Archive | December 2014

দূর হতে ভেবেছিনু মনে/ Dur hotey bhebechinu mone/From afar I thought

মৃত্যুঞ্জয়

দূর হতে ভেবেছিনু মনে

দুর্জয় নির্দয় তুমি, কাঁপে পৃথ্বী তোমার শাসনে।

                 তুমি বিভীষিকা,

দুঃখীর বিদীর্ণ বক্ষে জ্বলে তব লেলিহান শিখা।

দক্ষিণ হাতের শেল উঠেছে ঝড়ের মেঘ-পানে,

                 সেথা হতে বজ্র টেনে আনে।

ভয়ে ভয়ে এসেছিনু দুরুদুরু বুকে

                       তোমার সম্মুখে

তোমার ভ্রূকুটিভঙ্গে তরঙ্গিল আসন্ন উৎপাত, —

                 নামিল আঘাত।

                 পাঁজর উঠিল কেঁপে,

                       বক্ষে হাত চেপে

           শুধালেম, “আরো কিছু আছে নাকি,

                       আছে বাকি

                              শেষ বজ্রপাত?’

                       নামিল আঘাত।

      এইমাত্র?  আর কিছু নয়?

                 ভেঙে গেল ভয়।

      যখন উদ্যত ছিল তোমার অশনি

তোমারে আমার চেয়ে বড়ো ব’লে নিয়েছিনু গনি।

      তোমার আঘাত-সাথে নেমে এলে তুমি

           যেথা মোর আপনার ভূমি।

                 ছোটো হয়ে গেছ আজ।

                       আমার টুটিল সব লাজ।

                 যত বড়ো হও,

      তুমি তো মৃত্যুর চেয়ে বড়ো নও।

আমি মৃত্যু-চেয়ে বড়ো এই শেষ কথা বলে

           যাব আমি চলে।

  ১৭ আষাঢ়, ১৩৩৯

 7911945034_15c30b7a14_z

Tagore and eldest child Madhurilata or Bela

The One Who Defeated Death

From afar I thought

You were undefeatable, cruel, the very earth trembling under your rule.

Your frowns indicated waves of approaching torment  –

The blows fell.

My ribs shuddered,

Clutching my chest

I asked, ‘Is there much more,

Another final

Thunderbolt?’

The blows fell.

Just this? Have you nothing more?

My fear faded away.

No matter how great you are,

You cannot be greater than death.

‘I am greater than death’ will be the words I speak

Before I take my final bow.

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Tagore and Iqbal: Comparison and Contrast: Aamir Butt

Tagore and Iqbal: Comparison and Contrast

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and Mohammad Iqbal (1877-1938) are arguably two of the greatest intellectuals Indian subcontinent has produced during the 20th century. Among their respective followers there have been attempts to compare them with each other. Such attempts are always difficult as they wrote in different languages and generally had somewhat different attitudes to the events of their times. The two never met and never corresponded with each other which is rather strange and unfortunate. There is the story of Tagore calling on Iqbal in Lahore but Iqbal was out of town. Later on due to the welcome extended to Tagore by monarchs of Persia and Iraq as well as Saudi Arabia there looks to be some sourness on Iqbal’s part.
Following this Iqbal who has never commented on Tagore in literary or other topics wrote to an Iranian diplomat Ghulam Abbas Aram and warned him that Tagore’s visit was an attempt to forge Aryan affiliations between Hindus and Persians and suggested that perhaps this might lead Iranians to revert to Zoroastrianism!! In his letters Iqbal also accused Tagore of misleading the Muslims of India into accepting the British rule or purposing freedom as a change of masters.
Some also think that Iqbal had resentment about Tagore receiving the Nobel prize but it seems that it was Iqbal’s admirers who were more unhappy about this than Iqbal.
On his part Tagore mentioned Iqbal on several occasions and always said good words about him. Once talking to one of Iqbal’s friends he asked if Iqbal wrote in Punjabi, when he was told no and that Punjabi was not a language but a dialect Tagore remarked this was most unfortunate for if someone of Iqbal’s calibre had written in his native language this would have established Punjabi as a major literary language. This may well be true as we can see men like Pushkin and Tagore were responsible for the literary birth of Russian and Bengali languages. I doubt Tagore was aware of Iqbal’s letters to Aram for in a letter to Iqbal’s friend Dr Abbas Ali Khan dated February 7 1933 he writes, ” Your letter and poem have touched my heart. It has given me deep pleasure to know that you have found an inner affinity between my poems and those of your great poet Sir Mohammad Iqbal. Not knowing the languages in which he writes his original poems I am not in a position to reach the depths of his creative production or to properly evaluate them but I am assured through the wide fame they have won that they carry the majesty of eternal literature. It has pained me often to find a certain class of critics trying to create misunderstanding by ranging my literary works against those of Sir Mohammad Iqbal on a competitive basis. This is an entirely erroneous attitude to take towards literature which deals with the universal. I am sure both myself and Sir Mohammad Iqbal are comrades working for the cause of truth and beauty in literature and meet in a realm where the human mind offers its best gifts to the shrine of Eternal Man”
Tagore also paid glowing tributes to Iqbal in his message on first Iqbal day in 1937 and his condolence message of 1938 calling him a person whose work is not limited to few but is universal.

