Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Celebration Begins!

Rabindranath Tagore
The world-wide celebration to observe the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore begins today. Rabindranath turned 149 today. I don't think I will be able to express in words what this day means to me. It offers me a passage to look back at the days of my childhood. Today, it will be a completely futile attempt on my part to give an account of my feelings of those days and my thoughts on Rabindranath and his vast body of work, because it will be endless. So I will keep this post short.

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!


Debdipta said...

Yes, Tagore remains in our hearts. Every now and then, we try to match our feelings with those created by Tagore in his touching songs. Every new reading of Tagore gives us utmost pleasure and the creation unveils itself in new forms. We can not find any language to express our wonders-
'I know not how thou singest my master.
I ever listen in silent amazement.'
'Tumi kemon kore gaan karo he guni,
Aami abaak hoye shuni kebol shuni.'

Debdipta said...

Yes, Tagore remains in the heart of every Indian for ever. Even today we try to match our feelings with those created by him in his beautiful songs and poems. We should try to feel these creation with our innermost heart. Only then we will be able to make prosperous India as dreamed by Tagore. We can not find any language to express our respects to him. We have to borrow it from his creation again-
'I know not how thou singest my master,
i ever listen in silent amazement.'

Space Lover said...

Thanks for your comments, Debdipta!