Poems of Bengal


1. Rabinranath Tagore

famous dhakai sariWHEN RABINDRANATH TAGORE (1861-1941) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for a volume of poems called Gitanjali (Song Offerings), he was the first Asian to win the coveted prize

Tagore credits several illuminating experiences from his youth with shaping his life and establishing its creative direction.
When he was learning to read at about the age of six, disconnected words suddenly came together as he encountered the rhyming phrase "jal parey/pata narey" (the water falls/the leaf trembles) in his spelling book.

The rhythm of the words connected him for the first time with a harmonious creative dimension. "I was no longer a mere student with his mind muffled by spelling lessons," he writes. "The rhythmic picture of the tremulous leaves beaten by the rain opened before my mind the world which does not merely carry information, but a harmony with my being. The unmeaning fragments lost their individual isolation and my mind revelled in the unity of a vision."

Tagore left an enduring legacy that is still celebrated today, in Bangladesh-India and throughout the world. Through his life and work, his voice continues to speak to the future.


Rabindranath Tagore is at the core of your being. The Bengali in him approximates the Bengali in you. As you recite his poetry or sing his songs, you remain aware of certain inalienable truths. And they are pretty simple ones as well. The bard speaks to you through the turnings in the seasons. In your turn, you speak to him, absorb his sentiments as it were. The result is a harmonious whole.

And harmony is what Rabindranath has consistently focused on. Think of shimar majhe ashim tumi / bajao apon shur. It is a song that takes you closer to Creation, indeed imbues you with thoughts of the ties that bind you to your Creator. In his puja songs, there emerges all the brilliance of the universe as it goes through a dawning somewhere deep within time and space. And so you hear the gentle tones of tumi daak diyechho kon shokale / keu ta jaane na. In Rabindranath, it is the gentle and the tranquil which flows through the leaves of the trees. The poetry is the breeze.

There is forever the primordial in Rabindranath. It is life he celebrates and death he glorifies. The universe is a pattern of ever widening ripples and experience is the insistent falling of the rain on monsoon nights.

When the melody of tomaye gaan shonabo / tai to amay jagiye rakho seeps into you and goes into an intensification of your sensibilities, you realise that this canvas of aesthetic beauty will pass into a wider cosmos one day, in the way the river finds itself anew in the bosom of the sea. Somewhere deep in the night, the wind brings to you the strains of ogo nodi apon bege pagol para. The beating in your heart is a sign of the expansiveness of melody. You know then that the earth is now poised to meet the sky, that the river prepares to consummate its romance with the heavens. The climactic comes through the whispered megh bolechhe jaabo jaabo / raat bolechhe jai / shagor bole kul milechhe / ami to ar nai. You are at peace. You lie back, until the pounding at the gateway of the heart tells you that newer songs have arrived (Syed Badrul Ahasan, May 2009).

In the 19th century, Bangla art songs reached unprecedented aesthetic heights through the works of Rabindranath. His composition of nearly 2300 songs was categorised into four main groups titled Worship, Motherland, Love, and Nature. The seasonal festivals introduced by Rabindranath and the dance sketches composed by him on seasons are regarded as his greatest contribution to our culture. These two aspects of his creativity, along with his paintings brought about a change in the cultural life of Bengal.

In 1904, at the age of 40, he established Shantiniketan, an institution blending Indian and Western methods of education. He had visited this place at a tender age with his father, and the solace he had found in the surroundings brought him back to Shantiniketan time and again. Shantiniketan did not flourish immediately in the hidebound culture of that time. The only way to earn money was from training troupes of actors and dancers who staged plays and ballets in different towns to raise funds other than the income derived from the landed property.

Today, Shantineketan has truly lived up to his long held dream as the cultural frontier for millions.

  • Rabindranath Tagore Documentary by Satyajit Roy
  • Birpurush Recitation by Rabindranath Tagore
  • Brahman (Satyakam) by Tagore Short story by Rabindra Nath Tagore (Nobel Laureate in literature, 1913
  • Rabindranath Tagore: Bhenge mor
  • Chokher Aaloy Dekhesilaam Tagore
  • Bodhu Kon Aalo....
  • Fule Fule Dhole Dhole.... Tagore
  • Charulata - The swing scene 1964 Bengali film by Indian director Satyajit Ray, Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) is singing Rabindranath Tagore's song "Fule Fule Dhole Dhole".
  • Ami Jene sune
  • 'Ami Keboli Swapon'
  • Amar Raat Pohalo
  • E Pothe Ami Je
  • ei udaashi haawaar pathey pathey
  • Krishnakoli
  • Megher pore megh jamechhe
  • Oi janalar kachhe boshe achhe
  • hetha je gan gaite asha
  • "The First Sorrow", a poem by Rabindranath Tagore
  • Tui Phele Eshechhis Kare
  • Sraboner Dharar Moton
  • akash vora
  • Rabindranath Tagore Songs - Tomaye Gaan Shonabo - Rabindra Sangeet Collection
  • Rabindra Sangeet - Tumi Sondhyaro Meghomala - Rabindranath Tagore Songs
  • JAKHAN PORBE NA MOR PAYER CHINHA Suchitra Mitra Rabindrasangeet
  • Amar sonar bangla - Suchitra Mitra
  • Hridoy Amar Prokash Holo
  • Aamar porano jaha chaye: RabindraSangeet
  • Sankha Bela - Mukhoro Bador din-eUttam Kumar, Madhabi
  • Rabindra Sangeet (Prem Porjai) by Banna and Sadi
  • Bidhir Badhon Katbe Tumi (Tagore song) - Ghore Baire
  • Bangla Audio Book: Sesher Kobita by Rabindranath Tagore
  • National anthem of Bangladesh by Tagore Introducing Bangladesh to the World
  • Jana Gana Mana - National Anthem of India by Tagore
  • Aakash Bhora Shurjo Tara
  • Bhenge mor
  • Ami Chini Go Chine Tomare Charulata
  • Jokhon Porbe na more
  • Ai Kothati mone Rekho
  • Shudhu Jaoa Asha
  • Ami Path Vola Ek Pothik Moon Niye, Uttam Kumar, Supriya

  • Roopban

  • Uttam Kumar: Undisputed King of the Bengali Silver Screen

  • When does the essence get lost in translation? When does a translation fail to whip up the same enthusiasm as does an original? These key questions may jostle the mind of every disenchanted reader. The answers lie only in the fact that like an original, any translation too, either simply works or does not. There is no easy solution to the problem of rewriting a novel, a poem or an epic, or even scientific work in another language.

    Rabindranath Tagore's poetry is notoriously difficult to transport intact from Bengali to English. Even when the poet himself was doing the translating, the problem remained.

    Poetry is perhaps the most effective language to reach the soul. Stray thoughts that may be strung together to form a story or carefully crafted phrases loaded with double meanings - verses convey an individual's most inner thoughts and visions, much like the canvas of an artist. The poems, read like prayers and are instructions regarding what it means to be a believer, what faith is, and how to recognise truth amidst the adulteration of the material world.

    We are all trapped in history. The Europeans came to trade, hung on to fight, intrigue and conquer, and stayed on to instruct. Their colonies became vast markets for their textiles and their language. Conversions followed, to another way of life and on occasions to Christianity. When they went back they left their language behind -- and half-castes. In an alien land, language itself turns brown and half-caste.
    English was introduced in India with commercial objectives in view. What was achieved was something much greater in dimensions. Colonial history shows that language can be as domineering as any occupational army. It supplants myths, whole iconographies, world-view, ideologies. It ushers in its own symbols, and its own values.

    tagore-wife,1883Rabindranath Tagore, who died in 1941 at the age of eighty, is a towering figure in the millennium-old literature of Bengal. Anyone who becomes familiar with this large and flourishing tradition will be impressed by the power of Tagore's presence in Bangladesh and in India. His poetry as well as his novels, short stories, and essays are very widely read, and the songs he composed reverberate around the eastern part of India and throughout Bangladesh.

    In contrast, in the rest of the world, especially in Europe and America, the excitement that Tagore's writings created in the early years of the twentieth century has largely vanished. The enthusiasm with which his work was once greeted was quite remarkable. Gitanjali, a selection of his poetry for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, was published in English translation in London in March of that year, and had been reprinted ten times by November, when the award was announced. But he is not much read now in the West, and already by 1937, Graham Greene was able to say: "As for Rabindranath Tagore, I cannot believe that anyone but Mr. Yeats can still take his poems very seriously."

    The contrast between Tagore's commanding presence in Bengali literature and culture, and his near-total eclipse in the rest of the world, is perhaps less interesting than the distinction between the view of Tagore as a deeply relevant and many-sided contemporary thinker in Bangladesh and India, and his image in the West as a repetitive and remote spiritualist. Graham Greene had, in fact, gone on to explain that he associated Tagore "with what Chesterton calls 'the bright pebbly eyes' of the Theosophists." Certainly, an air of mysticism played some part in the "selling" of Rabindranath Tagore to the West by Yeats, Ezra Pound, and his other early champions.

    paintingRabindranath Tagore is India's first modern painter. In his songs, drama, fiction and other creative work, he has always upheld the heritage of the subcontinent. Yet in painting he did not follow traditions. As a creative artist, Tagore visualised pictures in colours and lines. In his songs and poetry we find pictures of nature in the different seasons. These were much more exciting than his pictorial work in lines and paints.

    stils from Charulata and Chokher BaliThe number of plays by Rabindranath Tagore is more than that of many world-renowned playwrights such as Shakespeare. Due to language barrier, his plays have not been staged the world over. However, the quality of these plays is unique. He has emerged as a social reformer through his works. Each of his plays delivers a strong messages in an artistic way through wonderful dialogue and diction. The beauty of these plays is that they never appear message-oriented, rather, feature philosophical content analysising human psyche. Moreover, Tagore provided a modern presentation of indigenous culture and emotions of Bengalis in his plays. However, in contemporary theatre many troupes face obstacles when staging these plays.

    1.1 My Golden Bengal

    Forever your skies, your air set my heart in tune as if it were a flute.
    In spring, Oh mother of mine, the fragrance from your mango groves makes me wild with joy.
    Oh, what a thrill!
    In autumn, oh mother mine, in the full blossomed paddy fields
    I have seen sweet smiles spread all over.
    Oh, what beauty, what shades, what affection and what tenderness!
    What a quilt you have spread at the feet of the banyan trees and along the banks of the rivers!
    Oh mother mine, words from your lips are like honey to my ears.
    Oh, what a thrill!
    If sadness, dear mother mine, casts a gloom on your face, my eyes are filled with tears!

    Rabinranath Tagore - National Anthem of Bangladesh: Amar Sonar Bangla (My Golden Bengal)


  • Dariye Acho Tumi Amar ganer pare
  • Ami Path Vola Ek Pothik : Uttam Supriya
  • Sankha Bela - Mukhoro Bador din-e Uttam Kumar, Madhabi Mukherjee
  • Akash jure suninu Rabindrasangeet by SANGEETA THAKUR
  • Bonpolasher Podaboli - Amarai Path Uttam Kumar, Supriya

  • 1.2 Lamp of Love

    Light, oh where is the light?
    Kindle it with the burning fire of desire!
    There is the lamp but never a flicker of a flame---is such thy fate, my heart?
    Ah, death were better by far for thee!

    Misery knocks at thy door,
    and her message is that thy lord is wakeful,
    and he calls thee to the love-tryst through the darkness of night.
    The sky is overcast with clouds and the rain is ceaseless.

    I know not what this is that stirs in me---I know not its meaning.
    A moment's flash of lightning drags down a deeper gloom on my sight,
    and my heart gropes for the path to where the music of the night calls me.
    Light, oh where is the light!
    Kindle it with the burning fire of desire!

    It thunders and the wind rushes screaming through the void.
    The night is black as a black stone.
    Let not the hours pass by in the dark.
    Kindle the lamp of love with thy life.


  • Gitanjali, Rabinranath Tagore
  • Selected Songs of Rabinranath Tagore: Audio<
  • Charulata- Ami Chini Go Chine Tomare (Rabindra sangeet)
  • Nooborag - Ami Jene sune (Rabindra sangeet)
  • Bonpolasher Podaboli - Amarai Path (Rabindra sangeet)
  • Sankha Bela - Mukhoro Bador din-e (Rabindra sangeet)
  • Aakash Bhora Shurjo Tara
  • O Aamar Desher Mati
  • amare daak dilo ke Tagore: by SANGEETA THAKUR
  • amar khela jokhon chilo tomar sone Tagore: by SANGEETA THAKUR
  • Nooborag - Ami Jene sune (Rabindra sangeet)
  • Bodhu Kon Aalo....
  • Bonpolasher Podaboli - Amarai Path (Rabindra sangeet)
  • je raate mor duaarguli
  • Gazing at the Sun: Bangladeshi Poets and Rabindranath Tagore by William Radice

  • Back to Content

    2. Jasim Uddin

  • Jasimuddin- Poet of the people of Bangladesh - A film by Khan Ata 1978

  • Jasimuddin's deep involvement in non-communal socio-political movements championing the cause of Bengali language and literature gives his lyric and folksy poetry a keen edge of commitment and protest. His poems are popular as part of school curricula in West Bengal, India as much as in Bangladesh.

    Bangla musical genres like Aul, Baul, Marfati and Murshidi are heavily influenced by the mystic philosophy found in the Charyapadas. Besides, Vaishnava Padabalis--songs and verses praising Lord Vishnu--have also influenced Bangla music. Michael Madhusudan Dutta, Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Jasimuddin were immensely influenced by mysticism, Sufism and Baul doctrines (A touch of the mystic , 2004).

