Archive | August 2012

Poetry and Reason Why Rabindranath Tagore still matters: Amartya Sen

For the hundredth post on this blog, I was not sure whether I should translate from his infinite treasury of poetry or from his prose. Someone suggested the poem containing the lines, ‘Aji Hotey Shoto Borsho Pore’ recited in his own voice. I was not convinced. I felt that an explanation to myself was more in order. What was it about Tagore that made me persist at this? I have been looking carefully at all the feedback people have given. Ranging from requests from parents in New Mexico and Delhi for poems that they loved while growing up and would like their children to read, to effusive and loving praise from people who are like older siblings to the reader who has been unaware that someone like Tagore walked this earth just a few years ago but is now liking what they read….there have been many. Yet that is not just why I do this. I also do this because I love his writing, his thought and his opinions which remain refreshingly relevant despite the hundred and fifty odd years that have passed since his birth. He deserves to be known and read and far more widely than he is at the moment. I do this ‘blogging thing’ as someone called it, with that in mind.
Recently, on the occasion of India’s Independence Day celebrations, I found and re-read an essay of Tagore’s titled Nationalism. I posted it on this blog as well. It reads like a prophecy. His analysis of where Indian politics fails its people and how Europe would end up as a stagnant collection of nation states are startling. That blog post saw more shares than I had thought it would. The link is given below:
Such was his intelligence. As I said to someone that day, he was so much more than a bearded romantic who wrote songs; he was a giant amongst men. Little wonder then that we should want the world to know that.
The article below is by Amartya Sen, himself a product of Rabindranath Tagore’s beloved Santiniketan and like Tagore, a Nobel Prize winner. He explains far better than me and most of us why Tagore is still relevant.

Poetry and Reason

Why Rabindranath Tagore still matters

In his book Raga Mala, Ravi Shankar, the great musician, argues that had Rabindranath Tagore “been born in the West he would now be [as] revered as Shakespeare and Goethe.” This is a strong claim, and it calls attention to some greatness in this quintessentially Bengali writer—identified by a fellow Bengali—that might not be readily echoed in the wider world today, especially in the West. For the Bengali public, Tagore has been, and remains, an altogether exceptional literary figure, towering over all others. His poems, songs, novels, short stories, critical essays, and other writings have vastly enriched the cultural environment in which hundreds of millions of people live in the Bengali-speaking world, whether in Bangladesh or in India. Something of that glory is acknowledged in India outside Bengal as well, and even in some other parts of Asia, including China and Japan, but in the rest of the world, especially in Europe and America, Tagore is clearly not a household name.

And yet the enthusiasm and excitement that Tagore’s writings created in Europe and America in the early years of the twentieth century were quite remarkable. Gitanjali, a selection of his poems for which Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, was published in English translation in London in March 1913 and was reprinted ten times by the time the award was announced in November. For many years Tagore was the rage in many European countries. His public appearances were always packed with people wanting to hear him. But then the Tagore tide ebbed, and by the 1930s the huge excitement was all over. Indeed, by 1937, Graham Greene was able to remark, “As for Rabindranath Tagore, I cannot believe that anyone but Mr. Yeats can still take his poems very seriously.”

The one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore’s birth, which we mark this year, is a good occasion to ask what happened.

The occasion has also generated some new books on Tagore, in addition to the distinguished ones that already exist. A very fine selection of Tagore’s writings, The Essential Tagore, with translations by leading scholars from Bangladesh, India, Britain, and America, along with insightful editorial comments by the two editors, Fakrul Alam and Radha Chakravarty, has just been published by Harvard University Press. The book has an imaginative and original foreword by the excellent writer Amit Chaudhuri, with a very engaging analysis of “poetry as polemic.”

The title of the book presumes that some of Tagore must be essential. But given the fairly comprehensive neglect of this writer in the contemporary English literary world, it could well be asked whether Tagore is indeed essential at all. We must also ask why a writer who evokes comparison with Shakespeare and Goethe tends to generate so little enthusiasm in Western countries today. There is surely some mystery here.

At one level it is not particularly hard to see that his native readers can get something from Tagore’s writings, especially his poems and songs, that would be missed by those who do not read Bengali. Even Yeats, his biggest promoter in the English-speaking world, did not like Tagore’s own English translations. “Tagore does not know English,” Yeats declared, adding a little theory to his diagnosis, as he often did: “No Indian knows English.”

Yeats was very willing to work with Tagore to overcome that handicap in the production of the English version of Gitanjali, though there are some serious problems with the Yeats-assisted translations as well. The more general obstacle to the appreciation of Tagore in English surely comes from the fact that poetry is notoriously difficult to translate. Even with the best effort and talent, it can be hard—if not impossible—to preserve the magic of poetry as it is transplanted from one language to another. Anyone who knows Tagore’s poems in Bengali would typically find it difficult to be really satisfied with any translation, no matter how good. To this impediment must be added the fact that Tagore’s poetry, which often takes the form of songs in an innovative style of lyrical singing, called Rabindrasangeet, has transformed popular Bengali music with its particular combination of reflective language and compatible tunes.

There is, in addition, the problem that Tagore’s influence on Bengali writing is so gigantic and epoch-making that his innovative language itself has profound importance to the Bengali reading public. Kazi Nazrul Islam, almost certainly the most successful Bengali poet with the exception of Tagore, who was constantly expressing his admiration for the person whom he called, uniquely, “the world poet,” has testified that Tagore had altogether transformed the Bengali language. In many different ways, Tagore’s writings reshaped and reconstructed modern Bengali in a way that only a handful of innovative Bengali writers had done before him, going back all the way, a thousand years earlier, to the authors of Charyapad, the Buddhist literary classics that first established the distinctive features of early modern Bengali.

Not only is language a part of the story in the contrast between Tagore’s appreciation at home and the indifference to him abroad, but a related component of the story lies in the extraordinary importance and unusual place of language in Bengali culture in general. The Bengali language has had an amazingly powerful influence on the identity of Bengalis as a group, on both sides of the political boundary between Bangladesh and India. In fact, the politically separatist campaign in what was East Pakistan that led to the war for independence, and eventually to the formation of the new secular state of Bangladesh in 1971, was pioneered by the bhasha andolon, the “language movement” in defense of the Bengali language.

The movement started on February 21, 1952, only a few years after the partition of the subcontinent, with a large demonstration at Dhaka University in what was then the capital of East Pakistan (and now of Bangladesh), when the police gunned down a number of demonstrators. This turned out to be a decisive moment in the history of what would later become Bangladesh. February 21 is celebrated each year in Bangladesh as the Language Movement Day, and this has resonance across the world, since that day has been declared by UNESCO as the International Mother Language Day for the world as a whole. Language has served as a very powerful uniting identity for Muslims and Hindus in Bengal, and this sense of shared belonging has had a profound impact on the politics of Bengal, including its commitment to secularism on both sides of the border in the post-partition world.

The extraordinary combination of Tagore’s language and themes has had a captivating influence on his Bengali readers. Many Bengalis express their astonishment at the fact that people outside Bengal could fail to appreciate and enjoy Tagore’s writings; and that incomprehension is at least partly due to underestimating the difference that language can make. E.M. Forster noted the barrier of language, as early as 1919, when Tagore was still in vogue, in reviewing the translation of one of Tagore’s great Bengali novels, Ghare Baire, translated in English as The Home and the World. (It would be later made into a fine film by Satyajit Ray.) Forster confessed that he could not make himself like the English version of the novel that he read. “The theme is so beautiful,” he remarked, but the charms have “vanished in translation.”

So the importance of language provides a clue to the eclipse of Tagore in the West, but it cannot be the whole story. For one thing, Tagore’s nonfictional prose writings also have a gripping hold on the attention of Bengalis and also of other Indians, but they are not seen abroad in a similarly admiring way at all. This is so despite the fact that these writings are much easier to translate: indeed, Tagore himself often presented these essays in very effective English about which it would be hard to grumble. In his essays and his lectures, Tagore developed ideas on a remarkably wide variety of subjects—on politics, on culture, on society, on education; and while they are regularly quoted in his homeland, they are very rarely invoked now outside Bangladesh and India. There has to be something other than the barrier of language in the lack of world attention to Tagore. And this raises the larger question: how relevant, how important are Tagore’s general ideas?

Perhaps the central issues that moved Tagore most are the importance of open-minded reasoning and the celebration of human freedom. This placed him in a somewhat distinct category from some of his great compatriots. Tagore admired Gandhi immensely, and expressed his admiration of his leadership time and again, and did more than perhaps anyone else in insisting that he be described as “Mahatma”—the great soul. And yet Tagore frequently disagreed with Gandhi whenever he thought that the latter’s reasoning did not go far enough. They would often argue with each other quite emphatically. When, for example, Gandhi used the catastrophic Bihar earthquake of 1934 that killed a huge number of people as further ammunition in his fight against untouchability—he identified the earthquake as “a divine chastisement sent by God for our sins,” in particular the sin of untouchability—Tagore protested vehemently, insisting that “it is all the more unfortunate because this kind of unscientific view of phenomena is too readily accepted by a large section of our countrymen.”

Similarly, when Gandhi advocated that everyone should use the charka—the primitive spinning wheel—thirty minutes a day, Tagore expressed his disagreement sharply. He thought little of Gandhi’s alternative economics, and found reason to celebrate, with a few qualifications, the liberating role of modern technology in reducing human drudgery as well as poverty. He also was deeply skeptical of the spiritual argument for the spinning wheel: “The charka does not require anyone to think; one simply turns the wheel of the antiquated invention endlessly, using the minimum of judgment and stamina.” In contrast with Gandhi’s advocacy of abstinence as the right method of birth control, Tagore championed family planning through preventive methods. He was also concerned that Gandhi had “a horror of sex as great as that of the author of The Kreutzer Sonata.” And the two differed sharply on the role of modern medicine, to which Gandhi was not friendly at all.

