Dear Readers,

I have found the following article on Rabindranath in the Net quite interesting. I think this article is not a simple "ranting" that Md. Abdullah made before in NFB. The author claims that compilation of excerpts taken from books and essays mostly written by Calcatian "hindu" writers and some Rabindra Researchers of Bangladesh including Ahmed Sharif, Humayun Azad etc and they criticized Rabi Thakur for having "communal mind-set" from a valid ground. Readers are requested to read the article carefully and comment from their knowledge.



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Rabindranath Tagore
by Shakil Sarwar

Rabindranath Tagore had always been portrayed larger than his life. Hardly people tried or dared to criticize him of his shortcomings. Those who tried to do so failed to propound sufficient supportive arguments. I have taken the trouble of crudely translating some excerpts I collected over the last few years. I wanted to share these with the readers. I am yet to read about Prof Humayun Azad's book 'Nari' where he exposed Rabindranath's anti-feminist views.

After I read a nice article written by one Muhammad Alamgir, I though about elaborating certain points with quotes from Hindu writers. Following is basically a compilation of excerpts taken from books and essays mostly written by Calcatian hindu writers who are basically Rabindra researchers. I hope some readers would be benefited by this.

Tagore's Religious Belief:

"Rabindranath discussed about this Hindu-Muslim issue during the census of 1819. He said, 'I was born in a Hindu family, but accepted Brahmo religion. ... The religion we accepted is universal in nature; however, it is basically the religion of the Hindus. We accepted this universal religion with the heart of Hindus." [Probhatkumar Mukharjee, Rabindrajiboni O Rabindrashahityo Probeyshok, vol 3, 3rd ed., published by Biswa Bharati Publishing Division in Poush 1395, pp.364-365].

"Tapobon Bidyala (school), a ashram established to instill ancient hindu ideology, took the shade of hindutva. Tagore started to turn himself into a very devout hindu. Gradually, casteism-based aparthied, injunctions of Manu Sanghita, and Brahminic glorification crept into their way into the school environ. Tagore decreed that a non-Brahmin teacher did not deserve salutation (pronam) from his Brahmin students. In a letter written to Manoranjan Banerjee in Agrahayan 19, 1309 Tagore clarified his position on the issue of salutation in these words, 'No non-hindu customs would be allowed into this school; It is imperative that students express their respect to Brahmin professors by touching their feet (pronum) and utter namasker to non-Brahmin teachers as per the rules set aside by Manu Sanghita.' " [Satyendranath Roy, 'Rabindra Manoney Hindu Dharma', The Desh, Autumn issue, 1905, p.305]

Tagore established Biswa Bharati to re-vitalize ancient "hindu customs" and ideology. In this effort, Hindi Bhavan (Building) was established in Shantiniketan on January 16 (sunday), 1938 (Magh 2, 1344). It is of no surprise that Tagore had very close friendship with Pundit Madonmohan Malabya -- a prominent leader of Kashi Hindu University and Hindu Mohashava.

When asked about the usefulness of Hindu Mohashava, Tagore said that he considered this movement more important than a mere political undertaking. 'Hindus would have to unite if they want to remain alive and not remain downtrodden for ever in the human society.' [From an interview with Tagore by journalist Mrinalkanti Bose in response to a statement by Modanmohan Malabya, Rabindra-Proshongo/Anandabazar Patrika, 1993, edited by Chittaranjan Banerjee, vol 1, pp. 259-260].

Tagore's Benevolence:

"Not only Zamindar Rabindranath or the entire Tagore dynasty did not have any record of donating anything, he did not have any reputation of making any donation towards primary schools, orphanage or dam constructions in Shahzadpur, Shilaidoh or Patishor. On the contrary, conniving threat from Tagore dynasty, Kangal Harinath Majumdar published narrative of Tagore dynasty's oppression and setting of arson to the entire villages." [Prof Ahmed Sharif, Rabindruttor Trityo Projonmey Rabindra Mullayan, Quaterly Uttaradhikar, published by Bangla Academy, Baisakh-Ashar issue, 1393].

