Sepia-toned banner Celebrating Tagore, featuring his portrait. Text reads 'Celebrating Tagore' with 'Rabindra Sangeet' and 'May 9' on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn. Presented by Phalguni Mookhopadhayay, Chancellor, Brainware University.

“Aguner Poroshmoni”, published in a monthly Bengali literary magazine Probasi, is the Rabindra Sangeet  written in Surul by Rabindranath Tagore on 28th August 1914, 11 Bhadra 1321 in the Vedic Indian Calendar. This was added to the bard’s collection of verses, Geetali(1915). Aguner Poroshmoni, added as the 43rd in Swarabitan falls under the category, ‘Puja Parjaay’ (worship) and sub-category ‘Dukkha Upa-parjaay’ (sorrow). 

Aguner Poroshmoni is composed with Dadra taal as its rhythmic structure. ‘Dadra’ is an Indian classical taal (rhythmic cycle), consisting of six beats in two equal divisions of three. The raga used for Aguner Poroshmoni is called ‘Gaud (Gour)-Sarang’. A raga is identical to the Western classical modes. Modes in music are scale-like patterns that can begin on any note of the scale, not just the root note. Each mode, like each raga, has a distinct characteristic. Gaud Sarang is an Indian classical music raga that blends elements of Sarang with the now-extinct raga Gaud. Gaud Sarang, a daylight tune, has the effect of night melodies. The musical notation to Aguner Poroshmoni was given by Dinendranath Tagore. Aguner Poroshmoni was first sung on the occasion of Maghotsava, the winter festival in Vedic year 1321, Gregorian November 1914.

“Aguner Poroshmoni” has a unique meaning and significance. When someone dies, it is very painful as they cease to exist according to the Western sense of a tragedy put forward by Aristotle. Aristotle believed that the soul was in charge of the body’s life as the cause of movement and other changes. Based on this assumption, he asserted that the soul could not survive death since it provided the body with motility. 

However, in Indian tradition, the world is the natural cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. When one dies, the spirit leaves the physical body and goes to the Devaloka, or the realm of Gods according to their deeds before returning to the Bhuloka, or the earth. Therefore, the spirit of worship is found in even mournful situations like death in Indian tradition. 

Aguner Poroshmoni also hints towards self-realisation and transformation. Transformation is a death-like process when someone burns from within their bad habits, breaks away from negative decisions and understands that they are but a part of the whole – they understand that acting interdependently with surrender and diligence can make them achieve greatness. 

The poet asks the divine to ‘enrich’ his ‘life with fiery touchstone’. This signifies that when one becomes humble enough to surrender, burns from inside and truly recognizes the self beyond compulsions, they become devoted and internally enriched. The poet asks God to ‘purify his life with the gift of fire’. In Greek mythology, Prometheus was punished by Zeus for bestowing the gift of fire on man—an act that began humanity on its path to enlightenment. 

Fire is one of the five elements of nature, according to Indian Samkhya philosophy. Fire has been used by the ancient sages countless times to perform sacrifices. The bard is asking God to ‘hold’ his ‘body aloft’ to burn it as a ‘lamp’ in ‘God’s sanctum’ offering it as a sacrifice. He asks for the ‘flame’ to ‘radiate’ days and nights ‘through’ his ‘songs’ which reverberate enlightenment. 

According to Indian theology, the mind’s enemies are kama (desire), krodha (rage), lobha (greed), mada (Sense of I), moha (Attachment), and matsarya (partiality), which prevent man from attaining liberation, a cycle of rebirth. Tagore wants to get rid of ‘mada’ or sense of I, the root of all enemies of the mind. He wants his sense of self which also revolves around his body to dissolve completely with the enlightenment of God.  

The second part of the Rabindra Sangeet  is replete with multiple meanings. Tagore wishes for the ‘touch’ of God to create ‘new stars to glimmer through the night’. The divine touch is also symbolic: people blessed by the touch become enlightened amidst the vast dimension of darkness and ignorance. The power of such a touch is also capable of clearing the eyes of Tagore of all darkness. 

