Rabindra Sangeet Songs of Rabindranath Tagore



Translator’s note: The songs of Rabindranath Tagore are known as Rabindrasangeet which number approx. 2500. It is no exaggeration to say that Rabindrasangeet has explored every corner of human emotion and perception to give them best possible expression. Their philosophical depth also is unparalleled in the music world. It may be claimed, Rabindrasangeet has climaxed wording of the ineffable in literature of all time. Anybody not knowing Bengali definitely miss this aesthetic treasure. A translation can at best explain the central idea of a song, but cannot surface the wonderful matching of music with the original poesy so intimate with its philosophical/spiritual canvas. Unfortunately, therefore, the best of Rabindrasangeet, with all its humanistic appeal of highest order, will remain confined within the Bengali circle. It may be possible, some highly talented musicians endowed with literary command also, will emerge with versions of Rabindrasangeet in other languages, equally appealing. Such experiment in Hindi has not been disappointing and has gained popularity. Hindi is of course quite close to Bengali which must have been a contributory factor to such success. But the Western languages are likely to pose insurmountable challenge to any such effort. While hoping that some highly talented musicians will some day perform this magic of perfect cloning of Rabindrasangeet even in the Western languages, a sensible suggestion in the meantime appears to be to keep its translation handy while the Westerners (and in general all not having access to Bengali) will give their ear to the original Bengali song and try to perceive its import. Those knowing Bengali can only sympathize those not so privileged for such a plight in their struggle to enjoy a song! Below appears translations of some Rabindrasangeets, with a few initial lines of the original Bengali given in Roman script to enable the listeners to relate the translation to the song.

1) din guli mor sonar khanchay
roilo na“ sei je amar nana ranger dinguli

[Note: Man’s colourful early life comprises many a fancy which lose their significance with the passage of time.]

In golden cage my days didn’t confine
Of varied hues those days of mine
The bondage of tear and smile
Couldn’t them beguile.

The music of my heart
I hoped they would smart.
But they took their flight
Leaving my passions with their slight.

I dream around my cage worn
They lob with their expectation
But all my emotive pain
Were only in vain?
Were they all birds of illusion
Conveyed nothing beyond the horizon?
Those many hued days
Lost in untracked ways?

2) Jakhan Bhanglo Milano Bela Bhanglo
Bhebechhilem bhulbo na aar chhoksher jal fela
Dine dine pather dhulay, mala hote ful jhare jai
Janineto kakhan elo biswaraner bela.

[Note: The joy of our association with our near and dear ones seems to be ever lasting. But as the painful hour of departure comes, we take that as everlasting too. But time is the best healer and the hour of oblivion overtakes us, again guising as permanent, which myth also explodes when we discover that the undercurrent of our departure pain is perennial when our memories revive.]

As broke up the get together carnival
I thought, my tears would be perennial
Flowers shed from the garland day by day
To roll on the dust on my way
The moment of oblivion,
Unwitting, takes me on.

Days hardened my heart
To believe tears would no more blurt.
Sudden was our meet again,
My sob I can’t refrain.
The frolic of tear
Under amnesia was there..

3) Likhon tomar dhulay hoyechhe dhuli
Hariye geche tar purano akhar guli

[Note: The anecdote that goes with this song is, one day the Poet saw a piece of paper with his writings blown away by the wind. This simple incident was enough for him at once to visualize the temporality of the finest aspects of life. Yet, the truth that he perceives is, the return of seemingly lost in its eternally new form and that God’s aesthetic scribbling all around us in Nature or life at large cycle into oblivion and re-appearance.]

In dust your writings wallow
Its letters obscure, no more aglow
Alone I sit in the spring night,
Do I then again sight
In the woods your scribbling
There in the budding seedling
Your lost letters errant
Re-appear no less significant.

Abound the Mallikas (*) in the bower (*)
Their fragrance in the air to shower
At Your touch tender
Brings to mind from yonder
Your nostalgic script
That does the farewell pain depict.
There in the Madhabi (*) branch sway (*)
Your old scripts of the remote day.

(*) These are Indian flowers.

4) Tumi bahir theke, dile bisham nara
Tai bhoya ghure digbidike,
Sheshe antare pai sara

Note: God, or great men as His representatives, from age to age have shown us the paths of Truth that are obscure to us. We cannot gauge their directives at the beginning which only bewilder us. But their significance manifests with time when they illuminate our heart. Until then, we are self seekers and blame our fate or others around us for non-fulfillment of our selfish ends.]

External was Thy chase severe
And we run amok post to pillar,
In terror terrible,
At last in my heart Thy signal to feel.