Narayan Choudhury had this to say about Tagore, "Tagore had always been supporter of Zamindari system. It would be very hard to present any proof that he was saddened on seeing repression on the subjects. He even opposed the transfer of lands to the subjects on the argument that that measure would pave the way to misappropriation of lands." [Promoth Choudhury, Ryot'er Katha (introduction section) and Bataynik'er Patra].

in 1894 he raised the tax levied on his subjects. He even purchased new Zamindari from the Martin Company. There had been incidents of rebellion by the subjects due to raising of tax and collection of tax by force. Tagore suppressed that rebellion with great success! One Ismail Mollah led the rebellion against Tagore in Shilaidoh.

Intolerant Tagore:

"Tagore was not accustomed to tolerate any unfavorable criticism of him. Had there been nobody to protest in his favour, he used to defend himself by writing under pen names. Tagore-lover and Tagore-blessed Annadashankar Roy said, 'Tagore used to remove or destroy any evidence of his mistakes, criticisms or misdeeds with utmost care.' " [Prof Ahmed Sharif, Rabindruttor Trityo Projonmey Rabindra Mullayan, Quaterly Uttaradhikar, published by Bangla Academy, Baisakh-Ashar issue, 1393].

"Muslims could have trusted Hindus had the Hindus did not raise the issue of reservation at every step starting from 1909 till 1937. Bengalee Hindus opposed all regional divisions from 1932 to 1937, and Tagore extended his support in his speeches in those days. Didn't the main anxiety emanate from the fact that higher caste Hindus would loose their majority due to the numerical superiority of the Muslims and the Sudras (lower caste peope)? What this meant was that (putting aside the issue of Sudras), we did not believe the Muslims. Hindu interests wouldn't be looked after under Muslim majority rule -- wasn't this the reason? Were Syed Ahmed of Aligarh, Nawab of Dacca or Jinnah the only believers of Two Nation Theory? Weren't the suspicious Hindus also believers of Two Nation Theory?"

"In the Jaistha, 1343 issue of the Mohammadi magazine, a writer protested about the inclusion of some objectionable items in the Matriculation Bengali text book. One of them was a poem called 'Bicharok' (Judge) by Raghunath Rao. It contained lines like,

Cholechhi Koritey Jobon Nipat,
Jogatey Jom'er Khadya.

[Here I go to kill Muslims,
To collect fodder for Yama (Hindu God of Death).]

Angry Tagore chided the letter writer in his rebuttal." [[Nityapryo Ghose, 'Swatantro Botey, Kintu Birudhho Ki?', The Desh, May 1, 1999]

Communal Tagore:

"Lot of similarity can be observed between the thoughts of Rabindranath and those of Ramendrasundar Trivedi and Brahmobandhob Upadya with respect to national issues and religion. Brahmobandhab wanted to view Hindu nationalism and Hindu society as the manifestation of Indian culture; By the term 'Hindutva' he meant both Hindu nationality and Hindu culture. The first essay appearing in the maiden issue of Bangodarshan magazine was 'Devotion of Hindu Society' written by Brahmobandhab." [Probhatkumar Mukharjee, Rabindrajiboni O Rabindrashahityo Probeyshok, vol 2, published by Biswa Bharati Publishing Division, p.23].

