Today is Baishe Shrabon ( 22 Shravan which is the last month of the rainy season). This day is the death anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, the poet, playwright, novelist, painter and composer who reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
“I came to your shore as a stranger.
I lived in your house as a guest.
I leave your door as a friend, my earth.” ~ Stray Birds
Being born in a Bengali family, I was exposed to Tagore’s work right from my childhood. From Rabindrasangeet to his poetries to his novels, Tagore has influenced me in every sphere of life and continues doing so.
His verses redefine love and pain in a thousand myriad hues. When you read Tagore, you feel that separation and love are so intertwined. There is separation in love and there is love in separation.
“Away from the sight of thy face, my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shore less sea of toil.”~Gitanjali
Tagore’s life has been laced with pain throughout. He has seen more deaths and separations in his 80 year long life than anyone hardly have.There is a line in his short story, Postmaster that I read for the first time in class 10. This line brings out the truth of life that he has himself experienced.
“In the wistful heart of the traveler being borne away on the river, there arose this philosophy; there are so many separations in life, so many deaths, what is the point of returning? Who belongs to whom in this world?” ~ Postmaster
The person who had a significant influence on Tagore’s literary pursuit was his sister-in-law, Kadambari Devi. It is believed that she brought out the poet and writer hidden inside Tagore. After his sister-in-law’s sudden suicide, Tagore was shattered by the tragedy and that was when he wrote his most critically acclaimed novella, Nashtanir (Broken Nest).
“Charu wants to ask Amal this question and receive an answer, face to face, but there is an ocean in between….and no way to cross it. Cruel separation, hapless separation, beyond all questions, beyond all redress, separation.” ~Broken Nest
The death of Kadambari Devi was the first tragic encounter of death that Tagore had. Later, he lost his wife, daughter, sons and only grandson to death and disease. He accepted the adversities and storms in his life with grace and continued delivering his literary geniuses year after year.
“The song that I came to sing remains unsung to this day. I have spent my days in stringing and unstringing my instrument” ~ Gitanjali
When W. B Yeats read Tagore’s poetry, he said that they have stirred sublime emotions in his blood. Yeats said this in his introduction in Gitanjali. Tagore’s poetry covered every area of life. Such profound is his poetry that it can move even a stone. Tagore received the Nobel Prize in 1913 for Gitanjali (Song Offerings) which is a collection of his spiritual poems.
“Day by day you are making me worthy of your full acceptance by refusing me ever and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire.”~ Gitanjali
Tagore, in his idealism, in his spiritual reality, in his romanticism is near to all human beings even today. His works are timeless, be it his novels or verses.
Tagore wrote his last novel, Shesher Kavita (The last poem) when he was 62 during his brief sojourn in Bangalore. This novel, which is a beautiful concoction of prose and poem touches the inner chords.
“Grieve not on my account,
Wide is the world with many tasks
My cup is not discarded
Shall fill again---
Let this sustain me forever.
I may yet be blessed
If there be one eager heart
Waiting for my footsteps.
I long to give myself to him
Who can see in the compassion of love
The actual me, a blend of good and ill
Who can light up the dark night
With flowers plucked in moonlight.
What I gave to you is yours
By everlasting right.
What others receive
Are daily driblets of heart
To tender solitude.
O my peerless friend,
What I gave you was your own gift
Fuller acceptance, the deeper my debt.
Farewell, my friend.” ~ The Last Poem
My heartfelt respect to my inspiration, the inspiration of countless people, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore on this significant day of Baishe Shrabon!