Archive | May 2014

Madhurilata Tagore and her father Part 2


  Rathindranath(boy on left), Madhurilata(seated), Meera and Renuka


The groom’s family agreed to lower their demand for a dowry to Rupees ten thousand from the ir previous demand for Rupees twenty thousand.

23rd March 1901 – we find the financially stretched desperate poet writing to Priyanath Sen;

“It is difficult to say anything about Bela’s dowry. I will try to come up with the sum of ten thousand rupees. That will be in cash and in instalments. This arrangement will not suit me but I will have to agree to it if the need arises. There is very little cash and my father will never agree to the proposal of taking out a loan; thus I cannot raise the topic of a large dowry at this point in time. My father usually blesses the newly married couples with about four to five thousand rupees the day after the wedding has been held. No one has ever needed to remind him about this. I cannot broach the demand for twenty thousand rupees with him at all.”

The desperation of a father pushed the poet to write to Sen again on 24th March;

“I have written to you explicitly clarifying my position regarding the dowry. I feel it is futile to make any efforts where I know they will come to naught. I am not prepared to take on this task at the expense of angering my father and displeasing my family members.”

It is clear that he had to discuss the dowry demands in great detail. Letters of this time speak of talks with the groom’s brothers and the reduction of the sum to half the original amount stated.

But the situation came to an impasse over when the money would be handed over to the groom’s family. At this point Rabindranath Tagore himself decided to appeal to the prospective groom’s sense of fairness and wrote to him in secret. This letter was dated 24th April, 1901. A fuller understanding of the anguish the poet had to bear as a result of these negotiations is easily gained by reading the letter.


Shilaidaha, Kumarkhali, EBSR


Your late father was a close friend of our family. He held me in the kind of affection one feels for a brother and thus I feel I have the right to address you in this familiar manner.

Priyanath Sen has presented you with a proposal to marry my daughter; I have seen your letters regarding the matter and discussions have been held with your brothers.                             

I was keen about the proposed alliance for various reasons and would count myself as fortunate if this marriage was to take place. But I feel that I must discuss the issue with you instead of sitting back in silence, since if this marriage should take place by the grace of God, the relationship between us will be continuous and our mutual happiness and fortune or lack thereof will be celebrated together.

My father gifts all the new members of our family with a dowry on the day after the wedding. I do not wish to repeat the amount of dowry that has been decided upon after discussions. But I must raise a point with you that is related to this gift. I hope you will accept this with generosity.

According to the custom of our family, the son-in-laws must adopt the Brahmo faith a day or two before the marriage. When your brother Avinash suggested at Priyanath Sen’s house that the dowry should be given to you on the day you convert to the Brahmo religion, I had agreed to the suggestion without giving It any further thought. When I told my father about this that night, he expressed great astonishment and said, ‘The couple will be given the dowry as a gift and blessing, but why is the dowry being demanded before the wedding has taken place? Do they not trust me?’

I could not give him a suitable answer and it was immediately apparent to me that the demand showed disrespect and insulted my father.

I am coming to you with this information without going through the usual channels. This is because I feel that it is not your intention to cause us the shame and anguish we have felt. If we are to establish any future relationship it cannot begin on a foundation of suspicion and disrespect. That would only cause hurt and insult further down the line. I will make my final decision only after hearing from you.

If any of your relations are irritated because I wrote to you directly about all this then I hope you will think over the situation and not misunderstand me.

Irrespective of whether my wishes are fulfilled regarding the marriage, I hope you accept my most sincere blessings.


Sri Rabindranath Thakur                                                                  11th Baishakh, 1308


Madhurilata Tagore and her father Part 1

Rabindranath Tagore’s eldest daughter Madhurilata was born on the 25th of October 1886, in Jorasanko. Tagore was twenty six years old while her mother Mrinalini was thirteen.

Image                 Image

The young parents with Bela                                                     Tagore with Mrinalini



His niece Indira Devi described Madhurilata whose nickname was Bela as a wax doll, a ‘momer putul’, writing, ‘Among Ravikaka’s children Bela alone has inherited his complexion.

His sister-in-law Jnanadanandini, Satyendranath Tagore’s wife took them to her own residence in Park Street so that mother and baby could be given the latest in care.

Tagore described his daughter with much tenderness. He helped to bathe her himself while in the Park Street house. Later on while they were in Darjeeling, he wrote about waking her up for her night feeds of warmed up milk. ‘She would seize upon children of her own age with cries of delight.’

Image   Image

Tagore with Bela and Rathi                                                Tagore with Bela



He published ‘Kori o Kamal’ when she was about a month old.

Tagore wrote to his friend Srishchandra Majumdar, ‘My daughter has been given a name the day before yesterday. Her name is Madhurilata.’ There was some fanfare at the Rice ceremony on 25th July 1887, which cost about Rs 371 at the time. He wrote for her the following song:


ওহে    নবীন অতিথি, তুমি   নূতন কি তুমি চিরন্তন।

যুগে যুগে কোথা তুমি ছিলে সঙ্গোপন॥

যতনে কত-কী আনি   বেঁধেছিনু গৃহখানি,

হেথা কে তোমারে বলো করেছিল নিমন্ত্রণ॥

কত আশা ভালোবাসা গভীর হৃদয়তলে

ঢেকে রেখেছিনু বুকে কত হাসি-অশ্রুজলে।

একটি না কহি বাণী   তুমি এলে মহারানী,

কেমনে গোপনে মনে করিলে হে পদার্পণ॥


Youthful guest of mine, are you new or are you eternal?

Where were you hidden through the ages?