"In another letter addressed to Maharaja Kumar of Tripura, Tagore wrote from Shantiniketan (Baisakh 7, 1309), 'There exists acute shortage of Brahman and Khatrya people in the Indian subcontinent -- all of us have become sudras after being attacked with distress. With firm determination in mind, I have gotten myself deeply devoted, with utmost abilities, to the cause of re-establishing Brahmanic idelogy. I advise you to spread the ideology of Khatrya after being imbibed with Khatrya ideology in your heart.' " [ibid, p.41]

Tagore was not only a devout hindu but a highly anti-Muslim character. Even Prof Ahmed Sharif passed the following comments about him, "It does not bear any shred of liberal non-communalism on his part when almost all of his subjects in his Zamindari were Muslims, slaughtering of cows was banned, increased amount of taxes were collected by force or new hindu settlements were established to repress the protesting voices." [Prof Ahmed Sharif, Rabindruttor Trityo Projonmey Rabindra Mullayan, Quaterly Uttaradhikar, published by Bangla Academy, Baisakh-Ashar issue, 1393]

A communal poet like Tagore used to be glorified with full vigour in the electronic media during the second Awami regime that left behind the darkest chapter in the history of Bangladesh in every walk of life. Hindus don't suffer from inferiority complex. As such, they don't glorify any Muslim poet during their puja festivals. Durga puja programmes are shown with much more pomp and grandeur in BTV than Eid festivals in a Muslim majority country like Bangladesh. At this, Awami pigheaded intellectuals exclaim, "Aha! How beautiful is the hindu religion?" But when Muslims utter any islamic word in their religious programmes, this cabal term it as fundamentalism and communalism.

Tagore was deeply anti-Muslim/Islam:

"At the age of 39, he composed 'Katha Kahini' poetry based on the ancient Brahmo mythological legends and chronological narratives of Buddha, Rajput, Maratha and Sikhs. But the 750 year-old indigeneous events or dervishes arriving from foreign lands or the magnanimity of Muslim rulers did not seem worthy of his consideration -- not even those of Emperor Akbar, Moinuddin Chisti, Razia, Anarkoli, Nurjahan. Nothing (except Tajmahal) of a nation or society that ruled India with might, knowledge, wealth and achievements for previous 600 years appealed to his good sense. This shows how deep hatred or permanent disrespect he harboured deep down his heart for this ruling class coming from foreign lands. [Prof Ahmed Sharif, Rabindruttor Trityo Projonmey Rabindra Mullayan, Quaterly Uttaradhikar, published by Bangla Academy, Baisakh-Ashar issue, 1393].

Following is a relevant poem by a leftist writer Farhad Mazhar:

Thakur'er Beta
by Farhad Mazhar

Amad'er Rabibabu mostoo boro kobi, shahebra
Nobel Prize dieye hoq tar shahityo keertir
Korech'he kodor. Ingrez'er gethu hoyey taar baap dada
Malpani kameychhe, Boneychhe Swagoshey Zamidar
Kintoo bongsh'er doshey jol pora pata nora probhu
Kobhu bondho hoy nai -- shey hoyechhey bish'er shayer.

Taharey salam kori, taharey marhaba kohi praney
Parwardigar tobu dil mor bohut nkhosh
Taar proti. Chhilo dosh Rabindr'er. Tenar kolomey
Bahu poigambar shadhak o monishir naam
Hoeyechhey swaron kintoo ghunakhkhorey nabi Muhammad
Aakarey Ingitey bhabey diley kimba nib'er dogai
Ekbaro aashey nai, takey tai maaf kori nai
Thakur betatarey tumi kintoo Rahman korey dyo maaf.

In the novel Gora, Rabindranath Tagore subtly expressed his hatred toward Muslims through a statement of his hero Gora who addressed his oppressed Muslims subjects in these words -- "Your Mohammad did not preach the religion in a good manner."

Litteratuer Motahar Hossain Choudhury once asked Rabindranath on the premises of Shanti Niketon, "How come there is no mention of Islam or the prophet in your writings?" Replied the poet, "I started to read Quran but could not advance much. Besides, I did not like the character of rasul." [Culled from an essay 'Islami Shangskritir Ruprekha' (Outlines of Islamic Culture) by Dr. Mustafizur Rahman].

