Rabindranath Tagore has deeply carved his name on the minds of people of all parts of the world. It is a unique record for him to have witnessed his own rising popularity and recognition from intellectuals both at home and abroad. Still, he was one not carried away by the enthusiasm of numbers. If at all he valued contemporary appreciation, it was only when in due measure it came and that too from persons of critical acumen. Never did he court the arts of publicity which modern writers without an exception have to resign themselves to. His pride in his being a poet first and last would ever jealously guard him against the temptations of the organiser and administrator in him. To make himself a reed for Him to blow melodies through, he liked to remain to the last.
To such a poet tributes and homage are being paid all over the globe. In this tiny volume I have also tried to present Tagore from many angles familiar to his ardent students. Though not familiar with Bengali to judge of his poetic merits adequately, I have, I hope, not been guilty of much generalizations and theories born of a lack of knowledge of the original. If a poet's claim to universality is genuine, certainly the barrier of language hardly can deprive the reader in a translation of the authentic voice of poetry, which in any costume can still charm the true rasika.
The garland of tributes woven here is of materials that have endured the effects of the passage of nearly twenty-five years. `Chitra the one-act play' included here was written as early as 193o and published in the Triveni. Some of the other articles have also been not written in recent years.
Most of these were written while the poet lived. Only two articles entitled `Kalidasa and Tagore' and `Tagore and World-peace' were delivered as lectures under the auspices of the Institute of Indian Culture, Bangalore. I have to thank them, especially Madame Wadia, for her kind permission to include them in this volume. The first essay has already taken its place of honour in an earlier publication of mine called Studies and sketches published by the Central Art Press, Chetput.
The other essays too have all seen the light of day through journals like the Triveni, The Scholar, The Aryan Path and The Modern Review. To all these journals my thanks for including them here.
To Dr. K. R. Srinivasa lyangar, my good friend, I cannot express my gratitude sufficiently. He, like the late K. S. Venkataramani, has shown personal interest in my writings and encouraged me always with a sympathetic word. To him for the fine foreword given to this volume my grateful thanks are due.
To Sri K. Ramakotiswara Rau, the doyen among elegant journalists, I am always indebted. He has never once withdrawn his active sympathy and co-operation in any of my literary endeavours.
My friend Sri K. Chandrasekharan has many qualifications for writing about so great a universalist as Rabindranath Tagore, for he is also, in his own way, a universalist, being at once an advocate, a keen student of Sanskrit, Tamil and English literatures, an ardent devotee of the classical arts of music and dance, a creative artist whose short stories in Tamil have a distinguishing mark of their own, a competent biographer, a sensitive portraitist in miniature, and above all a Rasika in the best sense of the term. A son of the late Sriman V. Krishnaswami Aiyar-who with Gokhale, Phirozeshah Mehta and Rashbeharee Ghose formed the 'High Command' of the Indian National Congress during the opening decades of the century-Sri Chandrasekharan is heir to a great tradition of responsibility and meritorious public service. Along with his brother Sri K. Balasubramania Aiyar and his sister Srimati Savitri Ammal, Sri Chandrasekharan has been holding aloft all these years the family torch with its many tongues of flame lighted by Krishnaswami Aiyar half a century ago.
In the dozen essays gathered together in the present volume, Sri Chandrasekharan focuses attention on diverse aspects of the phenomenon that was Gurudev Tagore. The publication of Gitanjali in English and the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to him in 1913, suddenly projected Tagore on a world scene. To Bengalees, to Indians, and indeed to all Asians, Tagore's sudden success was far more than the success of an individual poet: it was acclaimed as the success of a race, of a nation, of a whole continent. And Tagore was never a mere poet, being also dramatist, novelist, short story writer, educationist, painter, pacifist, internationalist, philosopher and prophet. It has been therefore difficult to adjust our responses to Tagore in terms of neat categories, for he ever overflows our categories, defies our generalizations, and eludes our assessments. Under these circumstances, what Sri Chandrasekharan does is perhaps all that one should attempt to do. Without venturing on a comprehensive and exhaustive study of Tagore: the Man and the Poet,' Sri Chandrasekharan is wisely content to look at that Power from diverse angles, taking a snap here and another there, ruminating now from one convenient stance and now from another; and he leaves his readings, his impressions, and his ruminations to coalesce somehow in the reader's mind into a totality of integral apprehension. Tagore is large, and is multitudinously various; and these dozen essays should help us not a little in our understanding and appreciation of the Gurudev.
Tagore was primarily a poet: his poetry was the reality, all else were but the byproducts, however valuable by themselves. The heart ruled the head: and the heart, in its turn, beat in response to the abiding intuitions rather than the restrictive formulas of creed, caste or custom.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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