speak of divine love and they liberate.
Words for Rabindranath Tagore's Words
Rabindranath Tagore twas awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 1913 “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”. Please refer to know more: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1913/tagore/facts/
He is the first non-European to have been awarded the Nobel Prize. Rabindranath Tagore’s words are rare priceless gems. He is celebrated all across the globe and hence today is a special day. Ending here with best wishes for a serene and beautiful Rabindra Jayanti.
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