    When one reads his lyrics, like Gourigirir meye (a sensitive yet heart felt invocation to Goddess Durga) and Anurodh (a chiselled love poem woven in folk rhythm) and then goes on to respond to his two evergreen dramatic poems Naksi-kanthar Math and Sojonbadiar Ghat, one concludes that the label ‘village-bard’ is an example of inadequate salutation. Both these ballads cross the prescribed limits of folk poetry. In fact, they articulate a secular and humanist vision in a diction that is earth-sprung and elegant. No wonder, both these ‘modern’ ballads, replete with social conflicts, have been dramatised,

    His poetry appears like the breeze from the countryside that cools the sighs and sweats of urban living. He is congratulated for creating a new school of poetry ;
    Dr. Dinesh chandra Sen

    Jasim Uddin's poetry has a new trend, a new taste and a new language.
    - Rabinranath Tagore

    Verrier Elwin

    Jasim Uddin knows every fact of village life in Bengal and is partial to rural people. The heroes of his poems and stories are farmers, fishermen, boatmen, weavers, cowherds, even roadside barbers, wandering gypsies, palmists and astrologers
    B. Painter and Y. Lovelock

    Gypsy WharfJasim Uddin is proud of belonging to the folk tradition of Bengali literature. He was pleased by arecent comment of one critic who, praising his autobiography, said: 'Reading Jasim Uddin's Jiban Katha (autobiography) is like eating country cakes from mother's own hand.'

    In a foreword to the translation of Nakshi Kathar Math, Mr Verrier Elwin writes, 'I do not know whether The Field of the Embroidered Quilt can be classed as folk-poetry, but it is obviöusly poetry about the folk. After nearly ten years of village life I find every detail of the picture, every turn of the story, waking a response in my mind.' What Mr Elwin says of The Field can also be said of Gipsy Wharf. The two poems were written within four years of each other, while Jasim Uddin was still at Calcutta University, doing research under the famous Bengali scholar, Dr Dinesh Chandra Sen. Gipsy Wharf benefited from Dr Sen's comments as well,as those of the famous writer and painter Abanindra Nath Tagore.

    There were influences on Jasim Uddin's writing other than folk songs and ballads. Perhaps that is why some hesitate to call hirn a folk poet. He is also a scholar and for many years was a lecturer in Bengali literature at Dacca University. Then during thc war he was summomed by the British Government to serve as a civil servant (Jasim Uddin, Prathom Alo, January 3, 2003).

    The earliest influence on his poetry, however, was a group of minor folk poets of Bengal. He mentions them as his first teachers: 'From Rabindranath [Tagore] on down many critics have said the flow of my verse is very easy. If that is a virtue then I have learned this from our country's uneducated and half-educated poets. They are the first teachers of my poetic life, the poets Jadab, Parikshit, Ismail, Hari Patani and Hari Acharya. Into every rural househöld of Bengal they have poured an immortal flow of nectar. Deprived of that the Bengali heart would be a dry wasteland.'(Jasim Uddin, 1964).
    Hindu and If Jasim Uddin's writing has benefited from influences other than these rustic poets of Bengal, that has in no way made hirn less an expert on Bengali village life.

    The poet asserts he gathered material for his plot from actual happenings in his own Faridpur district. 'IrIn our Faridpur district there live many poor farmers, Moslem and Namasudra (Hindus).

    "But from my boyhood to the present day for the love aud affection which I received from the sannyasi there remains a love and respect in my heart which has not in the least bit been destroyed.For the friendship of the sannyasi and the insight he gave " him into Hindu culture,J asim Uddin is still grateful. It seems to me his broadmineledness and sympathy for Hindu as well as Moslem tradition are among his best qualities as a writer. Gipsy Wharf is almost a plea for bettel' Hindu-Moslem relations. Certainly he believes that the bonds which unite Bengali people are very strong, and the culture they have , made is both Moslem and Hindu.

    Padmapar by Zainul AbedinGipsy Wharf and The Field, I think, are among Jasim Uddin's major work, but he is a versatile and prolific writer. Like another famous Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, Jasim Uddin has tried his pen in almost every field. Boba Kahini (Tale of an illiterate man) 1964 . He has written many short dance dramas: Beder Meye 1951 (The Gipsy Girl), Madhumala 1956 (from the fairy tale of Princess Madhumala), Palli Badhu (Village Bride) 1956, the plot of which, he writes, is borrowed from Tagore. Jasim Uddin has also collected and rewritten numerous folk tales and folk music (Jari Gan, Murshida Gan He has published two volumes Bangalar Hashir Galpa (Laughing Tales of Bengal), vol. I, 1961, vol. 2, 1964. Among Jasim Uddin's song books, perhaps the best are Rangila Nayer Majhi (Boatman of the Gay Boat) 1933 anel Padma Par (The Banks of the Padma River) 1949. Foremost of his lyrics are the books Rakhali (Pastoral Poems) 1929, Balu Char (The Sandbank) 1930, Dhan Khet (The Paddy Field) 1932. Other important lyrics written recently are in the books Rupavati 1946 and Sakhina 1960 (both girl's names). Thc first book of lyries published after the partition of India-Pakistan, when the poet moved permanently to Dacca, was the book.Matir Kanna (Sorrows of the Earth) 1955. This book has been translated into Russian.

    Barbara Painter, Washington, USA 1969

    On Translation, and on translating Jasim Uddin

    jasim uddinTo embark upon translation is immediately to come face to face with a crisis of conscience. Either one intends to take the scholarly approach of being absolutely faithful to the text, 0r else one means to be faithful to the spirit of the work.

    This latter is the one I have favoured for this work, and I am guiltily conscious of how wide a field of potential error lies therein. Faced with an Eastern text to be interpreted for "Western eyes, the problem is increased, especially sinee my job has been to impose literary form at seeond hand.
    I have been greatly indebted to Mrs Painter for the very thorough job she has made of redueing the Bengali to English with a wealth of annotation, and am loath to have her blamed for what some may take as cavalier attitudes on my part.

    For my objcetive has been to please the general reader, to make a living work of a verse-novel whose themes are vital to the understanding of the peoples of the Indian subeontinent and, especially at these times, to the cause of peace. Sueh themes should take us beyond the littlc questions of grammatieal equivalent and exaet synonym.

    Yann Lovelock, Sheffield, June 1967

    2.1 The Snakecharmer's Song

    The villagers of Bangladesh sing:

    Snake Charmer / Babu Selam Lyric and Music Jasim Uddin dance by Shibli & Nipa

    O babu, many salams to you
    my name is Goya the Snakecharmer, My home is the Padma river.
    We catch birds
    we live on birds
    There is no end to our happiness, For we trade,
    With the jewel on the Cobra's head.

    "We cook on one bank,
    We eat at another
    We have no homes,
    The whole world is our home,
    All men are our brothers
    We look for them
    In every door….."
    (Jasim Uddin)

    Back to Content

    2.2 Selected Poems


    asmaniField after field run along
    Green winds sway tender paddy shoots
    That spreads like open hair
    In it butterflies ornamented with wings…
    Mother earth smiles at her fertile pride.
    In this harvest Asmanis (landless people) have no claim.
    As worn out ribs hold together their stomachs
    They burn with hunger.

    Forest after forest run along
    This fairyland of flowers and fruits….

    In this forest Asmanis (landless people) have no claim.
    They are hungry.

    River after river run along
    They flow through nameless wharfs…
    In this river the Asmanis (landless people) have no claim.
    Worn out ribs hold together their stomachs
    They are empty.

    'Black Cloud, come down, come down

    cloudFlower-bearing Cloud, come down, come;
    Cloud like cotton, Cloud like dust,
    O let your sweat pour down!
    Blind Cloud, Blind Cloud, come,
    Let your twelve Brother Cloudlets come,
    Drop a little water that we
    May eat good rice.

    Straight Cloud, Strong Cloud, come,
    Lazy Cloud, Little Cloud, come,
    I will sell the jewel in my nose and buy
    An umbrella for your head!
    Soft Rain, gently fall,
    In the house the plough neglected lies,
    In the burning sun the farmer dies,
    O Rain with laughing-face, come!'

    (Source: Selected Poems of Jasim Uddin)


    Bhatiyali songs

    One of the most famous and extremely popular bhatiyali songs is from the collection of the renowned poet and the folk music exponent Jasim Uddin (1904-76). Few Bengali poets have loved the villages of Bengal more and few have expressed in poems and songs the simple joys and sorrows of the villagers more poignantly and feelingly

    amay bhasaili rey
    amay dubaili rey
    akul dariyar bujhi kul nairey
    kul nai kinar nai naiko nadir padi
    tumi sabdhanetey chalaiyo majhi
    amar bhang tari rey

    (You've set me adrift
    You've sunk me
    The endless waters have no shore
    Limitless, with no shores, the waters have no banks
    O row with care boatman, my riven boat.)

    One of the most popular songs of Jasim Uddin "Come to Garden by Night" sung by famous Shachin Dev Barman (To immortalise the name of Shachin Dev Barman West Bengal govt did a lot of things and named some memorials after his name. Recently, a centenary was cele­brated on him with great pomp and grandeur)in different indian languages and sung by millions in the sky and air of indian sub-continent:

    "Come to Garden by Night"

    Nishte Jaio Phul bane, O Bhomora

    Come to the garden by night.
    My bee.
    I shal stay up the night
    Lighting the lamp of moon
    And talking to the dew drops
    My bee.
    Come to the garden by night
    should I fall asleep
    Tread softly my bee,
    Do not break the branch
    Or crush my flowers.
    Or awaken the flower that is asleep
    Come to the garden by night.
    My bee.
    Translated by: Hasna Jasim Uddin Moudud
    (Word and music by Jasim Uddin, Sung by Shachin Dev Barmon , record available at Calcutta (Kolkata)

    In Bangladesh in 1972, about 5 crore people were used to live under poverty line. But the figure rose to 7 crore in the year 2005.
    "Yes, India is progressing well with agriculture but, growingly, farmers have been committing suicide in large numbers", Chenglala Reddy, Chairman, Federation of Farmers' Association, Andhra Pradesh. India (2005)

    tagore 1938Rabindranath Tagore suggested to end poverty and privation as a matter of right of the poor. He emphasises on man to capacitate himself from within. Kindness and charity can not much change human condition. "Man will never accept any real benefit as a dole or as a debt. He accepts it only if he merits it." ("Lokehit" in Tagore's Collected Works, Joy Books International, Dhaka Vol. XII p. 148). To deserve what is due to them, they must be united. They should attain universal literacy. The change should be in the mind. Instead of petti fogging, they should have the inner capacity to quest for something big. That makes a nation great.
    He continues, "The sign of a prospering nation is that every department, every individual turns away from the pettiness. Every one is earning the right to human dignity. Man in that nation thinks on how everyone as individual can live a decent life, earn a quality education, have adequate food, clothing, medicare, and leisure" . The poor should be organised to realise equity oriented society and economy. The job of igniting their potentials should begin from within our tradition, our success should be our investment

    Publications on Bangladesh by the World Bank and other agencies and organizations always say: "Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world." But it is not true. PPP adjusted GDP for Bangladesh is $299.9 billion (estimated). World Factbook ranked 232 countries on PPP adjusted GDP where Bangladesh ranks 34th. Again, Bangladesh GDP in official exchange rate is $64.8 billion and it ranks 57th out of 232 countries. Either by PPP adjusted GDP or by official exchange rate GDP it is not justifiable to classify Bangladesh as one of the poorest countries in the world.

    It is an efficient economic engine though it is beset with 1) corruption, 2) political mismanagement, and 3) misaligned economic emphases. In spite of the rosy pictures , 82 percent of the people live on less than $2 a day. It cannot be denied that more than 80 percent of the people live in poverty. Ten percent of the population enjoys the quality of life of countries having per capita income of more than $40,000. 80 percent live with income less than $600 a year.

    The failure of the economy to bring the benefit to the poor is due to inefficient and ineffective government and incongruent external influence


    O Father Come Let Us Plough

    zainul abedin

    "O Bajan Chal Jai Chal mathe Langol baite

    O father come let us go
    To the field to plough
    Place the ploughs on oxen shoulders and
    Push, push, push.

    We who bring out food
    From the depth of the earth
    We who provide food for the whole world
    Why can't we eat can any one tell us?

    My wife has hanged herself
    She could no longer bear hunger,
    Now I plough deep into soil
    In the hope of seeing her again.

    We plough the fields
    Our bosom is always flayed
    But from the fields we get harvest
    None from the sacrred bosom.
    We shall plough no more for rice
    But to see how far it is to graves.

    Translated by: Hasna Jasimuddin Moudud
    (Word and music by Jasim Uddin, Sung by Abbasuddin, record available at Calcutta (Kolkata)

    Melancholy highlighted in rhythms -Tonatuni stages Jasim Uddin's dance drama Kabor

    The Grandfather and his bride being given reception after their childhood marriage.On the third day of the Tonatuni Festival, Tonatuni staged a dance drama Kabor adapted from the popular poem Kabor by Pallikobi Jasim Uddin. The dance drama starts with the effect of the dawn when the last lines of the Fazr Azan is heard. A very old grandfather comes on stage in feeble steps and starts telling his story to his grandson. The unhappy grandfather tells him about the five deaths in his family. He also recollects the memories of his getting married, the little bride's doll playing, the fair they attended, the bride's bathing with her friends and other insignificant yet happy moments of his life. Directed by dancer Dipa Khondokar with light directions by famous light director of Kolkata Tapash Sen, the total performance was excellent.

    Earlier in the programme Tapash Sen, who is known as 'The Magician of Lights', was awarded a medal by the chief guest Minister for Cultural Affairs Selima Rahman. A CD of Jasim Uddin's Nimantran, sung by Kiron Chandra Roy, was also launched by the wife of Pallikobi, Begum Mamataz Jasim Uddin. To the delight of the audience, Kiron Chandra Roy sang the title song of the CD Nimantran.

