Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda
Just a few days back it was the celebration of the 159th birth anniversary of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore. Every year the celebration continues in the month of May. Even the Corona pandemic lockdown situation could not stop the Bengalis to pay tribute to this great personality in various ways using virtual platforms. I am also taking this opportunity to dedicate this edition’s music page to touch upon the way Rabindranath and Swami Vivekananda were connected with Tagore’s music.
The poet Rabindranath Tagore and the Jugacharya-monk Swami Vivekananda, these two eternal travellers, two immortal sons, two cosmopolitans, two human-loving and nature-loving beings, two truth-seeking saints were born just two years apart, in the same society, in the same country, in the same city just less than 2 miles apart.
Both of them spent their childhoods practicing literature, religion and culture, and both of them showed signs of greatness in the future. Both families were pioneers in education, literature, music and religion. Rabindranath gradually began to appear as a singer, playwright, artist, etc. and finally he won the Nobel Prize in literature.
On the other hand, Narendranath Dutta also started to flourish with various talents from his childhood. Apart from his studies he gradually rose to fame by learning Indian classical music and the use of various musical instruments from the most renowned masters of the day.
Dwipendranath Tagore, Rabindranath’s nephew was Narendranath ’s classmate. Dipendra and Narendra were very good friend. Quite often they used to practice music together besides discussing various issues, and they frequently visited each other’s house. Narendranath’s deep voice touched Rabindranath while he was singing at their house in a generous and melodious voice. In a similar occasion Rabindranath met Narendranath at Jorasanko Thakurbari. Rabindranath introduced himself to Narendranath and taught him three newly composed songs.
Very soon Narendranath was attracted to the the Thakurbari and the Brahma Samaj. He was especially attracted to Rabindranath’s father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore for his outstanding knowledge and memory. Gradually he was inclined to Brahma Samaj and decided to join it. However, soon after he met Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa at the house of a devotee of the Brahma Samaj. Narendranath was invited as an emerging singer that day. After listening to Rabindra Sangeet and other songs in Narendra’s voice, Sri Sri Ramakrishna became very emotionally.
Swami Vivekananda was admirer of Rabindrasangeet. He loved to sing Brahma Sangeet written by Tagore.
Music tied these two great men to an eternal relationship. They both shared the same opinion on the Hindu-Muslim issue, they both were equally interested in art, education, folk culture, women’s awakening, music, politics, etc.
Please listen to one of Swami Vivekananda’s favourite Rabindrasangeets here:
The meaning of the song (taken from http://www.geetabitan.com/):
I have made you my life’s cynosure
Ne’er again shall I be lost in this ocean.
Where ever I roam may your presence be felt,
Let boundless tears pour like moonbeam.
Glimpses of your face recur in my consciousness
A moments absence sets me adrift upon this shoreless ocean
Should I go astray impelled by this wandering heart
A glimpse of that face renders it shamefully done.”
Music is divine. Properly used, music leads to the Divine. Sri Ramakrishna, Mother and Swamiji, all loved music immensely. Bhagavan Sri Chaitanya Deva began the tradtition of kirtana. All for God. The tradition of music is ancient, It is Veda itself. Each month, we bring you news and contributions about music.
Mrs Prajnaparamita Bhattacharya
is the Contributing Editor
of this page.