Thursday, May 8, 2008

Kobiguru in the Northwest

(Top)The Tagore Kacharibari at Patisar and (Bottom)Tagore's boat "Padma"; most of Chaitali and Chhinnapatra were written here Photo: STAR
Rabindranath Tagore etched his mark in the country's northwestern region several times between 1890 and 1937. Historians identified reasons of his visits to be chiefly associated with his family's zamindari -- travelling and attending literary meetings in between. He stayed at Patisar, Shahjadpur and Shilaidaha.

The zamindari of Tagore family was stretched to three parganas in the northwest -- Ibrahimpur pargana with headquarters at Shiladaha, Kushtia, Kaligram pargana at Patisar, in the then Rajshahi (currently Naogaon) and Shahjadpur pargana in Pabna. Patisar was stated by many to be the main zamindari that existed till abolishment of the system.

The historic Kacharibaris at Patisar, Shahjadpur and Shilaidaha still evoke the memories of the poet.

In the late 1890, the poet visited Patisar for the first time. He described nature and people of the region in many of his letters and literary works. On the bank of the Nagor river, Patisar -- 36 kms from Naogaon and 90 kms from the Rajshahi city -- was the headquarter of his zamindari in Kaligram pargana.

In 1920, the poet established the first agriculture bank at Patisar with funds donated from his Nobel Prize money to provide his tenants with loans on very easy terms.

Two years later in November 1892, the poet came to Rajshahi (Rampur-Boalia) town upon invitation from Loken Palit, the then Judge of Rajshahi district. Akshay Kumar Maitraya and Natore's Dighapatiya Rajkumar Sarat Kumar Roy were in Rajshahi then and they held several literary gatherings at Palit's residence.

The poet read out his keynote paper on "Sikkhar Herpher" (discrepancies in education) upholding the use of mother tongue as the preferable medium of education at a discussion in Rajshahi. Rajshahi Association organised the event on November 12,1892.

Rabindranath and Palit visited Natore in a horse-drawn carriage from Rajshahi. Unfortunately, he caught a chill and Kabiraj Jadu Lahidi was employed for his treatment by the Maharaja of Natore. The poet completed Protiksha during this visit (December 4, 1892). Then he went back to Patisar by boat and stayed at Palit's house in Rajshahi where he wrote Ebar Phirao Morey.

Historians say, the poet's friendship with the Maharaja of Natore, Jagadindranath Roy, prompted quite a few visits to this northern town.

Sarat Kumar Roy, the Rajkumar of Dayarampur, in his book Rabindra Smriti, wrote, "I have heard from Akshay Babu (Akshay Kumar Maitreya) that he (the poet) and the Natore Maharaja (Jagadindranath) were the two bhuts (ghosts) of Rabindranath's Panchabhuter Diary." Panchabhut was published in the Bengali year 1304 and was dedicated to Maharaja Jagadindranath Roy Bahadur.

In 1897, the poet again came to Natore; this time to attend the three-day session of the Provincial Congress of Bengal. His elder brother, Sattendranath Tagore was the Chairman of the Congress and the Maharaja of Natore was the Chairman of the reception committee. According to sources, Tagore inaugurated the session singing Amar shonar Bangla, which later became the national anthem of our country. Also, to the opposition of the English-speaking politicians, the poet declared that the session would be conducted in Bengali. The Maharaja read the translated Bengali version of his English speech and Tagore himself translated his brother's speech.

The poet went to Patisar in 1895 while his Chaitali was in the making and then in 1908. He visited Pabna in 1912. Kobiguru visited North Bengal for the last time in 1937 on the occasion of the Punnah ceremony at Patisar.

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