    In a discussion session, Selima Rahman, Shamsuzzaman Khan, Kamal Lohani and the Managing Director of Tonatuni, Mahbubur Rahman Jaynal spoke about Jasim Uddin and the Tonatuni Festival.

    exqusiteThe Tonatuni Awards 2003 were handed over to Momtaj Jasim Uddin, Soumitra Chatterjee, Sandeep Ray, Mamota Shankar, Babita, Haradhan Banerjee, Shova Sen, Madhuri Mukherjee, Tapan Chatterjee, Baishakhi Ghosh, Kaderi Kibria, Ishita, Orin Haque, Shanta, Maria Promi and Tushar.

    Tonatuni Festival 2003 exhibits valuables of two legends of the subcontinent--Satyajit Ray and poet Jasim Uddin.With the ongoing cultural festival organised by Tonatuni, the National Museum has become an eventful rendezvous for visitors interested in Stayajit Ray and Jasim Uddin. An unprecedented exhibit of valuables, photographs and other interesting items of the two personalities has attracted hundreds of visitors. Simultaneously, films of Satyajit Ray are being screened at the museum's auditorium. The exhibition is being held at the Lalitakanta Bhattashali hall of the museum. The most attractive part of the exhibition is surely the collection of costumes used in Satyajit Ray's films. The collection displays mainly panjabis from films like Ashani Sanket, Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Tinkanya, Satranj ki Khilari, and Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath of the most famous amateur detective in Bangla literature--Felu'da. Besides, there are the panjabis worn by the King of Halla and renowned actor Victor Banerjee in the Goopy-Bagha films and Piku. What makes one wonder about the costumes is their artistic embellishment and grandeur. The exhibition also consists panjabis displaying several of Satyajit Ray's illustrations from his famous Kheror Khata (the Scrap Book) being embroidered on them. A panjabi shows the illustrious advancement of the genius of Satyajit Ray from Pather Panchali to his win of the Oscar award.
    Poet Jasim Uddin's photographs show some eventful moments in the poet's life, his family members, and other acquaintances.

    With the ongoing cultural festival organised by Tonatuni, the National Museum has become an eventful rendezvous for visitors interested in Stayajit Ray and Jasim Uddin. (Daily Star Sept. 13, 2003).

    Exquisite -From stage to celluloid

    tona festivalThe ongoing Tonatuni Festival is holding an exhibition of photographs taken by Shakoor Majid that project a brief scenario of theatrical activities on stages in Dhaka. Entitled Rhythm on the Stage, the exhibit presents still pictures from selected 50 stage plays. On the occasion, an album was also launched in the evening of September 13 at the National Museum auditorium. Bijoya Ray, wife of Satyajit Ray, and Begum Mamtaz Jasim Uddin, wife of Pollikobi Jasim Uddin, inaugurated the exhibition. Shakoor Majid's photos generally depict some stories associated with his subjects--moments, people and objects. Shakoor selects 'mute, intensive things and drab moments that in his treatment become evocative,' says Dhaka University's Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam. 'These objects and moments, in their ordinariness, have a story to tell.' And this time Shakoor comes up with stories of the stages in Dhaka.



    . Original tide 'Kabar', first published in 1929 in Rakhali (Pastoral Poems),was as a text for the Matriculation Examination of Calcutta University while Jasim Uddin was still a student of I. A. class.

    jasim under <i>dalim</i> tree, also here is his grayvyardHere, under the pomegranate tree, is your grandmother's grave;
    For thirty years my tears have kept it green.
    She was a little doll-faced girl when she came to my horne,
    And she wept to be done with the play ofher childhood days.

    Returned from my travelling onee,
    I suddenly knew She had been in my thoughts all the time.
    Like the dawn her golden face would blind my eyes,
    And from that day I lost myselfamong smallj oys of hers.

    There along that path I'd take the plough to the fields
    And, leaving, would turn
    For a last look at her to take with me.

    How she'd smile, my long-wed sister-in-Iaw, because of this!

    When she went to her father's house she said, touching my feet,
    'Do not forget to visit me soon at the village of 'Ujan-toli.'
    So when I sold melons at market I saved a few coins
    And bought her a neeklace ofbeads, tobaceo and toothpowder.
    (And what's sofunny in that, my lad?)

    How happy your grandmother was when she got these small gifts;
    If only you could have seen her fingering her nose-ring.
    She said, 'Y ou have come after so many days;
    I have beeil waiting in tears,
    Watehing the path for you,' smiling now.

    When we parted for a mere few days you couldll't console her;
    I wo nd er how she sleeps in her grave in this lonely place?
    Fold your hands, grandson, and pray:
    'Corne, oh merciful God,
    Let Paradise descertd for my grandmother.'

    Empty the life I endured when she left me;
    Yet it seems each one I embraced here has gone,
    Following her to that distant land.
    A hundred graves are carved on the stone ofmy heart;
    I get con~used counting the number, computing it over and over

    These wrinkled hands that hold the spade
    Have buried so many beloved faces under hard earth
    That I have come to love it, press it to my heart.
    Come, kneel and pray, grandson;
    Perhaps tears will relieve this pain.

    Here sleeps your father, and here your mother sleeps:
    Still your tears, while I tell you their story.

    One April morning my boy called out,
    'Father, I cannot go to the fields today.'
    I spread out a mat on the floor for hirn, said 'Sleep, my Son.'
    How could I know that this would be his last slumber?

    A clean coffin I made hirn, and as I carried him here
    'Where are you taking my father?' you followed crying.
    I could not answer, my little son,
    All the words in the world turned away grieving.

    Night and day your mother's tears were unceasing,
    Clasping your father's yoke and plough in both hands.

    For sorrow the leaves fell from the forest trees,
    The winds of April wailed in the empty rice-fields;
    And villagers passing along that path wiped their cyes.
    Even the leaves they trod underfoot crumpled and died. From their stall the two bullocks regarded the unploughed fields
    While your mother clung to their necks with heart-broken sobs
    Till it seemed the whole village would drown
    In oceans ofher weeping.

    Perhaps the tears of that lovely girl
    Found a path to the land of the dead.
    In the morning ofher life she longed for evening;
    Ah, poor girl, she wove her own shroud with her hands.

    Before her death she summoned you to her:
    My child, she said, my greatest pain is
    Leaving you motherless in this world,
    My darling, my jewel, my son.
    What blessings she gave you!

    Then to me, 'Over my grave hang my husband's wide wicker
    It will swing in the wind.'
    Long ago that hat fell and mixed with the dust.
    But the pain in my heart still cries out
    For these two that sleep in the shade.

    How lovingly the tree-boughs bend above;
    The firc-fly maidens of evening light lamps
    And the crickcts make music with small beIls tinkling.
    Fold your hands, grandson and pray: '0 come, eternal God,
    Let Paradise des ce nd now for father and mother.'

    Here is that fair little maiden, your sistcr's grave.
    We gavc her in marriage to a high-caste merchant's family;
    They clid not love such a darling girl, thcy punished her,
    Not with blows, but more cruelly, with words.

    Message on message she sent me:
    Grandfather, come tomorrow,
    Take me to the land ofmy people For one or two days.

    The heartless father-in-law let her come one winter at last;
    Her face was pale, a smile no longer bloomed there
    . Some days she passed by her parents' grave
    Till cleath's flute called her away, and here I made her grave.

    See how softly the grass and forest flowers caress her;
    The wild doves sing her litany.
    Fold your hands, grandson, and pray:
    'Let Paradise descend for my unloved sister.'

    Here lies my youngest child of seven years,
    A brilliant rainbow bursting the gates ofParadise open.
    Who knows what her thoughts were
    Losing her mother so young?
    When I looked in her face
    Your grandmother came to my mind,
    And I clasped her to me
    "While tears washed the colour from the sky.

    Returning from market one day
    I found her stretched out in the dust
    As if she had fallen asleep,
    Hugging her doll, tired of play.
    The black cobra that bit her
    Had slithered away in the bush.

    How bitter my tears were, laying my darling to bed in the grave.
    Go soft, do not speak, little grandson, lest we wake her.
    Slowly, dig slowly, slowly, let me see
    How my heaven on earth lies sleeping
    Under the black-baked bitter soil.

    The warm-coloured sunset has kissed the fields
    And great is my desire to hug the earth around me elose today.
    The call to prayer floats from the mosque;
    Let us fold our hands, little grandson, and pray:
    '0 come, eternal God, let Paradise descend for our loved ones.'

    3.Selected Songs of Jasim Uddin

  • Amay Ato Rate lyric and music by Jasim Uddin
  • Amar Har Kala Korlam Reylyric and music by Jasim Uddin:Jamali in Korea
    SD Burman Sun Mere Bandhu in hindi
    Doli Mein Bithaii Ke S D Brman in hindi
  • Amar Galar Har Khule Ne lyric and music by Jasim Uddin
  • Amay Ato Ratelyric and music by Jasim Uddin
  • Kemon Tomar Mata-Pita Kemon Tader Hiea Original Music and Lyric from Jasim Uddin dance by

  • Intrumental

  • Amar Shonar Moyna Pakhi Music and Lyric - Jasim Uddin
  • Prano Shakire - Music and Lyric Jasim Uddin
  • Instrumental - Amai bashaile re amai dubaile re Music and Lyric by Jasimuddin
  • Amar Harkala- Instrumental - Music and lyric Jasimuddin
  • O Amar Dradi- Instrumental Music & Lyric Jasimuddin
  • Prano Shokhi Re Oi Shon Kodombo Thole ..- Instrumental - Music and Lyric Jasimuddin

    © Jasim Uddin

    Rongila rongila rongila re
    leaving me along where have you gone
    where have you gone my love
    whereare you now.

    You would be the moon my love
    I will be the wave of river
    on the ebb andtide we'll meet.

    You would be the flower my love
    I would be the wind
    I will move around countries as insane.
    Jasim Uddin (1950) - Padmapar page 47

    In Bengali: © Jasim Uddin

  • Bandu Rangila Rangila _ S, D, Burman, Music and Lyric by Jasim Uddin - From Padmapar - Song 24

    cover by zainul abedin

  • Rangila Rangila (modern) Lyrics and music by Jasimuddin
  • Bandu Rangila Rangila- Famous Bhatiali Song:Singer: Nadira Begum

    Amar Sonar moyna pakhi- Sung by different artists - © Jasim Uddin-

  • Sonar Moina Pakhi - Music and Lyrics by Jasimuddin
  • Sonar Moyna Pkhi - Neena hamid - Lyric and Music by Jasimuddin
  • Amar Sonar Moina Pakhi - Music and Lyric by Jasimuddin
  • Amar Sonar Moina Pakhi - Music and Lyric by Jasimuddin
  • Amar Sonar Moina Pakhi - Music and Lyric by Jasimuddin- Live in Toronto
  • Amar Sonar Moina Pakhi - Music and Lyric by Jasimuddin- Monpura - Sonar Moyna pakhi ( Arnob
  • Shonar Moyna Pakhi by Arnob- © Jasim Uddin
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    3. Fakir Lalon

    3.1 Selected Songs


    Where lies this mystery of human soul?
    Where from I came and where shall I go?
    Lalon's answer:
    How does the strange bird
    flit in and out of the cage,
    If I could catch the bird
    I would put it under the fetters of my heart.
    The cage has eight cells and nine doors.
    With laten opening here and there,
    Above is the main Hall with a mirror chamber
    O my mind, you are enamoured of the cage..

    You can make the floating sink and the sinking you can bring ashore
    You touch me with your hand and I call out your name.
    You made the Prophet Noah cool the fury of the flood;
    And then in compassion you made the flood to recede.
    Have pity on me, the mighty Lord, of the Universe."
    Where is the key of the devotional knowledge? Lalon replied:
    The key to my door is held by others
    I cannot open the door and see the treasure.
    Gold lies piled up in my room, But the transaction is made by another;
    I am gravel-blind and cannot see him.
    If one day I can reach the watch-man,
    He will give me charge of the door.
    I cannot say I know him not,
    And I follow the path of depravity.
    Oh, mind, this key-holder,
    is the jewel of a man
    Says Lalon, I got the treasure
    but was unaware of its value.

    Where lies this mystery of human soul?
    Where from I came and where shall I go? Lalon's answer:
    How does the strange bird
    flit in and out of the cage,
    If I could catch the bird
    I would put it under the fetters of my heart.
    The cage has eight cells and nine doors.
    With laten
    opening here and there,
    Above is the main Hall with a mirror chamber
    O my mind, you are enamoured of the cage;
    little knowing that the cage is made of raw bamboo,
    and may any day fall apart
    Say Lalon, forcing the cage open
    the bird flitted away, no one knows where.

    Songs of Lalaon

  • Lyrics: Lalon Shah, Singer: Kumar Bishwajit
  • Lalon Tomar Arshi Nogor - Salma
  • Opar Hoe (lalon) -- Euphoria
  • Kala Je

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    4. Jibanando Das

  • Banolata Sen
  • Banolata Sen

    jibanando das Jibanananda Das(1899-1954) a major Bangla poet and educationist, was born on 17 February 1899 in Barisal. In 1935 he joined BM College in Barisal and continued to teach there till shortly before partition in 1947 when he left for Kolkata.

    Jibanananda belonged to the group of poets who tried to shake off Rabindranath Tagore's poetic influence. Inspired by western modernism and the intellectual outlook of the Bengali middle class, this group wrote about the realities of the urban present and of the lonely self even while they drew upon the rural traditions of Bengal. Jibanananda shared Rabindranath's deep feeling for nature, eloquently describing the beauty of rural Bengal in Rupasi Bangla and earning the appellation of Rupasi Banglar Kavi (Poet of Beautiful Bengal). Unlike Rabindranath, however, he also portrayed distressed humanity as well as the depression, frustration, and loneliness of modern urban life in his poems. Introspection is also an important characteristic of his poetic genius. His poems merge a concern for the present and a sense of history. Many of his poems sound like prose, and greatly influenced subsequent poets.

    Jibanananda's poems of rural Bengal played an important role in the political and cultural perspective of Bangladesh. His poems inspired a pride in Bengali nationhood, especially in the 1960s and during the war of liberation in 1971.