When I close my door,
Blind my eyes, hearing sore
Thou hidden in the dark
My fetters jerk.

All my grief in nightmare
Only in my somnolence bare
Thy push does exile
All my spells that beguile.

My assaults recoil on me,
Then I take to blasphemy
My closed eyes’ quests fail
To spot path, so my tears flood the locale.

5) Je karone hia kandichhe se karone seo kandilo
Je bandhone more’ bandhichhe se bandhone tare bandhilo

[Note: Human emotion founts from God’s as is the theme of this exquisite song. The Poet perceives very positively that Creation’s intent had been manifestation of Infinity within the limits of Man and it is His mirth to yield Himself thus and that our reverence for God reciprocates.]

What sets my heart in tears,
His pathos too it bears
The chain that binds me,
Captivates Him too to His glee.
On my path I quest Him
Whom, for worship I deem
Hidden is my homage, I had clue,
Me too He did pursue.
He came to steal my heart,
Across the ocean with myth covert
But burnt His boat
Yielding to my moat.

His own delight
Is His self-deceptive plight
With what intent did He cast His net,
To trap me, or Himself to let?

6) Tomay natun kore pabo bole
Harai kshne khan
O mor bhalabashar dhan

[Note: With our limited perceptions we lose sight of God in our daily life. However, we do glimpse Him at times to realize that He is our dearest who had created humans to whom He occasionally flashes the mysterious intent behind his wonderful creation of life, but only to be left again to the mundane. Is this hide and seek His mirth, never giving us the final answer to our eternal quest of mystery behind our existence? I would also be inclined to invoke the scientists’ Big Bang theory here behind God’s Creation for occurrence of the linesœEndless Thou art / So delude as null to covert if of course it means that the debut of myriad proliferation in Nature, as we see, started from explosion of a single atom and the Universe, now in an expansion mode will start shrinking again when it will reach the maximum point of inflation as its physical elasticity will permit and then will start its reverse course to be again reduced to an atom. My earnest request to the readers is they may please take my interpretation of the Big Bang theory with many a pinch of salt, if not with a lot of laughter too. However, assuming I have marginally grasped the Big Bang, are we not still dwelling on the mundane?Where is the spiritual dimension? I got a lot of spiritual stuff in an article by Dr. Jaba Chatterjee (Faculty in Bengali literature at Rishi Bankimchandra College at Naihati, not far away from Calcutta). Her subject is influence of Vaishnava cult on Tagore. In her essay she has mentioned the following song of Tagore and also another close to it ( No 18- To Unite with me / Is Thy eternal journey) which appears in this volume. She also gives examples of a good number of songs of Tagore influenced by the Vaishnavite poets (e.g. from Joydeb’s (12th Century) Geetagovina.(in Sanskrit) Bidyapati of 15th Century (who wrote in Maithili) and quoted them in their respective languages in original, in vogue in those periods in Eastern India, including Bengal. The crux of Dr. Chatterjee’s paper is, though human enigma about evolution of life on this earth is primordial going with an awe, the devotional blend in it assumed Tsunami height in Bengal, history of which is nearly a millennium old whose impact deeply influenced Tagore literature since mid 19th Century onward which may be noted in a large number of his songs, which, quite a few in this volume illustrate (besides the 2 nos. mentioned in this passage) and the reader may hopefully relate this introduction to those. I am thankful to Dr. Chatterjee for making available her erudite paper to me without which my introduction in this Internet version of my book would remain deficient as in my original publication in January 2002.

To get anew again
I lose Thee now and then
O my precious love, Thy flight
Is only to be back to my sight.

Thou art not to remain,
Endlessly behind the curtain
Mine Thou art for ever“
Drown in the temporal for frolic mere.
On Thy search trembles my mind,
Passion waves my love thou to find.
Endless Thou art
So delude as null to covert
Such is Thy pleasure
To leave me in desolation tear.

7) He kshaniker atithi
Ele probhate kare chahia

[Note: It seems, this song flashes the transit of the humans through their mortal life on their infinite journey towards the unknown with the tragedy imbibed in their short stint on this earth.]

O a few moments’ guest
You come at dawn on whose quest?
Along the path with Shefalis (*) shed * a flower
In the morning dews bathed
With grief latent at their nook
As the sad loner you overlook.
O cruel,
On what magic spell
Mutely knell your departure
While to unite you appear?
O traveler, on your chariot of light
Towards the dark is your flight
With your songs of joy immense
In charming cadence.

8) Tumi rabe nirabe hridaye mama
Nibira nivrita purnima nishithini sama.