I have gathered much with care to make this a home

Tell me who was the one who invited you here?

In the deepest recesses of my heart with much hope and love

I shelter you with tears and laughter.

You came without a word, Queen of mine,

How did you enter my heart without me knowing?

(Translation, mine)


A portrait in pastels was commissioned by the artist J. Archer for the sum of Rs 400 which was slightly more than 400,000 rupees at today’s value.

Much later, Tagore would write to his wife from onboard a ship headed for Aden on his way to England of an astonishing experience he had had; ‘On Sunday night I felt just as though my soul had left my body and gone to Jorasanko. You were lying on one side of a large bed and Beli and Rathi(Khoka) lay beside you. I kissed them both and came back.

It is worth remembering here that the poem ‘Jetey nahi dibo’, ‘I will not let you go’, which has been described as the shortest epic poem in Indian literature was full of reminiscences of the six year old Bela. He observed that she would be a very affectionate and unassuming girl when she grew older.


I will not let you go

‘I look at the clock, and then turn to

Look at her, saying softly,

‘And now I leave.’ Suddenly she turns

Head inclined as the end of her sari hides

The tears that threaten bad luck.

Outside by the door pensive in thought

My daughter aged four. By now

On any other day she would have been bathed

She falls asleep as soon as she is fed.

Today her mother has not given her a thought

She has been my shadow, silent and constant.

She was watching wordless and unblinking

The preparations for departure. Who knows

What she thought as she sat quietly at the door.

When I said, “Now I go, Little Mother’

She said sad eyed, dully, ‘I will not let you go.’

She stayed where she was, seated,

She did not hold my arm, nor bar the door,

She just stated the rights of love and said,

‘I will not let you go.’ But still that time came

To an end and, still alas

You had to let go.

Oh unknowing child of mine

Who are you? Where from have you

Gathered the power to say such words,

With such spirit –

‘I will not let you go.’ In all the worlds

Who will you hold back with your tiny arms

What pride, as you protest from your seat

By the door, your tired little frame

All your strength in that heart beating with love.

From that pain, with much fear and shame

The stating of a wish is all that one can do

‘I do not feel like letting go.’ Who can say?.

‘I will not let you go.’ Hearing this from your lips

Proud declaration of love, Life

Draws me away with an amused smile.

You just look on, defeated eyes brimming

Sitting at the door like a picture,

I came away wiping my tears.’

(Translation, mine)


The letter of 28th February 1897 indicates that Tagore was not in Calcutta at the time. Madhurilata wrote, ‘When will you come to Kolkata? Miss Lincoln does not tutor us now, she says that the doctor has told her she is very weak and must not teach anymore.’

We see a delightful image of sisterly affection from a letter of 29th May, 1899. Bela writes,

You have told me that I must feed Rathi and help him put on weight. I fed him kheer and the pureed Bombai mangoes today. But he does not listen to me, not even as an older sister. He must be made to call me Big sister from now. I will try hard to do all the things you have written about. I will believe in God. Believe me Father  I will try very hard to be good. I will not be able to be as clever and good as Didiya but I will try as much as I can.’

In May 1900, Tagore heard about the marriage of a friend’s daughter and wrote to Srishchandra M, ‘Mainu is Bela’s age. She is growing up too.’

Priyanath Sen brought news of a good prospective groom. Tagore had met Sen shortly after Sandhyasangeet was published and held him in high regard. Priyanath was a scholar who was described as a ‘sailor of the seven seas’ because of his knowledge of Bengali, English, French and Italian. He lived at 8 Mathur Sen Garden Lane.



Priyanath Sen


The groom was Sarat Kumar Chakravarti. The family was not unfamiliar to Tagore as the groom’s father was the poet Biharilal Chakravarti. Sarat was the third son of the family. He was sixteen years older than Bela. He was a great scholar. After being schooled at Hindu School, he came first in both English and Philosophy at Presidency College for which he received the Ishan scholarship, the Hemantakumar medal and the Keshabchandra Sen medal. He was first in his MA class in 1895 and after gaining a B.L the following year, began practicing as a lawyer in Mujaffarpore in Bihar.

Initially Priyanath spoke to Sarat’s mother Kadambari Devi and his eldest brother Avinash Chakravarti. In July 1900, Tagore wrote to Sen, ‘Now do all you can to take the negotiations towards fruition. He was prepared to go to Kolkata if it was required.

Another letter gives us a look at the financial situation the poet found himself in.

I have debts of Rs 5000 after building my house. There are some other small debts as well. Would it be possible to find a buyer who would pay Rs 6000 for my books and the copyrights to the poetry written so far?’

Reminder after reminder followed. Priyanath Sen indicated that he was not having any luck with the eldest brother Avinash.

Yesterday he was meant to see me again, but he did not do so…’

Tagore was understandably impatient as is evident from letter after letter addressed to Priyanath.

In August: ‘I am urging myself to be patient.’

And again: ‘Any hope of Sarat (marrying Bela) seems to be clouded with despair just like the sunshine of the season.’

17th August, 1900: ‘Do you still harbor hopes about Sarat? I have given up on that quarter for quite some time now .’

On the 19th of August, Priyanath Sen wrote:

I have not forsaken our hopes for Sarat completely. He dearly wishes that this marriage takes place. He will take part only when he receives his mother’s consent. He does not wish to secure his own happiness at the expense of that of his mother. Let us see what happens.

There is an undated letter where Tagore expressed his doubts about Sarat being able to convince his own mother to agree to the marriage since he himself had never seen Bela.

The following year talks resumed between Tagore and the groom’s elder brothers, Avinash and Rishibor.