    It is common knowledge that autumn is Jibanananda's most favourite season and his poetry is eminently suffused by autumnal shadows. In the climatology of Bengal the spring season is very inconspicuous and passes unnoticed while early winter is a cheerful time. The shorn trees, harvested stubble, receding sunlight and shadowed fields and farms posses a quiet beauty which does not fail to reveal itself to a truly discerning mind. But Jibanananda sees far more in them. Tagore is a poet ofr monsoon rain and itsa fullness and profusion. Jibanananda is a poet of autumn, its greyness, its sombreness and desolation. The Bengali month kartik (mid-October to mid-November) is a recurring element in Jibanananda.

    4.1 Rupasi Bangla (Beautuful Bengal)

  • Rupasi Bangla
  • Bangla Kobita: Banalata Sen by Jibanananda Das
  • bonolota sen

    Beutiful Bengal (Rupasi Bangla)

    Jibanananda Das

    There is a place in this world-the most beautiful, compassionate.
    There the green delta is awash with honey-sweet grass.
    Trees have names like jackfruit, aswattha, banyan, jamarul, cashew.
    There in clouds at dawn awakes the nata fruitlike red round sun.
    There Varuni resides at the mouth of the Ganges-and there Varuna
    Yields abundant river waters to the Karnafuli, Dhaleswari, Padma,
    Jalangi .
    There a white hawk is as full of movement as betel leaves in the wind.
    There a spotted owl is as subtly young as the smell of paddy fields.

    There the citrus branches droop in darkness upon the grass
    , And the buzzard flies away home upon dark evening breezes.
    There a yellow sari clings fast to some beautiful woman's body-
    Sankhamala is her name. In no other river, on no other grass of
    This vast world will you find her-Bisalaksi had granted her a boon
    And so she was born amidst the paddy and grass of blue Bengal.

    Who would leave this delta to seek beauty on the paths of the world?
    The dry banyan leaves seem to call forth a tale of the end of an age:
    They are strewn along the many paths through fields in lonely November.
    Who would reject them and set out for a foreign land? I shall not
    Give up basamati paddy fields for Malabar or the hills of Ootecamund.
    I shall not watch the palm trees nod heads to an ocean's song in some
    other land-which brings to heart that dream of cardamom flowers
    somewhere, and
    Cinnamon as Varuni sits unbraiding her hair. I shall not set out upon

    doel- now national birdThe path of the world. Falling aswattha leaves in pale white dust,
    When in this midday no one is around-not even a bird-
    Only lush grass spread out upon the ground, over gravel,
    Or one or two doleful sparrows turning over some pieces of straw,
    And those aswattha leaves Iying there in pale white dust:
    That is why this life left not this path to wander elsewhere.

    When I return to the banks of the Dhansiri, to this Bengal, Not as a man, perhaps, but as a salik bird or white hawk,
    Perhaps as a dawn crow in this land of autumn's new rice harvest,
    I'll float upon the breast of fog one day in the shade of a jackfruit tree.
    or I'll be some young girl's pet duck-ankle bells upon her reddened
    And I'll spend the day floating on duckweed-scented waters,
    When again I come, smitten by Bengal's rivers and fields, to this
    Green and kindly land, Bengal, moistened by the Jalangi river's waves.
    Perhaps I'll watch the buzzards soar on sunset's breeze.
    Perhaps I'll listen to a spotted owl screeching from a simul tree branch.
    Perhaps a child scatters puffed rice upon the grass of some home's
    courtyard .
    on the Rupsa river's murky waters a youth perhaps steers his dinghy
    Its torn white sail. Reddish clouds scud by, and in the darkness, coming
    To their nest, I shall see white herons. Among them all is where you'll
    find me.

    Ah birds, were you not there at Kalidaha once? Through whirlpool
    Did you not squawk your high-pitched calls that midday in July,
    In this Bengal? All day today amongst this rumbling rain storm and
    Cloudy overcast, Chand Sadagar and Honeybee, his dinghy, come to
    mind .
    When was it that they sank at Kalidaha, under just such stormy skies?
    Did not then too countless birds glide and dive across such blackened
    Today all day a flock of river gulls, out in these monsoon rains and
    Gathered on a sand bar in the Dhaleswari, appear as if afloat at
    This flock of birds appears to be not of this day and age at all.
    And this river, the Dhaleswari-this sky, as though not of today at all.
    Does Manasa reside within the cobra-hooded cactus grove? She does
    Is not this river Kalidaha? Ah, there at that ghat did I not glimpse
    The face of Sanaka, bun undone hair flowing loose? How sad and pale
    Worn-ont is all truth. This dream of yours is true, said Manasa herself.

    Your child will one day quit your bosom, turning from
    Bengal's breast to go away. At which time the stars will fall,
    Slipping from the sky's soft blue bosom, sinking into
    Cold. Everywhere gorgeous paddy one day will have fallen in the
    Fog. Perhaps the night owl will sing its song in darkness,
    Will snatch me up like a field mouse into death's house,
    The smell of chaff sticking to my desiring heart, yet in my eyes
    Blue death, sleepless, a bent moon, an empty field, the scent of dew.
    Who after all knows when death is coming-when that storm in Kalidaha
    Will snap the lotus stalk, pluck the life out of the gull, a hornbill?
    I do not know. Yet may I die within these fields and ghats,
    Not by the black Yamuna. May the fragrance of these river waves
    Cling to my eyes, mouth. May my Bengal the beautiful stay awake upon
    My breast. And may I remain Iying beneath her like Ardhanariswara.

    As long as I might live I yearn to see the sky, gone elsewhere
    Into skies as blue as aparajita vines-bluer still.
    I want to watch the dawn's own herons, kingfishers swooping high
    Wringing with their wings the sky, going somewhere during
    The month of September. I wish to sit upon the grass of Bengal,
    For I've roamed the world and borne in heart the age's sorrows.
    I'll drift with the Dhansiri's flow toward Bengal's burning ground
    Where Ramprasad's wild-haired Syama still comes today.

    Where some lovely lady's body, embroidery-bordered sari clad,
    Rides a funeral pyre of sandalwood-a parrot on a mango branch
    Forgets to speak; where resides the greatest beauty-melancholy;
    Where the lotus withers. where for long Bisalaksi has not spoken;
    Where one day Sankhamala's, Chandramala's, Manikmala's
    Bangles used to jingle-ah, will they ever jingle once again!

    Ami banglar gaan gai I am singing

    Ami Jamini sasi hoay
    Champa chameli

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    4.1 Rupasi Bangla (Beautuful Bengal)

    I shall fall fast asleep one day within your starlit night.
    Perhaps even then youth will linger in my heart-my young days
    Still will not have ended. Good. Sleep comes-grass of Bengal
    Underneath my breast, eyes closed. on the mango leaves of Bengal
    The green beetles asleep, and I too lie sleeping with them:
    I'll sleep on content in this field-this grass-speechless,
    The tales of my heart slowly wiped away. There'll be many fresh
    New celebrations of life's sweet wounds, against the current

    In all your busy minds. Yet, young man, when with your fingernails
    You'll rip this grass up and go along, when Manikmala at dawn
    Comes by this path to pick red banyan flowers and sour kamranga
    When the yellow leaflets of the sephali blossoms fall upon the grass
    In some soft autumn, just how far the salik, the wagtails fly today,
    How strong the sunshine, clouds-I'll sense all as I lie in death's

    One day I grew upon the paths of the world: my body
    Walked the soft grassy paths; I sat upon the grass
    And saw stars play like fireflies in curiosity's infinite
    Sky; glossy wet river banks fill with water's scent
    In darkness; I hear the swish of whose soft saris,
    See unoiled hair; who come with words to console-
    Gray cowrie-shell hands-naked hands in an evening breeze Visible; near yellow grass lie the gorgeous sad wings

    Of a cold dead butterfly. I look; I stop and stand quietly:
    Orange color spreads over the evening sky-crows appear blue.
    I sink into a crowd of people-I talk-hold hand in hand.
    Some profound wonderment of somewhere seems hidden within that
    Compassionate, doleful hair-I sleep alone beneath the stars.
    An owl's gray wings speak with fireflies the whole night long.

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    Jibanananda Das

    Long I have been a wanderer of this world,
    Many a night,
    My route lay across the sea of Ceylon somewhat winding to
    The seas of Malaya.
    I was in the dim world of Bimbisar and Asok, and further off
    In the mistiness of Vidarbha.
    At moments when life was too much a sea of sounds,
    I had Banalata Sen of Natore (now Bangladesh) and her wisdom.

    I remember her hair dark as night at Vidisha,
    Her face an image of Sravasti as the pilot,
    Undone in the blue milieu of the sea,
    Never twice saw the earth of grass before him,
    I have seen her, Banalata Sen of Natore.

    When day is done, no fall somewhere but of dews
    Dips into the dusk; the smell of the sun is gone
    off the Kestrel's wings. Light is your wit now,
    Fanning fireflies that pitch the wide things around.
    For Banalata Sen of Natore.

    For thousands of years I roamed the paths of this earth,
    From waters round Ceylon in dead of night to Malayan seas.
    Much have I wandered. I was there in the gray world of Asoka
    And Bimbisara, pressed on through darkness to the city of Vidarbha.
    I am a weary heart surrounded by life's frothy ocean.
    To me she gave a moment's peace-Banalata Sen from Natore.

    Her hair was like an ancient darkling night in Vidisa,
    Her face, the craftsmanship of Sravasti. As the helmsman,
    His rudder broken, far out upon the sea adrift,
    Sees the grass-green land of a cinnamon isle, just so
    Through darkness I saw her. Said she, "Where have you been so long?"
    And raised her bird's-nest-like eyes-Banalata Sen from Natore.

    At day's end, like hush of dew
    Comes evening. A hawk wipes the scent of sunlight from its wings.
    When earth's colors fade and some pale design is sketched,
    Then glimmering fireflies paint in the story.
    All birds come home, all rivers, all of this life's tasks finished.
    only darkness remains, as I sit there face to face with Banalata Sen.
    (Trans. by the poet)

  • Bratati on Banalata Sen
  • Bodh - Jibanananda Das
  • tumi boruna hole ami
  • Harano Sur - Tumi Je amar
  • Indrani - Nir Choto Hemento- Shuchitra and Uttam
  • Ai path Jodi Shes Na Hoi Uttom and Suchitra
  • Ai Raat Tumar Amar Suchitra Sen, Vasant
  • Indrani - Surjo Dober Indira and Suchitra
  • Ami Path Vola Ek Pothik (Rabindra sangeet) Uttam Kumar, Supriya
  • Rabindra Sangeet
  • Amar Din Kathe Na
  • Surjo Dober Uttam Kumar, Suchitra
  • Nir Choto Uttam Suchitra Indrani Hemanta

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    5. Kazi Nazrul Islam

    nazrul Kazi Nazrul Islam (1899-1976) national poet of Bangladesh, called the 'rebel poet' for his fierce resistance to all forms of repression. Nazrul, who died in 1976 in Dhaka, is best known for his works expressing rebellion against society, tradition, politics, injustice, intolerance and oppression. He earned equal prominence and popularity as a composer and lyricist. He protested against repression in various forms such as slavery, communalism, feudalism and colonialism. He is popularly known as Bidrohi Kabi or the Rebel Poet. His protest forced the British rules to ban on many of his books and compilations; he was also jailed for his works. Kazi Nazrull is renowned as the National Poet of Bangladesh.

    I’m the Rebel Eternal,
    I’ll stamp my footprint on the bosom of Almighty!
    I’ll tear apart the ribcage of the whimsical Providence.

    That’s precisely how Kazi Nazrul Islam elected to describe himself in his arguably the best-known poem The Rebel – Bidrohi in original Bengali. And, not for nothing, he came to be known ever after as the Bidrohi Kabi, the Rebel Poet, of Bengal.

    While he is best known for his romantic lyrics, his fiery and militant anti-colonial patriotic poems and songs also inspired millions of Bengalis in their fight for Indian independence. His composition of devotional songs – again highly popular, both in Islamic and local Hindu traditions – went hand in hand with his intense engagement with radical nationalist and Marxist currents. As a political activist he suffered imprisonment by the colonial ruler. Some of his works were proscribed. Kazi Nazrul also provided a Bengali translation of The Internationale.

    He was born on May 24, 1899 at Churulia in Burdwan of West Bengal. He appeared in the Bangla literature at the age of 21. He was famous for his pieces advocating the triumph of youth. His poems have remained a source of inspiration at a time of despair. He also composed more than 2,000 songs.

    nazrulAll his life Nazrul fought against fundamentalism, superstition and ritualistic social behaviour, especially among Muslims. The socialist revolution in Russia in 1917 also influenced Nazrul in many ways. This was borne out by the publication in langal and Ganavani of 'samyabadi' and 'sarbahara' poems and his translation of the 'Communist International' under the title 'Jago Anashana Bandi Utha Re Yata' (Wake up and rise all the prisoners of hunger).

    "To those who complain why I'm not like them: Does the nightingale's songs belong to anyone? Can you call wild flowers your own? Just because I was born into a certain community or society doesn't mean it owns me. I belong to the world and all its corners. I'm a devotee of eternal radiance and because I can rise above petty communalism, I'm a poet."
    -- Kazi Nazrul Islam, speaking at a reception (Albert Hall, Calcutta December 15, 1929).

    Much has been said and speculated about Nazrul's religious convictions, his spirituality and his ideology. In his time, Nazrul was sneered at and protested by hardliner Muslims and Hindus but the truth is, his Hamd and Naat were as avid as his Kirtan and Shyama Sangeet. Nazrul brought about a revolution in the genre of devotional songs and poetry. What set Nazrul's work apart from his contemporaries was his flair for unusual, yet worldly metaphors and razor sharp wit that incorporated ideas and philosophies from diverse cultures and religions.

