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Tagore Songs

Updated on May 21, 2011

Introduction

The name Rabindra Nath Tagore needs no introduction to anybody associated with the Bengali community. The first Nobel Laureate of India, Tagore is a symbol of Bengali identity and culture. Two countries of the world use his compositions as their national songs. Tagore was foremost a poet, but he was also a gifted musician, a novelist and even a painter. As a poet, his repertoire is incredibly vast, it is difficult to conceive of any emotion that has been left unexpressed by him, through his poetry and of course, his music. The latter, is a unique blend of East and West, where he combines the diverse themes of Indian classical music, the ragas, with evocative poetry and Western opera, to form his own unique brand of music called Ravindra Sangeet.

Unfortunately, most of his works are in Bengali, which is not a language many people use today. This is so, even in his home country, where English and Hindi are paramount. However, his music has stood the test of time, it is an accepted form of more formal Indian music, despite the emergence of more modern compositions. 

 A miniscule few of his songs have been translated to English. A few singers have sung them, prominent among them being Hemanta Mukherjee, Kanika Banerjee, Suchitra Mitra, Subinay Roy and Debabrata Biswas, also known as George Biswas. There have been people in India and abroad, outside the Bengali speaking community, who have been so moved by the sheer depth of his compositions, that they have opted to learn Bengali in order to have a better cognition of the same. Rabindra Sangeet is also a key factor in the Bengali community, bridging the gap between India and Bangladesh, where rifts are created by political compulsions related to religious extremism.

Tagore's Best Known Creation: The Indian National Anthem

This video combines the best of Indian musicians in a symphony of audio-visual delight that captures for an instant the composite culture and variety of this subcontinent and makes one proud to belong to it.

The translation reads as follows:

O ruler of the minds of our people and shaper of our destiny,

salutations to thee!

Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, South India, Orissa,Bengal, the mountains of VIndhyachal and Himalaya, the waves of our seas, all rise to the sound of our name and ask for your blessings while singing your glory.

Praise to thee, giver of India's bounty, praise to thee, praise to thee!

(The above song contains a few more verses, but the excerpt given above is all that comprises India's national anthem.

The National anthem of Bangladesh

My golden bangla, I love you

Forever your skies, your air set my heart in tune as if it were a flute,

In Spring, Oh mother mine, the fragrance from your mango-groves makes me wild with joy-

Ah, what a thrill!

In Autumn, Oh mother mine,

in the full-blossomed paddy fields,

I have seen spread all over - sweet smiles!

Ah, what a beauty, what shades, what an affection

and what a tenderness!

What a quilt have you spread at the feet of banyan trees and along the banks of rivers!

Oh mother mine, words from your lips are like Nectar to my ears!

Ah, what a thrill!

If sadness, Oh mother mine, casts a gloom on your face,

my eyes are filled with tears!

(this translation has been provided by romony http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=romony)

Biography

The first and most well known film about Tagore was made by the well known film director, Satyajit Ray and captures his multiceted genius.

Indian Cinema

Tagore's songs have served as a rich source of material for Indian filmmakers to draw upon, especiallly in the film industry in Bengal. India's best known film�director Satyajit Ray has used Tagore's songs in his films as in the clips given below.

a) The first is a clip from his masterwork 'Charulata' and the second is from 'Ghare Baire'.

b)The two songs are from the film 'Dadar Kirti'.

c)A love song featuring one of Bengal's stellar film personalities, actress and director Aparna Sen

d)A more modern film 'Anuranan' featuring Rahul Bose and Rituparna in a more modern Western context.

Unfortunately the song is not complete.

For more film clips featuring Rabindrasangeet check out my lens www.squidoo.com/tagoresongs1

Indian Cinema

Tagore's songs have served as a rich source of material for Indian filmmakers to draw upon, especiallly in the film industry in Bengal. India's best known film´director Satyajit Ray has used Tagore's songs in his films as in the clips given below.

a) The first is a clip from his masterwork 'Charulata' and the second is from 'Ghare Baire'.

b)The two songs are from the film 'Dadar Kirti'.

c)A love song featuring one of Bengal's stellar film personalities, actress and director Aparna Sen

d)A more modern film 'Anuranan' featuring Rahul Bose and Rituparna in a more modern Western context.

Unfortunately the song is not complete.

For more film clips featuring Rabindrasangeet check out my lens www.squidoo.com/tagoresongs1

Some well known artistes from Bangladesh

Having been born on the Western side of the Ganges delta and having lived in Delhi all my life, artistes from the eastern side of the Ganges delta, i.e. Bangladesh, have more or less escaped my attention until youtube came into being. So when I saw the variety of music and dance that was available, I was surprised and pleased, especially the dances set to the music of the songs. I had had the feeling that I was leaving out something of importance.

In India (Pakistan and Bangladesh included), musical expression in classical music is considered complete only when the song sung by a singer is accompanied both by a musical instrument and a dance. The last named mode of expression is also particularly typical of the Tagore school. The movements in this danceform are soft and flowing, even as this school draws its roots from the classical styles of Odissi, Kathak and Gauriya Nrityo.

