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Rabindranath Tagore: the bard whose words continue to inspire generations

The legacy of Tagore is among India's most precious treasures and today on his birth anniversary we revisit his famous poem 'Ekalā calo'

There aren't many authors whose writing appeals with such passion to readers across ages and over so many decades. The pride of our nation, Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7th May 1861. He would grow up to forever change the landscape of Bengali literature and inspire generations, for years.

Though known across the world as Tagore (due to British influence), many Bengalis continue to know him by his original name, 'Rabindranath Thakur'.

Ancestral homes of the Thakurs, Rabindranath Tagore
জোড়াসাঁকো ঠাকুরবাড়ি' / Jōṛāsām̐kō ṭhākurabāṛi 

'জোড়াসাঁকো ঠাকুরবাড়ি' or Jōṛāsām̐kō ṭhākurabāṛi means, 'ancestral home of the Thakurs' and that is what is written on the main gate of his residence till date. In Bengal, his birthday is celebrated by the Hindu calendar as per tithi, and this year it falls on 9th May.

Novel by Rabindranath Tagore
Nauka Doobi by Tagore

A hundred authors today cannot not sit together and conceive the master pieces created by him then. His mammoth collection covered a huge range of subjects like love, womanhood, desire, mystery, religion, patriotism, courage and more. Also, thrilling to read, are the nuances of couple relationships and those within a joint family at that time. 'Naukadoobi' can keep even today's teens on the edge with each unfolding page. 

Rabindra Nath Thakur postage stamp
Postage stamp with Tagore

The Bengali polymath along with being a poet, novelist and playright was also a painter, philosopher and composer. His works have stirred thought and emotion in minds for generations. 

On his birth anniversary we are revisiting one of his most fiery poems, one that can raise a hundred uprisings, one that can breathe passion into those who felt they have lost all hope and one that injects courage into those gripped with fear.

 

We revisit Ekalā calo 

 

yadi tora ḍāka śune keu nā āse tabe ekalā calo re

tabe ekalā calo, ekalā calo, ekalā calo, ekalā calo re

yadi tora ḍāka śune keu nā āse tabe ekalā calo re

if nobody responds to your call, then move forward alone

walk alone, move ahead alone, carry on alone, march forward alone 

if nobody responds to your call, then carry on ahead alone

yadi keu kathā nā kaẏa, ore ore o abhāgā keu kathā nā kaẏa

yadi sabāi thāke mukha phirāẏe sabāi kare bhaẏa,

tabe parāna khule, o tui mukha phuṭe tora manera kathā ekalā balo re,

yadi tora ḍāka śune keu nā āse tabe ekalā calo re.

if everyone remains quiet, O’ my unlucky friend…

no one dares to speak up and everyone turns the other way in fear… 

then with an open heart, and as loud as you can, you speak your mind freely

if nobody responds to your call, then you move forward alone

yadi sabāi phire yāẏa, ore ore o abhāgā sabāi phire yāẏa

yadi gahana pathe yābāra kāle keu phire nā cāẏa,

tabe pathera kām̐ṭā

o tui raktamākhā caraṇatale ekalā dalo re,

yadi tora ḍāka śune keu nā āse tabe ekalā calo re.

if everyone turns away, O ill-fated one, if everyone flees 

and while walking down the difficult path, no one turns back to accompany you 

then inspite of thorns on the path you march ahead alone

trampling the thorns under your blood soaked feet

if nobody responds to your call, then you move forward alone

yadi ālo nā dhare, ore ore o abhāgā ālo nā dhare

yadi jhar̤a-bādale ām̐dhāra rāte duẏāra deẏa ghare, tabe bajrānale

āpana bukera pām̐jara jbāliẏe niẏe ekalā jbalo re,

yadi tora ḍāka śune keu nā āse tabe ekalā calo re.

if nobody holds up the light, O unfortunate, if no one shows you the light

if everyone shut their doors upon you in the dark night of the thunder storm,

then by the very lightening set your ribs on fire

and keep lightening the path alone 

if nobody responds to your call, then you move forward alone.

 

 

 



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