Rabindranath and Bishnupur

Rabindranath Tagore had a great respect for Indian Classical music. 'Jorasanko Thakurbari' had been filled with a rich musical atmosphere ever. It was common for the then musical maestros to come there for both singing themselves and teaching the members of the family. We learn from Tagore's autobiography 'Jeevansmriti' that in childhood he learnt music from Vishnu Chakrabarty for some period, which to used to call 'dishi gaan' meaning 'songs of his own motherland.'

When the poet was thirteen or fourteen, there came Jadunath Bhattacharya of the great 'Bishnupur Gharana,' as the music teacher. The most reliable information is available from the advertisement in the magazine 'tatwabodhivi' dated 'Ashad,' Bengali Year - mark 1282, (1875) which states that:-

“For the sake of the maintenance and improvement of the 'Brahma Sangeet' of the old Brahma Society, a music school has been established at the first floor of the society-temple. The institute will start working from today onwards. Famous singer and maestro Shree Jadu Bhatta will be teaching music here.”

Though Tagore was fascinated by Jadu Bhatta, he could not learn music from him in his youth for long. At that time in the residence of Sourindramohun Tagore, the prince of Pathuriaghata, a musical conference had been arranged regularly. Kheshtramohun Goswami of the Bishnupur Tradition used to perform there. Sourindramohun was his disciple. Rabindranath developed his respect for the Bishnupur Tradition by his continuous listening to Kheshtramohun in Jorasanko and Pathuriaghata. In his matured age Tagore came into close contact with some other personalities from the same Tradition like Gopeshwar Bandyopadhyay, Radhikaprasad Goshwami, Surendranath Bandyopadhyay and Ashes Bandyopadhyay. The poet was very much attracted by the 'ragas' and compositions of Bishnupur Tradition. Some Compositions can be mentioned here:

1. 'Kaun Rup Bane Ho' by Jadu Bhatta.
2. 'Jay Prabal Bebati' by Jadu Bhatta.
3. 'Aj Bahat Sugandha Pawan Sumanda Rangan' by Jadu Bhatta.
4. 'Sarasa Sundarabar Basant Ritu Aye' by Anant lal.
5. 'Agnana Tama Nikare Gadha Mayi Patite' by Ramshankar.

Shantidev Ghosh writes:-
"Middle aged Rabindranath started composing similar songs being attracted by the 'Fank Taal', 'Jhanp Taal' and 'Teora Taal,' practiced by the maestros of the Bishnupur tradition."

Tagore, instead of using the conventional 'ragas', used the cadence of Bishnupur Tradition, like Bhairabi, Yogiya, Bhimpalashree, Ashabari, Kamod, Behag, Brindabani Sarang, Megh, etc. In some cases he used the original 'ragas' of the Bishnupur Tradition as Rajbijay, Shyam, Gandhari, Kumari, Loom, Jayavati, etc.

Sometimes he used Bengali lyric in the composition of Bishnupur Tradition, for example - 'Sangsay Timir Majhe ( Agnana Tama Nikhare) in 'Rajbijay Raga', in 'Shyama Raga', 'Jane na Dehu' and 'Rakho Rakho Re' etc.

Swami Prajnananda said that, 'Tagore's Dhrumapad' and 'Dhamare' style were influenced by the Bishnupur Gharana. This particular tradition had its own style and cadence, and it still has. It is a bit different in expressing the 'ragas'.

The plain and simple mode of expression of this tradition and the dedication during its performance were adopted heartily by Tagore. Some 'ragas' of this tradition are different in style from the other conventional 'ragas' Tagore was mesmerised by this characteristic and it influenced the first and second phase of his composition.




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