[Note: This song has a place in the Prem (=Love) series. Tthe readers/audience may see it in the mundane or even Plutonic sense of ‘love’ or to feel its succession to the perception of the Creator’s care for us all through our life with its weal and woe or ups and downs. Such ‘borderless’ character of the Rabindrasangeets leaves scope for such open interpretation.]

My heart will recluse
In your silence profuse
As of the profound full-moon night
With its solitude’s calm light
All my life and youth
My whole world you’ll soothe,
With your glory you’ll fill
Like the night’s still.
Alone will wake your eye
Your compassion on me to lie,
Shade of your robe to cover
My lone for ever.
All my pain and blight,
My euphoria and delight
With fragrance you’ll fill
Like the night sentinel still.

9) Badala diner prathama Kadama ful karecho dan
Ami dite ashechi, Srabanero gan.

[Note: The temporal Kadamba flower with all its beauty at the break of the rainy season in Bengal with its magic spell on us bothers the Poet that this manifestation of Nature’s supreme beauty will be lost soon possibly beyond
retrieval. So is his endeavor to capture this ineffable beauty in his song that will return to us again and again irrespective of the loss of physical identity of the Kadamba flower which he witnesses to-day.]

The first Kadamba flower
On the rainy days Thou dower
The song of Sravana* in turn (*Rainy month)
Is my return
In the shades of the cloud
Tenderly its grace I shroud,
In my musical harvest
This golden yield leads the rest.
To-day abounds Thy gift
Maybe at to-morrow’s defeat,
In Thy flower basket
Nothing more to be left.
Yet, while Thy amnesia will tide high
On it the boat will still ply
Every year my song will convey
Thy glory of the Sravana day.

10) He chironutana, aaji a diner prathama gane
Jibana aamar uthuk prakshi tomari pane
[Note: This song hails the Ever New that renovates our life continuously to save it from a permanent dilapidation.]

O Ever new, to-days song as I debut
May my life towards you spurt
Endless hope is there in your message-
In eternal animation’s language
Your gift’s pleasure
Fills heart with un-decaying treasure
Let fill the breeze your heavenly nectar
In this holy hour
Our life the new born may boom
At all feeble’s doom
Let gay the old in ablution
In to-day’s illumination.

11) Ganer bhitar diye jakhan dekhi bhubankhani
Takhan tare chini ami, takhan tare jani

[Note: Music of highest aesthetics and philosophical values starting from the Vedic hymns down to folksongs inundate the Poet’s university Viswa-Bharati at Santiniketan. The Poet’s own songs Rabindrasangeets, approx. 2500 in number, have freely drawn from India’s and also from West’s various musical traditions which gift us a new look to the world for our deepest perception of the creative wonder behind it. Maybe, the few songs translated here will give one glimpse of it, though not having access to the original Rabindrasangeets due to linguistic barrier.]

Through music the world as I see,
I know it, reveals its intimacy.
Language of its light
Fills sky in loving delight
Its dust speaks the innate
Divine words ultimate
Ceases to be external
In my soul melodies to spell
On its grass
My heart’s throbs pass
Beauty shapes up, flows the nectar
My own bounds to blur
With all then I see
My camaraderie.

12) Surer guru, dao go surer diksha-
Mora surer kangal, eai amader viksha.

[Note: When mal-culture has overtaken the world in the form of so-called pop music and various other noises in disruption of life’s harmony, this prayer of the Poet not to be deaf to the music of Nature, which alone has inspired all his marvelous creations
is more relevant to-day.]

O music master,
Take us as Thy learner,
Quench our thirst for melody
That alone we beg of Thee.
To the stream of river,
To the morning star there
In the golden Champas (*) ear (*)Indian flower)
The music that Thou whisper,
Let that tune fill our heart
With which we’ll smart
Where anti-music everyday
Its ceaseless babble does play.
Where noises whirl
There should I feel
Is my lute’s challenge high
And Thy trials for my music lie.

13) Bhebe chhilem ashebe phire
Tai phagun sheshe dilem biday
Tumi gele bhashi nayan neere
Akhon Seavan dine mori dwidhay

[Note: This song may be interpreted as the human languish for perception of the ultimate Truth or God, though at the same time, it may be for something lesser too, say, somebody’s near and dear ones.]

Hoped you would return
At the season’s turn
So bade you
At spring-end ‘adieu’
Over my tears you sailed away
Now I doubt in the Sravana day (=season of rain)
In the dark of rain
Shed my tears of pain
Alone in incessant shower
How I entice you back, I wonder.
Close to my eye when you about
All is full, in and out.
On those replete days’ promise
My fear of separation I ease
Yet in the solitude of night
Without you my heart does blight,
Melodious only to bereave
My eternal loss as you leave.

