Me And My Manipuri Things

Posts Tagged ‘rabindranath tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর), the Nobel laureate poet, writer, philosopher is probably the most prominent figure in the cultural world of Indian subcontinent and also was the greatest patron of the Manipuri dance and culture. It was him who popularized the Manipuri style of dance with its high zenith among the people of the world. He deserves the honorable place in the style and regarded as the “Pioneer of Manipuri dance and culture”.

From Tagore’s writings and other historical accounts we can learn a little bit about his visit in Sylhet (in present day Bangladesh) . It was 1919 when the historical event had taken place. In November 6th, Rabindranath had a visit in the Bishnupriya Manipuri (বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী) village of Machimpur(মাছিমপুর), a remote village not far away from the town situated on the bank of the river Surma. He was given a warm reception there from the Bishnupriya Manipuri people. He was so impressed after seeing a dance composition, the Goshtha Lila presented by the Bishnupriya Manipuri women. After seeing the demonstrations Rabindranath introduced himself to the people and wanted to be informed more about their dance and culture. He also met that time exile superintendent Mr Tanu Singha and looked for a Manipuri Oja (dance teacher) who was capable of communicating in Bangla. Mr Tanu Singha introduced the poet with great Guru Nileshwar Mukharjee (গুরু নীলেশ্বর মুখার্জ্জী )of Baligaon. Tagore intended to bring the dance teacher to his idyllic institute, Shantiniketon. In November 7th 1919, in the speech in a historical gathering of students at Sylhet M.C. College hall, Rabindranath mentioned about his experience in Machimpur and the Bishnupriya Manipuri people. The speech was published in a literary journal “Akangkha” of Shantiniketan (1920).

Tagore brought back Guru Nileshwar MUkharjee to serve in his Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan. He immediately decided to open a new department of Manipuri Dance in Shantiniketan. Later many other Bishnupriya Manipuri Oja’s and danseuse like Guru Senarik Rajkumar, Nabakumar Singha, Muhu Singha, Guru Bipin Singha, Sri Bihari Singha and Sri Adityasena Rajkumar was invited to Shantiniketon in presence of Rabindranath. They assisted Tagore to choreograph several of his dance-drama. After that period Manipuri dance took its special place in Shantiniketon with Bhatnatyam, Kathak and Kothakali, the other classical dance forms India. In fact Manipuri dance was not as popular as the other classical dance forms. But the subtlety of the tender dance form and the variety of the rhythm impressed Rabindranath Tagore so much that he is credited with introducing this enchanting style to the other parts of the world.  Later many other  renowned gurus from Manipur and Assam were invited from to teach this dance form in Shantiniketan. Gradually the practice of this dance form extended outside the Manipuri community and was practiced with great enthusiasm, especially among the Bengalis and other indian people.

There is also influence of popular Manipuri tunes in many songs of Rabindranath. There are many Rabinra Sangit’s which involves Manipuri dance and dance –

1) Sribas kache theke dure… (শ্রীবাস কাছে থেকে দুরে..)
2) Aji basanto jagrata dware… (আজি বসন্ত জাগ্রত দ্বারে..)
3) Rodono vora a bosonto… (রোদন ভরা এ বসন্ত..)
4) Baki ami rakhbo na… (বাকী আমি রাখবো না…)

The compilation of the dance drama, “Chitragada” was fully based on various elements of Manipuri dance. Another of his literary work “Bhanusingher Padavali” depicts the influence Manipuri songs and philosophy. The Vasihnavite work “Bhanusingher Padavali” was compiled during Tagore’s visit in the state on Tripura and during his contact with the king Virchandra Manihya. The King of Tripura was married to a Manipuri princess named Monomohini Devi alias Thoraleima. Queen Thoraleima contributed a great deal in the movement of
wiping out Satidaho, a discriminating Hindu custom for women.

No doubt, Rabindranath Tagore provided a vital link towards the progressive cultural revivalism to the Bishnupriya Manipuri people and produced a band of local artists who enriched their culture. Rabindranath was the source of inspiration for the stimulation of our own dance, songs and music which were on the path of extinction.

Sources and references :
1. Kothika Matek – Prof Ranjit Singha, Sylhet 1992
2. Gayotri Chatterjee / Bharoter Nritokola
3. Tarun Kumar singha / Manipuri Nritya Probesika, 1968
4. Nripendralal das / Sribhumi sylhete Rabindranath
5. Manipuri Rasleela Udyapan Parisad, Bangladesh / Suvenir, 1996

Photographs:
Weekly Desh
Assam tribune

50 Great Bishnupriya Manipuris

Great Personalities who have made a difference to Bishnupriya Manipuri society in the fields of Arts, Music, Dance, Education, Literature, Religion, Social work etc and contributed a lot to Bishnupriya Manipuri culture and spirit. Let us have a look on profiles of those great personalities who make us feel proud to be a Bishnupriya Manipuri.