A glimpse of Tagore's world

This video with a song sung by the legendary singer, the late Kanika Banerjee, gives a glimpse of the world the poet lived in.The song itself is an ode to the eternal wellspring of gladness and joy that creates the Universe in its myriads of forms.

The dance below is the perfect complement to the song. The dancer interprets the text in English.

Impromptu singers

a)I think he does a marvellous job. Don't you?

b)Interest in Tagore's compositions can start quite early as in these two cases. The little girl is two years old and the boy a little older, but he has memorized the full song.

c)A Tagore song sung in a mix of Italian and the original Bengali.

My personal association

Every child in a Bengali home has heard Rabindra Sangeet and ours was no exception. My grandfather used to play records of the old artistes on his gramophone as I sat beside him and chose the ones that were to be played. Later on, I got into learning Indian classical music and the different ragas and that they represented different moods and seasons. I found, over time that Rabindra Sangeet represented just those moods, but here, there was the additional bonus of exquisitely expressive poetry, something totally missing in vocal renditions of classical music, howsoever skillful. Rabindra Sangeet is based on ragas also, but each song could be a mixture of different ragas and even contain inputs from Western music. I found myself uplifted by the versatility and scope of this mode of self expression in music, and the vibrations it generated for me. This is the reason I am sharing my love for Rabindra Sangeet in this lens. If you have comments on this lens and how to improve it, I would love to hear them.

Recent news item

At last, the Indian govt. is taking notice of this treasurehouse and doing something to make it available to a wider public. Read on....

http://www.televisionpoint.com/news2007/newsfullst...

Added 17.7.2010

I was very moved by an article I read by a Bangladeshi exile living in Germany who talks about the Bangladeshi Freedom Struggle in 1971. The article was written in connection with the 150th birth anniversary of Tagore in a commemorative issue (here's the link)

http://www.dailypioneer.com/Tagore/DH_Tagore.aspx

Check out my new lens on my Tagore film clips.

www.squidoo.com/tagoresongs1

Tagore's Search for God

This article by Chris Cade epitomizes also all the ups and downs of my own search- to find the wellsprings of my own being. I reproduce the article drawn from Tagore's "Gitanjali" in toto, the link to the original is provided below the text.

I have been seeking and searching God for as long as I can remember, for many many lives, from the very beginning of existence. Once in a while, I have seen him by the side of a faraway star, and I have rejoiced and danced that the distance, although great, is not impossible to reach. And I have traveled and reached to the star; but by the time I reached the star, God has moved to another star. And it has been going on for centuries.

The challenge is so great that I go on hoping against hope... I have to find him, I am so absorbed in the search. The very search is so intriguing, so mysterious, so enchanting, that God has become almost an excuse�the search has become itself the goal.

And to my surprise, one day I reached a house in a faraway star with a small sign in front of it, saying, "This is the house of God." My joy knew no bounds so finally I have arrived! I rushed up the steps, many steps, that led to the door of the house. But as I was coming closer and closer to the door, a fear suddenly appeared in my heart. As I was going to knock, I became paralyzed with a fear that I had never known, never thought of, never dreamt of. The fear was:

"If this house is certainly the house of God, then what will I do after I have found him?"

Now searching for God has become my very life; to have found him will be equivalent to committing suicide. And what am I going to do with him? I had never thought of all these things before. I should have thought before I started the search: what am I going to do with God?

I took my shoes in my hands, and silently and very slowly stepped back, afraid that God may hear the noise and may open the door and say, "Where are you going? I am here, come in!" And as I reached the steps, I ran away as I have never run before; and since then I have been again searching for God, looking for him in every direction and avoiding the house where he really lives. Now I know that house has to be avoided. And I continue the search, enjoy the very journey, the pilgrimage.

The sourcepage for this article is http://www.spiritual-short-stories.com/spiritual-s...

I want a golden deer

This is a song that illustrates very subtly, Rabindranaths intrinsic nature. To seek the whimsical and unattainable and to rejoice in the process. The dance in this video illustrates very clearly this facet of his personality. It is also a sample of the dance form that is quite common in the extended community of Rabindrasangeet lovers.

Here is a translation of the following song

Whatever you say, my friend, it is a golden deer that I want,

One that enthralls my heart with its restless feet.

One which sparkles with its energy, keeping itself just out of sight

One which cannot be tethered,

If one gets a glimpse of it, it runs away, playing hide and seek with my eyesight.

I run after it in vain, whether I catch it or not

I stay alone in the fields and woods, entranced and melancholy

Oh, I want a golden deer.....

You people ask for things attainable that can be bought in the market.

I wonder why asking for the unattainable has gripped me.

Whatever I had is gone in the pursuit of that which I have not

My resources dwindle, do you think I am dying of anguish

I remain happy with a smile on my face, I have no sorrow,

Oh I want a golden deer.....

Afternote: it is impossible to convey the flavour of the song in a translated version. But I am glad I triedd, for the full import of the song struck me in a way it had not done before, despite having heard this song many times over.

