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21st MAY 2016 


(1 Question)


Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

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1.     What is Rabindra Sangeet? What are its unique features? How far is patriotism imbibed in it? 



·         Rabindra Sangeet, a great contribution, by Kaviguru Rabindranath Tagore, is a unique amalgam of the numerous varieties of singing styles (classical as well as folk) prevalent in India.

·         Gurudev lyricised his poetical compositions (sahitya) deriving impetus from various types and forms of Indian as well as, to a certain extent, western music but developed a distinct style of his own, which created a lasting impression not only in the minds of the people of Bengal, but in the minds of all music lovers in India and abroad, irrespective of caste, creed, language and colour.

·         Primarily influenced by the Dhrupad style of Hindustani music, Rabindranath unfolded the myriad hues of various Hindustani Ragas and rhythms in his songs bringing out the emotive appeal of Raga - Sangeet to its fullest.

·         Gurudev was influenced by English, Irish, and Scottish folk tunes.

·         He wrote and lyricised almost 2000 songs which were named as "Rabindra Sangeet" by his elder brother Dijendranath's son Deependranath.


Unique features of Rabindra Sangeet

·         Songs Composed by Rabindranath Tagore were mostly poems or parts of novels, stories, plays dramas etc. set into rhythm and melody. Magic of wonderfully articulated poetry surpasses the melody in Rabindra Sangeet. Unlike " Rag Sangeet, " where melody and rhythm reigns, Rabindrasangeet is jubilation of poetry.

·         Unfolding the emotive appeal of poetry through music is the primary aim of Rabindra Sangeet. Soulfull music breathes life into wonderful poetry and makes "Rabindra Sangeet" unique.

·         Following the tradition, in the beginning of his poetic endeavours, Rabindranath Tagore used Hindustani Ragas and traditional Talas in purest from and mostly followed Dhrupad style of rendition in his songs. Later, he brought simplicity in his songs by the use of blended melodies or Mishra ragas and Talas that suit the poetic content of his songs.

·         Tagore's songs are peaceful, serene and clam. He was against unnecessary use of "Layakari" and "Tankriya" or rather jugglary of rhythm and notes. "Gamak", "Meend," short appropriate "Tankriya", use of certain odd notes in a specific raga, occasional blending of Hindustani and Carnatic style of singing etc. add to the aesthetic aspect of Rabindra sangeet.

·         Apart from traditional pure melodies like Bhupali, Yaman, Poorvi, Bihag, Kedar, Durga, Bahar, Malhar, Todi, Bhairav, Des, Bagesri, Malkans, Bhairavi etc., Rabindranath used mixed ragas in his songs to a wide extent. He blended elements of different ragas and even used forbidden notes in a particular raga to give his songs a unique dimension. Revolutionary use of different notes in several ragas, added distinct flavour to his songs and unfolded the emotive force of Hindustani ragas highlighted by his powerful compositions.

·         Folk songs of Bengal like (Baul, Bhatiyali, Kirtan, Panchali etc.) merged successfully with classical Rag - Sangeet in Tagore's songs.

·         Western music like English, Irish, Scottish folk tunes impressed Tagore and he incorporated western style of singing in his songs. Western opera singing also influenced his compositions. His drama - operas like Valmiki Pratibha, Kalmrigaya, and Mayar Khela etc. were influenced by western opera.

·         "Jana Gana Mana " and " Amar Shonar Bangla", the national an them of India and Bangladesh respectively were composed by Rabindranath Tagore. "Sri Lanka Matha," the national anthem of Sri Lanka was also influenced by Rabindrasangeet.

·         Rabindranath preferred his songs to be sung in their original, undistorted form according to the typical style as directed by him. Change in way of rendition, or change in tune or rhythm was not appreciated.

·         Rabindranath used fusion of Hindustani and Carnatic style of singing in his songs too.


·         There was no restriction in the use of any particular instrument in Rabindrasangeet. But Sitar, Israz, Pakhawaj, tabla, khol, Mridangam, Harmonium, bansuri etc. are predominantly used as accompaniments in Rabindra Sangeet.

·         In his book of compiled songs "Gitobitan," Rabindranath classified his songs in the following sections :-

a] Pooja :- In this section, Rabindranath composed songs on spiritual philosophy and classified those into several sub - sections unfolding various emotional and spiritual aspects human life.

b] Swadesh :- Rabindranath was a true patriot and songs based on patriotism in "Gitobitan" bear testimony to that. He penned down two wonderful patriotic songs, "Jana Gana Mana" and "Amar Shonar Bangla" which were recognized later as national anthems of India and Bangladesh respectively.

c] Prem :- Tagore's poetry on love transcended human emotions and culminated into deep spiritual philosophy. "Debotare Priyo Kari, Priyore debta" - this was Tagore's philosophy which he depicted in his songs.

d] Anushthanik :- In this section, Rabindranath wrote songs demonstrating various social functions, religious ceremonies. etc.

e] Vichitra :- In this section, Tagore's songs displayed a wide range of human emotions varying from patriotism, spirituality, human love etc. Number of songs are almost 138.

f] Prakriti :- Rabindranath was an intense lover of nature. He wrote a number of songs based on the cycle of seasons. He depicted the scorching heat of summer, torrential downpour of rainy season, beauty of autumn, emptyness of winter etc. in his songs on nature.


Above all Rabindrasangeet in general has an underlying current of deep spirituality


Patriotic Songs:


Jana Gana Mana

It is the national anthem of India. Written in Bengali, the first of five stanzas of the Brahmo hymn titled Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata attributed to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

Underlying message of the Jana Gana Mana is pluralism.

It was adopted in its Hindi version by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem of India on 24 January 1950.


Amar Sonar Bangla ("My Golden Bengal")

It is the national anthem of Bangladesh. It is part of a Bengali song with the same title, written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905.

The word sonar literally means 'made of gold', but in the song sonar Bangla may be interpreted to either express the preciousness of Bengal or refer to the colour of paddy fields before harvest.


Ekla Cholo Re

Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ase Tobe Ekla Cholo Re - "If no one responds to your call, then go your own way alone", commonly known as Ekla Chalo Re, is a Bengali patriotic song written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905.

The song exhorts the listener to continue his or her journey, despite abandonment or lack of support from others. The song is often quoted in the context of political or social change movements. Mahatma Gandhi, who was deeply influenced by this song, cited it as one his favorite songs.


Chitto jetha bhoyshunyo (Where the mind is without fear)

It is one of the most quoted poems in India and Bangladesh.

Written by Rabindranath Tagore before India's independence, it represents Tagore's dream of how the new, awakened India should be to fight and chase the British from India.

The original Bengali language poem was published in 1910 and was included in the 1910 collection Gitanjali and, in Tagore's own translation, in the 1912 English edition of Gitanjali.



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