    Today is the UN's official World Poverty Day. But every day is poverty day for the two billion people worldwide who have less than two dollars a day to live on. Of those, just under one billion live on just one dollar a day. In September 2000, 189 countries pledged to halve the number of those in poverty by 2015. When we look at the results so far, hope mixes with despair. Over 100 million children are still unable to go to school. Each year, 10 million children die before their fifth birthday. 40 million are living with HIV and AIDS, and 5 million die of it each year.

    5. 1.Poverty

    O poverty, thou hast made me great.

    Thou hast made me honoured like Christ
    With his crown of thorns. Thou hast given me
    Courage to reveal all. To thee I owe
    My insolent, naked eyes and sharp tongue.
    Thy curse has turned my violin to a sword.

    O proud saint, thy terrible fire
    Has rendered my heaven barren.
    It has prematurely dried beauty.
    My feelings and my life.
    Time and again I stretched my lean, cupped hands
    To accept the gift of the beautiful.
    But those hungry ones always came before me.
    And did snatch it away ruthlessly,
    Now my word of imagination is
    Dry as a vast desert.
    And my own beautiful!

    I grow listless in the shadowy skirt of the earth
    And my dreams of beauty and goodness vanish!
    With a bitter tongue thou ask,
    "What's the use of nectar?
    It has no sting, no intoxication, no madness in it.
    The search for heaven's sacred drink
    Is not for thee in this sorrow-filled earth.

    Someone seems to have entwined my soul
    With that of Mother Earth. She comes forward
    And with her dust-adorned hands
    Offers me her presents.
    It seems to me that she is the youngest
    daughter of mine,
    My darling child! But suddenly I wake up with a start.
    O cruel saint, being my child,
    Thou weepest in my home, hungry and reviled!

    O my child, my darling one
    I could not give thee even a drop of milk
    No right have I to rejoice.
    Poverty weeps within my doors forever
    As my spouse and my child.
    Who will play the flute?
    Where shall I get the happy smile I have drunk deep the hemlock
    Of bitter tears!
    And still even today
    I hear the mournful tune of the Sanai (violin).

    Kazi Nazrul Islam


    Nazrul explores a synthesis of different forces in a rebel, destroyer and preserver, spreading terror and expressing rage as well as beauty and sensitivity. Nazrul followed up by writing Pralayollas (Destructive Euphoria), and his first anthology of poems, the Agniveena (Lyre of Fire) in 1922, which enjoyed astounding and far-reaching successs. He also published his first volume of short stores, the Byather Dan (Gift of Sorrow) and Yugbani, an anthology of essays.
    Nazrul rose to fame with the publication of Bidrohi in 1922, which has become his most famous work. Set in a heroic meter, this long poem invokes images from Hindu, Muslim and Greek mythology.[1] Nazrul won admiration of India's literary classes by his description of the rebel whose impact is hard, fierce and ruthless even as its spirit is deep and philosophical:

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    5. 2. "Bidrohi"

    Proclaim Hero-
    Proclaim: My head is held towering
    Bows down the Himalayan peak, that at looking.

    Say Hero-
    Say: Tearing the firmament of the universe
    Outstripping the Moon, the Sun and the Stars
    Piercing the Earth and the celestial spheres
    Penetrating through the Almighty's sacred throne
    Risen have I, the wonder eternal of the God's universe.
    With the mark of majestic might
    The angry God on my forehead blazing bright!
    Say Hero-
    Say: My head is held ever towering!

    I am irrepressible, imperious and brutal
    I am the dancing lord of the great upheaval.
    I am the cyclone, the devastation tremendous
    I am terrible fear and the curse of the universe
    I am turbulent, I crash everything
    Wild I am, I trample under my feet all rules and binding.
    I obey no law, but mine
    I cause the loaded boats to capsize
    I am torpedo, I am the dreadful floating mine.
    I am the God Dhurjati-
    The ill timed hair disheveled typhoon of disaster,
    I am The Rebel the rebellious son of the global mother.
    Say Hero-
    Ever towering is my head!"

    Bidrohi Remake of Kazi Nazrul Islam's poem Bidrohi.

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    Sambyabadi  (Song of Equality)

    I sing the song of equality, in unison
    Where all the differences and barriers are gone.
    United where, the Hindus-Buddhist, Muslim-Christian
    I sing the song of equality, in unison.

    Are you parsic? Jain? Jews? Santal, Veel, Garo?
    Confucian? Charvakist? Go ahead say more!
    In your brain, on your back and shoulder
    You carry, whatever you like, the book or scripture Quran-Puran-Vedas-Vedants-Bible-Tripitak
    Zendavesta-Granth Sahib, read you like whatever
    Why this futile labour, taking pain in brain?
    For what reason, is this bargain?
    Watch, the road side flowers, time and again.

    Within you, all the scriptures and knowledge, of all time are there
    Friend, you will find all of them, just open your heart with care.
    All the religions are within you and the preceptor
    Your heart is the world temple, of the God all over.

    Why do you search, for the God and Goddess, among the dead-book-skeleton
    Smiling he is, just behind the screen of your nectar-heart alone
    Friends, I did not tell a lie.
    Here, all the crowns, drop and die.

    In this heart, that Mountain, Kashi, Brindabon, Mathura Jerusalem, Kaba, Madina, Buddha-Gaya.
    Mosque is this, temple is this, church is this heart
    Just here! Jesus and Moses knew the truth, not in desert.

    The Flute-kid, sang the holy Geeta, at this war field
    The sheepheard Prophets, became the God's friends, in this green field.
    Sitting in meditation, at this heart-cave, Buddha gave up the throne
    Hearing the call, of mankind's wail and groan.

    The Arab-Darling, received the message, from this cavern
    Just sitting here, he sang the song of equality, of the holy Quran.
    Didn't listen a lie dear!
    There is no temple or mosque greater-
    Than this heart in compare.

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    6. Rabinranath Tagore

    6.1 Selected Poems of Rabinranath Tagoret

    Rabindranath Tagore (Bengali: Rabindranath Thakur) (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941), also known by the sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali poet from Undivided India, Brahmo Samaj (syncretic Hindu monotheist) philosopher, visual artist, playwright, composer, and novelist whose avant-garde works reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A celebrated cultural icon of Bengal, he became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.

    Tagore began writing poems at the age of eight; he published his first substantial poetry — using the pseudonym Bhanushingho ("Sun Lion") — in 1877 and wrote his first short stories and dramas at age sixteen. His home schooling, life in Shelidah (Bangladesh, Kustia), and extensive travels made Tagore an iconoclast and pragmatist; however, growing disillusionment with the British Raj caused Tagore to back the Indian Independence Movement and befriend Mahatma Gandhi. Despite the loss of virtually his entire family and his regrets regarding Bengal's decline, his life's work — Visva-Bharati University — endured. Tagore's major works included Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World), while his verse, short stories, and novels — many defined by rhythmic lyricism, colloquial language, meditative naturalism, and philosophical contemplation — received worldwide acclaim. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and polymath who modernised Bangla art by rejecting strictures binding it to classical Indian forms. Two songs from his rabindrasangit canon are now the national anthems of Bangladesh and India: the Amar Shonar Bangla and the Jana Gana Mana.

    In 1890, Tagore went to Shilaidaha (now in Bangladesh) to look after the family estate. Here, he was influenced by the natural beauty and simple but elegant life of rural Bengal. Attended session of Indian National Congress and sang the song Vandemataram on the opening day. Wrote famous dance/musical drama - Chitrangada. His youngest daughter Mira was born in 1892. In 1894 , wrote famous collection poems - Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat). Son Samindra was born in 1894.

    Ezra Pound's Poetry Magazine published from Chicago had the honor of publishing first English poem of Tagore. His six Gitanjali poems appeared in Poetry in December, 1912 issue. Th epoet returned back to Calcutta. In 13th November of 1913, Indians came to know that the Nobel prize for literature has been awarded to Tagore for Gitanjali.
    But the Times , Los Angeles, complained that young modern writers in Europe and America had been discouraged by the award of the Prize "to a Hindu poet whose name few people can pronounce, with whose work fewer in America are familiar, and whose claim for that high distinction still fewer will recognize"."

    Where the Mind is Without Fear

    Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
    Where knowledge is free;
    Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
    Where words come out from the depth of truth;
    Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection:
    Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
    Where the mind is lead forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
    Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
    Rabindranath Tagore, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

    On a rainy day when the wind gets wild
    My untamed mind wakes up.
    Outside the realm of the known, where no path can be found
    There goes my mind on its own.
    Will it ever go home-ward now.
    No, no it will not go there-
    All the impediments are gone.
    The evening is rain-intoxicated, which god's disciple I am,
    They dance around my mind enmeshes the votaries
    all the votaries.
    I ask what I shouldn't ask for
    Once cannot get what cannot be got
    Won't get, won't get,
    I vainly lay myself at the feel of the impossible
    --from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd

    painting by tagore

    My days got restive of the golden cage
    Those multi-coloured days of mine.
    They got our of the fetters of joy and crying
    Those multi-coloured days of mine.
    The words of my soul's song
    I had hopes they might learn-
    They flew away, without saying much
    Those multi-coloured days of mine.
    I dream, they circle round my broken cage
    In expectation of meeting someone
    Those multi-coloured days of mine.
    So much pain can't be all deception.
    Are they all shadowy birds.
    Is nothing left at the horizon
    Those multi-coloured days of mine.
    --from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd

    There is no one to stop me from getting lost,
    Anywhere at all, as long as I make a wish in my mind.
    I spread my wings to the rhythm of my song, in my imagination.
    I go beyond the stony wilderness of all fairy tales,
    I get lost and reach a far away place, where silence rules.
    I go through the "parul" forests and get to know the "champa" flowers,
    All in my imagination.
    There is no one to stop me from getting lost,
    Anywhere at all, as long as I make a wish in my mind.
    I spread my wings to the rhythm of my song, in my imagination.
    As the setting sun reaches the horizon,
    And the clouds are all like cotton flowers in the sky,
    On the surf of the seven seas,
    I float faraway to foreign lands.
    I throw open the locked doors of fairy worlds, in my imagination.
    --written by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Anonymous

    The rain has stopped and sun-light
    Smiles on the cloud.
    It is holiday for us today, brother, today is a holiday for us
    I can't think of how to spend the day, which woods
    to seek after getting lost.
    Which field to choose for all the assembled boys.
    With 'keya' leaves we shall build a boat
    and cover it with flowers.
    And float it on the palm-lake and watch it moving rockingly.
    With the peasant boy we'll drive the cattle and play the flute
    Press the flower-seed to our skin ransacking the champak wood.
    --from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd

    Unending Love

    I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times,
    In life after life, in age after age forever.
    My spell-bound heart has made and re-made the necklace of songs
    That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms
    In life after life, in age after age forever.
    Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
    Its ancient tale of being apart or together,
    As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge
    Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
    You become an image of what is remembered forever.
    You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount
    At the heart of time love of one for another.
    We have played alongside millions of lovers, shared in the same
    Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
    Old love, but in shapes that renew and renew forever.
    Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you,
    The love of all man's days both past and forever:
    Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life,
    The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours- And the songs of every poet past and forever.

    The moon's smile has forsaken all restraint, the light overflows.
    O 'rajanigandha' pour out all your smell. The agitated wind doesn't know in which direction to move-
    Everyone looks lovely when it encompasses
    the blossoming bower.
    Today the blue sky's forehead is washed in sandal,
    The coupled-swan of the eloquent wood have spread their wings.
    With a plant from paradise, what does the moon spread
    around the world.
    What honeymoon- light from heaven is lit up here.
    --from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd

    The time that my journey takes is long
    and the way of it long.
    I came out on the chariot of the first
    gleam of light, and pursued my voyage
    through the wilderness of worlds leaving
    my track on many a star and planet.
    It is the most distant course that comes
    nearest to thyself, and that training is the
    most intricate which leads to the utter
    simplicity of a tune.
    The traveler has to knock at every alien
    door to come to his own, and one has to
    wander through all the outer worlds to
    reach the innermost shrine at the end.
    My eyes strayed far and wide before I
    shut them and said, "Here art thou!"
    The question and the cry, "Oh, where?"
    melt into tears of a thousand streams and
    deluge the world with the flood of the
    assurance, "I am!"

    The earth of Bengal, Bengal's waters, the air of Bengal, Bengal's fruit
    Consecrate, consecrate, consecrate, oh Lord
    The homestead of Bengal, Bengal's market,
    the woods of Bengal, Bengal's field
    Be bounteous, be bounteous, be bounteous, oh Lord.
    The resolve of a Bengalee, his hope,
    the toil of a Bengalee, his language
    Be truthful, be truthful, be truthful of Lord.
    The heart of a Bengalee, his mind,
    All the brothers and sisters in a Bengalee household
    Be one, be one, be one, oh Lord. --from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd

    It is your beginning, this is my end-
    You and I together make this current.
    Your lamp burns, you've a companion at home
    For me it is night, for me it is the star.
    Yours is the shore, mine the water-
    You remain sitting, I go on wandering.
    Your hand can hold, mine knows decay-
    Your mind knows fear, mine is above it.
    --from Selected Songs of Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Abu Rushd

    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    I drive down into the depth of the ocean of
    forms, hoping to gain the perfect pearl of
    the formless.
    No more sailing from harbour to harbour
    with this my weather-beaten boat.

    The days are long passed when my sport
    was to be tossed on waves.
    And now I am eager to die into the
    Into the audience hall by the fathomless
    abyss where swells up the music of toneless
    strings I shall take this harp of my life.
    I shall tune it to the notes of forever,
    and, when it has sobbed out its last
    utterance, lay down my silent harp at
    the feet of the silent.
    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    Ever in my life have I sought thee with my
    songs. It was they who led me from door
    to door, and with them have I felt about
    me, searching and touching my world.
    It way my songs that taught me all the
    lessons I ever learned; they showed me
    secret paths, they brought before my sight
    many a star on the horizon of my heart.
    They guided me all the day long to the
    mysteries of the country of pleasure and
    pain, and at last, to what palace gate have
    they brought me in the evening at the end
    of my journey?