To be continued:

ক্ষীরের পুতুল ৩/ Kheerer Putul 3/ The Milk Doll 3

দুঃখের কথা বলতে-বলতে রানীর চক্ষের জলে বুক ভেসে গেল। তখন সেই বনের বানর রানীর কোলে উঠে বসে,  চোখের জল মুছে দিয়ে রানীকে বললে—মা,তুই কাঁদিস নে। আমি তোর  দুঃখ ঘোচাবো, তোর সাতমহল বাড়ি দেবো, সাতখানা মালঞ্চ দেবো, সাতশো দাসী ফিরে দেবো, তোকে সোনার মন্দিরে রাজার পাশে রানী করে কোলে নিতে সোনারচাঁদ ছেলে দেবো তবে আমার নাম বাঁদর। আমি যা বলি যদি তা করতে পারিস তবে তোর রাজবাড়িতে যেমন ঐশ্বর্য যেমন আদর ছিল তেমনি হবে।

বানরের কথায় রানীর চোখের কোণে জল, ঠোঁটের কোণে হাসি এল। রানী কেঁদে-কেঁদে হেসে বললেন—ওরে বাছা, দেবতার মন্দিরে কত বলি দিয়েছি, তীর্থে-তীর্থে কত না পুজো দিয়েছি, তবু একটি রাজপুত্র কোলে পাইনি। তুই কি তপস্যা করে কোন্‌ দেবতার বরে, বনের বানর হয়ে আমাকে রাজরানী করে রাজপুত্র কোলে এনে দিবি? বাছা থাক্‌, আমার রাজা সুখে থাক্‌, আমার সতীন সুখে থাক্‌, আমার যে দুঃখ সেই দুঃখই থাক্‌, তোর এ অসাধ্য-সাধনে কাজ নেই। রাত হল তুই ঘুম যা।

বানর বললে—না মা,আমার কথা না-শুনলে ঘুম যাব না।

রানী বললেন—ওরে তুই ঘুমো, রাত যে অনেক হল! পুব-পশ্চিমে মেঘ উঠল,আকাশ ভেঙে বৃষ্টি এল,রাজ্য জুড়ে ঘুম এল,তুই আমার ঘুমো। কাল যা বলবি তাই শুনব,আজ তুই ঘুম যা। ভাঙা ঘরে দ্বার দিয়েছি—ঝড় উঠেছে,ঘরের মাঝে কাঁথা পেতেছি-শীত লেগেছে,তুই দুধের বাছা, আমার কোলে, বুকের কাছে ঘুম যা ।

বানর রানীর বুকে মাথা রেখে ঘুম গেল । রানি ছেঁড়া কাঁথায় মাথা রেখে ঘুমিয়ে পড়লেন ।

এমনি করে রাত কাটল। ছোটরানীর সোনার পালঙ্কে ফুলের বিছানায়, রাজার পাশে রাত কাটল ; আর বড়রানীর জলে ঝড়ে,ভাঙা ঘরে, ছেঁড়া কাঁথায় রাত কাটল।

সকাল হল । রাজবাড়িতে প্রহরীখানায় প্রহর বাজল, নাকরাখানায় নবৎ বাজল, রাজারানীর ঘুম ভাঙলো।

রাজা সোনার ভৃঙ্গারে স্ফটিকজলে মুখ ধুয়ে, রাজবেশ অঙ্গে পরে রাজ-দরবারে নেবে গেলেন—আর ছোটরানী সোনার পালঙ্কে, ফুলের  বিছানায়, ফুলের পাখায় হাওয়া খেতে খেতে পাশ ফিরে ঘুম গেলেন ।

আর বড়রানী কি করলেন?

ভাঙা ঘরে সোনার রোদ মুখে পড়ল, রানী উঠে বসলেন । এদিক দেখলেন ওদিক দেখলেন, এপাশ দেখলেন ওপাশ দেখলেন—বানর নেই! রানী এ-ঘর খুঁজলেন ওঘর খুঁজলেন,ঘরের চাল খুঁজলেন, গাছের ডাল খুঁজলেন—বানর নেই! বড়রানী কাঁদতে লাগলেন ।

বানর কোথা গেল?

বানর ভাঙা ঘরে ঘুমন্ত রানীকে একলা রেখে রাত না-পোহাতে । রাজ-দরবারে চলে গেল।

রাজা বার দিয়ে দরবারে বসেছেন । চারিদিকে সভাসদ মন্ত্রী, দুয়ারে সিপাই-সান্ত্রী, আশেপাশে লোকের ভিড় । রানীর বানর সেই লোকের ভিড় ঠেলে,সিপাই-সান্ত্রীরর হাত এড়িয়ে, রাজার পায়ে প্রণাম করে বললে—মহারাজ, বড় সুখবর এনেছি, মায়ের আমার ছেলে হবে ।

রাজা বললেন—ওরে বানর বলিস কি ? একথা কি সত্য ? বড়রানী দুওরানী,তার ছেলে হবে ? দেখিস্‌ এ-কথা যদি মিথ্যা হয় তো তোকেও কাটব আর তোর মা দুওরানীকেও কাটব ।

বানর বললে—মহারাজ সে ভাবনা আমার । এখন আমায় খুশি কর, আমি বিদায় হই ।

রাজা গলার গজমোতি হার খুলে দিয়ে  বানরকে বিদায় করলেন ।

বানর নাচতে নাচতে—ভাঙা ঘরে দুওরানী পড়ে-পড়ে কাঁদছেন—সেখানে গেল ।

দুওরানীর চোখের জল, গায়ের ধুলো মুছিয়ে বানর বললে—এই দেখ্‌ মা, তোর জন্যে কি এনেছি ! তুই রাজার রানী, গলায় দিভে হার পাসনে,কাঠের মালা কিনে পরিস, এই মুক্তোর মালা পর !