As I said above Iqbal more or less ignores the existence of Tagore, at least publicly for his letters to Aram was private correspondence till late. However he once remarked to CV Raman, the renowned physicist and Nobel Laureate that, ”Tagore preaches rest but practices action; Iqbal practices rest, preaches action.” And certainly looking at the lives and works of these two great men this appears to be a very apt analysis.
It should be noted that when Iqbal’s collection of books was catalogued, six English translations of Tagore’s works were part of it.

So what can make out of the conflicting attitudes of these giants towards life and towards each other? Well I think we need to analyze and evaluate them in light of what these two were in personal terms.
Tagore was born in a well off household, his family had land and money. He did not need to struggle to make ends meet. Tagore did not even complete his formal education knowing he is not dependent on a job for income and devoting his life to literary pursuits early in his life.
Iqbal had no such luck, he had no family fortune, he struggled all his life to provide for himself and his family. Iqbal had to complete formal education and skills of a solicitor to find work.
Tagore was born in a reformist Hindu household while Iqbal was born in a conservative Sunni household.
The above factors seem to have influenced the works and attitudes of Tagore and Iqbal. Not having to face the harsh realities of life as far as putting food on the table is concerned Tagore retains his gentle, generous and magnanimous soul. Iqbal on the other hand, frustrated with the needs to balance time for income generating work with his literary passion perhaps developed the hardness and even some bitterness which spills over in his work and attitude towards Tagore. Added to this was that Iqbal was part of the minority Muslim community of India and had the defensive attitude minorities tend to develop, especially if they believe they are being threatened.
As Rafiq Zakria sums up, ”Tagore brought out the romantic in man; Iqbal the heroic. Tagore exulted in feminine beauty; Iqbal in masculine strength. There was music in Tagore’s poetry; there was fire in Iqbal’s. Tagore was humble; Iqbal was proud. Tagore was always active; Iqbal easy going and lazy.”

Dr Aamir Butt first posted this on his Facebook page on the 27th of December, 2014.
I am very grateful for his permission to share the article here.

আজি শুভদিনে পিতার ভবনে/Aaji Shubhodiney Pitaro Bhoboney/Come on this auspicious day, let us go to see our father and একদিন যারা মেরেছিল তাঁরে গিয়ে/Ekdin Jara Merechilo Tnarey Giye/ Those who had once rained blows upon him

আজি শুভদিনে পিতার ভবনে     অমৃতসদনে চলো যাই,

                       চলো চলো, চলো ভাই।।

         না জানি সেথা কত সুখ মিলিবে,    আনন্দের নিকেতনে–

                       চলো চলো, চলো যাই।

         মহোৎসবে ত্রিভুবন মাতিল,       কী আনন্দ উথলিল–

                       চলো চলো, চলো ভাই।।

         দেবলোকে উঠিয়াছে জয়গান,       গাহো সবে একতান–

                       বলো সবে জয়-জয়।।

রাগ: খাম্বাজ

তাল: একতাল-ত্রিতাল

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): 1289

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1883

স্বরলিপিকার: প্রতিভা দেবী

 nativity_scene

 Come on this auspicious day, let us go to see our father in his abode of everlasting sweetness

                       Come, come all brothers of mine.

I know not what happiness awaits us in that dwelling of eternal joy –

                       Come, come, let us go.

         The worlds are united in celebration, the joyous spirit overflows

                       Come, come all brothers of mine.

    The angels sing his praise on high, their voices as one –

                       Sing – glory be to his name.

Raga: Khamaj

Beat: Ektal-Trital

Written in 1883

Score: Pratibha Devi

Follow the links to hear:

Sagar Sen:

Debabrata Biswas:

 ****

  একদিন যারা মেরেছিল তাঁরে গিয়ে

                       রাজার দোহাই দিয়ে

                 এ যুগে তারাই জন্ম নিয়েছে আজি,

                 মন্দিরে তারা এসেছে ভক্ত সাজি–

                       ঘাতক সৈন্যে ডাকি

                       ‘মারো মারো’ ওঠে হাঁকি ।

                 গর্জনে মিশে পূজামন্ত্রের স্বর–

                 মানবপুত্র তীব্র ব্যথায় কহেন, হে ঈশ্বর !

                 এ পানপাত্র নিদারুণ বিষে ভরা

                 দূরে ফেলে দাও, দূরে ফেলে দাও ত্বরা ।।

রাগ: মিশ্র ইমন

তাল: দাদরা

রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ৯ পৌষ, ১৩৪৬

রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): ২৫ ডিসেম্বর, ১৩৩৯

রচনাস্থান: শান্তিনিকেতন

স্বরলিপিকার: শৈলজারঞ্জন মজুমদার

 the-nativity

 Those who had once rained blows upon him

                       Under the king’s orders

                 They are reborn today once more,

                 They come to the temple under pretence

                       Calling upon the murderous armies

                       With calls to inflict death.

