Great-great grandson of Tagore’s elder brother Satyendranath Tagore, says Rabindranath Tagore stood for secularism and humanism.


New Delhi: At a time when different political parties of Bengal, including the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Opposition BJP, are trying to pitch in different literary and reformist icons of Bengal to touch a chord with the Bengali sentiments and score political points during the ongoing Assembly elections in the state, The Sunday Guardian spoke exclusively to a fifth-generation member of the Rabindranath Tagore family on his opinions about the present political discourse in the state.

Sudripta Tagore, who is the great-great grandson of Rabindranath Tagore’s elder brother Satyendranath Tagore, said that he hopes that all political parties who are invoking the name of Rabindranath Tagore every now and then to get political mileage, live up to the ideals of Tagore once they come to power.

Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Sudripta Tagore said, “I am not an active political person, but I am a politically aware person. My hope is that any political party that invokes the name of Rabindranath Tagore will in future stand up for what Rabindranath Tagore stood for. Rabindranath’s ideas and ideals stood for secularism, humanism, nationalism, and an end to all bias of caste and other social evils that exist in society. The hope is that whichever party invokes his name shows in action that they are interested in practicing the values that Rabindranath Tagore believed in.”

Both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP have often taken the name of Rabindranath Tagore in their election campaign. The BJP has also coined their election slogan of “Sonar Bangla” borrowing it from the iconic poetry of Rabindranath Tagore. Both the parties have tried to claim supremacy over the legacy of Tagore and his work.

While Union Home Minister and former BJP national president Amit Shah have visited the Shanti Niketan campus in Bolpur where he witnessed Rabindra Sangeet and also paid his respect to the place where Rabindranath Tagore would meditate, the ruling Trinamool Congress has also left no stone unturned to claim supremacy over the legacy of Tagore. Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee even walked the streets of Shantiniketan and Bolpur with the portrait of Rabindranath Tagore as part of her party’s election campaign.

About the politics being played around the icons of Bengal, Sudripta Tagore said that he is not surprised by the way political parties are using luminaries to attract voters on to their side.

He said, “I am not very surprised because that’s how politics happens in Bengal or for that matter in the country. Political parties always try to look for luminaries which could particularly attract that diaspora. You see, it is not only Rabindranath Tagore the names of Swami Vivekananda, and Netaji Shubash Chandra Bose are also being used by political parties for their campaigning in the state. Every political party is trying to win through means that they think will connect them to the voters. I am neither angry nor sad with this because I think that is how political discourse in the country is.”

Sudripta Tagore, who has always lived in a world of education and literature like his forefathers, runs a school and an orphanage in Shantiniketan, in Bengal’s Birbhum district. He said that there are only a few living members from the Tagore family who are still around, while the rest have either moved away or have not survived. Interestingly, no one from the direct lineage of Rabindranath Tagore survived after the third generation.

Only two families, including Sudripta Tagore’s family, have lived in Shantiniketan since the times of Rabindranath Tagore. Sudripta said that he even went for schooling at the Ashram in Shantiniketan which was set up by Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore.

“I have studied in the Ashram which was set up by my great-great grandfather. Here in Shantiniketan, we believe and practice what Rabindranath Tagore and the Tagore family believed even 125 years back. The school I have set up, I envisage to inculcate the values of Rabindranath Tagore by blending it with the modern form of education. Rabindranath believed in free and open spaces for education, as according to him, it was fundamental to the development of an individual through their young age. And this is exactly what Shantiniketan is all about.” Tagore said.

Supdripta, however, said that he is pained to see the vicious political atmosphere in Bengal and that he hoped that the culture of political violence comes to an end soon in Bengal.