রানী বানরের হাতে গজমোতি হার দেখে বললেন—এই হার তুই কোথা পেলি ? এ যে রাজার গলার গজমোতি হার ! যখন রানী ছিলুম রাজার জন্যে গেঁথেছিলুম, তুই-এ হার কোথায় পেলি ? বল্‌ বানর, রাজা কি এ-হার ফেলে দিয়েছেন, রাজপথে কুড়িয়ে পেলি ? বানর বললে -না মা, কুড়িয়ে পাইনি । তোর হাতে গাঁথা রাজার গলার গজমোতি হার কুড়িয়ে কি পাওয়া যায়?

রানী বললেন— তবে কি রাজার ঘরে চূরি করলি?

বানর বললে— ছি ছি মা, চুরি কি করতে আছে! আজ রাজাকে সু-খবর দিয়েছি তাই রাজা হার দিয়ে খুশি করেছেন ।

রানী বললেন-ওরে বাছা, তুই যে দুঃখীর সন্তান, বনের বানর । ভাঙা ঘরে দুঃখিনীর কোলে শুয়ে, রাজাকে দিতে কি সুখের সন্ধান পেলিযে  রাত না-পোয়াতে রাজবাড়িতে ছুটে গেলি!

বানর বললে— মা আমি স্বপ্ন পেয়েছি আমার যেন ভাই হয়েছে, তোর কোলে খোকা হয়েছে; সেই খোকা যেন রাজসিংহাসনে রাজা   হয়েছে। তাই ছুটে রাজাকে খবর দিলুম-রাজামহাশয়, মায়ের খোকা হবে। তাইত রাজা খুশি হয়ে গলার হার খুলে দিলেন ।  রানী বললেন— ওরে, রাজা আজ ণ্ডনলেন ছেলে হবে, কাল শুনবেন মিছে কথা ! আজ রাজা গলায় দিতে হার দিলেন, কাল যে মাথা নিতে  হুকুম দেবেন । হায় হায়, কি করলি ? একমুঠো খেতে পাই, একপাশে পড়ে থাকি, তবু বছর গেলে রাজার দেখা পাই, তুই আমার তাও ঘোচালি ? ওরে তুই কি সর্বনাশ করলি ? মিছে খবর কেন রটালি ? এ জঞ্জাল কেন ঘটালি!

বানর বললে— মা তোর  ভয় কি, ভাবিস কেন ? এ দশমাস চুপ করে থাক।  সবাই জানুক— বড় রানীর  ছেলে হবে । তারপর রাজা যখন ছেলে দেখবেন তখন তোর কোলে সোনার চাঁদ  ছেলে দেব, তুই রাজাকে দেখাস। এখন চল বেলা হল , খিদে পেয়েছে।

রানী বললেন— চল্‌ বাছা চল্‌। বাটি পুরে জল রেখেছি, গাছের ফল এনেছি, খাবি চল।

রানী ভাঙা পিঁড়েয় বানর কে খাওয়াতে বসলেন।

আর রাজা ছোটরানীর ঘরে গেলেন।

ছোটরানী কূস্বপ্ন দেখে জেগে উঠে সোনার পালঙ্কে বসে-বসে ভাবছেন এমন সময় রাজা এসে খবর দিলেন— আরে শুনেছ ছোটরানী, বড়রানীর ছেলে হবে ! বড় ভাবনা ছিল রাজসিংহাসন কাকে দেব, এতদিনে সে ভাবনা ঘুচল ! যদি ছেলে হয় তাকে রাজা করব, আর যদি মেয়ে হয়, তবে তার বিয়ে দিয়ে জামাইকে রাজ্য দেব । রানী, বড় ভাবনা ছিল, এতদিনে নিশ্চিন্ত হলুম ।

রানী বললেন— পারিনে বাপু, আপনার  জ্বালায় বাঁচিনে, পরের ভাবনা !

রাজা বললেন— সে কি রানী? এমন সুখের দিনে এমন কোথা বলতে হয়? রাজপুত্র কোলে পাব, রাজসিংহাসনে রাজা করব, একথা শুনে মুখ-ভার করে? রানী, রাজবাড়িতে সবার মুখে হাসি, তুমি কেন অকল্যাণ কর?

রানী বললেন–

আর পারিনে ! কার ছেলে রাজা হবে, কার মেয়ে রাজ্য পাবে,কে সিংহাসনে বসবে, এত ভাবনা ভাবতে পারিনে। নিজের জালায় মরি, পরের ছেলে মোলো বাঁচল তাঁর খবর রাখিনে। বাবারে, সকাল বেলা বকে বকে ঘুম হল না, মাথা ধরল, যাই নেয়ে আসি।

রাতভরে ছোটরানী আটগাছা চুরি, দশ গাছা মল ছমছমিয়ে একদিকে চলে গেলেন।

রাজার বড় রাগ হল। রাজকুমার কে ছোটরানী মর্‌ বললে। রাজা মুখ আঁধার করে বার-মহলে চলে এলেন। রাজা-রানী তে ঝগড়া হল। রাজা আর ছোটরানীর মুখ দেখলেন না, বররানীর ঘরেও গেলেন না— ছোট রানী শুনে যদি বিষ খাওয়ায়, বররানিকে নয় প্রাণে মারে! রাজা বার-মহলে একলা রইলেন।

একমাস গেল, দুমাস গেল, দু মাস গিয়ে তিন মাস গেল, রাজা-রানীর ভাব হল না।ঝগড়ায়-ঝগড়ায় চার মাস কাটল। পাঁচ মাসে দুওরানির পোষা বানর রাজার সঙ্গে দেখা করলে। রাজা বললেন— কি হে বানর,  খবর কি ?