Many of these issues remain deeply relevant today, but what is important to note here are not the particular views that Tagore advanced in these—and other such—areas, but the organizing principles that moved him. The poet who was famous in the West only as a romantic and a spiritualist was in fact persistently guided in his writings by the necessity of critical reasoning and the importance of human freedom. Also, those were the philosophical priorities that influenced Tagore’s ideas on education, including his insistence that education is the most important element in the development of a country. In his assessment of Japan’s economic development, Tagore separated out the role that the advancement of school education had played in Japan’s remarkable development—an analysis that would be echoed much later in the literature on development. He may have been exaggerating the role of education somewhat when he remarked that “the imposing tower of misery which today rests on the heart of India has its sole foundation in the absence of education,” but it is not hard to see why he saw the transformative role of education as the central story in the development process.

Tagore devoted much of his life to advancing education in India and advocating it everywhere. Nothing absorbed as much of his time as the school in Santiniketan that he established. He was constantly raising money for this unusually progressive co-educational school. I have to declare a bias here, since I was educated at this school, and my mother was schooled there decades earlier, in what was one of the early co-educational institutions in India. After learning that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, Tagore told others about it, or so the story goes, in a meeting of a school committee discussing how to fund a new set of drains that the school needed. His announcement of the recognition apparently took the eccentric form of his saying that “money for the drains has probably been found.”

In his distinctive view of education, Tagore particularly emphasized the need for gathering knowledge from everywhere in the world, and assessing it only by reasoned scrutiny. As a student at the Santiniketan school, I felt very privileged that the geographical boundaries of our education were not confined only to India and imperial Britain (as was common in Indian schools then). We learned a great deal about Europe, Africa, the USA, and Latin America, and even more extensively about other countries in Asia. Santiniketan had the first institute of Chinese studies in India; my mother learned judo in the school nearly a century ago; and there were excellent training facilities in arts, crafts, and music from other countries, such as Indonesia.

Tagore also worked hard to break out of the religious and communal thinking that was beginning to be championed in India during his lifetime—it would peak in the years following his death in 1941, when the Hindu-Muslim riots erupted in the subcontinent, making the partitioning of the country hard to avoid. Tagore was extremely shocked by the violence that was provoked by the championing of a singular identity of people as members of one religion or another, and he felt convinced that this disaffection was being foisted on common people by determined extremists: “interested groups led by ambition and outside instigation are today using the communal motive for destructive political ends.”

Tagore became more and more anxious and disappointed about India and about the world in the years before his death, and he did not live to see the emergence of a secular Bangladesh, which drew a part of its inspiration from his reasoned rejection of communal separatism. With its independence, Bangladesh chose one of Tagore’s songs (“Amar Sonar Bangla”) as its national anthem, making Tagore possibly the only person in human history who authored the national anthems of two independent countries: India had already adopted another one of his songs as its national anthem.

All this must be very confusing to those who see the contemporary world as a “clash of civilizations”—with “Muslim civilization,” “Hindu civilization,” and “Western civilization,” defined largely on religious grounds, vehemently confronting each other. They would also be confused by Tagore’s own description of his own cultural background: “a confluence of three cultures, Hindu, Mohammedan, and British.” Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather, Dwarkanath, was well known for his command of Arabic and Persian, and Rabindranath grew up in a family atmosphere in which a deep knowledge of Sanskrit and ancient Hindu texts was combined with the study of Islamic traditions as well as Persian literature. It is not so much that Tagore tried to produce a “synthesis” of the different religions (as the great Mughal emperor Akbar had attempted for a time), but his reliance on reasoning and his emphasis on human freedom militated against a separatist and parochial understanding of social divisions.

If Tagore’s voice was strong against communalism and religious sectarianism, he was no less outspoken in his rejection of nationalism. He was critical of the display of excessive nationalism in India, despite his persistent criticism of British imperialism. And notwithstanding his great admiration for Japanese culture and history, he would chastise Japan late in his life for its extreme nationalism and its mistreatment of China and east and southeast Asia.

Tagore also went out of his way to dissociate the criticism of the Raj from any denunciation of British people and British culture. Consider Gandhi’s famous witticism in reply to the question, asked in England, about what he thought of British civilization: “It would be a good idea.” There are some doubts about the authenticity of the story, but whether or not it is exactly accurate, the purported remark did fit with Gandhi’s amused skepticism about claims of British greatness. Those words could not have come from Tagore’s lips, even in jest. While he denied altogether the legitimacy of the Raj, Tagore was vocal in pointing out what Indians had gained from “discussions centered upon Shakespeare’s drama and Byron’s poetry and above all…. the large-hearted liberalism of nineteenth-century English politics.” The tragedy, as Tagore saw it, came from the fact that what “was truly best in their own civilization, the upholding of dignity of human relationships, has no place in the British administration of this country.”

Tagore saw the world as a vast give-and-take of ideas and innovations. He insisted that “whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin.” He went on to proclaim, “I am proud of my humanity when I can acknowledge the poets and artists of other countries as my own. Let me feel with unalloyed gladness that all the great glories of man are mine.” The importance of such ideas has not diminished in the divisive world in which we now live. If that gives at least a part of the answer to the question of why Tagore still matters, it also puts into sharper focus the strangeness of the eclipse of Tagore in the West after an initial outburst of enthusiasm.

In explaining what happened to Tagore in the West, it is important to see the one-sided way in which his Western admirers presented him. This was partly related to the priorities of Tagore’s principal sponsors in Europe, such as Yeats and Pound. They were dedicated to placing Tagore in the light of a mystical religiosity that went sharply against the overall balance of Tagore’s work. In Yeats’s case, his single-minded presentation included adding explanatory remarks to the translation of Tagore’s poems to make sure that the reader got the religious point, eliminating altogether the rich ambiguity of meaning in Tagore’s language between love of human beings and love of God.

However, a part of the answer to the puzzle of the Western misunderstanding of Tagore can be found, I think, in the peculiar position in which Europe was placed when Tagore’s poems became such a rage in the West. Tagore received his Nobel Prize only a year before the start in Europe of World War I, which was fought with unbelievable brutality. The slaughter in that war made many intellectuals and literary figures in Europe turn to insights coming from elsewhere, and Tagore’s voice seemed to many, at the time, to fit the need splendidly. When, for example, the pocket book of Wilfred Owen, the great anti-war poet, was recovered from the battlefield in which he had died, his mother, Susan Owen, found in it a prominent display of Tagore’s poetry. The poem of Tagore with which Wilfred said good-bye before leaving for the battlefield (it began, “When I go from hence, let this be my parting word”) was very much there, as Susan wrote to Tagore, with those words “written in his dear writing—with your name beneath.”

Tagore soon became identified in Europe as a sage with a teaching—a teaching that could, quite possibly, save Europe from the dire predicament of war and disaffection in which it recurrently found itself in the early twentieth century. This was a far cry from the many-sided creative artist and emphatically reasoned thinker that people at home found in Tagore. Even as Tagore urged his countrymen to wake up from blind belief and turn to reason, Yeats was describing Tagore’s voice in thoroughly mystical terms: “we have met our own image … or heard, perhaps for the first time in literature, our voice as in a dream.” There is a huge gulf there.

Tagore argued for the courage to depart from traditional beliefs whenever reason demanded it. There is a nice little story by Tagore called “Kartar Bhoot,” or “The Ghost of the Leader,” illustrating this point. A wise and highly respected leader who received unquestioned admiration from a community had become, in effect, a kind of tyrant when he lived, and enormously more so after he died. The story describes how ridiculously restrained people’s lives became when the dead leader’s recommendations get frozen into inflexible commands. In their impossibly difficult lives, when the members of the community pray to the dead leader to liberate them from their bondage, the leader reminds them that he exists only in their minds—that they are free to liberate themselves whenever they so decide. Tagore had a real horror of being bound by the past, beyond the reach of present reasoning.

Yet Tagore himself did not do much to resist the wrongly conceived reputation as a mystical sage that was being thrust upon him. Even though he wrote to his friend C.F. Andrews in 1920, at the height of his adulation as an Eastern messiah, that “these people … are like drunkards who are afraid of their lucid intervals,” he played along without much public protest. There was perhaps some tension within Tagore’s self-perception that allowed him to entertain the belief that the East had a real message to give to the West, and this conviction fitted rather badly with the rest of his reasoned commitments and convictions. There was also a serious mismatch between the kind of religiosity that the Western intellectuals came to attribute to Tagore (Graham Greene thought that he had seen in Tagore “what Chesterton calls ‘the bright pebbly eyes’ of the Theosophists”) and the form that Tagore’s religious beliefs actually took. His religious inclinations are perhaps best represented by one of his poems (I am taking the liberty of translating the lines into simple English, away from the biblical English that Tagore had been persuaded to use):

Leave this chanting and singing and
telling of beads!
Whom do you worship in this lonely
dark corner of a temple with doors
all shut?
Open your eyes and see your God
is not before you!
He is there where the tiller is tilling
the hard ground and where the
path maker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.

