Purba Midnapur, Paschim Midnapur
Religions - Tribes
Drought - Disaster


Rishi Rajnarayan Basu

Sri Haripada Mondal

.:: Rabindranath and Rajnarayan Bose ::.

The relation of Rajnarayan to the Tagore family of Jorasanko, Calcutta , was deeply spiritual. As an affectionate follower of Maharsi Devendranath and revered friend of Jyotirindranath he had his place in this illustrious family endowed with love and sweetness. Hence, Rabindranath had a sweet and fresh remembrance of him—how he looked upon him in his boyhood. Very frankly he has admitted how deep the influence of this great 1hinker was upon him. It is written in his ‘Reminiscences,' “When we first knew Rajnarain Babu in our boyhood, we were not powerful enough to appreciate his many sidedness. In him were combined many opposites. In spite of. his hoary hair and beard he was as young as the youngest of us, his venerable exterior serving only as a white mantle for keeping his youth perpetually fresh.”

In another writing also Rabindranath has mentioned, “In my early childhood at the age of eight I used to see him very often at our home. Even at that time he had his hoary beard and hair; still he would mix with us like a simple child—he thought it his duty to mix with the boys like us even when he was preoccupied with so much engagements during that age of transition and reformation. Right reverence he cherished for the children. And specially to me he was an inspirer. At the age of 18 alter coming from England what I wrote in the Bharati I am ashamed of reading and that being in. printed matter even now throws shame tip me. But Rajnarain Babu would read that with extreme eagerness, and write long letters with critical notes on each sentence. 1 too would wait with great longing for his hearty and affectionate notes.”

So far we can gather, before starting for England boy Rabi had got lessons on English language and literature for some period from Rajnarayan. To this respect Rajnarain is One of the team of Tegore's . teachers, in 1873-74 when he was residing in Cacutta, Devendranath wrote to him from th Himalayas , with the request to look after the boy Rabindranath.

As mentioned above we come to know that Tagore got immense impetus and -inspiration from Rajnarain for literary creation. This was certainly accelerated in another field where both the growing boy and the grey haired guide became popular with the public for their: special performances it was in 1875 that the Ninth session of the National Fair or the Hindu Mela was held at Belgachhia Emerald Villas with Rajnarain Bose in the chair. This Hindu: Mela was established by Nabagopal Mitra and Jyotirindra Nath Tagore on the line adumbrated by Rajnaryan himself in “The Prospectus of a Society for the promotion of National feeling among the Educated Natives, of Bengal ”. Rajnarayan's was the original idea. His. novel plan was put into action when he was at Midnapore. But with the establishment of the Hindu Mela or the National Fair, he was directly involved with it. On account of his illness he was unable to be present in the First Annual Session of the Fair. But he did not fail to join the Fair in subsequent sessions as long as he stayed in Calcutta and got the opportunity to preside over the function in the 9th Annual Session It was held in the celebrated ‘Parshi Bagan' or the Garden of the Parshis. It was in this session of the Fair that the boy Rabindranath had charmed the audience for the first time in any public meeting by reciting of his two self-composed poems in Bengali, ‘Hindu Mela Upaharh' & ‘Dillir Darabarh.' And we know it for certain that Tagore was inspired enormously by his father's fanatic friend, Rajnarayan, whose affectionate but unseen hand led him to a public place and who in his mind's eye had seen him as a rising sung long before Rishi Bankim recognised his poetic genius.

Just after this we find at in the same jurnal which contained Rajnarayan's articles, a long poem composed by the young poet was published in November, 1875 (Jnankur & Pratibimba). Again, we find the poet reciting his own poem in a meeting which was organised by the enthusiastic friends of Rajnarayan. The Annual Conference of the old alumni of the Hindu College was in January, 1876, and the young Poet Rabindranath, though not a student or ex-student of the College, wa ihvited to read out his own poem. Here also we feel the embracing hand of Rajnarayan behind the screen.

In describing the early history of the patriotic movement in his ‘Reminiscences', Tagore mentions the activities of the ‘Sanjivani Sabba' of which Rajnarayan was the President. The sittings of this Sabha were generally held in a forsaken garden at Maniktala of Calcutta, and Rabindranath eagerly joined the sittings with his elder brothers, Dwijendra Nath, Jyotirmdra Nath, Ganendra Nath and others. Though he was not grown-up enough to join such organisàtions and though he did not think himself equally fit to be their comrade, the striking feature vas this, that the old man who was at the head of this Sabha, did not push him away in consideration of his immaturity. Tagore says, “My fifth brother Jyotirindra Nath, was responsible for a political association of which old Rajnarayàn Bose was the President. It held its sittings in a tumble-down building in an obscure Calcutta lane. Its proceedings were enshrouded in mystery. This mystery was its only claim to be awe-inspiring, for as a matter of fact there was nothing in our deliberations or doing of which Government or people need have been afraid. The rest of our family had no idea where we were spending our afternoons. Our front door would ‘be locked, the meeting room in darkness, the watch word a Vedic ‘mantra' our talk in whispers. These alone provided us with enough of a thrill, and we wanted nothing more. Mere child as I was, I also was a member,” In.this connection lie also describes one memorable event in the following manner.