    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    The song that I came to sing remains
    to this day.
    I have spent my days in stringing and in
    unstringing my instrument.
    The time has not come true, the words
    have not been rightly set; only there is the
    agony of wishing in my heart.
    The blossom has not opened; only the
    wind is sighing by.
    I have not seen his face, nor have I
    listened to his voice; only I have heard his
    gentle footsteps from the road before my
    The livelong day has passed in spreading
    his seat on the floor; but the lamp has not
    been lit and I cannot ask him into my
    I live in the hope of meeting with him;
    but the meeting is not yet.
    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    In the deep shadows of the rainy July,
    with secret steps, thou walkest, silent as
    night, eluding all watchers.
    Today the morning has closed its eyes
    heedless of the insistent calls of the loud
    east wind, and the thick veil has been drawn
    over the ever-wakeful blue sky.
    The woodlands have hushed their songs,
    and doors are all shut at every house. Thou
    art the solitary wayfarer in this deserted street.
    Oh my only friend, my be best beloved,
    the gates are open in my house-
    do not pass by like a dream.
    -- from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    On many an idle day have I grieved over
    lost time. But it is never lost, my lord.
    Thou hast taken every moment of my life
    in thine own hands.
    Hidden in the heart of things though art
    nourishing seeds into sprouts, buds into
    blossoms, and ripening flowers into
    I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed
    and imagined all work had ceased. In the
    morning I woke up and found my garden
    full with wonders of flowers.
    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    Clouds heap upon clouds and it darkens.
    Ah, love, why dost thou let me wait outside
    at the door all alone?
    In the busy moments of the noontide
    work I am with the crowd, but on this dark
    lonely day it is only for thee that I hope.
    If thou showest me not thy face, if thou
    leavest me wholly aside, I know not how I
    am to pass these long, rainy hours.
    I keep gazing on the far away gloom of
    the sky, and my hear wanders wailing
    with the restless wind.
    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    Excerpts From The Gardener

    by Rabindranath Tagore

    I try to wreath all the morning, but the flowers slip and they drop out.
    You sit there watching me in secret through the corner of your prying eyes.
    Ask those eyes, darkly planning mischief, whose fault it was.

    I try to sing a song, but in vain.
    A hidden smile trembles on your lips; ask of it the reason of my failure.
    Let your smiling lips say on oath
    how my voice lost itself in silence like a drunken bee in the lotus

    It is evening, and the time for the flowers to close their petals.
    Give me leave to sit by your side,
    and bid my lips to do the work that can be done in silence
    and in the dim light of stars.

    Do not keep to yourself the secret of your heart, my friend!
    Say it to me, only to me in secret.
    You who smile so gently, softly whisper, my heart will hear it, not my ears.

    The night is deep, the house is silent, the birds' nests are shrouded with sleep.
    Speak to me through hesitating tears, through faltering smiles,
    through sweet shame and pain, the secret of your heart!

    Speak to me, my love! Tell me in words what you sang.
    The night is dark. The stars are lost in clouds. The
    wind is sighing through the leaves.
    I will let loose my hair. My blue cloak will cling round me like night. I
    will clasp your head to my bosom; and there in the sweet loneliness murmur
    on your heart. I will shut my eyes and listen. I will not look in your face.
    When your words are ended, we will sit still and silent. Only the trees will whisper
    in the dark.
    The night will pale. The day will dawn. We shall look at each other's eyes and go
    on our different paths.
    Speak to me, my love! Tell me in words what you sang

    Love, my heart longs day and night for the meeting with you
    -for the meeting that is all-devouring death.
    Sweep me away like a storm; take everything I have;
    break open my sleep and plunder my dreams. Rob me of my world.
    In that devastation, in the utter nakedness of spirit, let us become one in beauty.
    Alas for my vain desire! Where is this hope for union except in thee, my God?

    Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
    Let it not be a death but completeness.
    Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
    Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
    Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
    Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
    I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

    Then finish the last song and let us leave.
    Forget this night when the night is no more.
    Whom do I try to clasp in my arms? Dreams can never be made captive.
    My eager hands press emptiness to my heart and it bruises my heart.

    Hands cling to hands and eyes linger on eyes: thus
    begins the record of our hearts.
    It is the moonlight night of March; the sweet smell of henna
    is in the air; my flute lies on the earth neglected and your garland of flowers
    is unfinished.
    This love between you and me is simple as a song.

    Your veil of the saffron colour makes my eyes drunk.
    The jasmine wreath that you wove me thrills to my heart like praise.
    It is a game of giving and withholding, revealing and screening again; some
    smiles and some little shyness, and some sweet useless struggles.
    This love between you and me is simple as a song.

    No mystery beyond the present; no striving for the impossible;
    no shadow behind the charm; no groping in the depth of the dark.
    This love between you and me is simple as a song.

    We do not stray out of all words into the ever silent; we do not raise our
    hands to the void for things beyond hope.
    It is enough what we give and we get.
    We have not crushed the joy to the utmost to wring from it the wine of pain.
    This love between you and me is simple as a song.

    Your questioning eyes are sad. They seek to know my meaning
    as the moon would fathom the sea.
    I have bared my life before your eyes from end to end, with
    nothing hidden or held back. That is why you know me not.
    If it were only a gem, I could break it into a hundred pieces
    and string them into a chain to put on your neck.
    If it were only a flower, round and small and sweet, I could pluck it
    from its stem and set it in your hair.
    But it is a heart, my beloved. Where are its shores and its bottom?
    You know not the limits of this kingdom, still you are its queen.
    If it were only a moment of pleasure it would flower in an easy smile,
    and you could see it and read it in a moment.
    If it were merely a pain it would melt in limpid tears, reflecting its
    inmost secret without a word.
    But it is love, my beloved.
    Its pleasure and pain are boundless, and endless its wants and wealth.
    It is as near to you as your life, but you can never wholly know it

    Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
    I have watched all night, and now my eyes are heavy with sleep
    I fear lest I lose you when Iam sleeping.
    Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

    I start up and stretch my hands to touch you.
    I ask myself, "Is it a dream?"
    Could I but entangle your feet with my heart and hold them
    fast my breast!
    Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

    I have plucked your flower, O world!
    I pressed it to my heart and the thorn pricked.
    When the day waned and it darkened, I found that
    the flower had faded, but the pain remained.

    More flowers will come to you with perfume and pride, O world!
    But my time for flower-gathering is over, and through the dark night
    I have not my rose, only the pain remains.


    Twelve O'Clock

    by Rabindranath Tagore

    Mother, I do want to leave off my lessons now.
    I have been at my book all the morning.
    You say it is only twelve o'clock.
    Suppose it isn't very late;can't you ever think it is afternoon when it is only twelve o'clock?
    I can easily imagine now that the sun has reached the edge of that rice-field, and the old fish-woman is gathering herbs for her supper by the side of the pond.
    I can just shut my eyes and think that the shadows are growing darker under the MADAR tree, and the water in the pond looks shiny black.
    If twelve o'clodk can come in the night, why can't the night come when it is twelve o'clock?

    This poem is from 'The Crescent Moon' by Tagore

    Gitanjali (part Two) by Rabindranath Tagore

    "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 joy of singing I forget myself and call thee friend who art
    my Lord".


    I drive down into the depth of the ocean of
    forms, hoping to gain the perfect pearl of
    the formless.
    No more sailing from harbour to harbour
    with this my weather-beaten boat.
    The days are long passed when my sport
    was to be tossed on waves.
    And now I am eager to die into the
    Into the audience hall by the fathomless
    abyss where swells up the music of toneless
    strings I shall take this harp of my life.
    I shall tune it to the notes of forever,
    and, when it has sobbed out its last
    utterance, lay down my silent harp at
    the feet of the silent

    -from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    The time that my journey takes is long
    and the way of it long.
    I came out on the chariot of the first
    gleam of light, and pursued my voyage
    through the wilderness of worlds leaving
    my track on many a star and planet.
    It is the most distant course that comes
    nearest to thyself, and that training is the
    most intricate which leads to the utter
    simplicity of a tune.
    The traveler has to knock at every alien
    door to come to his own, and one has to
    wander through all the outer worlds to
    reach the innermost shrine at the end.
    My eyes strayed far and wide before I
    shut them and said, "Here art thou!"
    The question and the cry, "Oh, where?"
    melt into tears of a thousand streams and
    deluge the world with the flood of the
    assurance, "I am!"
    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore  

    The song that I came to sing remains
    unsung to this day.
    I have spent my days in stringing and in
    unstringing my instrument.
    The time has not come true, the words
    have not been rightly set; only there is the
    agony of wishing in my heart.
    The blossom has not opened; only the
    wind is sighing by.
    I have not seen his face, nor have I
    listened to his voice; only I have heard his
    gentle footsteps from the road before my
    The livelong day has passed in spreading
    his seat on the floor; but the lamp has not
    been lit and I cannot ask him into my
    I live in the hope of meeting with him;
    but the meeting is not yet.
    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    Clouds heap upon clouds and it darkens.
    Ah, love, why dost thou let me wait outside
    at the door all alone?
    In the busy moments of the noontide
    work I am with the crowd, but on this dark
    lonely day it is only for thee that I hope.
    If thou showest me not thy face, if thou
    leavest me wholly aside, I know not how I
    am to pass these long, rainy hours.
    I keep gazing on the far away gloom of
    the sky, and my hear wanders wailing
    with the restless wind. -

    -From Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore&nbsp;

    In the deep shadows of the rainy July,
    with secret steps, thou walkest, silent as
    night, eluding all watchers.
    Today the morning has closed its eyes,
    heedless of the insistent calls of the loud
    east wind, and the thick veil has been drawn
    over the ever-wakeful blue sky.

    The woodlands have hushed their songs,
    and doors are all shut at every house. Thou
    art the solitary wayfarer in this deserted street.

    Oh my only friend, my be best beloved,
    the gates are open in my house-
    do not pass by like a dream.
    -- from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore  

    On many an idle day have I grieved over
    lost time. But it is never lost, my lord.
    Thou hast taken every moment of my life
    in thine own hands.
    Hidden in the heart of things though art
    nourishing seeds into sprouts, buds into
    blossoms, and ripening flowers into
    I was tired and sleeping on my idle bed
    and imagined all work had ceased. In the
    morning I woke up and found my garden
    full with wonders of flowers.

    --from Gitanjali, translated by Rabindranath Tagore

    Love's Question

    And is this all true,
    My ever-loving friend?
    That the lightning-flash of the light in my eyes
    Makes the clouds in your heart explode and blaze,
    Is this true?
    That my sweet lips are red as a blushing new bride,
    My ever-loving friend,
    Is this true?
    That a tree of paradise flowers withing me,
    That my foosteps ring like vinas beneath me,
    Is this true?
    That the night sheds drops of dew at the sight of me,
    That the dawn surrounds me with light from delight in me,
    Is this true?
    That the touch of my hot cheek intoxicates the breeze,
    My ever-loving friend,
    Is this true?
    That daylight hides in the dark of my hair,
    That my arms hold life and death in their power,
    Is this true?
    That the earth can be wrapped in the end of my sari,
    That my voice makes the world fall silent to hear me,
    Is this true?
    That the univrse is nothing but me and what loves me,
    My ever-loving friend,
    Is this true?
    That for me alone your love has been waiting
    Through worlds and ages awake and wandering,
    Is this true?
    That my voice, eyes, lips have brought you relief,
    In a trice, from the cycle of life after life,
    Is this true?
    That you read on my soft forehead inginite Truth,
    My ever-loving friend,
    Is this true?

    I Won’t Let You Go!

    Jete nahi dibo
    by Rabindranath Tagore

    Back to Content

    british steam boat in Padma

    The carriage is ready; it’s afternoon;
    The late autumnal sun blazes;
    A midday breeze swirls dust
    Off the deserted rural road;
    In a peepal tree shade
    A worn out beggar woman dozes
    On a tattered cloth. As in a night
    Still soaked with sunlight
    Everything is still, silent, somnolent—
    Only my house is astir,
    And its inmates incapable of sleep!

    Ashwin has come and gone; holiday over,
    I leave for my far off workplace today.
    Our servants run around the house
    Packing bags and baggage with ropes and strings,
    Although her eyes are full of tears,
    And her heart heavy as a stone, my wife
    Has not a moment to sit down and cry.
    She is making sure that everything is ready
    For my trip. My bags are full,
    But she thinks I don’t have enough!
    I exclaim, “Must I take all?
    Boxes, jugs, pots, pans and plates,
    Bowls, bottles, and bedclothes too!
    What will I do with so many things?
    Let me only take some of them
    And leave the rest behind.”

    But nobody heeds me.
    “What if you need this or that?
    Where will you get them then?
    Here I’ve fine rice, superb lentils
    Beetle leaves and areca nuts; in those bowls
    Are date-palm molasses and ripe coconuts;
    Over there two jugs of the best mustard oil,
    Mango cakes, dried mango sticks and some milk,
    Here in these bottles are medicines And in those bowls delicious sweets—
    Promise, dear, you will eat them!”
    I realize it’s pointless to protest
    And let bags and baggage pile up.
    I look at my watch and then at my dear wife,
    And say softly, “Goodbye.”
    Sad, she turns away,
    Hiding her face in her sari’s borders,
    Fighting tears lest they bring bad luck.
    Outside the door my four-year old girl
    Waits pensively. Any other day,
    She would have had a bath by now
    And before she had taken a bite or two,
    Her eyelids would have wrapped her in sleep.
    This day her mom has had no time for her
    And hasn’t notice that she hadn’t bathed
    Or had lunch. All this time she had been
    Sticking close to me like my shadow,
    Watching my going-away rituals in rapt silence.
    Tired now, thinking who knows what,
    She stands outside the door silently.
    When I say, “good bye darling”,
    She declares sad-eyed and solemnly,
    “I won’t let you go,” staying where she is,
    Making no attempt to take me by the arm
    Or block my way; as if proclaiming thus
    The dictate of her heart. As if only saying
    “I won’t let you go” was enough.
    And yet the time has come, alas!
    She has to let me go!

