“Je bhaabe uthe re praan er majhe,
Tomar gaan e shokol e ache”
Rabindranath Tagore is an intrinsic part of life if you were born or have lived a part of your life in Bengal. He was an author who wrote on such varied and diverse topics, that it is difficult to not get influenced. At the forefront, Rabindranath simplified the Bengali language and wrote in a manner that everybody could read easily. This is the style that most modern authors continue to write in. Tagore wrote about and envisioned a modern period which we are a part of today. Most of his songs and stories are writings everybody can relate to.
Being more specific, Tagore’s depiction of women in his writings are similar to what authors today write about. He depicted women in different hues in different books. The traditional, the bold, the powerful, the innocent, he’s written about them all. In the dance drama Chitrangada, the mythic princess who is brought up as a son to rule the kingdom of Manipur,falls in love with the great warrior Arjun and then longs for the feminine touch in her. In the end, she declares :
“I am Chitrangada. Neither goddess nor servant am I. If you let me stand by your side at your darkest hour, let me be the friend of your soul, let me share in your joys and sorrows, only then shall you know me.”
This is very similar to how women are portrayed today, not as objects but as key components of society. In a latter period the woman in Tagore’s fiction does not hesitate to voice her feelings openly against the ills of society like untouchability, the caste system, religious hypocrisy while she advocates higher education and a professional career for those like her. Writers today, write extensively on similar lines. From movies to books, women empowerment remains a key theme. On 16th December 2012, India witnessed one of the most brutal rape cases and the 23 year old was given many names, including that of Damini. Damini was one of Tagore’s protagonists in Chaturanga.
In Tahmima Anam’s new novel, ‘The Good Muslim’, a character plays Tagore songs to prevent her brother from becoming a religious fundamentalist. She holds up those words – patriotic, pastoral, devotional – against the narrowing of his mind. This is what Tagore stood for, protest against unfair norms and love for nature’s beauty.
Tagore depicted love in all its phases, right from falling in love to heartbreak. He describes the initial phase, when everything seems happy, bright and cheerful in his song:
” Mor bhabonaare ki hawae matalo, dole mono dole okaarono horoshe”
He talks about the initial feelings when one would gladly spend the whole day thinking about his or her beloved. Falling in love also makes one feel unnecessarily happy and joyful. He describes heartbreak too equally explicitly.
The story The Postmaster contains the following lines : “Oh poor unthinking human heart! Error will not go away, logic and reason are slow to penetrate. We cling with both arms to false hope, refusing to believe the weightiest proofs against it, embracing it with all our strength. In the end it escapes, ripping our veins and draining our heart’s blood; until, regaining consciousness, we rush to fall into snares of delusion all over again.” These words can well fit into the endings of so many modern movies and books.
Rabindranath described all the seasons in the glorious beauty. From “daarun o ogni baane re” of the scorching summer sun, to the refreshing rains where “mon o mor megher o shongi” and the onset spring and colours, he has described all of it beautifully.
Tagore has had a profound impact of writers of the south like Srinivasa Raghavan and M.Varadarajan. These writers brought Tagore to the masses. Rabindranath’s writings have also influenced Urdu literature, most of which take into the account the natural beauty of nature and our surroundings.
On a very personal level, no bengali essay in school was complete without a quote or two from Rabindranath. It seemed to enrich the essay in a special way. Bengali writers are often driven by sentiments and most of these capture rabindranath as a part of daily life. There have been serials like “Gaaner opaare” which used many Tagore’s compositions.
Tagore’s influence cannot be denied among modern writers. From short stories, scripts, dramas and poetry, Tagore’s variety and diversity of literature is bound to have an impact on every writer.