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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: October 2011

Preface

Summary

This book is about Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), India's poet par excellence, the first unit of whose name, ‘Ravi’, signifies the Hindu sun god; and who in narcissistic love of that name consciously and endlessly punned on it from the earliest days of his creative genius to the final days of its maturation. Fittingly, he is also the most Apollonian of the creative geniuses India has produced. It would constitute the ultimate sin for a Bengali, or for that matter an Indian, to even faintly suggest that his conception of the universe could be, what Sudipta Kaviraj said about Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay in his famous book, The Unhappy Consciousness, namely, “tense, disorderly, nocturnal, swept by incomprehensible disorders”. Many would simply not understand it. As Bishnu De says it in his verse, in my poor translation, about the synonymousness of the poet's first name with sun, and its signification for us of the blinding and revealing light of his genius:

“Since our childhood, the scorching light, pale-white in hue

Where we have drawn in our daily breath, in ease of use, in pain,

Or joy, in different times; knowing those seven crores of rays are all of and themselves Sun,

Drivers of the same Sun-chariot, the footfalls of whose seven horses

Sound in all our veins and all the cells of our brains;

How do we measure from afar, separately counting, now

Through which sunbeam, which flute or which trumpet-sound

You made us rich in sunrays just when, in what ways, or how!

Our sun- watch is in sunlight, in morn, as in late afternoon”.

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