Tagore as an oppressor:

"Honourable Prime Minister [Sheikh Hasina] urged to take the philosophy of Tagore to every door. But what was this philosophy? It is a fact that Tagore was Nobel Prize winning world famous and great poet, but did he leave behind any great philosophy as a great man? It is also a fact that being enchanted by the appeal of his songs and poems, some people regard him almost like a deity, but was he really worthy of regarded to as such? The life of Tagore bears testimony to the opposite. Tagore portrayed many Upens with heart-rending narratives, but like his father & grandfather he was basically greedy and cruel oppressor of poor subjects. Although universal love was the main theme of his poetry, he himself was guided by pride and discrimination. Although he used to wear, like the ancient priests, Upanishadic outfit and his physical stature resembled to those of priests, he was, in heart and mind, an obedient worshipper of the Royal British rulers. How can a person of this self-serving and self-contradicting and cunning double-dealing nature be our role model?

Very few people know the true colour of Tagore. And one of them who knew him very well as his widowed sister. Their father Debendranath Tagore allocated a portion of the income from Zamindari to pay for the monthly allowance for his widowed daughter. But Tagore stopped this allowance after the death of their father by destroying the legal documents. Believe it or not, Tagore also burnt all Will papers (compiled and signed by their grandfather) with the noble motive of depriving all shareholders mentioned in the Will." [Prof Abu Zafar, 'Rabindra Bibh'bram', Daily Inqilab, July 7, 2000].

Tagore was more Hindu than Bengalee:

"Nirod C. Choudhuri commented about Tagore, "Never before in the history of Bengal, a famous Bengali, pure Bengali Hindu better than Tagore was ever born." Tagore handed down his verdict like this way, "British rule is all about God's rule. To rebel against it is sin." He said, "Although Muslims are followers of Islam, they are Hindu in race; They are basically 'Hindu-Muslim'." [Dr Badiuzzaman, Bidrohi Rabindranath Paschim'er Shimantey, 2000].

Patriotic songs like 'Amar Sonar Bangla', 'Banglar Maati Banglar Jol/ Banglar Baiyu Banglar Ful' etc remind us the name of Tagore right away. However, these songs might give wrong notion about Tagore's love for Bengal, Bengali or Bengalee.

"Though a Brahmin, Tagore married 11-year old Mrinalini Devi at his age of 22 years. He married off his three daughters at the ages of 15.5, 12 and 14 years, respectively. Since his blossoming youth, his life revolved around Brahmo society, worshipping in temple, and Tatyabodhini magazine. Although Tagore, throughout his entire life, was devoted to the welfare of Brahmo society, and religious duties, there exists no clear proof about the emergence of shapeless Brahmo or Vedic Brahmo ideology in his mindset. Gods and Goddesses of Hindu mythology enveloped his thought process in his emotive world." [Prof Ahmed Sharif, Rabindruttor Trityo Projonmey Rabindra Mullayan, Quaterly Uttaradhikar, published by Bangla Academy, Baisakh-Ashar issue, 1393].

In his works, Tagore glorified (or at least mentioned their names) ancient Bharat, the era of Upanishad, nature of Tapobon, era of Kalidas ('Aami jodi jonmo nitam Kalidas'er kaley' i.e. I wish I were born in the era of Kalidas), Sikh, Maratha, Rajputs, Shivajee, Guru Govinda, religious leaders like Ramananda, Kabir, Nanak, Ramdas, Tulsidas et al, even less-known figures like Tara Singh, Ratan Rao, Harabongshi, Birkumbha, Durgesh Dumraj et al, Laksmibai (Queen of Janshi), Talukdar Kumar Singh (Ayodhya) et al. He wrote,

'Durey bohu durey
Swapnolokey Ujjoinipurey
Khujitey Gechhinu Jobey Shipranodir parey
Mor Purba jonom'er prothoma priyarey.'