14) Tumi je chaya aacho aakash bhore
Nishidin animeshe dekcho more
Ami chokh aei alote melbo jabe
Tomar ooi cheye dekha shafal habe

[Note: This song again, like many others, appears to be on manifestation of the Infinite through the limits of Man, without whose sensual and spiritual perception of the Creation’s beauty, it would go inane.]

All through the sky is Thy glare
Day and night at me to stare.
As I’ll open my eye
Along with Thine to lie
In that light
Fulfilled will be Thy sight
For that counts the days
The sky above and prays
The blooming flower of the spring
Else is inane, naught to bring
If mine will not bud
The rest is all dud.
Revered will be the chains of stars,
Thy lighting up of the Universe
Only when my blindness
Will dispel as Thou will bless.

15) He nutan dakha dik arbar
Janmero prathama subhakshan

[Note: There has been a boom of celebration of birthday parties of young and adults alike in the Western style even in our country with the trite song ‘Happy birthday to you ..etc.’ preceded by the ritual of cutting/eating of delicious birthday cakes to be followed by sumptuous dishes and, of course, the incumbents are flooded with costly gifts from their guests. Thus, the birthday parties do provide plenty of enjoyment. However, it may be interesting to compare this ethos with that which pervades the whole of Bengal during the Kabi Paksha (Poet’s fortnight) which starts on the 25th day of Baisakh (this month in the Bengali calendar synchronizes with the mid April to mid May period), the birthday of the Poet, when the entire clime here is inundated with Tagore’s songs/recitals etc. in various functions taking us deep into the perception of Creation’s mystery, which we badly miss in our said birthday rituals which, one may feel, are in utter mediocrity once one has experienced the ecstasy and philosophical height in Kabi Paksha. Out of many other recitals relevant to the profundity of ‘birthday’ the following song is sure to be heard on this occasion ]

O Ever New, may Thee reappear
Through Life’s holy primal hour
With the mist torn
Like Sun be Thy manifestation.
From the midst of inane
Thy victory be over its bane.
Let be hailed by Thy glow
And my heart’s trumpet blow
Music of Life’s marvel
Infinity’s eternal wonder to reveal
The clarion call to the Ever New be sent
At the advent
Of Baisakh the twenty fifth
For its un-blighting gift.

16. Bhenge mor gharer chabi niye jabi ke amare, Bandhu amar
Na paye tomar dekha aka aka din je amar kate nare

[Note: While we are confined to the narrow limits of our life, we pine for a bigger significance of our existence beyond our mundane boundaries. This song wonderfully brings out the distress of the human soul seeking exit beyond its confinement and, in the case of the Poet, I believe the eternal Truth is his quest.]

Who’ll break loose oh
My room’s lock for my bondage to go,
That from me does fend
Thou, oh my friend!
Without Thy sight
Lone days are my plight.
Is the night over
The Sun soon to appear
At the horizon Eastern
My rescue to earn
By the long road ahead
Thy chariot to my door will be led?
In the sky stars countless
Stare at me blink less
Awaiting the dawn
With Thy floodlight to be gone.
The travelers in the morning
All come amidst din
Pass their pageants with music
Thy glory to seek
In the flowers blooming
Tunes struck by the Sun’s golden string.

17) Aaj ki tahar barata pelo re kisholoy
Ora kar katha kaay bonomoi.

[Note: A more emotive perception of God through the grandeur of Nature may not be possible than this song and many others of the Poet.]

O seedling, did you hear His message
Across the wilderness that had passage?
Whose words they sound
That through the sky is far bound?
Glory of which traveler in lyrics
Their song speaks?
There in the dense shrub
Abounding in grub
Where Champa buds flame
Insects’ chorus proclaims His name.

Come O poet, put the garland on
Play your flute there in the lawn
Exchange your music
With the Creator’s frolic.

18) Amar Milan lagi tumi ascho kabe theke
Tomar surya Chandra tomay rakhbe kothay dheke

[Note: Since his evolution in nature Man is trying to grasp the mystery of Creation or God and that supreme hour of His perception is nearing us more we delve into His obscurity.]

To unite with me
Is Thy eternal journey
Thy moon, sun and star
Between us can’t be a cover.
Many a evening and morn
Convey Thy footsteps’ vibration
Pass Thy secret messenger’s call
My heart to enthrall.
O Traveler! My heart inundates
As Thy heavenly joy there resonates.
Does there appear
The supreme hour
My bindings are all over
With Thy fragrance the breeze does appear?

