Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore's 150th Birth Anniversary - 9: Essay by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

I conclude this series of posts about Rabindranath Tagore on his 150th birth anniversary with the essay of the philosopher, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President of the Indian Republic. It is in the same volume from which Jawaharlal Nehru's essay is taken:

namely, the Centenary collection of essays published in 1961 on the occasion of the poet's 100th birth anniversary by the Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi.

Radhakrishnan observes that Tradition is not only concord with the past but also freedom from the past. Tagore, says Radhakrishnan, perceived relationships hitherto unnoticed and gave humanity his vision of one world. “His great gifts of imagination and art were used for fostering faith in the unity of man and forging bonds of kinship with others.”

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

He quotes Tagore about The Spirit India: ‘I love India, not because I cultivate the idolatry of geography, ... but because she has saved through tumultuous ages the living words that have issued from the illuminated consciousness of her great sons.'

On Rabindranath's philosophy Radhakrishnan says the poet “did not claim to produce an original philosophy. His aim was not to analyse or speculate about the Indian tradition. He expressed it in his own vivid phrases and homely metaphors and showed its relevance to modern life.”

In a previous post dealing with Tagore's religious attitude,

his own statements show that Tagore claims no original insight, but merely confirms what the best minds have thought centuries before. Yet, each in his own time must attain that realisation herself/himself. Tagore's words affirming a poet's receptiveness to God in the delight of the world and its creatures is recorded in these words:
if ever I have somehow come to realise God, or if the vision of God has ever been granted to me, I must have received the vision through this world, through men, through trees and birds and beasts, the dust and the soil.

In conclusion, Radhakrishnan quotes a letter to Gandhi the poet wrote on 12 April 1919, with the following invocation:
Give me the supreme courage of love, this is my prayer, the courage to speak, to do, to suffer at thy will, to leave all things or be left alone. . .

Read Radhakrishnan's entire essay by clicking below.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Poetry Session May 6, 2011: Rabindranath Tagore's 150th Birth Anniversary - 8


Rabindranath Tagore as a young man

Although the attendance was sparse the celebration of the anniversary of Rabindranth Tagore was central to this Poetry session.

Thommo & Priya before the Poetry reading

Private translations were provided. Besides, translations by poets like William Radice added a new verve to the poetry of Rabindranath; his copious notes enhance the appreciation of certain poems.


Soma read Sonar Tori (The Golden Boat) by Rabindranath


Even the lyrics of a song (Rabindrasangeet) were adduced as worthy poetry, combining the musical and poetic genius of Rabindranath for an unforgettable effect.


Thommo, Priya, and Bobby follow Soma's reading

Here are the readers posing, happy as a flock of mynas, at the end.

 The Happy Six (Soma, Priya, Joe, KumKum, Thommo, Bobby) at the end of the reading

For a full account read the record that follows.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore's 150th Birth Anniversary - 7


Gora by Rabindranath Tagore



Novel lovers display their enthusiasm in many ways. They hold seminars and non-stop reading sessions, or they enact the story on stage, and go on tour. Enthusiasts of Moby Dick, for example, hold a Marathon non-stop reading of the novel in New Bedford, Massachusetts, annually on Jan 3 starting at noon and ending next evening. It is sponsored by the New Bedford Whaling Museum:
The dates celebrate the anniversary of Herman Melville's departure from the port of New Bedford aboard the whaleship Acushnet in 1841. About 150 readers take part, including several in non-English languages:

For the Tagore 150th birth anniversary a band of readers in Bengali have chosen to read the novel Gora by Rabindranath Tagore individually to pay tribute to the unique manner in which the novel reflects the ethos of a period when a nationalism was being reborn in India. At the same time it reflects Rabindranth's considered political, moral and educational ideas, so well articulated in his essays, through real dialogue among characters set in the era. The novel also reflects the beginnings of women's liberation from male patriarchy.

In what follows individual readers set down their appreciation of Gora, and reflect on what makes it so distinctive a work in the oeuvre of Rabindranath.

The first response is by KumKum Cleetus which you can read below; Padmanabha Dasgupta and Soma Kanjilal have added theirs. More will follow.