Even though an affectionate God, who inspires not fear but love, has a big role in Tagore’s thinking, he is guided on all worldly questions not by any variety of mysticism but by explicit and discernible reasoning. This Tagore, the real Tagore, got very little attention from his Western audience—neither from his sponsors nor from his detractors. Bertrand Russell wrote (in letters to Nimai Chatterji in the 1960s) that he did not like Tagore’s “mystic air,” with an inclination to spout “vague nonsense,” adding that the “sort of language that is admired by many Indians unfortunately does not, in fact, mean anything at all.” When an otherwise sympathetic writer, George Bernard Shaw, transformed Rabindranath Tagore into a fictional character called “Stupendranath Beggor,” there was no longer much hope that Tagore’s reasoned ideas would receive the careful and serious attention that they deserved.

In Tagore’s vision of the future of his country, and of the world, there was in fact much emphasis on reason and much celebration of freedom—precisely the subjects on which more discussion can have an enormously constructive role today. In a rousing poem, he outlined his vision of what he so strongly desired for his own country and for the whole world:

Where the mind is without fear and
the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments by
narrow domestic walls.

The difficulty in Tagore’s reception in the West itself can perhaps be seen as a particular illustration of a world “broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls.”

The fragmentary distortions take distinct forms in different societies and different contexts. In arguing for a world in which “the mind is without fear and the head is held high,” Tagore wanted to overcome all those barriers. He did not quite succeed; but the engagement in open-minded and fearless reasoning that Tagore championed so eloquently is no less important today than it was in his own time.

This article was published by The New Republic,,0.

Amartya Sen teaches economics and philosophy at Harvard University and received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998. A version of this essay was delivered as a lecture at the British Museum in May. This article originally ran in the June 30, 2011, issue of the magazine.

আজ তারায় তারায় দীপ্ত শিখার অগ্নি জ্বলে/Aaj taray taray dipto shikhay agni jwole/Today the stars burn bright with their own fire


আজ তারায় তারায় দীপ্ত শিখার অগ্নি জ্বলে
নিদ্রাবিহীন গগনতলে॥
ওই আলোক-মাতাল স্বর্গসভার মহাঙ্গন
হোথায় ছিল কোন্‌ যুগে মোর নিমন্ত্রণ–
আমার লাগল না মন লাগল না,
তাই কালের সাগর পাড়ি দিয়ে এলেম চ’লে
নিদ্রাবিহীন গগনতলে॥
হেথা মন্দমধুর কানাকানি জলে স্থলে
শ্যামল মাটির ধরাতলে।
হেথা ঘাসে ঘাসে রঙিন ফুলের আলিম্পন,
বনের পথে আঁধার-আলোয় আলিঙ্গন–
আমার লাগল রে মন লাগল রে,
তাই এইখানেতেই দিন কাটে এই খেলার ছলে
শ্যামল মাটির ধরাতলে॥

রাগ: পিলু
তাল: দাদরা
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): পৌষ, ১৩২৯
রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1923
স্বরলিপিকার: দিনেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর

Tonight the stars burn bright

Tonight the stars burn bright with their own fire
In this vast sleepless sky.
There, to that heavenly courtyard blessed with light
I was once invited, in some long gone age –
But it did not draw me,
I felt no response from within,
And so I returned across the seas of time
In this vast sleepless sky.
Here, gentle whispered words fill the air and water
Upon this green earth.
Here, flowers draw patterns on the grass with colour,
And shadows embrace light on forest darkened paths –
This is where I wish to be, my heart says to me,
And thus I spend my days pretending to play
Upon this green earth.

Raga: Piloo
Beat: Dadra
Written in 1923
Scored by Dinendranath Thakur

Follow the link to listen to Suchitra Mitra:

Four songs for Debabrata Biswas


মহাবিশ্বে মহাকাশে মহাকাল-মাঝে

আমি মানব একাকী ভ্রমি বিস্ময়ে, ভ্রমি বিস্ময়ে॥

তুমি আছ, বিশ্বনাথ, অসীম রহস্যমাঝে

নীরবে একাকী আপন মহিমানিলয়ে॥

অনন্ত এ দেশকালে, অগণ্য এ দীপ্ত লোকে,

তুমি আছ মোরে চাহি–আমি চাহি তোমা-পানে।

স্তব্ধ সর্ব কোলাহল, শান্তিমগ্ন চরাচর–

এক তুমি, তোমা-মাঝে আমি একা নির্ভয়ে॥

রাগ: শুদ্ধ কল্যাণ

তাল: ত্রিতাল

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): 1303

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1896

স্বরলিপিকার: জ্যোতিরিন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর


In this vast world, amid these vast skies

In this vast world, amid these skies, surrounded by this expanse of time

I am a human wandering in awe, in absolute awe.

You remain, lord of the worlds, in your domain of endless mystery

Silent and waiting in an aura of glorious majesty.

In this infinite space, in the light of innumerable stars,

You gaze upon me – as I look at you.

Silenced is all noise, as peace fills the air –

You are truly the one, the one to whom I can submit myself without fear.


Raga: Suddha Kalyan

Beat: Tri Taal

Written: 1896

Scored by Jyotirindranath Tagore


Follow the link to hear the voice of Debabrata Biswas



সীমার মাঝে, অসীম, তুমি বাজাও আপন সুর।

আমার মধ্যে তোমার প্রকাশ তাই এত মধুর॥

কত বর্ণে কত গন্ধে, কত গানে কত ছন্দে,

অরূপ তোমার রূপের লীলায় জাগে হৃদয়পুর।

আমার মধ্যে তোমার শোভা এমন সুমধুর।

তোমায় আমায় মিলন হলে সকলি যায় খুলে–

বিশ্বসাগর ঢেউ খেলায়ে উঠে তখন দুলে।

তোমার আলোয় নাই তো ছায়া, আমার মাঝে পায় সে কায়া,

হয় সে আমার অশ্রুজলে সুন্দরবিধুর।

আমার মধ্যে তোমার শোভা এমন সুমধুর॥


রাগ: ছায়ানট
তাল: একতাল
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ২৭ আষাঢ়, ১৩১৭
রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1910
রচনাস্থান: গোরাই, জানিপুর
স্বরলিপিকার: সুরেন্দ্রনাথ বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়, ভীমরাও শাস্ত্রী


In the midst of limits, you remain untouched

In the midst of limits, you remain untouched by boundaries as you sing your own tune

That is why I am such a delightful expression of your thought.

In colour and scent, in song and rhythm,

Your formless wonder finds form and my heart rejoices.

That is why I am such a delightful expression of your thought.

When we unite everything becomes clear-

The world becomes awash with waves of emotion.

Your light, dear one, casts no shadow, it gives me the form I crave

And draws out beauty from my tears of joy.

That is why I am such a delightful expression of your thought.


Raga: Chayanat

Beat: Ektaal

Written: 1910

Scored by Surendranath Bandopadhyay and Bheemrao Shastri


Follow the link to hear Debabrata Biswas sing as only he could:



আধেক ঘুমে   নয়ন চুমে   স্বপন দিয়ে যায়।

শ্রান্ত ভালে   যূথীর মালে   পরশে মৃদু বায়॥

বনের ছায়া মনের সাথি,   বাসনা নাহি কিছু–

পথের ধারে আসন পাতি,   না চাহি ফিরে পিছু–

বেণুর পাতা   মিশায় গাথা   নীরব ভাবনায়॥

মেঘের খেলা গগনতটে   অলস লিপি-লিখা,

সুদূর কোন্‌ স্ময়ণপটে   জাগিল মরীচিকা।

চৈত্রদিনে তপ্ত বেলা   তৃণ-আঁচল পেতে

শূন্যতলে গন্ধ-ভেলা   ভাসায় বাতাসেতে–

কপোত ডাকে   মধুকশাখে   বিজন বেদনায়॥


রাগ: মিশ্র সোহিনী

তাল: দাদরা

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): চৈত্র, ১৩৩২

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1926

রচনাস্থান: শান্তিনিকেতন

স্বরলিপিকার: দিনেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর



In half sleep, who kissed my eyes

In half sleep, who kissed my eyes and gave me dreams to dream,

Upon my weary brow, in the jasmine at my  throat the breeze blows a gentle stream.

The shadows of the forest are my companions, I desire nothing more than that –

I have made my place by the side of the path, I do not look back at what I leave behind –

The leaves of the bamboo shimmer and add their wishes to my silent musing.

As the clouds chase each other writing languid words across the blue,

Where I wonder does this awaken a mirage of memories, in whose unseen heart?

In the heat of the day, upon a mantle of green

A perfume rises and floats in the air –

As birds call from the flowering branches in lonely pain.


Raga: Mishra Sohini

Beat: Dadra

Written: 1926

Scored by Dinendranath Tagore


Follow the link and listen to Debabrata Biswas:



আমি চঞ্চল হে,

আমি সুদূরের পিয়াসি।

দিন চলে যায়, আমি আনমনে   তারি আশা চেয়ে থাকি বাতায়নে–

ওগো, প্রাণে মনে আমি যে তাহার   পরশ পাবার প্রয়াসী॥

ওগো   সুদূর, বিপুল সুদূর, তুমি যে   বাজাও ব্যাকুল বাঁশরি–

মোর ডানা নাই, আছি এক ঠাঁই   সে কথা যে যাই পাশরি॥

আমি উন্মনা হে,

হে সুদূর, আমি উদাসী॥

রৌদ্র-মাখানো অলস বেলায়   তরুমর্মরে ছায়ার খেলায়

কী মুরতি তব নীল আকাশে   নয়নে উঠে গো আভাসি।

হে সুদূর, আমি উদাসী।

ওগো   সুদূর, বিপুল সুদূর, তুমি যে   বাজাও ব্যাকুল বাঁশরি–

কক্ষে আমার রুদ্ধ দুয়ার   সে কথা যে যাই পাশরি॥


রাগ: ভৈরবী

তাল: দাদরা

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): 1309

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1902

স্বরলিপিকার: দিনেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর


I am restless 

I am restless,

I thirst for that which lies afar.