According to the Vedas, there are seven Chakras in the human body. The sixth chakra, Ajna is also known as the Spiritual Eye or the Third Eye. When one lives their life through this chakra, they see the world through new ‘eyes’. The new ‘eyes’ which Tagore, the polymath talks about resemble very well the Ajna chakra. With such new eyes no darkness can stand in front of the poet as his vision will be enlightened.  The line, “There will be light everywhere I look” echoes the line tamaso mā jyotirgamaya from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad which means ‘from darkness lead me to light’. All of his suffering because of the divine touch as he prays will be set withering away towards heaven. 

Song – 

Celebrating Tagore and Rabindra Sangeet 

There is no dearth of research on Rabindranath Tagore, the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize for literature and the author of India’s National Anthem. Not only are there over 2,000 publications to his name, he was, besides being a literary genius who took India to the world, also an artist, composer, singer and humanist. 

Yet how many people know of this versatile genius beyond the borders of Bengal? In an effort to bring home such a treasure trove to the non-Bengali population and Bengalis around the globe, Brainware University, Kolkata, Bengal’s largest private university, has taken up an initiative to popularize Tagore’s songs through a unique project. 

Spearheading this initiative is the founder-chancellor of the university, Mr Phalguni Mookhopadayay, who helms this audio-visual venture in anecdotal voiceovers and rich renditions of each intricate Rabindra Sangeet . 

Tagore once said: “The world speaks to me in colours, my soul answers in music.” His lyrical compositions, that he set to tune himself, bear out his belief that “music fills the infinite between two souls.” Tagore’s lyricism rises above mere prose and adds a new dimension, a depth of emotion that makes them relevant even today. The entire collection of Rabindra Sangeet was combined in Gitabitan – a music book comprising all 2,232 songs. 

Brainware University aptly chose to launch the initiative on May 9 this year, Tagore’s 162 nd birth anniversary, with a solemn and profound programme in its auditorium. Subsequently, the launch on social media has been hailed in various degrees of applause and appreciation, the first episode notching up nearly 20,000 views, and counting. 

Mookhopadhayay, each of whose renditions is eliciting effusive praise, is absolutely untrained in the nuances of vocal music. He says: “Our goal during the next 100 weeks is to take Tagore’s songs to at least 1,00,000 non-Bengali and Bengali households outside India. With each song you will find its translation in English and some useful information.  My request to viewers is to please subscribe to my YouTube channel (, like and share the episodes. Do share the link with friends abroad. Help us to promote Tagore’s musical genius to the world.” He is, indeed, carrying this onerous task on his able shoulders, eking out time from a relentlessly hectic schedule as a hands-on chancellor of the university. 

The more interesting aspect, not known to many, is that this initiative is totally home-grown, recorded and produced in Brainware University’s own state-of- the-art studios. Just three episodes old, the project is already receiving a very positive feedback from around the globe, with viewers impatiently awaiting the next video. The unceasing accolades across all social media platforms bear testimony to that. 

In all his compositions, Tagore’s intent was not to create new ragas but to melodies that did justice to the expressiveness of his poetry. Tagore was also influenced by the genre of Bengali folk music and composed many songs where their impact is evident.

Tagore’s compositions also played a major role in India’s freedom movement. While he voiced disillusionment over the degeneration of nationalism, two songs composed by him, Jana Gana Mana and Amar Sonar Bangla, are immortalised as the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. 

Legend has it that after listening to a Tagore song, Ustad Allauddin Khan was inspired to compose his favourite Raga Hemant. Tagore’s music has also had a profound impact on Indian cinema. Many of his songs have been adapted for films, and their emotional depth and lyrical beauty have contributed to the popularity of Indian film music. 

Today, Tagore’s music continues to resonate with people from all walks of life. His songs are performed at cultural events, religious ceremonies, and social gatherings, reflecting their enduring popularity. His music remains a testament to the power of art to unite people, transcend the boundaries of language and culture, and connect us to the divine.

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