    Silly daughter of mine, was it you speaking?
    What gave you the strength
    To say so intensely, “I won’t let you go!”
    What made you feel you could stop me
    From leaving with your two bare hands?
    How could you think of holding me back
    And blocking the door with your tired tiny body
    Propelled only by a heart full of love?
    Timid and shy that we are, the most we say
    Even when our heart bursts with pain is
    “I don’t feel like letting you go!”
    And to hear your little mouth declare firmly
    “I won’t let you go”, to hear you establish
    Love’s claim with such terrific intensity!
    And yet I feel the world smiling wryly
    As it forces me away from my family.
    I take my leave, but as in a framed picture,
    I register your image—defeated,
    In tears, sitting in the doorway,
    And all I can do wipe my tears and leave.

    As I depart I see on both sides of the road
    Ripening paddy fields basking in the sun.
    Towering trees border the highway
    Contemplating intently their own shades.
    The autumnal Ganges is in full flow.
    White cloudlets recline on the blue sky
    Like new-born calves who’ve had their fill
    Of their mother’s milk and sleep peacefully.
    I sigh as I look at the bright sunlight
    Spreading across exhausted old earth.
    What immense sadness has engulfed
    The entire sky and the whole world!
    The farther I go the more clearly I hear
    Those poignant words, “I won’t let you go!”
    From the world’s edges to the skies blue dome
    The eternal cry echoes, “I won’t let you go!”
    Everything is saying, “I won’t let you go!”
    Even mother earth cries out to the tiny grass
    It hugs on its bosom, “I won’t let you go!”
    Someone trying to snatch away from darkness
    A flame flickering in the dying lamp exclaims
    A hundred times, “I won’t let you go!”
    It’s the oldest cry stretching from earth to heaven
    The profoundest lamentation, “I won’t let you go!”
    And yet, alas, we have to let go; and yet,
    Of course, we must go. And this is how it has been,
    From time immemorial. Since creation’s currents
    Began streaming relentlessly towards extinction’s sea
    With burning eyes and outstretched arms
    We’ve all been crying out in vain endlessly,
    “Won’t let go, won’t let you go!”
    Filling earth’s shores with our laments
    As everything ebbs inexorably away.
    The waves upfront cries out to the ones in the rear,
    “Won’t let go, won’t let you go!”—
    But no one listens.
    Everywhere around me this day I hear
    My daughter’s plaintive voice; it keeps ringing
    In my ears and piercing the heart of the universe.
    Earth resounds with a child’s unreasonable cry.
    Forever it loses what it gets and yet it won’t
    Slacken its grip; forever it calls to us
    With undiminished love like my four year daughter:
    “I won’t let you go!” Though sad-faced and in tears,
    Though its pride is shattered at every step,
    Love refuses to accept defeat and cries out
    In desperation, “”I won’t let you go!”
    Defeated each time it blurts out,
    “Can the one I love stay away from me?
    Can anything in the universe compare
    In strength or be as boundless as my desire?”
    And even as it proclaims proudly,
    “I won’t let you go” the one it treasures
    Is blown away in an instant, like dust
    Wafted by the arid wayward breeze. And then
    Tears stream down its eyes. Like a tree
    Uprooted, it collapses headfirst, humiliated.

    And yet Love insists, “God keeps his Word
    I have proof in the pledge He made of a right
    Given eternally.” And thus emboldened,
    Delicately built Love stands up to Death
    And declares proudly, “Death, you don’t exist!”
    Death laughs at such folly. And so Love,
    Undying, though weighed down by Death,
    Pervades the universe, solemn-faced,
    Full of fears, forever in a flutter and tears.
    And so a weary hopefulness covers the world
    Like a gray fog. I see two inconsolable arms
    Vainly trying to bind saddened, silent earth.

    Under swift currents a quiet shade
    —The allure of a cloud that will soon shed tears.

    And thus it is that this day the rustling trees
    Induce in me such yearnings. In the midday heat
    The lazy indifferent wind plays listlessly
    With dry leaves. The slow day wanes,
    Lengthening the shades under the banyan tree.
    Eternity’s flute plays a pastoral lament
    That can be heard over the universe. In response,
    Listless earth sits down in a paddy field
    By the river’s side, loosening its tresses,
    And flinging a golden scarf across its bosom
    That gleams in the golden sun. She is silent
    Her eyes are still as she looks at the blue and distant sky.
    I take a look at her sad, sorrowful face,
    As if in a doorway, quiet, absorbed, sad.
    Just like my four-year-old daughter!
    Translated by Fakrul Alam

    Back to Content

    Farewell my Friend

    It was beautiful as long as it lasted
    The journey to my life.
    I have no regrets whatsoever
    save the pain I'll leave behind.

    Those dear hearts who love and care...
    And the strings pulling at the heart and soul...
    The strong arms that held me up
    When my own strength let me down.

    At every turning of my life
    I came across good friends,
    Friends who stood me by,
    Even when time raced me by.
    Farewell, farewell my friends
    I smile and bid you goodbye.
    No, shed no tears for I need them not.
    All I need is your smile.

    If you feel sad do think of me
    for that's what I'll like.
    When you live in the hearts of those you love,
    remember, then you never die.

    Back to Content

    7. Sukanto Bhottacharjo

    Sukanto Bhottacharjo: The Voice of Resistance

    In contrast to the brevity of his life, Sukanto Bhottacharyo has had a remarkably lasting effect upon the political and cultural sensibilities of the people of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Born in 1926, at age 15 he began experimenting in verse and prose. His poetry caught fire at the age of 17, and the bulk of his work -- only about 155 poems in all -- were written during the four years from 1943 to 1947. During this period India was in turmoil, lifting its head to throw off the yoke of British rule. Bengal, in particular, was torn by man-made famine, war and religious riots. Sukanta dedicated his poetry to the worldwide struggle for liberation and social justice. Known as a revolutionary communist poet, he organized youth in a culture movement and led student demonstrations. Pushing himself without concern for his failing health, he succumbed to tuberculosis and died at the age of 21.
    Sukanto's poetry was an integral part of the Language Movement of Bangladesh, as well as the independence struggle culminating in 1971, and the movement against martial law of 1983-1990. Whenever the people struggle for justice in Bangladesh -- and they must do so very often -- it is a certainty that the poetry of Sukanto will be recited at the rallies and painted on walls along the march routes.
    Here is one of his most famous works:

    7.1 The passport

    The Passport

    by Sukanto Bhottacharjo

    The breath of the child that's born tonight
    Bore me these tidings:
    A passport it has received,
    So at the portals of its new world it declaims its rights
    With a shrill cry as soon as it is born.
    So tiny and helpless! yet how its clenched fist
    Is raised, glowing
    With the ardor of an incomprehensible resolve.
    No one can make out what it says.
    Some laugh, some only mildly remonstrate.
    But I have grasped that language,
    Received the new message of the coming age -
    In the eyes of the new-born, dim with mist,
    I read its credentials.

    The new-born is here, we'll have to make room for it;
    Unsuccessful in this worn-out world, we'll have to leave
    With a heap of corpses and ruin on our back.

    I'll depart, yet today, while there is life in me
    I will with all my might cleanse this world's dung-heap,
    I'll leave this world habitable for the child -
    To the new-born that is my resolute pledge.
    At last, when all my work is done,
    With my own blood the new child
    Will I anoint -
    Then become history.

    Back to Content

    8. Purbabanga-Gitika

    8.1 Chandraboti’s love for Joychandra

    Chandraboti’s love for Joychandra


    Purbabanga-Gitika a collection of folk ballads of East Bengal. These ballads, composed orally and performed among the rural communities, are important resources of bangla literature.

    The ballads were collected from Mymensingh, Netrakona, Chittagong, Noakhali, Faridpur, Sylhet and Tripura. The main collectors of these ballads include chandra kumar de, dinesh chandra sen, ashutosh chaudhuri, jasimuddin, Nagendrachandra Dey, Rajanikanta Bhadra, Bihari Lal Roy and Bijay Narayan Acharya.

    Over 50 ballads are included in the collection, among them Dhopar Pat, Maisal Bandhu, Kanchan Mala, Kamala Ranir Gan, Madankumar O Madhumala, Nejam Dakater Pala, Dewan Isha Khan, Manjur Ma, Kaphenchora, Bheluya, Hatikheda, Aynabibi, Kamal Sadagar, Chawdhurir Ladai, Gopini-Kirtan, Suja-Tanayar Bilap, Baratirther Gan, Nurunnechha O Kabarer Katha and Paribanur Hanhala.

    Most of these ballads were composed in the 14th century, with some being composed in the 16th and 17th centuries.

    The composers of these ballads were uneducated or half-educated farmers or boatmen. Their themes included love affairs, rivalry between different zamindars, and significant events effecting the life of the people. These were composed in the form of rhymes or panchali. Later, groups of singers used to set them to music and perform them in villages.

    Chandrakumar De started publishing some of these folk ballads from 1913. These attracted the attention of Dineshchandra Sen who met Chandrakumar. With his help Dineshchandra collected quite a few of these ballads from the villagers. Calcutta University provided financial support for the collection which was published as Purbabanga-Gitika in 1926. Dineshchandra translated these ballads into English. The collection, titled Eastern Bengal Ballads, was published in four volumes by Calcutta University in 1923.

    Volume 1: Eastern Bengal Ballads : Mymensigh ((1923), contains ten ballads:
    Mahua (1-30pp), Malua (31-80), Chandravati (81-102), Kamala (103-138), Dewan Bhavna (139-162), Kenaram the Robber Chief (163-180), Rupavati (181-204), Knaka and lila (205-242), Kajal Rekha (243-282), and Dewan Madina (283-312=.

    Sen in the first volume presented baromashi songs or the songs of twelve months. In these songs each of the twelve months of the year presents, as it were, a bioscopic scene of the landscape of Bengal.

    The earliest poetic tradition of the country was that bengali poem could not be complete withoutbaromasi or an account of the twelve month. We have found baromasi even from the days of aphorisms of Dak and Khana in the ninth century (Dinesh Chandra Sen).

    Kamalar Baromasi

    Kamalar Baromasi collected by Poet Jasim Uddin in Faridpur, Bangladesh about thirty years ago. The song represents songs of separation with the happy end (Dr. Dusan Zbavitel, The Development of baromasi, Folklore of Bangladesh, Bangla Academy,1987):

    In this month of Agrahayan, all four ridges
    are solid.
    Paddy of different colours ripened in my fields
    I shall prepare rice from paddy of various colours
    The merchant of my heart is not at home, to whom
    shall I give it?

    In this month of Paush, there is the darkness of
    nights being dark, thieves go from one house to
    let the thieves come, I am not afraid of them.
    Father and brother are the ring round my body and
    my father-in-law, the merchent.

    In this month of Magh, coldness is like poison
    Kamal lays the bed with cotton mat in the inner
    Laying in the bed with the cotton mat she looks at the
    Why does the room of the poor woman look empty?
    The cotten robe, the cotton mat, the cotton pillow on
    her breast.
    You sinful cotton pillow, there is no answer in thy

    painting by sukor- jasim uddin centanaryIn this month of Phalgun, householders sow the seed.
    The girl a cup full of poison.
    I shall eat poison, i shall eat venom, I shall die,
    But shall never (again) marry a boatman.
    The boatman is the great scoundrel, a servent of the
    Having married me, he went away and never cared
    about me.

    In this month of chaitra, the wind chaitali is at its
    The wife whose merchant at home is very proud
    What a wife is she whose merchant is not at home?
    I am unhappy wife, I am dying in pains.

    In this month of Baisakh, there is spinach and jute
    All people eat spinach, the limbs of the wife are
    She cooked and prepared spinach and poured it on a
    My dear merchant is not at home, whom shall I give it?

    In this month of Jaysto hot is the sun
    Hundred of mangoes are ripe and huge jack-fruits
    I would eat mangoes, I would eat jack-fruits,
    milk of five cows.
    If my dear merchent were at home, we would play

    In this month of Ashar, there is new water in Ganges,
    The milkwoman shouts :"Take curds! Take Curd!
    Whose curds who will take, who would like to eat it?
    The merchant is not at home, my days pass in fasting.

    In this month of Sraban, householder cut the paddy
    the kora-bird calls, sitting on the rice stalk.
    Dakcalls, damphala calls, bora calls, sitting there,
    the call of the cruelkokil made my ribs split.

    In this month of Bhadra tal-fruits (palm) are ripe in the trees,
    The young girl went out with a plate in her hands.
    She took her plate, she took a box, she took a quilt on
    her head
    Wandering around she went where her dear merchant
    had gone.

    In this month of Ashwin there is the new
    Durga festival.
    Let the brahmin wives offer flowers (to the goddess)
    Let them offer offer flowers, let them take the offerings

    If my dear mervhant comes home, I shall offer to

    In this month of Kartik , betel-buds are on the
    The dear merchant comes home, with an umbrella
    over his shoulder.

    Months of the Bengali/Indian Civil Calendar
    Days Correlation of Indian/Gregorian

    sukoor-centenary jasimuddin
    1. Chaitra 30 March 22
    2. Baisakh-31 April 21
    3. Jyaistho-31 May 22
    4. Asahar -31 June 22
    5. Sravan July 23
    6. Bhadra--31- August 23
    7. Ashwin-30 September 23
    8. Kartik--30 October 23
    9. Agrahayan-30 November 22
    10. Paus--30- December 22
    11. Magh--30- January 21
    12. Falgun--30 February 20

    * In a leap year, Caitra has 31 days and Caitra 1 coincides with March 21.

