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Rabindranath Tagore's Hero Poems Part I

By       Message Monish Chatterjee       (Page 1 of 8 pages)     Permalink

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Rabindranath Tagore's Hero Poems

[While Tagore wrote extensively on philosophical exchanges between significant characters from India's great epics, such as the Karna-Kunti Samvad, the vast compendium of his poetry is essentially reflective and non-historic. He did, however, write a few tribute poems dedicated to heroic figures from India's medieval years, including the Sikh hero, Banda Singh Bahadur, and the Maratha chief, Chhatrapati Shivaji. In this sequence, I will present translations of these highly-regarded poems.]

I. The Valiant Prisoner

(A translation of Rabindranath Tagore's poem, Bandi Bir, addressed to the Sikh Hero, Banda Singh Bahadur (1670-1716))

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Translated by: Monish R Chatterjee (April, 2018)

By the shoreline of the five rivers of lore

Tying their flowing tresses in topknots-

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Verily have the Sikhs awakened at Guruji's call

Unshaken, fearless.

Sounds of Hail to Guruji! from a thousand voices

Echoed across the skies everywhere

Awakened anew, a Sikh reborn

Gazed transfixed upon the Sun of a New Dawn.

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"Alakh Niranjan!" Rose the great chant,

Breaking all bonds, shredding the last strands of fear.

Next to their mighty chests, ecstatic the swords clang

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Monish R. Chatterjee received the B.Tech. (Hons) degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from I.I.T., Kharagpur, India, in 1979, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University of Iowa, (more...)
 

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Monish Chatterjee

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I am submitting the first in a series of Hero Poems by celebrated Bengali poet-philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore. This poem is titled Bandi Bir, and is widely known across Bengal and also parts of India's Punjab, the province from whence the Banda Bahadur phenomenon occurred.

Submitted on Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018 at 8:05:28 PM

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shad williams

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Humans really are hopeless.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 1:41:01 AM

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Monish Chatterjee

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Reply to shad williams:   New Content

Thank you so much for your most empathetic response. The violence in our human world, which has a history as long as "civilization" itself, despite our many noble discoveries, realizations and philosophical musings, does induce a complete sense of hopelessness. However, I always remind myself something which Tagore himself, greatly sensitive to the violence and injustice in our world, yet made the statement (towards the end of his life)- "I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in Man." It may seem wishful, but in Tagore's mind, there is a manifest destiny in human progression, despite the (always) gloomy present.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 2:28:35 AM

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It is difficult for me to be hopeful when a small minority, has significant control of power and technology, especially in our age. I do not believe we have matured very well since those days of Bandi Bir when over 700 heads rolled. We have not outgrown our hubris and the allure of power. I believe that humankind therefore is on the razor's edge of survival or failure.

Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 6:00:38 AM

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Reply to shad williams:   New Content

I applaud your insight. Humankind's hubris, as you describe it, is (and will be) indeed the source of its eventual downfall. And depressingly we see signs of it every day- government propaganda, mindless militarism and aggression, blatant lies to facilitate imperial projects, runaway consumerism and greed, destruction of a fragile planet, and most importantly, a complete downward spiral towards willful ignorance and absence of any enlightenment (which appears to be one of the gifts of this scientific age)- none of these raise even flicker of hope for a better future (I feel Rabindranath may not have seen the worst).


Submitted on Friday, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:20:28 PM

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