The days pass, as I unmindfully wait for what I seek, watching at my window –

This is true, I want to be touched in my heart and in my soul.

Distance, you play such a tune of yearning on your flute –

I who have no wings, forget that I am confined to this one place.

I am unmindful,

Distant one, I am distracted.

On sunshine kissed slow days, when tree shadows play with each other

What dreams of you float across the blue skies before my eyes?

Distant one, I am distracted.

Distance, you play such a tune of yearning on your flute –

I forget that I live within a room behind doors barred forever.


Raga: Bhairavi

Beat:  Dadra

Written: 1902

Scored by Dinendranath Tagore


Follow the link to listen to Debabrata Biswas:


A wealth of information about Debabrata Biswas’s body of work, including the photograph is available at:


A film on Debabrata Biswas: Gaan Amar PoRey Pawa Dhon


ছেলেবেলা/chelebela/My childhood 2

তখন শহরে না ছিল গ্যাস, না ছিল বিজলি বাতি; কেরোসিনের আলো পরে যখন এল তার তেজ দেখে আমরা অবাক। সন্ধ্যাবেলায় ঘরে ঘরে এসে জ্বালিয়ে যেত রেড়ির তেলের আলো। আমাদের পড়বার ঘরে জ্বলত দুই সলতের একটা সেজ।

মাস্টারমশায় মিটমিটে আলোয় পড়াতেন প্যারী সরকারের ফার্‌স্ট্‌বুক। প্রথমে উঠত হাই, তার পর আসত ঘুম, তার পর চলত চোখ-রগড়ানি। বারবার শুনতে হত, মাস্টারমশায়ের অন্য ছাত্র সতীন সোনার টুকরো ছেলে, পড়ায় আশ্চর্য মন, ঘুম পেলে চোখে নস্যি ঘষে। আর আমি? সে কথা ব’লে কাজ নেই। সব ছেলের মধ্যে একলা মুর্খু হয়ে থাকবার মতো বিশ্রী ভাবনাতেও আমাকে চেতিয়ে রাখতে পারত না। রাত্রি ন’টা বাজলে ঘুমের ঘোরে ঢুলু ঢুলু চোখে ছুটি পেতুম। বাহিরমহল থেকে বাড়ির ভিতর যাবার সরু পথ ছিল খড়্‌খড়ির আব্রু-দেওয়া, উপর থেকে ঝুলত মিটমিটে আলোর লণ্ঠন। চলতুম আর মন বলত কী জানি কিসে বুঝি পিছু ধরেছে। পিঠ উঠত শিউরে। তখন ভূত প্রেত ছিল গল্পে-গুজবে, ছিল মানুষের মনের আনাচে-কানাচে। কোন্‌ দাসী কখন হঠাৎ শুনতে পেত শাঁকচুন্নির নাকি সুর, দড়াম করে পড়ত আছাড় খেয়ে। ঐ মেয়ে-ভূতটা সবচেয়ে ছিল বদমেজাজি, তার লোভ ছিল মাছের ‘পরে। বাড়ির পশ্চিম কোণে ঘন-পাতা-ওয়ালা বাদামগাছ, তারই ডালে এক পা আর অন্য পা’টা তেতালার কার্নিসের ‘পরে তুলে দাঁড়িয়ে থাকে একটা কোন্‌ মূর্তি–তাকে দেখেছে বলবার লোক তখন বিস্তর ছিল, মেনে নেবার লোকও কম ছিল না। দাদার এক বন্ধু যখন গল্পটা হেসে উড়িয়ে দিতেন তখন চাকররা মনে করত লোকটার ধর্মজ্ঞান একটুও নেই, দেবে একদিন ঘাড় মটকিয়ে, তখন বিদ্যে যাবে বেরিয়ে। সে সময়টাতে হাওয়ায় হাওয়ায় আতঙ্ক এমনি জাল ফেলে ছিল যে, টেবিলের নীচে পা রাখলে পা সুড়সুড় করে উঠত।

তখন জলের কল বসে নি। বেহারা কাঁখে ক’রে কলসি ভ’রে মাঘ-ফাগুনের গঙ্গার জল তুলে আনত। একতলার অন্ধকার ঘরে সারি সারি ভরা থাকত বড়ো বড়ো জালায় সারা বছরের খাবার জল। নীচের তলায় সেই-সব স্যাঁৎসেতে এঁধো কুটুরিতে গা ঢাকা দিয়ে যারা বাসা করেছিল কে না জানে তাদের মস্ত হাঁ, চোখ দুটো বুকে, কান দুটো কুলোর মতো, পা দুটো উলটো দিকে। সেই ভুতুড়ে ছায়ার সামনে দিয়ে যখন বাড়িভিতরের বাগানে যেতুম, তোলপাড় করত বুকের ভিতরটা, পায়ে লাগাত তাড়া।তখন রাস্তার ধারে ধারে বাঁধানো নালা দিয়ে জোয়ারের সময় গঙ্গার জল আসত। ঠাকুরদার আমল থেকে সেই নালার জল বরাদ্দ ছিল আমাদের পুকুরে। যখন কপাট টেনে দেওয়া হত ঝরঝর কলকল করে ঝরনার মতো জল ফেনিয়ে পড়ত। মাছগুলো উলটো দিকে সাঁতার কাটবার কসরত দেখাতে চাইত। দক্ষিণের বারান্দার রেলিঙ ধরে অবাক হয়ে তাকিয়ে থাকতুম। শেষকালে এল সেই পুকুরের কাল ঘনিয়ে, পড়ল তার মধ্যে গাড়ি-গাড়ি রাবিশ। পুকুরটা বুজে যেতেই পাড়াগাঁয়ের সবুজ-ছায়া-পড়া আয়নাটা যেন গেল সরে। সেই বাদামগাছটা এখনও দাঁড়িয়ে আছে, কিন্তু অমন পা ফাঁক করে দাঁড়াবার সুবিধে থাকতেও সেই ব্রহ্মদত্যির ঠিকানা আর পাওয়া যায় না।

ভিতরে বাইরে আলো বেড়ে গেছে।

পালকিখানা ঠাকুরমাদের আমলের। খুব দরাজ বহর তার, নবাবি ছাঁদের। ডাণ্ডা দুটো আট আট জন বেহারার কাঁধের মাপের। হাতে সোনার কাঁকন কানে মোটা মাকড়ি, গায়ে লালরঙের হাতকাটা মেরজাই-পরা বেহারার দল সূর্য-ডোবার রঙিন মেঘের মতো সাবেক ধনদৌলতের সঙ্গে সঙ্গে গেছে মিলিয়ে। এই পালকির গায়ে ছিল রঙিন লাইনে আঁকজোক কাটা, কতক তার গেছে ক্ষয়ে, দাগ ধরেছে যেখানে সেখানে, নারকোলের ছোবরা বেরিয়ে পড়েছে ভিতরের গদি থেকে। এ যেন একালের নামকাটা আসবাব, পড়ে আছে খাতাঞ্চিখানার বারান্দায় এক কোণে। আমার বয়স তখন সাত-আট বছর। এ সংসারে কোনো দরকারি কাজে আমার হাত ছিল না; আর ঐ পুরানো পালকিটাকেও সকল দরকারের কাজ থেকে বরখাস্ত করে দেওয়া হয়েছে। এইজন্যেই ওর উপরে আমার এতটা মনের টান ছিল। ও যেন সমুদ্রের মাঝখানে দ্বীপ, আর আমি ছুটির দিনের রবিন্‌সন্‌-ক্রুসো, বন্ধ দরজার মধ্যে ঠিকানা হারিয়ে চার দিকের নজরবন্দি এড়িয়ে বসে আছি।

তখন আমাদের বাড়িভরা ছিল লোক, আপন পর কত তার ঠিকানা নেই; নানা মহলের চাকরদাসীর নানা দিকে হৈ হৈ ডাক। সামনের উঠোন দিয়ে প্যারীদাসী ধামা কাঁখে বাজার করে নিয়ে আসছে তরিতরকারি, দুখন বেহারা বাঁখ কাঁধে গঙ্গার জল আনছে, বাড়ির ভিতরে চলেছে তাঁতিনি নতুন-ফ্যাশান-পেড়ে শাড়ির সওদা করতে, মাইনে করা যে দিনু স্যাকরা গলির পাশের ঘরে ব’সে হাপর ফোঁস ফোঁস ক’রে বাড়ির ফরমাশ খাটত সে আসছে খাতাঞ্চিখানায় কানে-পালখের-কলম-গোঁজা কৈলাস মুখুজ্জের কাছে পাওনার দাবি জানাতে; উঠোনে বসে টং টং আওয়াজে পুরোনো লেপের তুলো ধুনছে ধুনুরি। বাইরে কানা পালোয়ানের সঙ্গে মুকুন্দলাল দারোয়ান লুটোপুটি করতে করতে কুস্তির প্যাঁচ কষছে। চটাচট শব্দে দুই পায়ে লাগাচ্ছে চাপড়, ডন ফেলছে বিশ-পঁচিশ বার ঘন ঘন। ভিখিরির দল বসে আছে বরাদ্দ ভিক্ষার আশা ক’রে।

There was neither gas lighting nor electric lights in the city at the time; we were amazed to see how bright kerosene lamps were when they came along. In the evenings a fellow came and lit rapeseed oil lamps in the houses. A lamp with two wicks used to light up our study.

