By: Maulana Muhammad A. K. Azad [ Abu Arif Al Alawi ]
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still thou pourest, and still there is room to fill.
When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart would break with pride; and I look to thy face, and tears come to my eyes.
All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony--and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea.
I know thou takest pleasure in my singing. I know that only as a singer I come before thy presence.
I touch by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song thy feet which I could never aspire to reach.
Drunk with the joy of singing I forget myself and call thee friend who art my lord.
I know not how thou singest, my master! I ever listen in silent amazement.
COMMUNAL THOUGHTS OF RABINDRANATH
But, this is fact that Rabindranath remained communal till the end. He remained hostile towards Islaam and Muslims. Militant Hindu leaders use Tagore's hostility towrds Islaam to spread hatred against Muslims . Let's read how they quote Gurudev in this regard. One Ranaprotap roy writes:
“There are two religions on the earth, which have distinct enmity against all other religions. These two are Christianity and Islam. They are not satisfied with just observing their own religions, but are determined to destroy all other religions. That’s why the only way to make peace with them is to embrace their religion.”
[The above is a part of a letter written by Rabindranath Tagore to Sri Kalidas Nag on 7th Asar, 1329 Bangabda, compiled in the article ‘Hindu-Muslim’ in the book ‘Kalantar’ and compiled in the Complete Works of Rabindranath (in Bengali), published by Viswabharati University, 1982, Vol. 24, p – 375 (tr – the author)]
“A very important factor which is making it almost impossible for Hindu-Muslim unity to become an accomplished fact is that the Muslim can not confine their patriotism to any one country. I had frankly asked the Muslims whether in the event of any Mohammedan power invading India, would they (Muslims) stand side by side with their Hindu neighbors to defend their common land or join the invaders. I was not satisfied with the reply I have obtained from them….. Even such a man as Mr. Mohammed Ali (one of the famous Ali brothers, the leaders of the Khilafat Movement) has declared that under no circumstances is it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever be his country, to stand against any Mohammedan”.
[Appeared as Interview of Rabindranath in English daily the ‘Times of India’ April 18, 1924 in the column - “Through Indian Eyes.” It has also been quoted by Ambedkar and others in their writings.]
- “Whenever a Muslim calls upon the Muslim society, he never faces any resistance – he calls in the name of one God ‘Allah-hu-Akbar.’ On the other hand, when we (Hindus) call, ‘come on Hindus,’ who will respond? We, the divided in numerous small communities, may barriers – provincialism – who will respond overcoming all these obstacles?”
- “We were endangered by many invasions, but we could never be united. When Muhammad Ghouri brought the first blow from outside, the Hindus could not be united, even in those days of imminent danger. When the Muslims started to demolish the temples one after another, and to break the idols of Gods and Goddesses, the Hindus fought and died in small groups but they could not be united. It has been proved that we the Hindus were killed in different epochs of history due to our internal discord.”
- “Weakness harbors sin. So, if the Muslims beat us and we, the Hindus, tolerate this without resistance – then, we will know that it is made possible only by our weakness. For the sake of ourselves and our neighbour Muslims also, we have to discard our weakness. We can appeal to our neighbour Muslims, ‘Please don’t be cruel to us. No religion should be based on genocide’ – but this kind of appeal is nothing but the weeping of the weak persons. When the low pressure is created in the air, storm comes spontaneously’ nobody can stop it for sake of religion. Similarly, if weakness is cherished and is allowed to exit, torture comes automatically – nobody can stop it. Possible, the Hindus and the Muslims can make a fake friendship to each other for a while, but that can not last for ever. As long as you don’t purify the soil, which grows only thorny shrubs, you can not expect any fruit.”
[“Letter to Swami Shraddhananda, ‘by Rabindranath, Magh, 1333 Bangabda’ complied in the book “Kalantar”]
“Dr. Munje said in another part of his report that, eight hundred years ago, the Hindu king of Malabar (now Kerala) on the advice of his Brahmin ministers, made big favor to the Arab Muslim to settle in his kingdom. Even he appeased the Arab Muslims by converting the Hindus to Islam to an extent to making law for compulsory conversion of a member of each Hindu fisherman family in to Islam. Those, whose nature is to practice idiocy rather than common sense, never can enjoy freedom even if they are in the throne. They turn the hour of action in to a night of merriment. That’s why they are always struck by the ghost at the middle of the day.”
“The king of Malabar once gave away his throne to idiocy. That idiocy is still ruling Malabar from a Hindu throne. That’s why the Hindus are still being beaten and saying that God is there, turning the faces towards the sky. Throughout India we allowed idiocy to rule and surrender ourselves to it. That kingdom of idiocy – the fatal lack of commonsense – was continuously invaded by the Pathans, sometimes by the Mughols and sometimes by the British. From outside we can only see the torture done by them, but they are only the tools of torture, not really the cause. The real reason of the torture is our lack of common sense and our idiocy, which is responsible for our sufferings. So we have to fight this idiocy that divided the Hindus and imposed slavery on us……..If we only think about the torture we will not find any solution. But if we can get rid of our idiocy, the tyrants will surrender to us.”[’Samasya,’ (The Problem), Agrahayan, 1330 Bangabda, in “Kalantar”.]
“When two or three different religions claim that only their own religions are true and all other religions are false and their religions are only way to Heaven, conflicts can not be avoided. Thus, fundamentalism tries to abolish all other religions. This is called Bolshevism in religion. Only the path shown by the Hinduism can relieve the world from this meanness.”[Atmaparichay’ (The Self-realization) in the book ‘Parichay.’]
“You are a mother of children, one day you will die, passing the future of Hindu society on the weak shoulders of your children, but think about their future”.[A letter to Hemantabala Sarkar, 16th Oct. 1933, quoted in Bengali weekly “Swastika”. June 21, 1999]
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:
"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]
"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:
Following is a relevant poem by a leftist writer Farhad Mazhar:
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:
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:
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
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.