বানর বললে—মহারাজ, মায়ের বড় দুঃখ !মোটা চালের ভাত মুখে রোচে না, মা আমার না খেয়েকাহিল হলেন।

রাজা বললেন— একথা তো আমি জানিনে । মন্ত্রীবর, যাও এখনি সরু চালের ভাত, পঞ্চাশ ব্যঞ্জন, সোনার থালে সোনার বাটিতে বড়রানীকে পাঠিয়ে দাও । আজ থেকে আমি যা খাই বড়রানীও তাই খাবেন । যাও মন্ত্রী, বানরকে হাজার মোহর দিয়ে বিদায় কর ।

মন্ত্রী বানরকে বিদায় করে রান্নাঘরে গেলেন । আর রানীর বানর মোহরের তোরা নিয়ে রানীর কাছে এল ।

রানী বললেন – আজ আবার কোথা ছিলি? এতখানি বেলা হল নাইতে পেলুম না,রাঁধব কখন? খাব কখন?

বানর বললে—মা,আর তোকে রাঁধতে হবে না । রাজবাড়ি থেকে সোনার থালায় সোনার  বাটিতে সরু চালের ভাত, পঞ্চাশ ব্যঞ্জন আসবে, তাড়াতাড়ি নেয়ে আয়।

রানী নাইতে গেলেন । বানর একমুঠো মোহর নিয়ে বাজারে গেল । ষোলো থান মোহরে ষোলজন ঘরামি নিলে, ষোলোগাড়ি খড় নিলে, ষোলশ বাঁশ নিলে। সেই ষোলশ বাঁশ দিয়ে, ষোলোগাড়ি খড় দিয়ে ষোলজন ঘরামি খাটিয়ে, চক্ষের নিমেষে দুওরানীর বানর ভাঙাঘর নতুন করলে। শোবার ঘরে নতুন কাঁথা পাতলে, খাবার ঘরে নতুন পিঁড়ি পাতলে, রাজবাড়ির ষোলো বামুনে রানীর ভাত নিয়ে এল; ষোলো মোহর বিদায় পেলে !

দুওরানী নেয়ে এলেন । এসে দেখলেন—নতুন  ঘর । ঘরের চাল নতুন ! চালের খড় নতুন ! মেঝেয় নতুন কাঁথা ! আলনায় নতুন শাড়ি ! রানী অবাক হলেন । বানর কে বললেন—বাছা, ভাঙা ঘর দেখে ঘাটে গেলুম, এসে দেখি নতুন ঘর ! কেমন করে হল ?

বানর বললে—মা, রাজা-মশায় মোহর দিয়েছেন। সেই মোহরে ভাঙা ঘর নতুন করেছি, ছেঁড়া কাঁথা নতুন করেছি, নতুন পিঁড়ে পেতেছি,  তুই সোনার থালে গরম ভাত; সোনার বাটিতে তপ্ত দুধ খাবি চল্‌।

রানী খেতে বসলেন । কতদিন পরে সোনার থালায় ভাত খেলেন,   সোনার ঘটিতে মুখ ধুলেন, সোনার বাটায় পান খেলেন, তবু মনে সুখ পেলেন না । রানী রাজভোগ খান আর ভাবেন—আজ রাজা সোনার থালে ভাত পাঠালেন, কাল হয়তো মশানে নিয়ে মাথা কাটবেন ।

এমনি করে ভয়ে-ভয়ে এক মাস, দুমাস, তিন মাস গেল । বড়রানীর নতুন ঘর পুরোনো হল, ঘরের চাল ফুটো হল, চালের খড় উড়ে গেল । বানর রাজার সঙ্গে দেখা করলে ।

রাজা বললেন—কি বানর, কি মনে করে ?

বানর বললে—মহারাজ, ভয়ে কবো না নির্ভয়ে কবো ?   রাজা বললেন—নির্ভয়ে কও ।




As she spoke of her sadness, the queen wept floods of tears. The monkey from the forest then climbed into her lap, dried her eyes and said to her, ‘Mother, do not cry! I will rid you of your sorrows, give you a seven storied house, seven gardens of your own and seven hundred maids to look after you; I am not a true monkey unless I manage to seat you beside the king in a temple of gold as his queen, with a son like a sliver of the golden moon. If you do all the things I tell you, you will get back all the wealth and affection you once had.

The queen heard what the monkey said and while tears welled in her eyes, her lips curled in a smile. She smiled through her tears and said – My child, I have sacrificed so many things to the gods, and made so many offerings to the holy shrines and I am yet to be blessed with a prince. What prayers will you offer and gain the blessings of which god that you can promise to make me a queen and give me a prince of my own to hold? You, a monkey of the forest? Let it be, my precious! Let my king be happy, let my co-wife be happy, let my sorrows not grow, you do not have to try and accomplish this impossible task! It is late, go to sleep!

The monkey protested – No mother, I will not sleep if you do not listen to me.

The queen said – Go to sleep, for the hour is late! There are clouds in the east and the west, the rain pours down in torrents, the kingdom sleeps and so must you. I will listen to whatever you say tomorrow, today you must sleep. I have closed the door to my broken room against the storm, I have spread my quilt on the floor against the cold, you are just a child, come to my lap; nestle in my breast and go to sleep.