Our tutor used to teach us from Parry Sarkar’s First Book. First came the yawns, then arrived sleep and finally I would rub my eyes continually. I would have to hear again and again, how another student of his, Jatin, an ideal child by all accounts, rubbed snuff into his eyes when he felt sleepy. And me? The less said the better. Even the horrid prospect of remaining illiterate amongst all the boys I knew was not enough to keep me alert for long. When the clock struck nine, I would be allowed to leave with drowsy eyes. The narrow way to the inner house from the outside was covered  with shutters  to maintain privacy, and lit by dim lanterns. As I walked my mind kept saying something was following me. My skin tingled with fear. At that time ghosts were kept real in stories and in the nooks and crannies of people’s minds. A maid would suddenly hear the nasal tones of a female spirit called a Shankhchunni and fall down in a dead faint. That was one of the most bad tempered ghosts, their hankering was for fish. There were many people who could claim to have seen a being stand with one foot on a ledge on the third floor and the other upon a branch of the densely leafed nut tree on the western side of the house; there were any number of people who would believe them. When one of my brother’s friends dismissed the story with a laugh, the servants thought he did not know what was good for him, one day a spirit would surely break his  neck, and he would find out the the error of his ways. Fear was so woven into the air at that time, the skin on my feet crawled even when I sat at a table.

Water taps had not been installed yet. A water carrier would bring water in the winter months of Magh and Phalgun from the Ganga. Rows of large earthen pots held the whole year’s drinking water in the dark rooms of the first floor. Everyone knew that these locked damp rooms downstairs were home to things that had huge open mouths, eyes on their chests, ears like threshing baskets and feet turned backwards. When I walked past those ghostly shadows into the garden inside the house, my emotions swirled in my heart, my feet would find a speed of their own. At that time the covered drains by the side of the roads would fill up with water from the Ganga during high tides. From my grandfather’s  days that water had been allocated to our pond. When the sluice gate was shut the water foamed out like a water fall. The fish would try and swim in the opposite direction to show their expertise. I would watch in amazement from the south verandah. Finally one day the pond’s days came to an end, truck loads of rubbish were dumped in it. As soon as the pond was filled in it was as though the green shaded mirror of rural bliss was moved. That nut tree still stands, but the old Brahmin ghost has left without a sign inspite of the opportunity of standing with its legs planted firmly apart.

The light has grown brighter both inside and out.

The palanquin dated back to my grandmother’s time. It was of very sturdy construction, of the Nawabi style. The supports were made for eight men on each side. The bearers who wore gold at wrist and ear with their red sleeveless vests have faded along with the wealth of yore like the colourful  clouds of sunset. This palanquin had colourful designs on it, some had rubbed off, there were marks here and there, some of the coconut coir stuffing was escaping from the cushioning inside. It was like an antique piece of furniture, lying in a corner of the verandah next to the office. I was then about seven or eight years old. I had no hand in any of the important tasks of the day and the palanquin had also been sacked from all useful employment. This is why I felt so close to it. It was like an island in the middle of the sea and I was Robinson Crusoe on a holiday as I sat inside it, its closed doors giving me a break from the eyes outside.

At that time our house was full of people, relations and unrelated in equal numbers; the servants from the various parts of the house kept things lively with their loud voices. Parry would carry a basket balanced on her hip, filled with vegetables from the market, Dukhan would bring water from the Ganges, a weaver would be going into the house to sell the latest fashions inn saris, the family’s goldsmith Dinu, who spent much time in his own room making ornaments by order with wheezing of his bellows would be asking for his dues from Kailash Mukhujje who always had a quill pen tucked behind his ear; the Dhunuri would raise a Tong Tong sound as he fluffed up old cotton quilts. Outside the doorman Mukunda would be jousting with the blind wrestler. He slapped his thighs and did twenty or so push ups just like that. The beggars waited outside for their regular alms.



OUR REAL PROBLEM in India is not political. It is social. This is a condition not only prevailing in India, but among all nations. I do not believe in an exclusive political interest. Politics in the West have dominated Western ideals, and we in India are trying to imitate you. We have to remember that in Europe, where peoples had their racial unity from the beginning, and where natural resources were insufficient for the inhabitants, the civilization has naturally taken the character of political and commercial aggressiveness. For on the one hand they had no internal complications, and on the other they had to deal with neighbours who were strong and rapacious. To have perfect combination among themselves and a watchful attitude of animosity against others was taken as the solution of their problems. In former days they organized and plundered, in the present age the same spirit continues – and they organize and exploit the whole world.

But from the earliest beginnings of history, India has had her own problem constantly before her – it is the race problem. Each nation must be conscious of its mission and we, in India, must realize that we cut a poor figure when we are trying to be political, simply because we have not yet been finally able to accomplish what was set before us by our providence.

This problem of race unity which we have been trying to solve for so many years has likewise to be faced by you here in America. Many people in this country ask me what is happening as to the caste distinctions in India. But when this question is asked me, it is usually done with a superior air. And I feel tempted to put the same question to our American critics with a slight modification, ‘What have you done with the Red Indian and the Negro?’ For you have not got over your attitude of caste toward them. You have used violent methods to keep aloof from other races, but until you have solved the question here in America, you have no right to question India.

In spite of our great difficulty, however, India has done something. She has tried to make an adjustment of races, to acknowledge the real differences between them where these exist, and yet seek for some basis of unity. This basis has come through our saints, like Nanak, Kabir, Chaitanya and others, preaching one God to all races of India.

In finding the solution of our problem we shall have helped to solve the world problem as well. What India has been, the whole world is now. The whole world is becoming one country through scientific facility. And the moment is arriving when you also must find a basis of unity which is not political. If India can offer to the world her solution, it will be a contribution to humanity. There is only one history – the history of man. All national histories are merely chapters in the larger one. And we are content in India to suffer for such a great cause.

Each individual has his self-love. Therefore his brute instinct leads him to fight with others in the sole pursuit of his self-interest. But man has also his higher instincts of sympathy and mutual help. The people who are lacking in this higher moral power and who therefore cannot combine in fellowship with one another must perish or live in a state of degradation. Only those peoples have survived and achieved civilization who have this spirit of cooperation strong in them. So we find that from the beginning of history men had to choose between fighting with one another and combining, between serving their own interest or the common interest of all.

In our early history when the geographical limits of each country and also the facilities of communication were small, this problem was comparatively small in dimension. It was sufficient for men to develop their sense of unity within their area of segregation. In those days they combined among them-selves and fought against others. But it was this moral spirit of combination which was the true basis of their greatness, and this fostered their art, science and religion. At that-early time the most important fact that man had to take count of was the fact of the members of one particular race of men coming in close contact with one another. Those who truly grasped this fact through their higher nature made their mark in history.

The most important fact of the present age is that all the different races of men have come close together. And again we are confronted with two alternatives. The problem is whether the different groups of peoples shall go on fighting with one another or find out some true basis of reconciliation and mutual help; whether it will be interminable competition or cooperation.

I have no hesitation in saying that those who are gifted with the moral power of love and vision of spiritual unity, who have the least feeling of enmity against aliens, and the sympathetic insight to place themselves in the position of others will be the fittest to take their permanent place in the age that is lying before us, and those who are constantly developing their instinct of fight and intolerance of aliens will be eliminated. For this is the problem before us, and we have to prove our humanity by solving it through the help of our higher nature. The gigantic organizations for hurting others and warding off their blows, for making money by dragging others back, will not help us. On the contrary, by their crushing weight, their enormous cost and their deadening effect upon the living humanity they will seriously impede our freedom in the larger life of a higher civilization.

During the evolution of the Nation the moral culture of brotherhood was limited by geographical boundaries, because at that time those boundaries were true. Now they have become imaginary lines of tradition divested of the qualities of real obstacles. So the time has come when man’s moral nature must deal with this great fact with all seriousness or perish. The first impulse of this change of circumstance has been the churning up of man’s baser passions of greed and cruel hatred. If this persists indefinitely and armaments go on exaggerating themselves to unimaginable absurdities, and machines and store-houses envelop this fair earth with their dirt and smoke and ugliness, then it will end in a conflagration of suicide. Therefore man will have to exert all his power of love and clarity of vision to make another great moral adjustment which will comprehend the whole world of men and not merely the fractional groups of nationality. The call has come to every individual in the present age to prepare himself and his surroundings for this dawn of a new era when man shall discover his soul in the spiritual unity of all human beings.

If it is given at all to the West to struggle out of these tangles of the lower slopes to the spiritual summit of humanity, then I cannot but think that it is the special mission of America to fulfil this hope of God and man. You are the country of expectation, desiring something else than what is. Europe has her subtle habits of mind and her conventions. But America, as yet, has come to no conclusions. I realize how much America is untrammeled by the traditions of the past, and I can appreciate that experimentalism is a sign of America’s youth. The foundation of her glory is in the future, rather than in the past; and if one is gifted with the power of clairvoyance, one will be able to love the America that is to be.

America is destined to justify Western civilization to the East. Europe has lost faith in humanity, and has become distrustful and sickly. America, on the other hand, is not pessimistic or blase. You know, as a people, that there is such a thing as a better and a best; and that knowledge drives you on. There are habits that are not merely passive but aggressively arrogant. They are not like mere walls but are like hedges of stinging nettles. Europe has been cultivating these hedges of habits for long years till they have grown round her dense and strong and high. The pride of her traditions has sent its roots deep into her heart. I do not wish to contend that it is unreasonable. But pride in every form breeds blindness at the end. Like all artificial stimulants its first effect is a heightening of consciousness and then with the increasing dose it muddles it and brings in exultation that is misleading. Europe has gradually grown hardened in her pride of all her outer and inner habits. She not only cannot forget that she is Western, but she takes every opportunity to hurl this fact against others to humiliate them. This is why she is growing incapable of imparting to the East what is best in herself, and of accepting in a right spirit the wisdom that the East has stored for centuries.