Part One (1920-1960)

Perhaps the most remembered idols among the Bishnupriya Manipuris are Late Gokulananda Gitiswami and Late Sri Bhubaneswar Sadhu Thakur. Gokulananda’s song immortalizing Mother Bishnupriya and Bhubaneswar Sadhu Thakur spiritual teachings played a pivotal part in defining Bishnupriya Manipuri gokulananda3.jpgculture, both in Bangladesh and India. The impact of this great wandering social reformer Gokulananda on the Bisnupriya Manipuries has been manifold. He traversed the whole of Bishnupriya-speaking region – singing with a missionary fervour of the ills of our society and their remedies He devoted his entire life to the serve the community, to improve the condition of our people and to keep pace with the progress of other communities. He dramatized the plight of our women against the comparative indolence of men. He came under lot of turbulence of the times and he appeared to have wider sympathies. Because of all these qualities of abhubaneswar_sadhuthakur1.jpg very high order, grateful people conferred on him the title “Gitiswami” along with a silver medallion, in a special session of Nikhil Bishnupriya Manipuri Mahasabha, in 1935. On the other hand, Sri Bhubaneswar Sadhu Thakur was a popular spiritual master who born at Baropoa, now renamed Bhubaneshwar Nagar, in Cachar. He taught a moral code of love, forgiveness, charity, contentment, inner peace, devotion to God and Guru through his teachings and songs. He saved the people from spiritual degeneration owing to abject poverty. They have learnt from him to live honestly and peaceably with what little they have. He established the temple Sri Radha Gavinda Jew Mandir popularly known as “Govindabari” at Nabadwip in West Bengal which is a veritable abode of peace for the devotees.

Late Sri Mohendra Kumar Singha (B.A., B.T.) of Silchar was a renowned social worker of Bishnupriya Manipuri community and also one of the few knowledgeable persons of his time. He was the pioneer in Bishnupriya Manipuri historical research. His historical work is compiled into three volumes of “Manipurer Prachin Itihas” which took him a vast amount of research works and findings. He edited ‘The Bishnupriya”, the month-piece of Mahasabha. In the third decade of 20th century, when a group of young and educated persons started publishing journals and literary magazines like, a wave of consciousness and nationalism sparked the society – the foremost among the young fellows was Late Sri Falguni Singha. Falguni was the editor of ‘Jagoran'(1925) and ‘Manipuri’ (1933). Beside literary activities he was a very good organizer. He worked in many ways to solve conflicts among Bishnupriyas and Meiteis. That time, other scholars like Late Sri Sena Singha, Late Krishna Kumar Singha and Sri Haridas Singha also contributed a lot in the field of historical research. Here we also remember with deep respect the social works done by Late Sri Tonubabu Singha Superintendent, Sri Manik Singha, Sri Kamini Singha, Advocate Sri Babuchand Singha, Sri Hemachandrajit Rajkumar and few others. Shaid Rajbabu Singha was a social worker, who sacrificed his life in 15th march 1933, when a rival group took away his life for what he is doing for the society.

In the field of dance, Guru Nileshwar Mukharjee from Bangladesh (of kamalganj Thana of undivided Sylhet district) and Guru senarik_rajkumar2.jpgSenarik Singha Rajkumar from Cachar district of Assam are well known to Manipuri society as with them the new department of Manipuri Dance was created in the Shantiniketon (Calcutta) in the early 30’s. In 1921, the poet Rabindranath Tagore encountered Manipuri dancing in Sylhet district, a Bishnupriya Manipuri enclave (Machimpur) that is now part of Bangladesh. Tagore was fascinated with a Ras performance and he consequently invited these two Gurus. That was an epoch making events in the history of Manipuri Dance and within a decade in crossed its regional as well national fields and became a reputed international style.

In the field of Arts, Literature and Music, the name of the eminent dramatist Leikhomsena Sinha from Singari near Silchar comes frist. Leikhomsena was the father of Guru Bipin Sinha, the great exponent of Manipuri dance. Leikhomsena singha was the author of the dramas entitled ‘Harishandra’, ‘Manipur Patan’ and ‘Khamba Thoibi’ and composer of many padavali songs. Madan Mohan Sharma of Sanicchara was one the four main writers of pre-50’s Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature. Madan Mohan Sharma was the author of a number of Kiratana-type works namely – ‘Balipinda’,’ Subal Milan’, ‘Tilottoma’, ‘Basak’, ‘Sudama Bipra’ etc. Amusena Singha of Cipersangan was also one the four main writers of early modern Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature.Amusena sinha wrote a number of Kirtana-type works based on Ramayana, namely – ‘Angada Raybar’, ‘Saktisel’, ‘Taranisen Badh’, ‘Nagapas’, ‘Mahiravan Badh’ etc.

References:
The Mahasabha Review,1970
Souvenir of Word Conference 2003 by NBMM
Kothika Matek by Prof. Ranjit Singha, 1992
Loktak 10th issue, 2005
Nuwa Ela, 23rd year, 6th Issue, 2005

Acknowledgements:
Late Sri Lalitmohan Singha, Tilakpur
Sri Nilmani Chatarjee, Ghoramara

Contd…


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