The monkey nestled its head on her breast and slept. The queen rested her head on her faded and torn quilt and went to sleep.

The night passed. For the younger queen, it passed in her golden bed, on a layer of flowers by the side of the king; but the older queen spent her night buffeted by rain and wind in her broken down room, lying on her patched quilt.

Morning broke. The hours were called by the timekeeper in the palace, the flutes played in the musicians’ gallery and the king and queen rose from their slumbers.

The king washed his face in crystal clear water from a golden basin, dressed in his royal robes and descended to the royal court – the younger queen turned on her side on her golden bed on her flower mattress and went back to sleep as her handmaidens fanned her gently with a flowery fan.

What did the elder queen do?

The golden sun fell through the cracks of the wall on her face and she woke up. She looked this way and that; she searched here and there, but the monkey had vanished. She looked in this room and then the other, she looked in the roof and on the branches – there was no monkey! She began to cry.

Where did the monkey go?

The monkey had left the sleeping queen in her broken room and had gone to the court as soon as the night lightened in the east.

The king was sitting in the court surrounded by his courtiers and ministers, guards at the doors. People milled about. The queen’s monkey pushed through the crowd and managed to dodge the guards and soldiers. He threw himself at the king’s feet and said – Great King, I bring such good news! My mother is with child!

The king said – What are you saying! Is this true? The older queen, the sad queen is to have a baby? If you have told me a lie, I will have you both killed!

The monkey answered – That is for me to worry about. Now give me a reward, I have to go.

The king took off his ivory necklace and gave it to the monkey.

The monkey hopped and skipped its way to where the queen was weeping on her torn quilt in her broken room.

It dried her tears and dusted off her body and said – Look at what I have brought you mother! You are a queen and yet you wear beads of wood that you have to buy, now you will wear this!

The queen looked at the ivory beads in the monkey’s hand and said – Where did you get this? This is the king’s. I made it for the king when I was his queen, where did you chance upon this? Tell me you monkey, did the king throw this upon the dusty street? Is that where you found this? The monkey answered – No mother, I did not find this. Why should I find a present you made for the king in the dusty street?

The queen asked – Did you steal it from the king then?

The monkey answered – Shame on you, mother! Why would I steal from anyone? I gave the king such good news that the king gave this to me as a reward.

The queen declared – You are the child of a sad creature, a monkey from the forest. What happy news could you have heard as you lay in my lap that you had to wake up early and go to the palace?

The monkey said – I dreamed that I have a brother, that you have a son; that son will one day be the king of all of this. I ran to tell the king and the king was so happy that he gave me a reward. The queen was frightened – Today you have told him I will have a son, but what of tomorrow when he hears you had lied. Today you have the pearls from his neck but tomorrow he will be chopping off your head. Alas! What have you done! I may eat a handful and be pushed to a corner, but at least I get to see the king once a year and now you have destroyed even that! Why did you do this? Why did you lie? Why did you ruin everything!

The monkey said – Why are you worrying mother? Why are you afraid? Just wait for ten months. Let everyone know that the elder queen is going to have a baby. Then when the king comes to see the baby I will give you a son like a sliver of a golden moon and you can show him. Now let us go and eat, I am hungry.

The queen said – Let us do that. I have water in a bowl and fruits from the tree, come and eat.

She made him sit on a broken plank and served him his food.

The king in the meantime went to his younger queen’s palaces.

The queen had woken up from a nightmare and was thinking about it as she sat on her golden bed when the king arrived and told her – Have you heard, the elder queen is to have a baby! How worried I have been about who would succeed me to the throne, now I am so relieved! If it is a boy, I will make him king and if it is a girl I will make my son-in-law king and give him my kingdom. I was so worried my queen, but finally I feel at rest.

The queen said – I can’t handle this! I have so many issues of my own, and you want me to think of others!

The king said – What! Who says such things on a day as happy as this? I am talking about having a son and making him king and you are sulking? Why are you like this when everyone else is smiling with joy?

The queen said – I just can’t! I cannot think about whose son is to be king, whose daughter is to get the kingdom and who will get the throne. I have enough hassles of my own, who has the time to think about whether another person’s child lives or dies. All this talking is giving me a headache, let me go and have a bath.

She then went away, jangling her eight pairs of bangles and her ten stranded anklets.

The king felt very angry for she had said the baby prince could die for all she cared. He came to the outer chambers with a face like thunder. The two had quarreled; from then on, the king never went to see her or the elder queen. He was worried the younger queen would try to poison the older one if she heard of it. He lived by himself in the outer chambers.

One month passed and then two. Soon three months had passed but the king and the younger queen had not forgiven each other. Four months went thus. In the fifth month the monkey came to see the king who asked – Monkey, what is the news?

The monkey said – My mother is suffering so much! She cannot eat thick rice grains and her health suffers from her not eating a thing for the past few days.

The king declared – What! I knew nothing of this! Minister, go at once and send the finest rice, fifty kinds of accompaniments in golden plates and bowls to the elder queen. From this day on wards, my elder queen eats whatever I eat! Give the monkey a thousand coins before he goes!

The Minister paid the monkey and went to the kitchens. The monkey took the coins to his mother the queen.

The queen asked him – Where were you today? You are so late, I have not had time to bathe and now I will have to go hungry.

The monkey answered – Mother, you will not have to cook for us any more. Soon the royal kitchens will send golden plates full of rice and golden bowls filled with fifty different accompaniments, go and bathe quickly.