In America national habits and traditions have not had time to spread their clutching roots round your hearts. You have constantly felt and complained of its disadvantages when you compared your nomadic restlessness with the settled traditions of Europe – the Europe which can show her picture of greatness to the best advantage because she can fix it against the back- ground of the Past. But in this present age of transition, when a new era of civilization is sending its trumpet call to all peoples of the world across an unlimited future, this very freedom of detachment will enable you to accept its invitation and to achieve the goal for which Europe began her journey but lost herself midway. For she was tempted out of her path by her pride of power and greed of possession.

Not merely your freedom from habits of mind in the individuals but also the freedom of your history from all unclean entanglements fits you in your career of holding the banner of civilization of the future. All the great nations of Europe have their victims in other parts of the world. This not only deadens their moral sympathy but also their intellectual sympathy, which is so necessary for the understanding of races which are different from one’s own. Englishmen can never truly understand India because their minds are not disinterested with regard to that country. If you compare England with Germany or France you will find she has produced the smallest number of scholars who have studied Indian literature and philosophy with any amount of sympathetic insight or thoroughness. This attitude of apathy and contempt is natural where the relationship is abnormal and founded upon national selfishness and pride. But your history has been disinterested and that is why you have been able to help Japan in her lessons in Western civilization and that is why China can look upon you with her best confidence in this her darkest period of danger. In fact you are carrying all the responsibility of a great future because you are untrammeled by the grasping miserliness of a past. Therefore of all countries of the earth America has to be fully conscious of this future, her vision must not be obscured and her faith in humanity must be strong with the strength of youth.

A parallelism exists between America and India – the parallelism of welding together into one body various races.

In my country, we have been seeking to find out something common to all races, which will prove their real unity. No nation looking for a mere political or commercial basis of unity will find such a solution sufficient. Men of thought and power will discover the spiritual unity, will realize it, and preach it.

India has never had a real sense of nationalism. Even though from childhood I had been taught that the idolatry of Nation is almost better than reverence for God and humanity, I believe I have outgrown that teaching, and it is my conviction that my countrymen will gain truly their India by fighting against that education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.

The educated Indian at present is trying to absorb some lessons from history contrary to the lessons of our ancestors. The East, in fact, is attempting to take unto itself a history which is not the outcome of its own living. Japan, for example, thinks she is getting powerful through adopting Western methods, but, after she has exhausted her inheritance, only the borrowed weapons of civilization will remain to her. She will not have developed herself from within.

Europe has her past. Europe’s strength therefore lies in her history. We, in India, must make up our minds that we cannot borrow other people’s history, and that if we stifle our own, we are committing suicide. When you borrow things that do not belong to your life, they only serve to crush your life.

And therefore I believe that it does India no good to compete with Western civilization in its own field. But we shall be more than compensated if, in spite of the insults heaped upon us, we follow our own destiny.

There are lessons which impart information or train our minds for intellectual pursuits. These are simple and can be acquired and used with advantage. But there are others which affect our deeper nature and change our direction of life. Before we accept them and pay their value by selling our own inheritance, we must pause and think deeply. In man’s history there come ages of fireworks which dazzle us by their force and movement. They laugh not only at our modest household lamps but also at the eternal stars. But let us not for that provocation be precipitate in our desire to dismiss our lamps. Let us patiently bear our present insult and realize that these fireworks have splendour but not permanence, because of the extreme explosiveness which is the cause of their power, and also of their exhaustion. They are spending a fatal quantity of energy and substance compared to their gain and production.

Anyhow our ideals have been evolved through our own history and even if we wished we could only make poor fireworks of them, because their materials are different from yours, as is also their moral purpose. If we cherish the desire of paying our all for buying a political nationality it will be as absurd as if Switzerland had staked her existence in her ambition to build up a navy powerful enough to compete with that of England. The mistake that we make is in thinking that man’s channel of greatness is only one – the one which has made itself painfully evident for the time being by its depth of insolence.

We must know for certain that there is a future before us and that future is waiting for those who are rich in moral ideals and not in mere things. And it is the privilege of man to work for fruits that are beyond his immediate reach, and to adjust his life not in slavish conformity to the examples of some present success or even to his own prudent past, limited in its aspiration, but to an infinite future bearing in its heart the ideals of our highest expectations.

We must, however, know it is providential that the West has come to India. Yet, some one must show the East to the West, and convince the West that the East has her contribution to make in the history of civilization. India is no beggar of the West. And yet even though the West may think she is, I am not for thrusting off Western civilization and becoming segregated in our independence. Let us have a deep association. If Providence wants England to be the channel of that communication, of that deeper association, I am willing to accept it with all humility. I have great faith in human nature, and I think the West will find its true mission. I speak bitterly of Western civilization when I am conscious that it is betraying its trust and thwarting its own purpose.

The West must not make herself a curse to the world by using her power for her own selfish needs, but by teaching the ignorant and helping the weak, by saving herself from the worst danger that the strong is liable to incur by making the feeble to acquire power enough to resist her intrusion. And also she must not make her materialism to be the final thing, but must realize that she is doing a service in freeing the spiritual being from the tyranny of matter.

I am not against one nation in particular, but against the general idea of all nations. What is the Nation?

It is the aspect of a whole people as an organized power. This organization incessantly keeps up the insistence of the population on becoming strong and efficient. But this strenuous effort after strength and efficiency drains man’s energy from his higher nature where he is self-sacrificing and creative.

For thereby man’s power of sacrifice is diverted from his ultimate object, which is moral, to the maintenance of this organization, which is mechanical. Yet in this he feels all the satisfaction of moral exaltation and therefore becomes supremely dangerous to humanity. He feels relieved of the urging of his conscience when he can transfer his responsibility to this machine which is the creation of his intellect and not of his complete moral personality. By this device the people which loves freedom perpetuates slavery in a large portion of the world with the comfortable feeling of pride of having done its duty; men who are naturally just can be cruelly unjust both in their act and their thought, accompanied by a feeling that they are helping the world in receiving its deserts; men who are honest can blindly go on robbing others of their human rights for self-aggrandizement, all the while abusing the deprived for not deserving better treatment. We have seen in our everyday life even small organizations of business and profession produce callousness of feeling in men who are not naturally bad, and we can well imagine what a moral havoc it is causing in a world where whole peoples are furiously organizing themselves for gaining wealth and power.

Nationalism is a great menace. It is the particular thing which for years has been at the bottom of India’s troubles. And inasmuch as we have been ruled and dominated by a nation that is strictly political in its attitude, we have tried to develop within ourselves, despite our inheritance from the past, a belief in our eventual political destiny.

There are different parties in India, with different ideals. Some are struggling for political independence. Others think that the time has not arrived for that, and yet believe that India should have the rights that the English colonies have. They wish to gain autonomy as far as possible.

In the beginning of our history of political agitation in India there was not that conflict between parties which there is to-day. In that time there was a party known as the Indian congress; it had no real programme. They had a few grievances for redress by the authorities. They wanted larger representation in the Council House, and more freedom in the Municipal government. They wanted scraps of things, but they had no constructive ideal. Therefore I was lacking in enthusiasm for their methods. It was my conviction that what India most needed was constructive work coming from within herself. In this work we must take all risks and go on doing our duties which by right are ours, though in the teeth of persecution; winning moral victory at every step, by our failure, and suffering. We must show those who are over us that we have the strength of moral power in ourselves, the power to suffer for truth. Where we have nothing to show, we only have to beg. It would be mischievous if the gifts we wish for were granted to us right now, and I have told my countrymen, time and time again, to combine for the work of creating opportunities to give vent to our spirit of self-sacrifice, and not for the purpose of begging.

The party, however, lost power because the people soon came to realize how futile was the half policy adopted by them. The party split, and there arrived the Extremists, who advocated independence of action, and discarded the begging method, – the easiest method of relieving one’s mind from his responsibility towards his country. Their ideals were based on Western history. They had no sympathy with the special problems of India. They did not recognize the patent fact that there were causes in our social organization which made the Indian incapable of coping with the alien. What would we do if, for any reason, England was driven away? We should simply be victims for other nations. The same social weaknesses would prevail. The thing we, in India, have to think of is this – to remove those social customs and ideals which have generated a want of self-respect and a complete dependence on those above us,-a state of affairs which has been brought about entirely by the domination in India of the caste system, and the blind and lazy habit of relying upon the authority of traditions that are incongruous anachronisms in the present age.

Once again I draw your attention to the difficulties India has had to encounter and her struggle to overcome them. Her problem was the problem of the world in miniature. India is too vast in its area and too diverse in its races. It is many countries packed in one geographical receptacle. It is just the opposite of what Europe truly is, namely one country made into many. Thus Europe in its culture and growth has had the advantage of the strength of the many, as well as the strength of the one. India, on the contrary, being naturally many, yet adventitiously one has all along suffered from the looseness of its diversity and the feebleness of its unity. A true unity is like a round globe, it rolls on, carrying its burden easily; but diversity is a many-cornered thing which has to be dragged and pushed with all force. Be it said to the credit of India that this diversity was not her own creation; she has had to accept it as a fact from the beginning of her history. In America and Australia, Europe has simplified her problem by almost exterminating the original population. Even in the present age this spirit of extermination is making itself manifest, by inhospitably shutting out aliens, through those who themselves were aliens in the lands they now occupy. But India tolerated difference of races from the first, and that spirit of toleration has acted all through her history.