19) Tomar pujar chhale tomay bhulai thaki
Bujhte nari kakhan tumi dao je phanki

[Note: In this song we get the view of the Poet on our ritual dominated religions which hardly leads us to the perception of God.]

In pretence of homage to Thee
Forgetful of Thee I be
I know not when Thou elude
At my worship’s prelude.
From behind the garlands of flower
Fragrances that the incenses shower
The lights that the lamps glow
My touch to Thy feet chances not to go
My hymn as I pray
Are to keep Thee at bay.
To have Thy vision
Is this elaboration,
That exiles Thee
To falsity
Remains dry my eye
For Thy sight though I cry.
Visit to temples then of what use
If Thy seat in my heart I may muse,
Call Thee reticent
With my heart innocent?

20) Tai tomar ananda amar par, tumi tai achecho niche
Aamay naile tribhubaneswr, tomar prem hoto je miche

[Note: The Infinity’s manifestation in a myriad way of His divinity is only through the limitations of Man. Thus, the Infinite would be futile without the Finite. The Poet flashes this perception again in this song as found in many others.]

So showers Thy joy on me
With me so close Thee be
As Thy love without me
O Lord, in vain would be.
So vastly I’ve spread
Emotions in my heart bred,
In my life in a varied way
Thy intents sway.
So, Thee, the Universal King
Thy messages in my soul ring.
Thou in varied delight
Art awake for me day and night.
So Thee come down where
Thy love for the devotees bear
Thine and mine, the twin icon
Has its copious expression.

21) Tomar holo shuru, amar holo shara
Tomay amay mile emni bahe dhara

[Note: Among the Hindu gods, Vishnu is the protector of Creation while Shiva is for its destruction. One will agree, concepts of Vishnu and Shiva are more philosophical, rather than religious, to perceive this dual faces of Existence. This song brings out this very philosophical perception.]

You set out as I end
Such a stream founts as we blend.
For you the light does glitter,
At home with mate you are.
For me is the night,
The stars above only I sight.
You have the shore,
For me the seas roar.
You have station,
Mine is motion.
You preserve, I undo,
You fear, I brave in lieu.

22) Ektuku chhoan lage, ektuku katha shuni,
Tai diye mane mane rachi mama falguni
[Note: The ingredients of the Poet’s songs are all trifles around him that may come close to his aesthetic perception or may elude it with subtle hints. The Poet misses not Creation’s beauty in all these which reflect in his superb musical and literary creations.]

Slight touch, to audience a bit
In my mind the spring hymns breed with it.
The charm of Palas (*) blends with Champas’ (*)
To web up many a tune melodious.
The trifle between the fleeting moments
That nears me, dreamy portrait paints
At the corner of my mind
As my artistry would find.
And that too eluding far
Fails not my freaks to stir
To check the jingles’ cadence
In defiance of my time sense.

(*) Indian flowers

23) Amader Shantiniketan, Se je sabar hote apan,
Tar akash bhara kole, moder dole hriday dole

[Note: In various celebrations/functions of Santiniketan, the University of the Poet, this song is sung in chorus. Is there a better paean for any institution anywhere in the world?]

Our Santiniketan,
She is our very own
Lapping our heart
Her sky rocks it to spurt
To see her novel again
In our renewed vein.
The rows of her trees
Our frolic in the field sprees
Affection of the blue above
Dawn to dusk showers love.
In the shades of our Shawl trees
Music from the wood conveys the breeze.
The Amlaki (*) bowers gay *
With dancing leaves play.
Where we ramble for pleasure,
That never eludes from us far.
In our mind the Sitar (**) of love **
Is tuned to put us hand in glove
With my brothers
Who are one with me and others.

(*) tree (**) musical instrument

24) Kato tumi mano haro, monoi taha jane
Hriday mamo tharo tharo kampe tomar gane
[Note: The perception of God is amazingly instant to the Poet as soon as he turns his senses to the nature around. We lesser mortals have a blockade here which is also lifted immediately as we audience his superb songs and share the Poet’s perception of God in nature.]

Only my mind knows but
How comely Thou art
Trembles my heart
At Thy music’s art.
In this morning
Tears in my eyes bring
The Sun’s and cloud’s frolic,
As Thy mystery I seek.
The wild flickers of light
On the ripples of the river bright
The chuckles of the wood
Run on the leaves in merry mood.
What there I see in the sky?
Ah! It is the look of Thy eye
On my breath does shower
Blue nectar from yonder.