“A zeminder in a small way was among our party. He owned a villa on the riverside. One day we had a Picnic there together, in defiance of caste rules. In the afternoon there was a tremendous storm. We stood on the riverside stairs leading into the water and shouted out songs to its accompaniment. i cannot truthfully assert that all the seven notes of the scale could properly be distinguished in Rajnarain Babu's singing; nevertheless he sent forth his voice and, as in the old Sanskrit words the text is drowned by the notes. so in Rajnarain Babu's musical efforts the vigorous play of his limbs and features overwhelmed his feebler vocal performance ; his head swung from side to side marking time, while the storm played havoc with his flowing beard. It was late in the night when we turned homewards in a hackney carriage.”

Even when Rajnaryan left Calcutta for his broken health and settled down at Deoghar in Bihar for the rest of his life his acquaintances with the Tagore family or other relations in Calcutta or Midnapore were not cut off. Occasionally he would come to Calcutta and sometimes exchanged letters with friends and rela4tives. A good many number of people met him at Deoghar whenever found time they and discussed various important subjects with him. His admirers and young follo4vers did never forget him. After returning from England Rabindranáth also ran to Deoghar several times only to pay him a visit. For a considerable period Rajnarain had been the President and young Rabindranath the Secretary of the Brahmo Samaj. Having been inbued with the liberal outlook of his father, Rabindranath plunged into the Brahmo movement and actively participated in its affairs for a few years. It was due to his ill-health that Rajnarain could not come to Calcutta at the time of the marriage ceremony of his fourth daughter, Lilabati, (wife of Krishna Kumar Mitra ) The ceremony was performed strictly according to the rites of the Brahmos. This was the first marriage ceremony to be held in a Brahmo Temple . Many a distinguished person assembled in the wedding hail. Pundit Sibnath Sastri was the chief priest of the-holy function. Boy Narendranath Datta (Later Swami Vivekananda ) along with some noted musicians offered beautiful songs at this ceremony and his companion was Rabindranath, the composer himself. The famous songs like ‘Dui Hridayer Nadi' (Spring of the two hearts) ‘Jagater purohit tumi' (You are the priest of the world ) and ‘Subhadineh esecbha doneh' ( You two have come in this auspicious day ) were composed on this occasion of wedding and Tagore himself took charge of rehearsing of these songs. Though it is a fact that Rajnarain could not be present to perpetuate the memøry of this meeting of the two future great men in this festive occasion, yet these two immortal sons of Bengal did not forget to pay their sacred tribute to the old idealist at Deoghar.

Old Rajnariyan has noted in his Diary, “Today Rabindia Nath Tagore arrives from Calcutta and we are exceedingly glad at this. Yesterday was a very gloomy day ; today all are joyful. Rabindra sings out some of his own songs to us. How nice does he sing!” (17th August, 1885).

“Today Rabindra leaves for Calcutta . We have spent these two days in delight with his company” (18th August, 1885).

So deep was the influence of this great personality on Rabindranath that the great poet, who was also an exta-ordinary writer of novels and stories, delineated some of his characters in the ‘Ptajapatir Nirbandha,' ‘Gora' and ‘Rajarshi' with the image of Rajnarayan. Of course, it is wrong to expect that a real man would be perfectly reflected in a painted character of a novel Or a story. Characters are the creations of a writer's own mind. Still none would deny and Tagore also admits that there exists a shadow of the real man in the characterisation of a writer.

When Rajnarayan passed away at Deoghar, the whole family of the Tagores was moved to tears as if at the unexpected demise of a near and dear one. Some of the members of the family did Openly express their heart-felt grief And obituary. In a personal letter Rabindranath also wrote to Priyanath Sen, “Perhaps you have heard that Rajnarayan Babu breathed his last—he was a truly genetous man and our most sincere well wisher.” Again, while writing his Reminiscenus writing his ‘Reminiscences' (Jivan-Smirti), ‘the poet paid his deferential tribute to this saintly man in the following manner,:

“Even his extensive learning had not been able to do him any damage, for it left him absolutely simple. To the end of his life the incessant flow of his hearty laughter suffered no check, neither from the gravity of age, nor ill-health, nor domestic affliction, nor profundity of thought, nor variety of knowledge, all of which had been his in ample measure He had been a favourite pupil of Richardson and brought up in an atmosphere of English learning nevertheless, he flung aside all obstacles due to his early habits and gave himself up lovingly and devotedly to Bengali literature. Though the meekest of men, he was full of fire which flamed its fiercest in his patriotism, as though to burn to ashes the shortcomings and destitution of his country.

“The memory of this smile-sweetened, fervour-illumined, lifelong-youthful saint is one that is worth cherishing by our countrymen.”


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