Her caste system is the outcome of this spirit of toleration. For India has all along been trying experiments in evolving a social unity within which all the different peoples could be held together, yet fully enjoying the freedom of maintaining their own differences. The tie has been as loose as possible, yet as close as the circumstances permitted. This has produced something like a United States of a social federation, whose common name is Hinduism.

India had felt that diversity of races there must be and should be whatever may be its drawback, and you can never coerce nature into your narrow limits of convenience without paying one day very dearly for it. In this India was right; but what she failed to realize was that in human beings differences are not like the physical barriers of mountains, fixed forever – they are fluid with life’s flow, they are changing their courses and their shapes and volume.

Therefore in her caste regulations India recognized differences, but not the mutability which is the law of life. In trying to avoid collisions she set up boundaries of immovable walls, thus giving to her numerous races the negative benefit of peace and order but not the positive opportunity of expansion and movement. She accepted nature where it produces diversity, but ignored it where it uses that diversity for its world-game of infinite permutations and combinations. She treated life in all truth where it is manifold, but insulted it where it is ever moving. Therefore Life departed from her social system and in its place she is worshipping with all ceremony the magnificent cage of countless compartments that she has manufactured.

The same thing happened where she tried to ward off the collisions of trade interests. She associated different trades and professions with different castes. It had the effect of allaying for good the interminable jealousy and hatred of competition – the competition which breeds cruelty and makes the atmosphere thick with lies and deception. In this also India laid all her emphasis upon the law of heredity, ignoring the law of mutation, and thus gradually reduced arts into crafts and genius into skill.

However, what Western observers fail to discern is that in her caste system India in all seriousness accepted her responsibility to solve the race problem in such a manner as to avoid all friction, and yet to afford each race freedom within its boundaries. Let us admit in this India has not achieved a full measure of success. But this you must also concede, that the West, being more favourably situated as to homogeneity of races, has never given her attention to this problem, and whenever confronted with it she has tried to make it easy by ignoring it altogether. And this is the source of her anti-Asiatic agitations for depriving the aliens of their right to earn their honest living on these shores. In most of your colonies you only admit them on condition of their accepting the menial position of hewers of wood and drawers of water. Either you shut your doors against the aliens or reduce them into slavery. And this is your solution of the problem of race-conflict. Whatever may be its merits you will have to admit that it does not spring from the higher impulses of civilization, but from the lower passions of greed and hatred. You say this is human nature – and India also thought she knew human nature when she strongly barricaded her race distinctions by the fixed barriers of social gradations. But we have found out to our cost that human nature is not what it seems, but what it is in truth; which is in its infinite possibilities. And when we in our blindness insult humanity for its ragged appearance it sheds its disguise to disclose to us that we have insulted our God. The degradation which we cast upon others in our pride or self-interest degrades our own humanity – and this is the punishment which is most terrible because we do not detect it till it is too late.

Not only in your relation with aliens but also with the different sections of your own society you have not brought harmony of reconciliation. The spirit of conflict and competition is allowed the full freedom of its reckless career. And because its genesis is the greed of wealth and power it can never come to any other end but a violent death. In India the production of commodities was brought under the law of social adjustments. Its basis was cooperation having for its object the perfect satisfaction of social needs. But in the West it is guided by the impulse of competition whose end is the gain of wealth for individuals. But the individual is like the geometrical line; it is length without breadth. It has not got the depth to be able to hold anything permanently. Therefore its greed or gain can never come to finality. In its lengthening process of growth it can cross other lines and cause entanglements, but will ever go on missing the ideal of completeness in its thinness of isolation.

In all our physical appetites we recognize a limit. We know that to exceed that limit is to exceed the limit of health. But has this lust for wealth and power no bounds beyond which is death’s dominion? In these national carnivals of materialism are not the Western peoples spending most of their vital energy in merely producing things and neglecting the creation of ideals? And can a civilization ignore the law of moral health and go on in its endless process of inflation by gorging upon material things? Man in his social ideals naturally tries to regulate his appetites, subordinating them to the higher purpose of his nature. But in the economic world our appetites follow no other restrictions but those of supply and demand which can be artificially fostered, affording individuals opportunities for indulgence in an endless feast of grossness. In India our social instincts imposed restrictions upon our appetites, – maybe it went to the extreme of repression, – but in the West, the spirit of the economic organization having no moral purpose goads the people into the perpetual pursuit of wealth; – but has this no wholesome limit?

The ideals that strive to take form in social institutions have two objects. One is to regulate our passions and appetites for harmonious development of man, and the other is to help him in cultivating disinterested love for his fellow-creatures. Therefore society is the expression of moral and spiritual aspirations of man which belong to his higher nature.

Our food is creative, it builds our body; but not so wine, which stimulates. Our social ideals create the human world, but when our mind is diverted from them to greed of power then in that state of intoxication we live in a world of abnormality where our strength is not health and our liberty is not freedom. Therefore political freedom does not give us freedom when our mind is not free. An automobile does not create freedom of movement, because it is a mere machine. When I myself am free I can use the automobile for the purpose of my freedom.

We must never forget in the present day that those people who have got their political freedom are not necessarily free, they are merely powerful. The passions which are unbridled in them are creating huge organizations of slavery in the disguise of freedom. Those who have made the gain of money their highest end are unconsciously selling their life and soul to rich persons or to the combinations that represent money. Those who are enamoured of their political power and gloat over their extension of dominion over foreign races gradually surrender their own freedom and humanity to the organizations necessary for holding other peoples in slavery. In the so-called free countries the majority of the people are not free, they are driven by the minority to a goal which is not even known to them. This becomes possible only because people do not acknowledge moral and spiritual freedom as their object. They create huge eddies with their passions and they feel dizzily inebriated with the mere velocity of their whirling movement, taking that to be freedom. But the doom which is waiting to overtake them is as certain as death – for man’s truth is moral truth and his emancipation is in the spiritual life.

The general opinion of the majority of the present day nationalists in India is that we have come to a final completeness in our social and spiritual ideals, the task of the constructive work of society having been done several thousand years before we were born, and that now we are free to employ all our activities in the political direction. We never dream of blaming our social inadequacy as the origin of our present helplessness, for we have accepted as the creed of our nationalism that this social system has been perfected for all time to come by our ancestors who had the superhuman vision of all eternity, and supernatural power for making infinite provision for future ages. Therefore for all our miseries and shortcomings we hold responsible the historical surprises that burst upon us from outside. This is the reason why we think that our one task is to build a political miracle of freedom upon the quicksand of social slavery. In fact we want to dam up the true course of our own historical stream and only borrow power from the sources of other peoples’ history.

Those of us in India who have come under the delusion that mere political freedom will make us free have accepted their lessons from the West as the gospel truth and lost their faith in humanity. We must remember whatever weakness we cherish in our society will become the source of danger in politics. The same inertia which leads us to our idolatry of dead forms in social institutions will create in our politics prison houses with immovable walls. The narrowness of sympathy which makes it possible for us to impose upon a considerable portion of humanity the galling yoke of inferiority will assert itself in our politics in creating tyranny of injustice.

When our nationalists talk about ideals, they forget that the basis of nationalism is wanting. The very people who are upholding these ideals are themselves the most conservative in their social practice. Nationalists say, for example, look at Switzerland, where, in spite of race differences, the peoples have solidified into a nation. Yet, remember that in Switzerland the races can mingle, they can intermarry, because they are of the same blood. In India there is no common birthright. And when we talk of Western Nationality we forget that the nations there do not have that physical repulsion, one for the other, that we have between different castes. Have we an instance in the whole world where a people who are not allowed to mingle their blood shed their blood for one another except by coercion or for mercenary purposes? And can we ever hope that these moral barriers against our race amalgamation will not stand in the way of our political unity?

Then again we must give full recognition to this fact that our social restrictions are still tyrannical, so much so as to make men cowards. If a man tells me he has heterodox ideas, but that he cannot follow them because he would be socially ostracized, I excuse him for having to live a life of untruth, in order to live at all. The social habit of mind which impels us to make the life of our fellow-beings a burden to them where they differ from us even in such a thing as their choice of food is sure to persist in our political organization and result in creating engines of coercion to crush every rational difference which, is the sign of life. And tyranny will only add to the inevitable lies and hypocrisy in our political life. Is the mere name of freedom so valuable that we should be willing to sacrifice for its sake our moral freedom?

The intemperance of our habits does not immediately show its effects when we are in the vigour of our youth. But it gradually consumes that vigour, and when the period of decline sets in then we have to settle accounts and pay off our debts, which leads us to insolvency. In the West you are still able to carry your head high though your humanity is suffering every moment from its dipsomania of organizing power. India also in the heyday of her youth could carry in her vital organs the dead weight of her social organizations stiffened to rigid perfection, but it has been fatal to her, and has produced a gradual paralysis of her living nature. And this is the reason why the educated community of India has become insensible of her social needs. They are taking the very immobility of our social structures as the sign of their perfection, – and because the healthy feeling of pain is dead in the limbs of our social organism they delude themselves into thinking that it needs no ministration. Therefore they think that all their energies need their only scope in the political field. It is like a man whose legs have become shrivelled and useless, trying to delude himself that these limbs have grown still because they have attained their ultimate salvation, and all that is wrong about him is the shortness of his sticks.

So much for the social and the political regeneration of India. Now we come to her industries, and I am very often asked whether there is in India any industrial regeneration since the advent of the British Government. It must be remembered that at the beginning of the British rule in India our industries were suppressed and since then we have not met with any real help or encouragement to enable us to make a stand against the monster commercial organizations of the world. The nations have decreed that we must remain purely an agricultural people, even forgetting the use of arms for all time to come. Thus India in being turned into so many predigested morsels of food ready to be swallowed at any moment by any nation which has even the most rudimentary set of teeth in its head.

