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Sunday December 5, 2021

Tagore Brothers in Chandernagore

Rabindranath Tagore and Jyotirindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore and Jyotirindranath Tagore

The illustrious Tagore family of Jorasanko was particularly smitten by the riverside towns of Chandernagore and Chinsurah. The former was a French colony while the latter a former Dutch colony. Debendranath Tagore and two of his sons – Jyotirindranath and Rabindranath were particularly drawn to the serenity of these waterfront towns. They spent a considerable amount of time in various rented accommodations in these suburbs. Antara Mukherjee has drawn an elaborate picture of the times over three episodes. This is the last part of the long series. 

Though Jyotirindranath and Rabindranath did not express any desire to stay permanently in these waterfront towns, they cherished these memories all through their life. Reference to these two towns in seminal books like ‘Jyotirindranather Jiban Smriti’ (edited by Basanta Kumar Chattopadhyay in 1920), ‘Chelebela and Jiban Smriti’ bears out the point. These historic biography and memoirs reveal the confluence of ‘spinning dreams’ and ‘weaving verses’ in the waterfront towns by the Tagore brothers.

These towns are, thus, at once symbolic of luxurious indolent days spent amidst nature, of ‘spinning dreams’, as well as of creatively enriched phase of ‘weaving verses’. Attached to the soil, the Tagore brothers were not only preoccupied with their personal agenda but they were also socio-politically aware of colonial culture and language. Moreover, it is Rabindranath, and not Jyotirindranath, who kept coming to Chandernagore even at the turn of the century. Writing a short story with a French dimension towards the fag end of his life and taking interest in French cultural heritage at Chandernagore, was, in fact, Rabindranath’s unique way to remember his favourite ‘Jyoti dada’, who initiated him with French culture and language at Chandernagore.

It goes without mention that remembering his ‘Jyoti dada’ is an act of digging out his bygone moments; those memories are safely secured in his artistic creations in and about Chinsurah and Chandernagore. The homage to Tagore by the present generation, as reflected in essays, critical works and stories written of that bygone era, is an insignia of the invisible bond existing between the Tagore brothers and the waterfront towns. Such homage dusts the days and seamlessly reminds the readers of the significance of the riverside towns where an exceptionally talented youth ventured on his poetic journey, which culminated in making him a ‘Biswakabi’ or Poet of the World.

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