It is surprising to note that Tagore could hardly find any character (even non-Muslim) from ancient or modern Bengal to glorify in his works! However, ignorant Muslim Bengalees are enamoured with the Bengaleeism of Tagore! What was so Bengalee about Tagore other than the fact that he wrote and speak in Bengali. Comments of Probodh Sen are worth-mentioning here, "The erstwhile British govt split Bengal into two parts on October 16, 1905 (Aswin 30, 1312). At that time, Bengal patriotism found its best expression thru' the songs of Tagore; Songs like 'Ebar Tor Mora Gangey Baan Esheychhey', 'Jodi Tor Daak Shuney Keu Naa Aashey', 'Amar Sonar Bangla Aami Tomay Bhalobashi', etc were composed around that time. Previously composed song 'O Amar Desh'er Maati Tomar Porey Thetai Maatha' was published in the Aswin issue of Bangodarshan magazine. We need to keep in mind that it was the month of Aswin -- the month of matribondana. This song was the lucid and natural expression of Bankim's Bandematram song. As such considered from various angles, this song can be considered Rabindric version of Bankim's Bandeymatram song." [Probodhchandra Sen, Bankim-Rabindra Dristitey Banglar Otit, p.219]

A devout Rabindra researcher Probodhchandra Sen had this to say about Tagore, "... Like Bankimchandra, Rabindranath was not solely devoted to the cause of Bengal rather to that of Mother India. Actually, he never showed distinct respect towards Bengali culture and tradition. For Bangladesh, he left behind the proposition of assimilation with India. ... There is hardly any influence of the history of Bengal in the works of Tagore." [Probodhchandra Sen, Bhor'er Paakhi O Ananya Proshongo, 1998, p.281]

Annadashankar Roy commented about Tagore, "He is like a river since his talent did not flourish fully in the arena of ancient Sangskrit literature, Antolok literature or Bengali literature. Justice would be meted out to him only if we give him a place beside Indian poets like Balmiki or Kalidas rather than considering him a Bengalee poet. ... He lost his direction after being awarded Nobel Prize, and became a burden to the world by neglecting the flourishment of his full poetic potential." [From a letter written to poet Vishnu Dey by Annadashankar Roy on July 13, 1947 appearing in the essay 'Chithi Shototoi Soondor', The Sananda, November 22, 1996].

Tagore's Love for Bengali language:

"Himself being written in Bengali language, Tagore favoured hindi as the state language of India. He wrote in a letter, 'Mahatma Gandhi spread the Hindi language all over India in various ways.' In response to the question posed by Gandhi regarding the future of hindi language, Tagore replied on January 28, 1918, 'Hindi is the only possible national language for inter-provincial intercourse in India. But about its introduction at the Congress, I think, we can not enforce it for a long time to come ... Hindi will have to remain optional in our national proceedings until a new generation of politicians, fully alive to its importance, pave the way toward its general use by constant practice as voluntary acceptance of a national obligation.' " [Probhatkumar Mukharjee, Rabindrajiboni O Rabindrashahityo Probeyshok, vol 3, 3rd ed., published by Biswa Bharati Publishing Division, pp.151-152].

Tagore was a 'Razakar' of British Colonialists:

"However, he did not harbour the same feeling towards the British. Rather he nurtured profound love, confidence and respect for them. The reason behind his indifference towards politics of self-governance in the country, non-chalance about the establishement of independence movement was this love for the British. Novels like 'Ghorey-Bairey', 'Char Odday' and some essays are worth recalling in this respect. He did not have propensity to establish self-governance for India. He was expectant of good governance by the British. Essays like 'Rajkutumbo', 'Ghushoghushi', 'Swadeshi Samaj' etc are to be recalled here. It is to be kept in mind that brutal killing at Jaliwanwalabagh did not move him an inch to renounce his Knighthood; it took 46 days for him to come to that decision due to some internal pressure. The 40-year old poet composed 'Matrishokashchash' to mourn the death of Queen Victoria; Knighthood delighted him to his heart's content, and in 1911 the grateful poet composed, on behalf of the Hindus, the hymn 'Jonogon Mon Odhinayok' to extol King George V for repealing the Bengal Partition Act." [Prof Ahmed Sharif, Rabindruttor Trityo Projonmey Rabindra Mullayan, Quaterly Uttaradhikar, published by Bangla Academy, Baisakh-Ashar issue, 1393].

As the rebels found Tagore to be against the independence movement, they wanted to physically eliminate Tagore. This threat was extended even when he was touring America. Here is a news clip from those days, "Word of a plot to assassinate Rabindranath Tagore, Hindu poet and Nobel Prize winner, reached the police yesterday and led to extraordinary precautions to guard him in the apartment at the Palace Hotel and at the Columbia Theatre where he lectured in the afternoon." [San Francisco Examiner, October 6, 1916]. Note that Tagore was identified as a Hindu poet.

During the second Awami regime, electronic media (BTV, ATN, Channel I, EkusheyTV) was abused to promote Tagore as a soldier of independence movement from the clutches of British mercenary cabal.

Writing for money & Resorting to Plagiarism:

Pratap Narayan Biswas, a Calcatian author-resembler, wrote several essays accusing Tagore of plagiarism. One of them 'Jogajog: Goldsworthy & Rabindranath' was published in the first issue of 'Onustap' [now in its 23rd year of publication] magazine. Here is one comment about Tagore, "Sir Rabindranath Tagore is not a poet who brings news from the East, but one who returns to us what we have already lent." [Edward Shanks, 'Sir Rabindranath Tagore', The Queen (London), 1921].

Before starting to write his Jogajog novel, Tagore, in Chaitra 12, 1333 (Chithipatra 5) said, 'An attempt is underway to bring out a new magazine by the name of 'Bichitra' by some enterprising and rich quarter. I have fallen prey to their trap owing to both my want of money and greed. You won't be able to figure out how destitute I have become.' [See also Probhatkumar Mukharjee, Rabindra Jiboni, vol 3, 1359, p.249].

To give some background behind his writing of Gora novel, Prabhatkumar said, 'The urge to write stories was external. Tagore's youngest daughter was to be married off in Jaistha, 1314. There was acute want of money. Ramananda Chatterjee requested Tagore to write a short story for The Probashi magazine and sent some money in advance. The poet wrote and sent two short stories. 'Master Moshoy' and 'Galpo' which were published in two installments of The Probashi (Asar & Sravan). But the poet thought that he was not adequately paid. As such he started to write Gora novel. During the writing of Gora, Tagore was not only inflicted with financial hardship, he succumbed to various physical and psychological hardship arising from illness of his horse and daughter Meera, and deaths of friend Srishchandra Majumdar, son-in-law Satyendranath and son Shomindranath. Despite this hardship, he managed to send installments of Gora to the office of The Probashi spanning a period of 32 months. The only reason behind this was that he was able to borrow the main theme, characters, incidents, narrative details and dialogue from less known novel 'Felix Holt The Radical'. Two other books that were consulted to complete the Gora novel were The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith and Father & Sons by Tugerniev (sp?). Some of his famous short stories (such as Sampat'ti, Swamorpon, Nishithey, Khudhitoo Pashan, Guptodhon) were written borrowing themes, plots, characters, background, descriptions from foreign short stories.

30th. May 2002


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  Subject Author Date
6385 Re : Rabindranath Tagore - Alternative view Sohail Ahmad Wed  6/12/2002
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6331 Re : Rabindranath Tagore - Alternative view Kiran A.D.H. Sun  6/9/2002
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6306 Re : Rabindranath Tagore - Alternative view Indira Chakravorty Sat  6/8/2002
6305 Re : Rabindranath Tagore - Alternative view Dr. Mohammad Mushrafi Sat  6/8/2002
6295 Re : Rabindranath Tagore - Alternative view Rahul Gupta Thu  6/6/2002