The queen went to bathe. The monkey now went to the markets with a fistful of coins. He used sixteen coins to hire sixteen builders, sixteen loads of straw and sixteen hundred bamboo poles. Those were used by the sixteen builders to repair the broken house and to thatch its threadbare roof. He bought new quilts for the bed, a new wooden seat for the dining room and gave sixteen coins to the sixteen Brahmins who brought the queen her food from the royal kitchens.

Duyorani came back from her bath. She saw that the house was repaired, the newly thatched roof had new straw. On the floor lay new mats and quilts; on the line hung new clothes for her. She was astonished and said to the monkey – I went to bathe from an old broken house and now it is all new! How did this happen?

The monkey said – Mother, the king has given me gold coins. I paid for repairs to the room, darning for the quilt, a proper wooden stool; come and eat hot rice from a golden plate and drink warm milk from a golden bowl!

The queen sat down to eat. She ate rice from a golden plate after such a long time, she rinsed her mouth from a golden cup and even ate a mouth freshening pan from a golden container; but she could not feel happy. The queen ate her royal meals and thought – Today I eat from a golden plate, perhaps tomorrow the king will have my head on a platter.

One month passed cautiously, then two and then three. The queen’s new rooms were now old, the new thatch had holes once again and the straw from the roof flew freely here and there. The monkey went to meet the king again.

Hello monkey, what is the news? The king asked.

The monkey said – Can I speak freely or must I watch what I say? The king answered – Speak freely!

যখন এসেছিলে অন্ধকারে/Jawkhawn Eshechiley/When you came in the darkness




যখন    এসেছিলে অন্ধকারে

চাঁদ ওঠে নি সিন্ধুপারে॥

হে অজানা, তোমায় তবে   জেনেছিলেম অনুভবে–

গানে তোমার পরশখানি বেজেছিল প্রাণের তারে॥

তুমি    গেলে যখন একলা চলে

চাঁদ উঠেছে রাতের কোলে।

তখন দেখি, পথের কাছে   মালা তোমার পড়ে আছে–

বুঝেছিলেম অনুমানে এ কণ্ঠহার দিলে কারে॥



রাগ: পিলু-বারোয়াঁ

তাল: তেওরা

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ১৬ পৌষ, ১৩৩০

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): ১ জানুয়ারি, ১৯২৪

রচনাস্থান: শ্রীনিকেতন







When you came in the darkness

the moon had not risen,

the moon had not risen by the banks of the sea.

Unknown though you are to me, I knew you then by feeling alone –

Your touch resonating through my soul in song.

When it was time to leave, you went alone

As the moon rose, against the darkened lap of the sky

Then I see your garland lying by the roadside –

And I understand for whom, you had left this memento of love.



Raga: Pilu Barwa

Beat: TeoRa

Written: January 1st, 1924

Written: Sri Niketan



Follow the links to hear Sharmila Roy Pommot:

Vikram Singh Khangura:

Pandit Manash Chakraborty singing the original raga:

Stage craft at Santiniketan

Stage craft at Santiniketan is still an experience for the senses. These are photos from a recent production of Chandalika, the dance drama by Rabindranath Tagore. Based on a Buddhist tale ‘Chandalika’ was published in the form of a dance drama in 1938 and was for the first time staged in Calcutta in the same year.

The story of ‘Chandalika’ centers round Prokiti (Chandalika or daughter of the Chandals), a low caste girl, who is despised by her neighbors. Even hawkers in the street do not sell their goods to her. She broods over her destiny and curses her mother for bringing her into the world. While in this mood, she goes to fetch water from the well where she meets Ananda, a disciple of Buddha. Ananda begs her for a drink of water. Prokriti informs him that she is an untouchable and as such it is decreed that water from her well is to be treated as polluted. Ananda replies to the effect that all human beings are equal, drinks water, blesses her and departs.The incident changes Prokriti’s entire outlook on life and she begins to live for the day when Ananda would appear before her again. He does on one occassion go past her chanting hymns with other Buddhist monks but fails to notice her.
Bitterly disappointed, she seeks help from her mother who is known to practice witchcraft. The mother agrees and by various means of sorcery succeeds in bringing Ananda before Prokriti. The later touches the monk’s feet and begs his forgiveness for dragging him down to her own level. The play ends with Ananda pronouncing his blessings on her.

They were planned and executed under the guidance of Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee, a past alumnus of Rabindra Bharati University and a current lecturer in Santiniketan,


A rough sketch of the trees to drawn on the panels forming the wings.



A mock up of the entire stage.



Wings with indigenous designs.



Stylized birds.







Dancer, left wings.


Wings on right of stage.




All photographs: by Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee.


Follow the link to hear the songs from the Chandalika:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

তোমার কাছে এ বর মাগি/Tomar kacche e bor maagi/ From you I beg this gift

তোমার কাছে এ বর মাগি,   মরণ হতে যেন জাগি

গানের সুরে ॥

যেমনি নয়ন মেলি যেন   মাতার স্তন্যসুধা-হেন

নবীন জীবন দেয় গো পুরে    গানের সুরে ॥

সেথায় তরু তৃণ যত

মাটির বাঁশি হতে ওঠে গানের মতো।

আলোক সেথা দেয় গো আনি

আকাশের আনন্দবাণী,

হৃদয়মাঝে বেড়ায় ঘুরে        গানের সুরে ॥

রাগ: ভৈরবী

তাল: দাদরা

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ১৭ আশ্বিন, ১৩২১

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): ৪ অক্টোবর, ১৯১৪

রচনাস্থান: শান্তিনিকেতন

স্বরলিপিকার: সুধীরচন্দ্র কর




From you I beg this gift, let me awake from death to the tune of your song

Just as a child opens its eyes and is nourished by the breast

Fill this new life with song.

There the green grass rises,

As a song from the lips of the earth.

And glorious light brings to them

The infinite wonder and happiness of the sky,

To wander the heart to the sound of this song


Raga: Bhairavi

Beat: Dadra

Written: 4th October, 1914

Written at Santiniketan

Score: Sudhirchandra Kar


Follow the link to hear Debabrata Biswas sing:


Geetanjali: শেষের মধ্যে অশেষ আছে/Shesher majhe ashesh acche/The infinite is held within the ending

শেষের মধ্যে অশেষ আছে,

এই কথাটি  মনে

আজকে আমার গানের শেষে

জাগছে ক্ষণে ক্ষণে।

সুর গিয়েছে থেমে তবু

থামতে যেন চায় না কভু,

নীরবতায় বাজছে বীণা

বিনা প্রয়োজনে।


তারে যখন আঘাত লাগে,

বাজে যখন সুরে–

সবার চেয়ে বড়ো যে গান

সে রয় বহুদূরে।

সকল আলাপ গেলে থেমে

শান্ত বীণায় আসে নেমে,

সন্ধ্যা যেমন দিনের শেষে

বাজে গভীর স্বনে।



কলিকাতা, ২৬ শ্রাবণ, ১৩১৭




The infinite is held within the ending,

This is the thought

That comes back to haunt me

At the end of my song.

The tune has faded away

And yet it seems to resonate,

The strings play despite the silence

Without really being needed.


When the strings are struck,

When the notes ring out clear –

The song that is greatest of them all

Keeps watch from afar.

When all the words are dulled

It descends on the gentle chords,

Just as evening unites with day’s end

To create a melody beyond compare.



Calcutta, 26th Sravan, 1317


ছায়া ঘনাইছে বনে বনে/Cchaya Ghonaiche Boney Boney/Shadows deepen over the trees and glades

ছায়া ঘনাইছে বনে বনে,   গগনে গগনে ডাকে দেয়া।

কবে নবঘন-বরিষনে     গোপনে গোপনে এলি কেয়া ॥

     পুরবে নীরব ইশারাতে   একদা নিদ্রাহীন রাতে

          হাওয়াতে কী পথে দিলি খেয়া–

              আষাঢ়ের খেয়ালের কোন্‌ খেয়া ॥

যে মধু হৃদয়ে ছিল মাখা   কাঁটাতে কী ভয়ে দিলি ঢাকা।

     বুঝি এলি যার অভিসারে   মনে মনে দেখা হল তারে,

          আড়ালে আড়ালে দেয়া-নেয়া–

              আপনায় লুকায়ে দেয়া-নেয়া ॥


রাগ: পিলু
তাল: কাহারবা
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): আষাঢ়, ১৩৩০
রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1923
স্বরলিপিকার: দিনেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর


Shadows deepen over the trees and glades      the skies resound as the clouds call a refrain

When did you arrive oh flowers of the Keya, secret companion to the season of rain?

What silent whispers awaken you from the east on a sleepless night?

In answer you must set sail on the breezes so light –

The whims of the rains bring such delight.

The sweetness that you hold within, hidden in thorns with pain fraught.

Perhaps the one you wish to meet, you have already met in thought

An exchange that happens within the recesses of the soul unrevealed –

A gift that you have, from your own self concealed!


Raga: Piloo
Beat: Kaharba
Written in: 1923
Score: Dinendranath Tagore



Chinmay Chattopadhyay


আমি বহু বাসনায় প্রাণপণে চাই/Ami bohubashonay pranponey chai/I crave so much with all my heart

আমি   বহু বাসনায় প্রাণপণে চাই, বঞ্চিত করে বাঁচালে মোরে।

এ কৃপা কঠোর সঞ্চিত মোর জীবন ভ’রে ॥

না চাহিতে মোরে যা করেছ দান– আকাশ আলোক তনু মন প্রাণ,

দিনে দিনে তুমি নিতেছ আমায় সে মহা দানেরই যোগ্য ক’রে

অতি-ইচ্ছার সঙ্কট হতে বাঁচায়ে মোরে ॥

আমি   কখনো বা ভুলি কখনো বা চলি তোমার পথের লক্ষ্য ধরে;

তুমি নিষ্ঠুর সম্মুখ হতে যাও যে সরে।

এ যে তব দয়া, জানি জানি হায়,   নিতে চাও ব’লে ফিরাও আমায়–

পূর্ণ করিয়া লবে এ জীবন তব মিলনেরই যোগ্য ক’রে

আধা-ইচ্ছার সঙ্কট হতে বাঁচায়ে মোরে ॥



রাগ: ছায়ানট

তাল: একতাল

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): 1313

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1907

স্বরলিপিকার: কাঙ্গালীচরণ সেন, ভীমরাও শাস্ত্রী







My heart craves all that it sees but you have saved me by withholding them

This harsh benevolence, will be the blessing I gather through life.

What you gave me without being asked – the skies, this light, my body, mind and soul,

You make me more deserving of those greatest of gifts as each day passes,

And save me from the mistake of wanting far too much.

Sometimes I forget to follow the path that leads to you;

Sometimes you cruelly hide yourself from me

That this too is your pity, I know alas, you turn me away because you want me to come to you,

We will unite only when this life is purified and ready for you,

And save me from wanting you in half measures.


Raga: Cchayanot

Beat: Ektal

Written in 1907

Score: Kangalicharan Sen, Bheemrao Shastri


Follow the links to hear:


Vikram Singh Khangura:


Mohan Singh Khangura:


The original raga: Chayanot by Pandit D.V. Paluskar

Artwork by Rabindranath Tagore.