    The history of calendars in India is a remarkably complex subject owing to the continuity of Indian civilization and to the diversity of cultural influences. Early allusions to a lunisolar calendar with intercalated months are found in the hymns from the Rig Veda, dating from the second millennium B.C.E. Literature from 1300 B.C.E. to C.E. 300, provides information of a more specific nature.

    Before the introduction of the Bangla Calendar, agricultural and land taxes were collected according to the Islamic Hijri calendar. However, as the Hijri Calendar is a lunar calendar, the agricultural year did not always coincide with the fiscal year. Therefore, farmers were hard-pressed to pay taxes out of season. In order to streamline tax collection, the Mughal Emperor Akbar ordered a reform of the calendar. Accordingly, Amir Fatehullah Shirazi, a renowned scholar of the time and the royal astronomer, formulated a new calendar based on the lunar Hijri and solar Hindu calendars. The resulting Bangla calendar was introduced following the harvesting season when the peasantry would be in a relatively sound financial position. In keeping with the harvesting season, this new calendar initially came to be known as the Harvest Calendar, or Fôsholi Shôn. The new "Fôsholi Shôn" was introduced on 10 March / 11 March 1584, but was dated from Akbar's accession to the throne in 1556. The new year subsequently became known as Bônggabdo or Bangla Shôn ("Bengali year").

    The zero year of the Bangla calendar coincides with the zero of the Islamic Hijri calendar since it was introduced by a Muslim Mongol conqueror of India, Emperor Akbar, descendant of Babar, Tamerlane and Chenghis Khan. Today the two calendars have diverged and have two different years.

    The Bangla calendar was made a solar calendar to better coincide with harvest times and facilitate better collection of taxes. This caused the difference between the Hijri year and the Bangla year. The Hijri lunar calendar is 11/12 days shorter than the solar year and so has raced ahead. The Hijri year today (January, 2003) is 1422 while the Bangla year is 1409.

    The Bengali Calendar in use today was created by Emperor Akbar (or rather someone under him) on March 10 or 11th 1584/5 AD. It amalgamated the old Indian calendar and the Islamic Hijri (Arabic) calendar and was originally called Tarikh-e-Elahi... now Bangla Shaal (possibly the name of the old calendar). That was not, however, year zero. Since Akbar had ascended the throne in the year 1556 AD and his new calendar was backdated to that year which was the year 963 in the lunar Hijri era (Islamic calendar). So the new Bangla calendar began at 963 with zero coinciding with the zero of the Hijri calendar.

    The months, Boishakh, Joishtho, Asharh, Srabon, Bhadra, Ashwin, Kartik, Agrahayon, Poush, Magh, Falgun, Chaitra are used. Boishakh, Joishtho, etc. are Bengali names as opposed to non-Indian names used by Akbar. The Bangla names from the older calendar prevailed. Originally in the region, the first of Chaitra was the beginning of the new year but a new date was selected by Akbar and his administration. It was a date selected from both the Arabic and the Bengali calendars. In 963 AH (Hijri) the first arabic month, Muhurram, had coincided with Baishakh (Boishakh). So the first of Boishakh (Pahela Boishakh) was selected as the first day of the year replacing Chaitra first. Even though the names of the original


    Translated by: ZBAVITEL Dušan - ceský indolog

    D.-k.: L'orientalisme en Tchécoslovaquie (též angl., nem. a rus.), Praha 1959; (s E. Heroldem a K. Zvelebilem), Indie zblízka, Praha 1960 (nem. 1961); Rabíndranáth Thákur. Vývoj básníka, Praha 1961; Ocenka Tagorom Dviženija svadeši posle 1905, Moskva 1961; Bengali Folk-Ballads and the Problem of their Authenticity, Calcutta 1963; (s J. Markem), Dvakrát Pákistán, Praha 1964 (nem. 1966, rus. 1966); (s kol.), Bozi, bráhmani, lidé. Ctyri tisíciletí hinduismu, Praha 1964 (rus. 1969); The Rise of Modern Literature in Asia, with Special Reference to Bengal, Calcutta 1966; Lehrbuch des Bengalischen, Heidelberg 1970, 3. vyd. 1997; Non-Finite Verbal Forms in Bengali, Praha 1970; (s kol.), Moudrost a umení starých Indu, Praha 1971; Bangladéš. Stát, který se musel zrodit, Praha 1973; Bengali Literature, Wiesbaden 1976; (s kol.), Setkání a promeny, Praha 1976 (pol., 1983); Jedno horké indické léto, Praha 1982 (rus. 1986); Staroveká Indie, Praha 1985; (s kol.), Bohové s lotosovýma ocima, Praha 1987 (2. vyd., 1997); Divadlo južnej Azie, Bratislava 1987; Sanskrt, Brno 1987; (s D. Kalvodovou), Pod praporem krále nebes. Divadlo v Indii, Praha 1988; Hinduismus a jeho cesty k dokonalosti, DharmaGaia, Praha 1993; (s J. Vackem), Pruvodce dejinami staroindické literatury, Trebíc 1996; Otazníky staroveké Indie, Nakladatelství Lidové noviny, Praha 1997.

    Note: I am very grateful to the Bengali Academy Dacca, for having been given an oppertunity to consult their collection, and to my friend, the Poet Jasim uddin, dacca, who placed to my disposal some baromasiscollected by him. - Dr. Dusan Zbavitel,Oriental Institut Praha, czechoslavakia.

    Poet Jasim Uddin collected more than 10 thousands folk songs. During his life time Bangla Academy refused to publish the collection with interpretation and for this ground he refused to accept the Bangla Academy literary Award in 1975. It took seven years to publish Jari Gan by the Bangla Academy. It is pity that academy did not show any intrest. It is a great national loss that the academy did not take any action to preserve our national heritage.



    Chandraboti was a sixteenth-century poet from Mymensingh who has been immortalized as the heroine of Joy-Chandraboti, a Mymensingh Geetika. The ballad tells the story of Chandraboti’s love for Joychandra. The two were to get married when Joychandra rejected her for a Muslim girl. Joychandra tried to return to Chandraboti, but Chandraboti rejected her former lover, who committed suicide by drowning himself. Chandraboti’s father suggested that she occupy herself by translating the Ramayana from Sanskrit to Bangla. Chandraboti started the work but died before she could complete it. Dinesh Chandra Sen included Chandraboti’s Ramayana in Purbabanga-Gitika. The following is a transcreation by Nuzhat Amin Mannan of poet Nayan Chand Ghosh’s Chandraboti.


    1. Dear Alien

    Do women not carry water
    From where you come?
    Are river banks not allowed
    To the female sex!
    Do men bring in the drinking water, carry the vessels?
    Have your forefathers always scolded you for
    Looking at a woman?
    Is it unbearable the thought of a woman touching water,
    water that gives life… all too precious
    to be trusted in the hands of women…
    by the way where is it that you come from?
    Over here women go to the river everyday,
    And no ones stares the
    The way you did today!

    2. Divinest Chandraboti

    I do not know
    What women carry or do not carry
    at home or in other parts of the world.
    I cannot have lived at all
    Not having seen, before yesterday, you Chandraboti.
    Oh, was there a river too??!
    Where I come from
    Women are sweet, docile, tulsi-tending, husband-worshipping
    Son-giving, everything a man could ask for
    And did I still stare at Chandraboti?
    I did IF she made me
    Or breathe
    Or live
    Or die.
    Yours, Joydev

    3. Dear Joydev

    How thoughtful of you
    To leave your letter
    Among the flowers I had collected
    For my father, the Acharya’s pooja!
    Had I not had a wasp to displace settled among
    that bed of white jui and crimson hibiscus
    how would I have known that
    an alien whom I may now call Joydev
    not only stares
    but also snoops
    on women unawares!?
    You must try harder Joydev.
    I read a little and
    Do not easily
    at sweet nothings
    Specially those
    From men
    Who know what artifice to use
    To make menials of fawning women.

    Truly, Chandra.

    4. Chandra

    Chandra fawn for me! So that I can make a menial out of Chandra?
    Why mock me, Chandra?
    I gathered that you read voraciously.
    My artifices are simple
    Naïve, a lot more down to earth
    Than yours that you collect from your books
    As a bee gluts itself on the honey it takes.
    Tell me honestly,
    Without artifices that make virgins virtuous…
    Have you not felt as I
    Unabashedly declare I did?
    Did not your blood rush
    to touch my letter,
    I, the Snooper, did not imagine you turning crimson
    I saw you, wet and trembling, standing among the morning dew
    in a white saree, your hair like Meghdoot’s clouds.
    I could have given my life to cling to the moment I laid my eyes on you,
    Loving you, I did no wrong
    If your dawn rituals are done out of obsequiousness to a God one cannot see
    My rituals to follow Chandra, to worship her flesh and soul
    should not appear unseemly!
    Truly, Deeply, Madly Yours, Joy.

    5. Sutra

    I have professed I read a little
    I have not, however, come across any Virgin’s Manual for Fooling Men!!
    I do not know how to deceive whatever artifices I may possess,
    I know of a simple sutra though
    Written by a bachelor (?) sage.
    The sutra proclaims that
    Joy is ephemeral
    And suffering real
    What Joy gives easily (no puns here on your name)
    Is taken away summarily on a whimsy.
    Suffering is the more faithful love
    Who sits, sighs, woos you to the end.
    I trembled this dawn, Joydev, as I was cold,
    Turned crimson because I felt caught
    In fetters that I did not think existed for Chandraboti.
    Yes, I am flesh and blood and everything in between that
    Makes us weak and unwise!
    You did not do anything wrong to love me because
    No sanyasi’s sutra clouds your mind.
    I on the other hand have been warned
    And I know I am out of my mind
    To tell Joy that I love him back.
    -Bewildered, Chandra

    6. Bewildered

    I trembled too, Chandra, because I was hot
    And not just with desire
    But because I felt a bewildering sort of peace.
    I pledge myself a slave to Chandra,
    in dreams,
    in waking moments and in slumber.
    I will hold you, hold me forever too, Chandra
    Mock me some more, tell me I am raving.
    But banish sutras, my Chandra, that bewilder you
    Be my wife, my mate, my soul!
    Enraptured, Chandra’s Joy

    7. Riverbank

    Why do I tremble so, she is ravishing, I am hot
    with desire
    with a bewildering weakness, She’s exquisite, perfect!
    I will hold you, woman without a name
    Mock me, tell me I am raving, unfaithful
    Remind me that I have pledged myself to Chandra.

    No, banish such thoughts, this Moslem beauty that bewilders me
    Shall be my wife, my mate, my soul!

    8. The Bride-to-be

    Oh this red is too red for me
    And oh dear! must I wear those too
    The filigree gold chains and anklets?
    Pardon me, I can dress myself.
    I know Joy wouldn’t care if his
    Bride came in ashes or in alta We will pay homage to the sacred fire together
    And I’ll wear my vermillion and shanka
    Only for Joy, my husband, my equal, my other self.

    9. How’s that !

    “She is extremely stupid, if I may say so
    Imagine reading all those books, such a father’s daughter
    Being so stupid!”
    “Did you see her shed her gold chains and forget that her aanchal trailed?”
    “And wipe all those alpanas we made with her dragging feet
    Silly girl, to think men can be constant!”
    “But Joydev marrying a Muslim
    forsaking our ancestral Gods,
    Isn’t that so over the top?”
    “I knew this would happen, told her just as much!”
    “Did you now, how come?”
    “Strange you should need to ask.
    Doesn’t falling in love tell you something
    does it not have an ominous ring?”
    “Oh, Oh, poor Chandraboti ,
    what will she do, who will have her now?”
    “Silly girl, to think men can be constant!”

    10. Lost in Translation

    Chandra, hate me
    As I deserve
    But I must tell you
    Of my grief
    I don’t know how it was
    I married someone I did not love
    And forsook, left my Chandra, shindoor-less
    Waiting for me in her bridal wear.
    Like in a foreign tongue,
    Something incomprehensible
    Was jibber-jabbering in my head
    My heart, I wish…Chandra
    You had left me my heart as an amulet!
    My well-read Chandra,
    Read in my unabashed anguish,
    I love you more than myself
    Translate my monstrous regret
    As my sincerest protestations of love.
    Sweet Chandra, hate me as I deserve
    But have me back!

    11. Statue

    This is not you
    The Gods have substituted
    My Chandra with a blankness
    stone for flesh
    And stillness for breath
    Ah! Chandra I know you love me still
    But are blind to your Joy, to his fate, to his life!
    I am raving, it wasn’t you, it was I who was blind,
    Blind in love for Chandra, blind in my errant ways,
    blinded now by your glistening reserve.
    Tell me, Chandra, tell me you are human
    Like the rest of us, that blemishless
    Though you are, you understand
    Frailty and Weakness, and Corruption
    Not only as discourse,
    but also as human passions
    We are not statues or Gods
    Chandra, speak to me one more time
    And I will be gone,
    Forever, leaving you
    My unwed wife!
    in your barren temple.

    12. Temple Door

    How quiet it grows all of a sudden!
    How peaceful
    How monstrous looks the dawn
    Red, vermillion, gold!
    Or may be it’s just my reddened eyes that makes it look so vile
    Old temple threshold, hold me, protect me
    Ancients guide me
    What poor comfort my books are now
    And you Gods that stare and stare
    Chandra’s tears are too human to mean anything to you my Gods!
    Well, here’s a new dawn
    A fresh deluge of torture
    Forget, remember, forget, and with ferocity remember
    I had Joy and lost Joy and could have had him again!
    No, he left me, left his Gods,
    He wanted me, he repented his errant ways
    No, he left me, left his Gods.
    He wanted…Enough,
    Women go to the river here every day
    I can do it again.
    How quiet it grows all of a sudden!
    And how sharp the air is today
    How cold the water’s touch
    I tremble, Joydev, are you here? Bloated with peace at last?
    Why, Joydev, the river? you always hated water!

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    Last Modified May 27, 2015