                 Their anger mixes with songs sung in praise

                 The sons of men cry out in pain, Oh Lord!

                 Why have you filled this cup with such poison?

                 Cast it away, cast it away in haste.

Raga: Mishra Yaman

Beat: Dadra

Written: 25th December 1939

Written in Santiniketan

Score: Shailajaranjan Majumdar

Follow the links to hear:

মধুর, তোমার শেষ যে না পাই প্রহর হল শেষ/ Modhuro Tomar Shesh Je Na Pai/Your sweetness, infinite even as these hours draw to their end

মধুর, তোমার শেষ যে না পাই প্রহর হল শেষ–

ভুবন জুড়ে রইল লেগে আনন্দ-আবেশ ॥

দিনান্তের এই এক কোনাতে   সন্ধ্যামেঘের শেষ সোনাতে

মন যে আমার গুঞ্জরিছে কোথায় নিরুদ্দেশ ॥

সায়ন্তনের ক্লান্ত ফুলের গন্ধ হাওয়ার ‘পরে

অঙ্গবিহীন আলিঙ্গনে সকল অঙ্গ ভরে।

এই গোধুলির ধূসরিমায়      শ্যামল ধরার সীমায় সীমায়

শুনি বনে বনান্তরে অসীম গানের রেশ ॥

রাগ: বেহাগ
তাল: দাদরা
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ৪ আশ্বিন, ১৩৩৩
রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): ২১ সেপ্টেম্বর, ১৯২৬
রচনাস্থান: স্টুটগার্ট
স্বরলিপিকার: দিনেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর
Tagore_Rabindranath-Vase

Your sweetness, infinite even as these hours draw to their end –

All about the world you have bequeathed an ecstasy of happiness.

At this day’s end, in my little corner, lit by the gold of the evening clouds

My heart sings, joyous at being lost.

A perfume weaves forth from exhausted evening flowers to linger on the air

Wreathing me in an unseen sweet embrace.

In the fading light of day’s close, to every corner of this green earth

I listen, to the echoes of that infinite tune.

Raga: Behag
Beat: Dadra
Written: 21st September, 1926
Written in Stuttgart
Score: Dinendranath Tagore
Follow the link:

Purba Dam:

আমার জ্বলে নি আলো অন্ধকারে/ Amar Jwoley ni alo awndhokarey/ I did not leave a lamp burning in the darkness

আমার       জ্বলে নি আলো   অন্ধকারে

          দাও না সাড়া কি তাই   বারে বারে॥

তোমার বাঁশি আমার বাজে বুকে   কঠিন দুখে, গভীর সুখে–

          যে       জানে না পথ   কাঁদাও তারে॥

              চেয়ে রই রাতের আকাশ-পানে,

              মন যে কী চায় তা   মনই জানে।

আশা জাগে কেন অকারণে       আমার মনে ক্ষণে ক্ষণে,

              ব্যথার টানে তোমায়   আনবে দ্বারে॥

রাগ: বেহাগ-খাম্বাজ
তাল: ষষ্ঠী
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): 1332
রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): 1925
স্বরলিপিকার: অনাদিকুমার দস্তিদার

 diyas

I did not leave a lamp burning in the darkness

          Is that why you never answer my call, time and time again

Your flute plays in my heart,         in moments of terrible agony as well as great happiness

You do not rescue the one who knows not their way to you

              I gaze at the night sky,

             Only my heart knows what it seeks

Why does hope spring unasked in my heart                              again and again,

              That you will surely come to me, drawn by this great pain

Raga: Behag Khambaj
Beat: ShoshThi
Written: 1925
Score: Anadikumar Dastidar

Follow the links:

Suchitra Mitra:

Debabrata Biswas:

Geeta Ghatak:

East and West In Greater India’, in Probasi 1908

‘Whether India is to be yours or mine, whether it is to
belong more to the Hindu, or the Moslem, or whether some
other race is to assert a greater supremacy than either—that
is not the problem with which Providence is exercised. It is
not as if, at the bar of the judgement seat of the Almighty,
different advocates are engaged in pleading the rival causes of
Hindu, Moslem or Westerner, and that the party that wins
the decree shall finally plant the standard of permanent
possession. It is our vanity which makes us think that it is a
battle between contending rights—the only battle is the
eternal one between Truth and untruth.

If India had been deprived of touch with the West, she would have lacked an element essential for her attainment of perfection. Europe now has her lamp ablaze.
We must light our torches at its wick and make a fresh start
on the highway of time. That our forefathers, three thousand
years ago, had finished extracting all that was of value from
the universe, is not a worthy thought. We are not so
unfortunate, nor the universe, so poor’.

Rabindranath Tagore
‘East and West In Greater India’
August-September, 1908
Probasi