Tagore?s city connection
ON AN evening in 1935 as Srikrishna Ratanjankar?s mellifluous rendition of ?khayal? wafted across the residence of Lucknow University teacher Prof Nirmal Kumar Siddhanta, a man, taken over by the music, sat through the performance even though he was running a high temperature. Such was Rabindranath Tagore?s love for music that whenever he was in Lucknow he made sure that his guests arranged a session, or even more, of music.india Updated: May 09, 2006 00:00 IST
Today is Rabindranath Tagore’s 145th birth anniversary. As the city has already begun celebrating the occasion, JOYJIT Ghosh and RAJEEV Mullick recall the poet’s association with Lucknow.
ON AN evening in 1935 as Srikrishna Ratanjankar’s mellifluous rendition of ‘khayal’ wafted across the residence of Lucknow University teacher Prof Nirmal Kumar Siddhanta, a man, taken over by the music, sat through the performance even though he was running a high temperature. Such was Rabindranath Tagore’s love for music that whenever he was in Lucknow he made sure that his guests arranged a session, or even more, of music.
While Tagore’s passion for music is well known, it is little known that the poet had turned to Lucknow to enrich his Visva-Bharati musically. In 1929, he wrote to his friend Atulprasad Sen that he would be happy to get a music teacher for his university from the Bhatkhande. However, he regretted that due to ‘fund crunch’ only Rs 100 could be offered as salary.
The poet also shared a personal rapport with the Raja of Mehmoodabad. He had written to the Raja expressing his deep gratitude to him for supporting the Visva-Bharati endeavour. The Raja had promised Tagore that he would write to the King of Benaras, Madholal, to arrange for a Sanskrit scholar to teach at Visva-Bharati.
At the central of Tagore’s Lucknow link was Atulprasad. In fact, Tagore’s first trip to Lucknow in 1914 was on the invitation of the lawyer-lyricist. The poet’s interactions with a wide cross-section of eminent Lucknowites made Gurudev’s maiden stay in the city memorable. Thereafter, whenever Tagore visited him, Atulprasad used to invite eminent musicians to his house exclusively for the poet. In once such session, Tagore had also rendered his compositions. On his return to Calcutta, he wrote to Atulprasad about the great pleasure he derived from the occasion.
Tagore revisited the city in 1923 to address the Lucknow University convocation. Then after a gap of three years, Tagore was back in the city and had put up at the Motimahal Palace. Lucknow was playing host to the All-India Music Conference and the Nobel laureate had been invited to address the meet.
But that particular visit was not a very memorable one for the poet, wrote Alok Roy in the journal that was brought out to commemorate the 65th session of the Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan in 1993. The poet’s elder brother, Dwijendranath, had died in Calcutta and he had to rush back home.
Thereafter, Tagore visited the city in 1930 along with his close associate and poet Amiya Kumar Chakrabarty. Many feel, he was here to collect fund for Visva-Bharati. Apart from the special chemistry he shared with Atulprasad, Lucknow was home to many of the poet’s friends. Most of them were stalwarts in their fields and some of them had taken up assignments with Lucknow University. They, including painter Asit Kumar Haldar, scholars Nirmal Kumar Siddhanta, Dhurjatiprasad, Radhakumud Mukherjee, Radhakamal Mukherjee and others, helped to generate funds for Visva-Bharati.
During his sojourns here between 1914 and 1935, which was probably his last trip to the city, Gurudev developed a bond that grew in all dimensions and went beyond his association with Atulprasad. Till date, the city relishes and endures the Tagorean connection.