25) Ami keboli swapana, korechi bapana batashe
Tai akashakusuma karinu chayana hatsh

[Note: The song seems to be more than an outlet of the Poet’s despair on his futile mundane objectives, which comes to everybody’s life to some degree. To me, it also appears to cover his failure to perceive the ultimate truth which was his lifelong quest as a loner and I interpret thus the words’dedication for the far’.]

Only dreams I sowed in the air
Yielding castles in the air to my despair.
Disappears my world shadowy,
Boat of hope never ashore will be.
My conjectures pleasant
Only float in the sky errant.
All my longing
Could trap nothing
None did render
To my dedication for the far.
So, I played with fire
Alone, to shape my desire
As the day is now over,
I’m left with ashes of despair.

26) Se din amay bolechhile
Akhon amar samay hoi nai

[Note: I interpret this song as one on the Poet’s lifelong quest for God, or the ultimate Truth, which eluded him from the prime of his life till the end of it, which tragedy goes with the humans.]

That day Thou didst say,
As with Thee I hoped my play,
It’s not yet Thy turn
So did Thee return.
But time for caprice it was,
Abounded the Mallikas (*) in the bowers
On the leaves
Were the winds’ glees.
To-day on winter’s prelude
All grandeur in the mists elude,
The time is near over
Is it still not Thy hour?
At the end of the day
From the doorstep over the road I gaze faraway.

(*) Flower

27) Charanrekha tabo je pathe dile lekhi
Chinnha aji tari apani ghuchale ki

[Note: Everything beautiful in our life is only transitory. Yet. the Poet’s conviction is that only the eternal Truth manifests in these temporal.]

On the path Thou left Thy footprints
To-day to blot out all its hints.
Pollens of Ashoka (*) rendered Thy dust crimson (*= tree)
Only to be lost in the grass on Thy lawn.
Ends flowering,
Birds forget to sing
The southern wind ceases
Oblivious, self-forfeits as it pleases.
Yet, the Immortal did they not carry,
In death will end its memory?

28) Seki bhabe gopan rabe, lukiye hriday kara
Tar asha jaoa haoay dhaka, se je srishti chhara.
[Note: This is one of the Poet’s songs on Spring, the pleasantest season of the year when Nature wakes up to its supreme aesthetics. But Spring is short lived. Yet, within its elusive span the Poet perceives manifestation of Creation’s utmost wonder.]

Will he Himself conceal
Only by my intuition to feel,
My heart to fob
Guise in the wind, exotic as He’ll lob?
In my heart His messages rouse,
On the foliages browse“
‘There He comes’ ‘there’
Our soul to stir.
With this self-flowering within self
In His décor my eyes delve“
In the songs of the bird
His footsteps are heard
In the universal Veena’s (*) string (*) Lute
His myriad songs spring.

29) Esechhile tabu asho nai, janaye gele
Samukher path diye palataka chhaya phele
[Note: This is a song on the superb beauty of the rainy season of Bengal/India. Poets over ages starting from Kalidas’ classic Meghdoot (in Sanskrit) written in the 600 A.D., poets down the ages have eulogized the beauty of the rainy season. Tagore climaxed this literature, particularly by his songs, which far excels mere eulogy by induction of philosophical components of highest insight. This song depicts separation-al pain that eternally associates human life and its pathos surfaces most when the mystifying rainy season overtakes our senses, yet we cannot accept it as the ultimate.]

Thou came and yet didn’t,
For that thou left thy hint
With thy eluding shadow
Along the path that before me does go.
That indifference of thine
As truth I can’t opine
While thy restive feet
On grass trailing thy pain did flit.
Then on the foliage
Drops of water laze,
The green in the wood
In a compassionate mood
As thou art gone,
The moist wind conveying thy oblivion.
In the Nipa (*) bower behind (*) flower
Frolic of light and shade I find.

30) Jethay thake sabar adham diner hote din

[Note: This song was translated for inclusion in the publication of a NGO in Calcutta engaged in picking up mentally ill destitute women locked up in the prisons for their security reasons and those loitering in the streets forsaking their families with the object of treating them medically and to educate them generally and also on various crafts to enable them to stand on their own feet and, last but not least, to re- unite them with their families which they had forsaken. The NGO comprises a good number of eminent persons dedicated to its cause. No dissertation could be more relevant to the emotive undercurrent on which such institutions sail, than this song. I hope, at least a small remnant of the appeal of the original song will be conveyed through my inept translation to those not having access to Bengali.]

Where lag the doomed and the poorest
There does Your foot rest“
There behind and beneath all
Where they dwell in extreme gall.

When I bow down to You
Where stints my homage due?
Where goes down Your foot
To Man’s infamy’s root,
My worship reaches there not
Behind and beneath all- to those with hapless lot.

