Rabindranath Tagore is our intellectual universe, our collective presence in time and space. He is at the core of your being. The Bengali in him approximates the Bengali in you. As you recite his poetry or sing his songs, you remain aware of certain inalienable truths. And they are pretty simple ones as well. The bard speaks to you through the turnings in the seasons. In your turn, you speak to him, absorb his sentiments as it were. The result is a harmonious whole.

And harmony is what Rabindranath has consistently focused on. Think of shimar majhe ashim tumi / bajao apon shur. It is a song that takes you closer to Creation, indeed imbues you with thoughts of the ties that bind you to your Creator. In his puja songs, there emerges all the brilliance of the universe as it goes through a dawning somewhere deep within time and space. And so you hear the gentle tones of tumi daak diyechho kon shokale / keu ta jaane na. In Rabindranath, it is the gentle and the tranquil which flow through the leaves of the trees. The poetry is the breeze.

And the poetry caresses, all the way through the verses given over to a celebration of love. Imagine the beauty and the poise of the one you adore, you worship. Imagine the silk softness of her being as you hum aaha tomar shonge praaner khela. The soul is all in Rabindranath, be it in the links between man and woman or between you and the gods. Praan, the soul, takes on a sadder dimension when the loved one moves away, which is when you lose yourself in the pale light of the moon and sing dekhate parine keno praan. No pain can be more intense than that which the beloved does not see. Close your eyes and hear the pain of the one who sings amar praaner pore chole gelo ke / boshonter bataash tukur moto . . .

Rabindranath Tagore

And yet there is sometimes pleasure in Rabindranath’s evocation of pain. You call it the agony of reaching for the heights and at the same time know that you cannot quite scale the peaks of desire. The soul wriggles through a delicate dilemma in the song, shunil-o shagorer shyamal-o kinare. The pain begins at the beginning and then rises clear of you, of the earth your feet are firmly planted on, until it reaches its crescendo in imoni kedaraye behaage bahare. There is ecstasy in that song, as there is in the sadder, quieter jokhon eshe chhile ondhokare chand utheni / shindhu pare chand utheni.

There is forever the primordial in Rabindranath. It is life he celebrates and death he glorifies. The universe is a pattern of ever widening ripples and experience is the insistent falling of the rain on monsoon nights. When the melody of tomaye gaan shonabo / tai to amay jagiye rakho seeps into you and goes into an intensification of your sensibilities, you realise that this canvas of aesthetic beauty will pass into a wider cosmos one day, in the way the river finds itself anew in the bosom of the sea. Somewhere deep in the night, the wind brings to you the strains of ogo nodi apon bege pagol para. The beating in your heart is a sign of the expansiveness of melody You know then that the earth is now poised to meet the sky, that the river prepares to consummate its romance with the heavens. The climactic comes through the whispered megh bolechhe jaabo jaabo / raat bolechhe jai / shagor bole kul milechhe / ami to ar nai. You are at peace. You lie back, until the pounding at the gateway of the heart tells you that newer songs have arrived.

Images of the one lost to time flash before you. The sense of loss reveals the vacuum that the passing of a soulmate has left behind, crater-like. Your loneliness comes encompassed in noyono shommukhe tumi nai / noyoner majh khane niyechho je thain. And then, swiftly and surely, you are pulled back to thoughts of your own mortality . . . amar din phuralo / byakul badolo shanjhe.

The universe is what God has made of it. We are but atoms, infinitesimal beings in the consistently expanding frontiers of the universe. But we are the universe too, for the Creator redefines Himself within us, humbling us with His munificence. And so we cheerfully sing amare tumi oshesh korechho / emoni leela tobo.

You are thus part of the miracle. God’s beauty comes conjoined with your song. At the edge of twilight is a new beginning . . . amar bela je jaaye shanjh bela te / tomar shure shure shur mela te.

Poetry is in the ascendant.

Syed Badrul Ahsanis a bdnews24.com columnist.

7 Responses to “‘Aaha tomar shonge praaner khela . . .’”

  1. Mukul Mia Talukder

    A wonderful review of our greatest poet of all time. Thanks a lot.

  2. Sudip Kumar Roy

    Thanks for such a good writing. Similar great feelings from lot of other poems/songs of Tagore. I just cite few “Rodon-o vhara e Basanta” or “Tumi Sandharo Megho-mala or Ki pai ne tar hishab milate mono mur nahi rajee”. To include “Nirjono rate”, or “Aj sraboner Amontron-e”…lot lot more…

  3. Chanchal Khan

    This is the best prose in such a short space on Tagore, I have ever read. Thanks Badrul bhai. Everyday, Tagore comes to me with newer meanings. You have done a great favour to me again… Chanchal Khan

  4. Dr A Rahman

    You are absolutely right, Mr Badrul Ahsan, that Tagore gave expressions to our inner feelings in his poems, songs and writings. My Bengali teacher at Notre Dame College used to say: ‘Tagore is truly our Rabi’ – the brightest star giving life to our Bengaliness; he is our soul, he is our identity. No matter where we are on the face of this earth, our Bengali souls will always reverberate with Tagore songs and poems.

  5. Anwar A. Khan

    Aesthetic is the philosophy which is particularly devoted to conceptual and theoretical inquiry into art and aesthetic experience. Beauty and love propagates the real frame of aesthetics. Aesthetic in Indian context truthfully follows the base of satyam, Shivam and Sundram. Love and beauty carve a niche in the driving the Sundram in complete form. Rabindranath, being an aesthete follows all Indian aesthetics and his creative mentality throws its outlet in his compositions.

    Tagore was recognised, according to the Nobel committee’s statement, “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”.

    Tagore’s ideas for creating a system of education aimed at promoting international co-operation and creating global citizens. He envisioned an education that was deeply rooted in one’s immediate surroundings but connected to the cultures of the wider world, predicated upon pleasurable learning and individualised to the personality of the child. He felt that the curriculum should revolve organically around nature, with flexible schedules to allow for shifts in weather, and with special attention to natural phenomena and seasonal festivities.

    He wrote:
    “I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
    In life after life, in age after age, forever.
    My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
    That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
    In life after life, in age after age, forever…” An unending love!

    The coiffes of this piece are to show how Rabi Thakur explored the aesthetics in the wider context of love and beauty in his pennings, I think.

  6. M. Emad

    Rabindranath Tagore was (unofficially) banned in 1947-1970 Pakistan. In 1971 Genocide year, Tagore became a matter of ‘life and death’ in Pakistan Army occupied Bangladesh. Pakistan authority was furious when the Bangladesh (Mujib Nagar) Government-in-Exile adopted ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ (My Golden Bengal) as the National Anthem of Bangladesh in May 1971. Tagore experts at Universities and colleges were selectively targeted and killed by the Pakistan Army and Al-Badr Killing squad.

    I remember my mother tore pages from a thick book and threw into oven fire during a house-to-house search in old-Dacca city by Pakistan Army (probably October/November 1971) — a (Tagore’s) volume mistakenly not destroyed till then.

  7. Sarker Javed Iqbal

    “Amare tumi awshesh koreso emon-e leela tobo!” (You made me endless, such is thy pleasure!). I mean you Mr. Ahsan. What a wonderful depiction of Tagore philosophy! Warm regards.

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