Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861 as per the Gregorian calendar. However, it was the 25th day in the month of Boishakh according to the Bengali calendar. His birthday is celebrated as per the Bengali calendar in West Bengal and Bangladesh and the 25th day of Boishakh has fallen on May 9 in this year’s Gregorian calendar.
I had spent an entire day in Tagore’s Jorasanko home some months ago. It was the house where Rabindranath was born, lived and passed away… I visited both of the rooms where he was born and where he breathed his last. Jorasanko means twin bridges. The name of the place ~ Jorasanko ~ must have got its name because of the material existence of the twin bridges over the canal in that area. But it has now got a new spiritual connotation! As Tagore said in one his songs ~ “This is only coming and going….”
But he believed that our existence has a meaning. It is for going forward for a better tomorrow. In his Nobel prize acceptance speech, he said, “We are not like fighting beasts. It is the life of self which is predominating in our life, the self which is creating the seclusion, giving rise to sufferings, to jealousy and hatred, to political and commercial competition. All these illusions will vanish, if we go down to the heart of shrine, to the love and unity of all races.”
Tagore had tremendous faith in the spirit of India. He said, “I do not think that it is the spirit of India to reject anything, reject any race, reject any culture. The spirit of India has always proclaimed the ideal of unity. This ideal of unity never rejects anything, any race, or any culture. It comprehends…. all things with sympathy and love. This is the spirit of India.”
The British used, as it were, the twin bridges ~ Jorasanko ~ when they came to rule India. They used the bridge of birth and creation to bring the ideals of liberty. But at the same time, they also used the other bridge ~ the bridge of death ~ to import the poison of racial hatred – to destroy the religious fraternity and the spirit of India so that they could divide and rule India.
Sujit De, Kolkata
On Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday