REPRESENTATION OF FOLK: A CRITICAL STUDY OF THE SELECT WRITINGS OF RABINDRANATH TAGORE

India, LLCE2016-330;       Adorned with realistic expectations and human touch, Rabindranath Tagore steadily absorbed and assimilated the beauty and mysteries of nature in the vast gallery of his litscape with folk culture. Through his poetry, novels, plays, short stories, essays, songs he depicts multi-faced themes and interpretations with versatile socio-cultural integrity and cultural ecology with deep sense of human resource development. Sometimes he was also engaged in collecting all the rhymes that women currently use to divert their children to determine the history of language and society and its aesthetic sense and values and nurture folk literature of Bengal to focus the origin of Bengal folk culture.                   

In “Loksahitya (Folk Literature) Rabindranath focused the importance and vitality of folk literature--“As the root of a tree is deep within the soil and the top spread out towards the sky, so the everywhere the lower part literature is widely covered under the deep soil of motherland, and it is specially narrowing of own land and regional. That is enjoyable and accessible to the human folk of own country not for the outsiders. That what is universal is based on the foundations of the local – thus there is a relationship between the root and the top – between the local of literature and its universal counterpart. That part of the tree with fruits, flowers and branches which is spread out towards the sky is not comparable to the roots of the soil, yet to the theorists their similarity and relationship is not deniable.”  (“Loksahitya”,Rabindrarachanabali. Volume-. 3. p-794. Translation mine).Tagore was keenly absorbed in collecting rhymes and folktales, fairytales and oral literature from the time of “Sonar Tari” (the Golden boat) and “Chitra”. And time and again the folk culture and tradition is reflected in his poetry, plays, novels, essays and short stories also. Sometimes he is regarded as the pioneering figure in the field of folk literature. While India was under the British colonial chain, at that moment of time two streams of freedom movement were at the peak of liberal flow. One was flow of moderate Indian National Congress policy and the other was Extremist armed revolt of “Jugantar Anusilan samity” against the British territory. But those people who did not believe in the two streams of anti-colonial tendencies instead of that they have their own patriotic zeal in their heart, they got the opportunity to nurture third option of cultivating Folklore as projected by Tagore. While Tagore was living at Silaidaha, Sahjadpur, and Bolpur outside of his four walled Jorasanko Thakurbari, he was closely intimated to the common folks, beauteous aspects of village life, and folk cultures of the people of those areas. In his famous essay “Lokasahitya” (1907) Tagore highlights –1. “Chhelebhulano chhara1 (Child Deluding Rhymes)2. “Chhelebhulano Chhara-2(child Deluding Rhymes). 3. “Kabisangit”(songs of the poet). 4. “Gramyasahitya” (literature of Village).He was interested in Folklore and deeply engaged in nurturing such folk literature to inspire people to have—1.Closeness to nature.  2. Harmonization of the language, 3.Aesthetics of village life.  4. Quest for patriotism. In Tagore’s writings we have the reflection of folklore in nice fluidity of folk art, tradition and mythical leanings, beliefs, customs and songs of day to day life affairs. As Tagore literature is so vast so I have concentrated these select writings. The poetry like “Sandhyasangit”(songs of the Evening), “Sonar Tari”(Golden Boat), “pravatsangeet”(songs of the morning), “Gitanjali” (Song offerings), Sahaj Path”Easy Lesson), all are touched with the sweet note of Tagorean  folk mastery. In the plays like “Valmiki Prativa”(The Talent Of Valmiki), “Prakitir pratisodh”(The Revenge of Nature), “Dakghar”(Post Office), “Bisarjan”(Sacrifice) ,“Raktakarabi” ( Red Oleander) we have the smell of folk culture, mythical layer, folk life, folk tradition and ideology. Rabindranath’s representation of Dhananjay Bairagi in Muktadhara is very striking in the treatment of folk religion.  In the songs like “amar Praner manush acche Prane” (The man of my heart in my heart),“Pous toder dak diyechey”(Posuse is inviting you), “Amar Sonar Bangla”(My golden Bengal), “Amra Chas kariAnandey”(We are cultivating in joy)  etc we have Tagore songs in the tone of ‘Boul’ and other folk songs. Through these songs he wants to awaken the humanity coiled with hibernation and to establish the religion of man and to spread the seeds of universal brotherhood with folk art, culture, tradition and their spirit of bonding with nature.

He introduced “Brikhsaropan”(Tree Plantation) and “Halakarson” (plowing of the land) festivity at Santiniketan to inspire all the folks to unify their heart with nature. He encouraged the folks to nurture their artisan and have creative economy. The folk literature of Tagore is an approach towards the folk people to encourage them, inspire them, and energize them and to reawaken the whole Indians to realize their own roots and identities to glorify the songs of humanity with the threads of liberty, equality, and integrity, peace and harmony.  He gives the clarion call to return to nature, to know the origin, to realize the blessings of village life, to instigate the feelings of human resource development, to strengthen the relationship between man and nature. His vision and mission is clear as he expressed his philosophy in a conversation with Albert Einstein in the afternoon of July14, 1930, at the Professor’s residence in Kaputh— “My religion is in the reconciliation of the super -personal man, the Universal human spirit, in my own individual being. This has been the subject of my Hibbert Lectures, which I have called The Religion of Man”. (The Religion of Man- EWRT, II, P-128).So this article is an attempt to stress Tagore’s attitude towards the folk and their representation in his writings and how far Tagore’s vision of Folk is relevant in our modern day to day life affairs for cultural integration and Environmental conservation.

Key Words:  Folk culture, Humanity, Nature, Integrity.