My pride reaches there not where You tread,
To the destitute in rags, starved of bread,
Behind and beneath all,
Where they all fall.
Where is heaped all wealth and honey,
There I seek Your company
Alas, You are with those lone
For whom my heart does not moan
Behind and beneath all
Where those hapless fall.

31) Khelaghar bandhte legechhi
Amar maner bhitare

[Note: Besides his vast literature and music, the Poet had left behind his noble institution for mankind, including Viswa Bharati which is , true to its name, a World University. Even an achievement on a much lesser scale would leave one with enormous complacence towards the end of one’s life. But not so with Tagore whose quest was for the ultimate Truth which, if achieved, would settle all his lifelong strife amidst his successes and failures, as he had believed. It seems, this song conveys this saintly sprit of the Poet.]

A playhouse I conjecture,
For that is my fervor
Are my many a sleepless night
How I tell Thee, for what delight?
The travelers of dawn
Call me to come on,
But stops me my ephemeral span,
My response to the outer play to ban.
All my lifelong squander
Here and there does scatter
With the ruins of the past
To-day’s playhouse I cast.
The toy-throne I frame of late
Is for my new playmate.
Oh! All ruins he will re-assemble
On what magic spell!

32) Amra sabai raja amader eai rajar rajatwe
Naile moder rajar sane milbo ki swatte?]

[Note: In God’s kingdom all his subjects are one with their King. While we are bound by His axioms, we never feel the bondage, while the human kings or even the rulers in a democracy tend to be tyrants, maybe with a difference in degree.]

We all are kings in our King’s kingdom
Else how we be one with Him on what other term?
We are arbitrary
Yet, His cravings carry,
Not bound in slave’s bondage
To fear His rage.
He gives honor to all
That bounces on Him to fall
None is there us to stunt
With any untruth blunt
We go on our own
To meet the path He had shown
We won’t die
In the whirl futile.

33) Hridaye chhile jege,
Dekhi aaji Sarato meghe.

[Note: God is ever awake in the Poet’s heart which truth he realizes in all the trifles of Creation, the autumnal cloud this time.]

At heart You were awake,
That in the autumnal cloud I freak,
Passing far that scarf in to-day’s morn
With Your dewy touch forlorn.
The music I now aspire
Misses words to my despair.
There flock the Shiuli flowers
Shed under the bowers
The fugitive transient
Flies at the wind’s moment.

34) Tumi hatath haway bheshe asha dhan
Tai hatath paoyae chamke othe mon

[Note: God’s revelation to us is off and on in course of our life, without notice or ritualistic processes, but even through the simplest objects of Nature if we keep our perceptions open.]

Thou art my treasure windfall
So my mind does startle.
On my secret travel
Thy abrupt reveal I marvel“
In the wind fragrant
On Thy fancies errant.

Daily as we come and go
Each other we do not know
Kicking up dust visit many
To convey message hardly any
All of a sudden Thy flute yonder
Alerts the lost passenger.

35) Amra dujana swarga khelana garibo na dharanite
Mugdho lalito asrugalito geete

[Notes: The song was composed in early thirties of 20th Century, presumably dedicated to the great revolutionary Jatindra Mohan Sengupta and his foreign (Irish, I guess) wife Nellie Sengupta, who had worked shoulder to shoulder with her husband in the freedom struggle for India. In 1932, on his return voyage from Europe, Jatindra was arrested by the British police near Bombay. He was since interned and eventually breathed his last on 22 July 1933 at Ranchi (in Eastern India). Many a couple dedicated to freedom struggle had similar plight at that time and, naturally we may assume, this song was directed to them all. Yet, its appeal extends universally, beyond a particular milieu, to all the couple whose objective is far beyond a mere happy family life to respond to the cause of service of the people at large.]

To compose the toy of heaven
Is not our aim craven“
In emotional songs occult
The nuptial night to exalt
In nostalgic charm
With a heart infirm
To beg at Fate’s feet
All our imploring to meet“
Is not for us intrepid
Both standing firm in our daring bid.

The banner of love we’ll hoist high
Along craggy path our perilous mission to vie
The distress of the cruel day
Overwhelm us may
Yet, for peace to languish
Or consolation we’ll not wish.
If the radar is broke, the sail torn,
To us this will be ever known,
That both of us are there
Even when Death at us will stare.

Both of us to vision the Earth there
And each other
The desert heat to bear
Not to rush for the mirage mere
Evading truth to self beguile
This glory be ours all the while
This message oh dearest
Be our heart’s closest“
Till we die
That you’re there so am I.

