Sojourn: Rumi, Rabindranath, Romain Rolland…


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This is a submission, and a humble submission

 

A dream to find a thread out

 

A thread, if any, that vaguely binds the great philosophies of this world

 

 Or, else, to search for the essence of the greatest civilizations of the world

 

To find the quintessence of all these civilizations close enough to seem almost siblings

 

 An impossible crescendo-like flight toward that heaven, where every component reflects the

 

Heaven itself

 

 A desire to comprehend all these facets in essence, however, through Tagore’s creation, and,

 

Sojourn is an attempt

 

to  feel that symphony…

 

Migrating music, World Music, Charoibeti..

 

 

Movement of people is perhaps as old as the history of civilization itself. From the time immemorial people are walking down the paths of happenings, leaving or losing their home in search of a newer one, with their own desire and dreams, longing and desperation, music and amusement, and are interacting, creating, merging or emerging, in the course. This movement or migration has shown the path of unknown to the human race, though their elemental urge is to settle down. There is the fallacy. The reasons may be as different as natural, spatial, political, economical, social or racial, people have to move toward a newer horizon, but with an incessant quest for the root somewhere deep in the mind. This stretch of land, where mysticism evolved, has experienced wars, aggressions, migrations, and pangs for quite a long time.

And from the later part of the 18th century, or from the very beginning of the 19th century, there emerged a number of musical forms which spelled out the agony of the suffering souls of the practitioners of these forms. All these forms were hybrid in nature that speaks of their pattern of birth and growth. They were formed in the process of searching for the identity of the respective people, and they were known as urban folk songs.

Afterwards they have been known worldwide as World Music.

This has been a period of more than five years now that I have been in the awe of myriad shades of passion in Tagore’s creations. It has been a journey for me through Tagore’s songs towards the world of mysticism. I tried to tread along the paths of the 5th century BC Greece to understand what actually spurred Alexander the Great to move this far with the entire panorama of Hellenic culture, and thereby to lay the foundation of the huge Hellenistic civilization.

Afterwards, these immensely rich, in every possible way, population, living in the areas which the great emperor traversed  and founded habitations in, including Persia, Turkey, and, of course, parts of Indian peninsula, became mere have-nots with only the glorious cultural heritage, and were commonly known as the Gypsies after their ever migrating character.

Toward the end of the 14th century, and early into the 15th century, Taimur’s conquest resulted in immense destruction and loss of life in Persia, and in India. And the poorest of the poor people of the areas, i.e., the Gypsies, were the worst sufferers. Many of these wanderers, or the Gypsies, headed west, and some of them finally ended up in the early 15th century in Spain, and, in particular, in Andalusia… And Federico Garcia Lorca had to pen his essay on the Andalusian Gypsy Music (Deep Song), and had to compose number of Gaceles (ghazals) as the outcome. This part of the world, the corridor of the Gypsies, incidentally, has been the cradle of mysticism.

The world of mysticism- the Kabbalah in Judaism, or Gnosticism with Christianity, or Sufism in Islam, or, else, Vedanta with Hinduism, or so on- is so varied, and yet emanating perhaps the same spirit- yearning to be re-united with the Ultimate Reality through the path of love and devotion.

Rabindranath Tagore has well been acclaimed throughout the world as a mystical poet. And it has been a wonderful experience to unfold his unique pattern of making music for the much acclaimed lyrics. His compositions reflected perhaps the panorama of world mystic music pattern that, in course of time, if I am allowed to say so, glided smoothly to the path of migrating music, or world music.

Tagore, while visiting Persia, came to acknowledge that their music had an eerie resemblance with the music of our country. And this has been a wonderful personal experience for me from the other end. The pioneering Persian mystical poet Jellal-ud-din Rumi is known worldwide as Mowlana, and his disciples are called Mevlevi, or the ‘whirling Dervishes’. Once, a few years back, I had an opportunity to come across a compact disc- a compilation of Rumi’s poetry set in traditional Turkish tune, sung by some Turkish artists, accompanied by their traditional instruments, like Nay or Aud. It was a male voice, and I was listening from a distance where only the tune could reach my ear, without making me much conscious about the Persian lyric, and letting me think, at least for a while, that I was listening to some Tagore composition. I was confused; and I lent an eager ear only to discover something more. The prelude of one of the songs, played on the Iranian flute made me stand before one of Tagore’s compositions, which asks the Lord, what else He desires from the poet, when He Himself has been the Beggar, and has turned the poet into one, too.

The culmination of all these facades, i.e., the Aestheticism, the myriad shades of passions, the harmonization of these passions to form the religion of man, is perhaps the pronunciation of the great mystic poet. Rabindranath Tagore, the poet of the Upanishads, is acclaimed throughout the world for his mystic poetry. Evelyn Underhill, the mystic writer who was present in the poetry reading session at the residence of W.B. Yeats, the session where Tagore read out his Gitanjali for the first ever time, found a resonance of feeling that Rumi’s poetry could provide her with.

Now in terms of Tagore’s vision of music and its impact on humanity, and the philosophy behind, it is only more than necessary to know about the relationship between another Noble Laureate and great mind of his time Romain Rolland. At Rolland’s request, Tagore signed his name to La Déclaration pour l’ indépendence de l’esprit, which was probably the first organized attempt to mobilize intellectual opinion all over the world against war.

And without commenting on their visions or philosophy much if we just refer to the dialogue they had it would be more than vibrant, the sort of relationship or compatibility these two minds shared.

Indeed, as Romain Rolland wrote to Tagore in 1923:

The union of Europe and Asia must be, in the centuries to come, the most noble task of mankind. As for myself, India, from now on is not a foreign land. She is the greatest or all countries, the ancient country from which once I came I find her again deep inside me.

The awe of this experience is too immense. Rather, all these facets of classical civilizations of the world, of classical knowledge and perception, all the pure knowledge make a really heightened overtone that allow us to reach the crescendo, and at the very same time to experience an inward catharsis to feel the power of mankind, and of course, the power of Humanity. 

Sojourn

 

This is a journey to understand the religion of man, to communicate to the people as such without the discrimination of any barrier, space, caste, creed, religion, language.

We cry in the same note. That has been the basic note. And to pine for the Ultimate Being or for our root finally transcends us to a sense of positivity, beauty. Why not then? If the world can cry together, can go through a sense of catharsis, and finally can feel the togetherness this way, and can reach out to a better world, therein lies the keynote of all aestheticism.

Sojourn will reach out to the people with this message through Tagore’s music that includes the forms of different mystic music, including Bengal’s very own forms of baul, kirtan, in parallel with Rumi and Romain Rolland’s vision and writings.

 

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