Great Stuff on Amazon - Some of Tagore's written works

Gitanjali
Gitanjali

This was the work for which Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize. It made him a household name in the Indian subcontinent.

 
Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology
Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology

This contains most of Tagore's written works and gives an insight into the amazing versatility of his repertoire as an exponent of the written word.

 
Songs of Kabir
Songs of Kabir

One of Tagore's lesser known written, that assumes significance in today's world, especially in the need to build communal harmony and combat racial and religious tolerance. Kabir was one of India's foremost saints with both a Hindu(birth) and a Muslim(adoptive) lineage.

 

More Great Stuff on Amazon - Some of Tagore's novels

Tagore's genius was mainly exhibited in his poetry and his music. But he also wrote some haunting movels, which have provided material for spellbinding cinema. Here are some of them.

Grain of Sand (Chokher Bali)
Grain of Sand (Chokher Bali)

One of Tagore's novels that has been filmed recently. The film stars Aishwarya Rai among others.

 
The Home and the World (Penguin Classics)
The Home and the World (Penguin Classics)

This has been filmed by India's legendary film maker Satyajit Roy and stars Soumitra Chatterjee, Victor Banerjee and Swatilekha Chatterjee among others.

 
Gora
Gora

This deals with the self discovery of a patriotic young man deeply involved in the Mutiny for Indian Independence.

 

Tagore's philosophy and other written works

These writings contain the blueprint for the system of education taught by him at what was later to be called Santiniketan (abode of peace).

Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @bms lm: what it is not a great deal to me or you

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @sahilwaste: ahh just shut up

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Greetings from East Bengal, the golden one! Well done!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      thnk u so much...for this nice collection .... really very very thankful to you...

    • profile image

      SpiritualBee 5 years ago

      Thank you for this beautiful lens! So little information is available about the writings of Tagore, that it was a great joy to find your lens!

    • sahilwaste profile image

      sahilwaste 5 years ago

      very nice lens....i'll share it with my frnds....thanks..

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 5 years ago

      Thank you for your appreciation.It means a very great deal to me.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Thanks for taking me on this journey. I doubt I would have had this experience otherwise. I did not know Tagore and I am a lover of poetry. The English translations are much appreciated. I really love this work of yours. Thank you.

    • aansystone lm profile image

      aansystone lm 6 years ago

      nice, thanks for the subtitles otherwise i would not understand what its is all about. however, i'm going to Google it

    • bhavesh lm profile image

      bhavesh lm 6 years ago

      What a great lens! I love Ravindra Sangeet.

    • profile image

      pepsharada 6 years ago

      First I should thank u for such a wonderful lens. And i have seen many rare glimpses of Rabindranath Tagore.

    • TriviaChamp profile image

      TriviaChamp 6 years ago

      Very enjoyable - blessed.

    • Srena44 profile image

      Srena44 6 years ago

      great lens and I also have enjoyed in reading...thx..

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      I have enjoyed this so much I have to add another comment: I love the Golden Deer. Thank you for translating. I am listening to it as I write. What a pleasure.

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 6 years ago

      @efriedman: Thank you, I feel my effort has been worthwhile.

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 years ago

      I did not know of this great man or of the beautiful music/ poetry. I will visit this again What an excellent lens. Thank you so much.

    • profile image

      onlinemba 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing such valuable information with us

    • profile image

      sujaysen 6 years ago

      As a bengali, I am grateful to this lens.

    • Dehiscent profile image

      Dehiscent 6 years ago

      Dear Sir

      This is an excellent lens. I am a Marathi and this is an introduction to very beautiful music and songs. Thanks and keep it up!

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What can you expect from a Bengali who visits a lens on Rabindra Sangeet? A thumbs up, of course. Good job!

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      I knew Tagore was a wonderful poet, I had no idea he was a composer. Thank you from this Bard for educating me about this great one! Blessed today.

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 6 years ago

      @flashkid: Thank you. Suggestuins and comments, both negative and positive are very welcome.

    • profile image

      flashkid 6 years ago

      Good to see Rabindra Sangeet being popularised on squidoo and on the net. Keep it up

    • Jhangora LM profile image

      Jhangora LM 7 years ago

      Great to see Rabindranath Tagore featured on Squidoo. Looking forward to more lenses by you.

    • bms lm profile image
      Author

      bms lm 7 years ago

      @Louis Wery: Thank you

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 7 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Thank you for introducing me to the music of Rabindra Nath Tagore. I found the rhythms so pleasing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to Indranil Dasgupta] I was thinking of recording my performances. I will do it after the month of April and they will be published on my official blog http://shouvik.co.cc

      If you are interested, then please stay in touch.

    • profile image

      SEOFocused 9 years ago

      great lens, rated 5 star. feel free to visit my lens http://www.squidoo.com/bangla_natok_mp3

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Awesome rendition of Nishitho Rater Badoldhara.

      Is there a site where I can get piano scores for Tagore Song? I am interested in including them in the piano lessons for my kids.