36) Hai atithi, akhoni ki holo tomar jabar bela,
Dekho amar hridaytale sara rater ashan mela

[Note: This is a song in ‘Prem’ (=Love) series depicting separation pain of the humans hour for which suddenly befalls when intense pain overtakes them with realization that much went untold and unperceived in course of their life.]

Alas visitor,
So imminent is thy departure!
In my heart I stretched thy seat
For the whole night, for our meet.
Thou arrived with inhibition
With thy yearn borne
Thy silent eyes in the dusk
Played freak behind a shady mask
Didn’t let me know in thy music
What did thou seek.

The bird perched on the twig
Amnesiac of building nest in full fig.
We met,
But not to intimate
Had thou thine unasked queries“
Why slighted thy own pining please!

37) Sakal janam bhore O mor daradia
Kandi kandai tore O mor daradia

[Note: God, or the ultimate truth was the life-long quest of the Poet, which ever eluded him to his remorse. He perceived God though within his heart, He was ever obscure because the Poet’s perception somehow fell short for this accomplishment to the Poet’s mortification.]

Throughout my life
My grief has been rife
Oh my mate,
Thou shared it too, O my Compassionate.

Within my heart Thou art,
Many a pain there to hurt
Why should it be so
O my Compassionate, may I know?
In my closed room
Darkness does loom
Yet, there is Thy recourse,
O Compassionate, to share my remorse.

There is not laid Thy seat
Garland not stitched Thou to greet
Shame hangs down my head
O my Compassionate!

38) Jadi e amaro hridaya duaro bandha rahe go kabhu
Dwar bhenge tumi asho mor prane, phiria jeo na prabhu

[Note: Our obsession with our weal and woe keeps us forgetting our link with our Creator, and the Poet implores this obscurity in his vision, keeping Him at bay, be snaps even by disasters which were not just fancies in his life.]

If I’ll close the doors of my heart
Make Thy way in breaking those apart“
Return not my Lord, if my lute will fail
Thy beloved name to hail“
With Thy mercy infinite
Await me, O Lord, me to meet.

If my content still me enthralls
While futile go Thy calls“
With Thy violent thunder,
Dispel my slumber.

If on Thy seat I’ll misplace
Somebody else- with Thy grace
Go back not, O Gracious“
My eternal King, for ever precious.

39) Sesh belakar shesh gane, bhorer belar bedan aane

[Note: The Poet feels that when life’s concluding music plays up, it is not divorced from that of the prime of life. Rather, his conviction is, the primordial life makes its way unto death, though covertly, to re-appear with all its freshness.]

The last song at the fag end,
Pain of the dawn does blend
The sad smile of the juvenile
In the afternoon dusk floats awhile
The first flute of the first pain
Plays on the horizon for what gain“
In the last song there
What does it inquire!
The cloud’s myth at the end of the day
In its eyebrow does play
The sportive message that passes
In its lightening flashes“
Talks of the dawn’s marvel
While to night’s myth it does travel.

40) Purano sei diner katha bhulbi kire hai
O sei chokher dekha, praner katha
Se ki bhola jay.

[Note: The tune of this song has been borrowed from Scottish folk music’s. It is, as a rule, heard in the alumni associations of the educational institutions in Bengal when old mates meet after a long time gap after they have left their Alma Mater. There could not be a better outlet of their emotions at that moment than this song. Of course, this song is not exclusive preserve for the alumni and may be appropriately used in similar other get together.]

Will you forget that yore,
Our sighting then and heart’s talks that still lure
O mate, come once more,
To my heart’s core
Let’s talk our weal and woe
To quench our soul parched so.

At dawn we plucked flower,
Cradled in our bower,
Played flute under the Bakul tree
And sang in musical spree.
In between was our departure“
One from the other flung far
If we’ve met again,
Be within my heart lain.

41. Aaji Barishana Mukhorito Sravan-rati
Smriti-bedanar mala ekela ganthi

[Note: Here is another example how the Poet equates God with individuals making it difficult for his audience to judge to whom human love may be addressed, God and/or a flesh and blood entity. Again we find how Tagore was influenced by the millennium old Vaishnavite cult, discussed earlier.]

To-night, in Sravana (**), the garland of memoir
I stitch alone in desolation dire.
Amnesiac, what had I forgotten?
My dark chamber’s door I keep open?
It seems, comes He,
In my night’s torment to comfort me.
Comes He in shower of music
In Kadamba bowers evoking His mystic.
Yet, if He doesn’t arrive,
My vain belief will thrive,
On dust I’ll stretch His seat
Awaiting Him eternally to meet.


(**) “Sravana”“ One of the rainy months in Bengali calendar.