A Special Tribute

A Glimpse into Tagore’s Imagined World

There is no bar to losing myself in an imaginary world.
I can soar high on the wings of a song in my mind. 

-- Tagore, Losing Myself
Painting of Rabindranath Tagore (7th May 1861- 7th August 1941) by his nephew, Gaganendranath Tagore (1867-1938). Courtesy: Creative Commons

Soaring on imaginary wings, on Rabindranath Tagore’s 162nd birth anniversary, we explore his vision for a better world while trying to recreate in English the first poem the maestro wrote for his own birthday which was later made into a song, his last birthday celebration as imagined by Aruna Chakravarti in her historical novel, Daughters of Jorsanko, and also the translation of the last song he wrote for the occasion.

As a change-maker, the maestro tried to close gaps by both his actions— Santiniketan and Sriniketan — and by his writings. The translations of the birthday songs written by the maestro himself brings to the fore what he looked forward to and prayed for. The fiction explored here creates fantastically independent women Tagore visualised, breaking the boundaries of social conventions. The characterisations can be seen both in the short story translated by Aruna Chakravarti especially for this issue  and also in the novel Farewell Song, translated by Radha Chakravarty. This has been brought to attention in Meenakshi Malhotra’s review of the novel. Both the short story and the novel show the emergence of the new independent woman of Tagore’s imagined world. A hundred years later, are we able to accept women as independent as visualised by Tagore? As progressive? 

And to round up our section is Professor Fakrul Alam’s musing on seasonal songs of Tagore as he translates the lyrics and discusses their relevance. These also reflect on the maestro’s need to close social gaps as Alam translates in one of the songs:

Rain streams down incessantly
Alas wayfarer; alas disabled, homeless ones!
The wind moans on and on.

Pause by our issue and explore— 

Bhoy hote tobo, the first Birthday Song by Tagore, a poem written in 1899, has been translated by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.

Tagore’s Last Birthday Celebration excerpted from Aruna Chakravarti’s Daughters of Jorasanko, has her translation of the last birthday song he wrote in 1941 a few months before he died. Click here to read 

Aparichita by Tagore has been translated as The Stranger by Aruna Chakravarti. Click here to read. 

In Farewell Song: Revisiting Tagore’s Vision of Modern Love, Meenakshi Malhotra revisits Tagore’s Shesher Kobita, translated by Radha Chakravarty and reflects on the modern woman and romance as shown by Tagore by bringing in a brief comparison between the women leads of Aparichita and the novel. Click here to read. 

In Rabindranath’s Monsoonal Music, Professor Fakrul Alam brings to us Tagore songs in translation and in discussion on the season that follows the scorching heat of summer months. Click here to read.

Bird Fantastic by Tagore. Courtesy: Creative Commons

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