It is Gurudeb Tagore all the way

Gurudeb Rabindra Nath Tagore is the only poet credited with having his poems adopted as National Anthems of two countries: India and Bangladesh. Gurudeb’s entire life was soaked in the poetry and music. If India were not divided in 1947 into India & Pakistan whose one limb was East Pakistan, Gurudeb would have been the poet of India and East Pakistan area which was in fact East Bengal.

Gurudeb Tagore’s family was aristocratic family and He did not attend the schools to get the formal education. He was tutored at home and by Nature when he was visiting his properties which are now in the Bangladesh. Otherwise they lived in Kolkata as was the custom in vogue during those days. Gurudeb is still revered in Bangladesh as in India.He started Shanti Niketan with the aim of educating the students in the natural environs. Mostly the education imparted was music, painting and other artistic streams. Many students of the Shanti Niketan attained fame in artistic fields. Students from all over India and many countries of the world study there.

Most people, like me, knew the fact of Gurudeb being the author of national anthems of India and Bangladesh. But there is surprise. When the national anthem of Sri Lanka was being played before the commencement of 2011 cricket world cup final played between India and Sri Lanka, I was a bit confused. The tune was almost identical to Indian anthem and like Indian counterpart belonged to Rabindra Sangeet developed by Gurudeb himself at Shanti Niketan.

Next day Times of India carried out a news item which disclosed the reasons for resemblance. It so happened that Gurudeb had a great impact on the Sri Lankan national anthem. Sri Lankan national anthem has been written and composed his student Ananda Samrakoon in 1939-40. It was adopted as the island nation’s anthem around 1952, though political turmoil has seen it altered over the years.

Some credit Tagore with having composed the music. It was Samarakoon’s six-month stint at Tagore’s arts college Shantiniketan that inspired him to begin the anthem. The style eventually developed to be the “first traditions of unique Sinhalese music”, wrote Sri Lankan news portal Lanka Gazette in celebration Gurudev’s 150th birth anniversary this year.
As every Indian knows,  Jana Gana Mana was written and set to music by the legendary poet and artist. The first 10 lines of his 1905 poem Amaar Sonar Bangla became Bangladesh’s anthem in 1972.

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3 thoughts on “It is Gurudeb Tagore all the way

  1. M. Emad says:

    INCLUDE PAKISTAN IN RABINDRANATH TAGORE’S 150TH BIRTHDAY JOINT ANNIVERSARY PROGRAMMES.

    UNESCO declared 2011 as the year of Rabindranath Tagore and his 150th birth anniversary were celebrated all across the globe including Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and China. Bangladesh and India had arranged a year-long joint commemorative programmes both at government and non-governmental levels. However, nothing was heard from Pakistan.

    Ironically, Tagore’s writing became an indicator of tolerance of a society. Tagore’s writing was banned and burned in Nazi-occupied Europe, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan. Tagore was once banned in Communist Russia and China. Tagore became a target from all directions in pre-1971 Pakistan. Finally in 1971, Tagore became a matter of ‘life and death’ in Pakistan Army occupied Bangladesh. Pakistan’s fury knew no bound when the Bangladesh (Mujib Nagar) Government-in-Exile adopted ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ as the National Anthem of Bangladesh (May 1971). Tagore experts at Universities were selectively targeted and killed by the Pakistan Army and Al-Badr gangs. I remember my mother tore pages from a thick book and threw into oven fire during a house to house search in old Dhaka by Pakistan Army (probably October/November 1971) — a (Tagore’s) volume was mistakenly not destroyed till then.

    State-sponsor manipulation of religion is nothing new in Pakistan. But during 1980’s the military rulers in Pakistan adopted a US plan funded (mainly) by Saudi Arabia — the radicalisation of the society and defence forces (to subdue the communist Russia in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries). Over the years radical and militant ideas rooted deeply in Pakistan society. Civil society, media and intellectuals seems cowed into submission and radical jihadist become uncontrollable for its creators. Nuclear armed Pakistan’s trajectory is now defined by the radicals. This cause panic in US and rest of the world. Now the US has came up with ‘de-radicalisation’ plan which include the promotion of Sufism (Sufi teachings, Sufi music, Sufi Universities etc.). Many doubt if ‘Sufi therapy’ would work for Pakistan at this late stage but there is no harm in trying it. The core of Sufism — peace, love, tolerance, enlightenment — and Tagore’s philosophy are essentially the same. Like the Sufis, Tagore has message for the soul.

    So, I request the Bangladesh and Indian governments and non-governmental cultural organizations to include Pakistan in their joint celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary and beyond.

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