This Above all
Gurudev was a genius

In the 80 years of his life (1861-1941), he wrote a record number of plays, essays on diverse subjects and over 2,500 songs, including our National Anthem. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. About the same time, he set up a university at Santiniketan to promote arts, music and literature. He was undoubtedly the most outstanding, non-political Indian of his time.

Tagoreís works have been translated into English by many scholars, including himself. It is generally agreed that the best translations of his poems, stories and plays have been done by William Radice, professor of Bengali, at the School of Oriental Studies in London.

Tagore was the most outstanding, non-political Indian of his time
Tagore was the most outstanding, non-political Indian of his time

His latest translation entitled The Jewel That Is Best: Collected Brief Poems, has been recently published by Penguin Books. This work of literature gives another dimension to Gurudevís multi-faceted genius. I quote a few samples: One entitled Speaking up for yourself reads:

A beautiful butterfly moans to a bee;
Why do the poor not look at me?
My wings are so colourful, while I am not;
You are, said the bee, lovely, indeed;
But you have no hum to make yourself heard;
When I gather nectar, who doesnít know it?
I steal the heart of the flower and the poet
Another one entitled Plain Speaking:
The forest blooms with the coming of spring;
All that the koel does is sing;
I suppose, says the crow, youíve nothing to do;
But flatter the spring with your hullabaloo.
Pausing for a moment, the koel looks around;
Who are you? Where do you come from, friend?
Iím the plain-speaking crow, the crow replies.
Delighted, says the koel, and politely bows;
Be free to speak plainly all the year long;
Iím happy with the truth of my own sweet song.

Another two lines from The Same Path:

Letís shut the door to block our sin;
Then how, says truth, shall I get in?
From Immutability
However you turn and turn about;
Your left hand is left and your right is right.

Grow up, folks

Maligning our businessmen, contractors and the bureaucracy;
Eternally questioning our leadersí honesty;
I donít know why our people are getting crazy;
2G spectrum, Sukhna land deal and Adarsh in Mumbai;
Speak only of the leaping economy of a dynamic country;
Be fair, before you declare;
Donít be churlish and mean;
Were Commonwealth Games not absolutely clean?
And by giving the rules a new interpretation;
And accommodating honest CMs;
Brave generals and many a noble civilian;
Has Adarsh Society not done proud to the nation?
Giving the Kargil heroes a cause for exultation?
What if the Kargil widows cry?
And their old parents die?
Every single segment of public life reeks of corruption;
Donít despair that nothing can be done;
Be a hatha yogi and from the burning pyre;
Extract some fun.

Oriya wins

A Sardarji, a Bengali and Oriya, three friends in Delhi, were celebrating Diwali over a bottle of whiskey. The Sardarji became slightly drunk after the fourth round. He started bragging about Punjabis: "You know", he said: "There are so many Punjabis who are internationally famous. Just take the case of Rai Bahadur Oberoi, the founder of a chain of classy hotels in India and all over the world. Oberoi is a Punjabi. Ha, ha, ha."

By the time the Bengali friend was tipsy. With a contemptuous look at the Sardarji, he said: "Everybody knows that there are many internationally famous Bengalis. I would take just one name, Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winner. Sen is a Bengali, you know. Ho, ho, ho."

The Oriya friend was sober and calm. He said in a low tone: "Look, I do admit that there is no Oriya at the moment who is internationally famous. But the English language had to insert the name of our lord in the form of his chariot as Juggernaut, which means in English, a very large, heavy motor vehicle. English language today is spoken internationally. So, we the Oriyas, are on the top. Jai Jagannath."

(Contributed by Reeten Ganguly, Tezpur)