India, therefore has very little outlet for her industrial originality. I personally do not believe in the unwieldy organizations of the present day. The very fact that they are ugly shows that they are in discordance with the whole creation. The vast powers of nature do not reveal their truth in hideousness, but in beauty. Beauty is the signature which the Creator stamps upon his works when he is satisfied with them. All our products that insolently ignore the laws of perfection and are unashamed in their display of ungainliness bear the perpetual weight of God’s displeasure. So far as your commerce lacks the dignity of grace it is untrue. Beauty and her twin brother Truth require leisure, and self-control for their growth. But the greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness. Its one object is to produce and consume.

It has neither pity for beautiful nature, nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment’s hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, moulding them into money. It is this ugly vulgarity of commerce which brought upon it the censure of contempt in our earlier days when men had leisure to have an unclouded vision of perfection in humanity. Men in those times were rightly ashamed of the instinct of mere money-making. But in this scientific age money, by its very abnormal bulk, has won its throne. And when from its eminence of piled-up things it insults the higher instincts of man, banishing beauty and noble sentiments from its surroundings, we submit. For we in our meanness have accepted bribes from its hands and our imagination has grovelled in the dust before its immensity of flesh.

But its unwieldiness itself and its endless complexities are its true signs of failure. The swimmer who is an expert does not exhibit his muscular force by violent movements, but exhibits some power which is invisible and which shows itself in perfect grace and reposefulness. The true distinction of man from animals is in his power and worth which are inner and invisible. But the present-day commercial civilization of man is not only taking too much time and space but killing time and space. Its movements are violent, its noise is discordantly loud. It is carrying its own damnation because it is trampling into distortion the humanity upon which it stands. It is strenuously turning out money at the cost of happiness. Man is reducing himself to his minimum, in order to be able to make amplest room for his organizations. He is deriding his human sentiments into shame because they are apt to stand in the way of his machines.

In our mythology we have the legend that the man who performs penances for attaining immortality has to meet with temptations sent by Indra, the Lord of the immortals. If he is lured by them he is lost. The West has been striving for centuries after its goal of immortality. Indra has sent her the temptation to try her. It is the gorgeous temptation of wealth. She has accepted it and her civilization of humanity has lost its path in the wilderness of machinery.

This commercialism with its barbarity of ugly decorations is a terrible menace to all humanity. Because it is setting up the ideal of power over that of perfection. It is making the cult of self-seeking exult in its naked shamelessness. Our nerves are more delicate than our muscles. Things that are the most precious in us are helpless as babes when we take away from them the careful protection which they claim from us for their very preciousness. Therefore when the callous rudeness of power runs amuck in the broad-way of humanity it scares away by its grossness the ideals which we have cherished with the martyrdom of centuries.

The temptation which is fatal for the strong is still more so for the weak. And I do not welcome it in our Indian life even though it be sent by the lord of the Immortals. Let our life be simple in its outer aspect and rich in its inner gain. Let our civilization take its firm stand upon its basis of social cooperation and not upon that of economic exploitation and conflict. How to do it in the teeth of the drainage of our life-blood by the economic dragons is the task set before the thinkers of all oriental nations who have faith in the human soul. It is a sign of laziness and impotency to accept conditions imposed upon us by others who have other ideals than ours. We should actively try to adapt the world powers to guide our history to its own perfect end.

From the above you will know that I am not an economist. I am willing to acknowledge that there is a law of demand and supply and an infatuation of man for more things than are good for him. And yet I will persist in believing that there is such a thing as the harmony of completeness in humanity, where poverty does not take away his riches, where defeat may lead him to victory, death to immortality, and in the compensation of Eternal Justice those who are the last may yet have their insult transmuted into a golden triumph.

Rabindranath Tagore

আমি কেমন করিয়া জানাব আমার জুড়ালো হৃদয় জুড়ালো/Ami Kemon Koriya Janabo Amar Juralo Hridoy Juralo/How do I say that my heart is fulfilled

আমি   কেমন করিয়া জানাব আমার জুড়ালো হৃদয় জুড়ালো–

আমার   জুড়ালো হৃদয় প্রভাতে।

আমি   কেমন করিয়া জানাব আমার পরান কী নিধি কুড়ালো–

ডুবিয়া   নিবিড় গভীর শোভাতে॥

আজ   গিয়েছি সবার মাঝারে, সেথায় দেখেছি আলোক-আসনে–

দেখেছি   আমার হৃদয়রাজারে।

আমি   দুয়েকটি কথা কয়েছি তা সনে সে নীরব সভা-মাঝারে–

দেখেছি   চিরজনমের রাজারে॥

এই   বাতাস আমারে হৃদয়ে লয়েছে, আলোক আমার তনুতে

কেমনে   মিলে গেছে মোর তনুতে–

তাই   এ গগন-ভরা প্রভাত পশিল আমার অণুতে অণুতে।

আজ   ত্রিভুবন-জোড়া কাহার বক্ষে দেহ মন মোর ফুরালো–

যেন রে   নি:শেষে আজি ফুরালো।

আজ   যেখানে যা হেরি সকলেরই মাঝে জুড়ালো জীবন জুড়ালো–

আমার   আদি ও অন্ত জুড়ালো॥

রাগ: আশাবরী-ভৈরবী
তাল: একতাল
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ২৩ মাঘ, ১৩১২
রচনাস্থান: শিলাইদহ
স্বরলিপিকার: কাঙ্গালীচরণ সেন

 How do I say that my heart is fulfilled

How do I say that my heart is fulfilled –

And my soul is blessed this morning.

How do I say what treasure my soul has collected –

Immersing deep in your splendour.

I went where they all waited and saw upon a seat of light–

The one who is king of my heart.

I spoke but a few words with you in the midst of that silent gathering –

I saw the one who has ruled my ways through all my life.

This wind has embraced me and the light kissed my body

How they entered every part of me I know not –

And thus am I filled to the brim with this sky filled with dawn.

Whose vastness has taken hold of my body and soul –

I feel as though I am completely theirs.

What ever I gaze upon today seems to tell me –

My life is blessed indeed from beginning to end

Raga: Ashavari – Bhairavi

Beat: Ektaal

Written: 1906

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যখন পড়বে না মোর পায়ের চিহ্ন এই বাটে/Jokhon porbe na mor paayer chinho ei baatey/When my footsteps no longer fall upon this ground

যখন    পড়বে না মোর পায়ের চিহ্ন এই বাটে,

আমি    বাইব না মোর খেয়াতরী এই ঘাটে,

চুকিয়ে দেব বেচা কেনা,

মিটিয়ে দেব গো,   মিটিয়ে দেব লেনা দেনা,

বন্ধ হবে আনাগোনা এই হাটে–

তখন আমায় নাইবা মনে রাখলে,

তারার পানে চেয়ে চেয়ে নাইবা আমায় ডাকলে।

যখন    জমবে ধুলা তানপুরাটার তারগুলায়,

কাঁটালতা উঠবে ঘরের দ্বারগুলায়,   আহা,

ফুলের বাগান ঘন ঘাসের   পরবে সজ্জা বনবাসের,

শ্যাওলা এসে ঘিরবে দিঘির ধারগুলায়–

তখন আমায় নাইবা মনে রাখলে,

তারার পানে চেয়ে চেয়ে নাইবা আমায় ডাকলে।

তখন   এমনি করেই বাজবে বাঁশি এই নাটে,

কাটবে দিন কাটবে,

কাটবে গো দিন আজও যেমন দিন কাটে,    আহা,

ঘাটে ঘাটে খেয়ার তরী   এমনি সে দিন উঠবে ভরি–

চরবে গোরু খেলবে রাখাল ওই মাঠে।

তখন আমায় নাইবা মনে রাখলে,

তারার পানে চেয়ে চেয়ে নাইবা আমায় ডাকলে।

তখন   কে বলে গো সেই প্রভাতে নেই আমি।

সকল খেলায় করবে খেলা এই আমি– আহা,

নতুন নামে ডাকবে মোরে,   বাঁধবে নতুন বাহু-ডোরে,

আসব যাব চিরদিনের সেই আমি।

তখন আমায় নাইবা মনে রাখলে,

তারার পানে চেয়ে চেয়ে নাইবা আমায় ডাকলে॥

রাগ: বাউল
তাল: দাদরা
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ২৫ চৈত্র, ১৩২২
রচনাস্থান: শান্তিনিকেতন
স্বরলিপিকার: দিনেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর

When my footsteps no longer fall upon this ground

When my footsteps no longer fall upon this ground,

Nor my boat visit these banks,

I will finish all deals,

And leave no dues or debts,

I will no longer come to this marketplace –

It would matter little whether you remember me,

Do not call me back as you look upon the stars.

When dust collects on the strings of your instrument,

Thorns grow around the doorways to this room, alas

And the flowers hide in exile behind wild grass,

Moss sullies the once clear waters of memory –

It would be better if you forget me,

Do not call me back as you look upon the stars.

The flute will still play that day,

And days pass,

Just as they do today, alas,

Boats will fill with harvest at life’s shores –

The cowherd will graze his herd in that field.

It would matter little whether you remember me,

Do not call me back as you look upon the stars.

Who says I will not be there in  that dawn

I will play with you in every game – alas,

You will call me by a new name, and hold me close with a new embrace,

I will come and go, eternally as me

It would matter little whether you remember me,

Do not call me back as you look upon the stars.

Raga: Baul
Beat: Dadra
Written: 7th April,  1916
At Santiniketan

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