Bishnu De asks in a famous poem whether Rabindranath is all about the celebration that surrounds his birth and death anniversaries. All these years, after all these celebrations, it seems the same to me. On the morning of 25 Boiśākh, we turn on the television to watch the celebration taking place. We recite his poems and sing his songs with heartfelt passion.Some of us listen to Rabindrasangeet every day. Rabindranath is the reason of our cultural pride and rightfully so.
But for all our passion for Rabindrantah's works, we have strangely ignored Rabindranath himself. We love reading his poems and singing his songs, but not often do we pay attention to the thoughts and ideas expressed in the poems and songs. We have little time to look a Rabindranath's revolutionary ideas which were way ahead of his time. We have perhaps forgotten Rabindranath the thinker. It's the halo around him and his work that probably attracts us too much. We do not like to waste time to rediscover and interpret his works, because we have a notion that we know everything about Rabindranath. As I learnt from people very close to me, Rabindranath needs to be discovered everyday. He was not a man with stagnant ideas. It is fascinating to study the way he constantly changed. His works need to be looked at. His ideas are as valid today as they were a century ago.
Rock-n-roll remix of Rabindrasangeets and some abysmal music videos are not really what I call "reinterpretation". frighteningly, Rabindranath is being abused today. Only today, I caught some astrologer on a TV channel proclaiming that – are you ready for this? – Rabindranath promoted astrology! There are soaps which integrate out-of-context and horribly-sung Rabindrasangeets to add layers of meaning to them. Filmmakers alter our national anthem to use make their awful films something "deep" and then tell us that Rabindranath's intentions for writing it weren't very noble. Even the dates of his birth and death are tweaked conveniently. There are many more awesome gems, but in discussing them any further I will be giving them undue importance.
It is exciting for me that his works will be translated in many languages and be spread all over the world. People from other cultures will perhaps be able to do what we don't: perceive Rabindranath in a new way. Mixing of all forms of culture to form an enriched, superior form of culture was all Rabindranath wanted.
This year-long celebration, I hope, will bring us a new Rabindranath and help us get rid of the stagnancy of ideas.
So let's make this celebration a successful one! Let's rediscover Rabindranath!