Banner celebrating Tagore with portraits of Rabindranath Tagore and Phalguni Mookhopadhayay. Includes 'Mayabono biharini horini,' 'Rabindra Sangeet,' and mentions Brainware University initiative.

“Mayabono Biharini Horini” was written by Rabindranath Tagore on September 29, 1934, at Santiniketan when he was 73 years old. The Rabindra sangeet was later published in Shyama in September 1950. Categorised as a Nritya Natya (Dance Drama), the song showcased the fusion of poetry and dance. The Rabindra sangeet was set in the Kaharwa taal. Kaharwa is a rhythmic structure of eight beats in two equal divisions. This Rabindra sangeet is set to the cadence of Raga Yaman (Iman)-Kalyan. 



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. Yaman Kalyan is an Indian classical raga. Raga Yaman is a peaceful yet joyful and vibrant tune. Yaman Kalyan moves similarly to Yaman in tunes, except in the descent notes of a chosen scale. The notation for the poem can be found in Shyama and Volume 19 of   Swarabitan. The notation for the Rabindra sangeet was given by Sushil Kumar Bhanjachoudhury.

Tagore starts the Rabindra sangeet by addressing the speaker’s confusion as to why he is willing to capture a wandering doe. The opening lines immediately draw the listener into a mystical world, where a wandering doe becomes a symbol of elusive beauty and longing. The metaphorical significance of the doe within the enchanted woods creates a sense of mystery and intrigue, compelling the listener to explore the depths of their dreams and desires. It is this juxtaposition of the ethereal and the earthly that sets the tone for the entire composition.

The lyrical content of “Mayabono Biharini Horini” is both enigmatic and thought-provoking. The yearning and obsession expressed by the speaker for capturing the doe, without any logical reason, speaks to the irrational nature of desire and the human longing for connection. The absence of a concrete purpose serves to heighten the emotional intensity, emphasising the raw and irrational aspects of human emotions.

The melody of the Rabindra sangeet beautifully intertwines with the lyrics, creating a harmonious blend of sound and meaning. The use of a flute to touch the heart and soul of the doe adds an element of enchantment to the composition, evoking a sense of ethereal beauty and delicate longing. The gentle and flowing rhythm mirrors the movements of the doe, painting a vivid musical picture of the enchanting woods and the emotions that fill the air.

As the song progresses, the restlessness and yearning intensify. The doe’s surrender to the celestial melodies and the subsequent growth of her restlessness symbolise the unpredictable and transformative nature of desire. The interplay of emotions and nature creates a rich tapestry of sensations, allowing the listener to immerse themselves in the emotional landscape of the song.

The final lines of “Mayabono Biharini Horini”, expressing the speaker’s desire to keep the doe at a distance, further emphasise the bittersweet nature of longing. The metaphorical rope of separation, without any knots, suggests a delicate balance between desire and the fear of losing what is sought after. The futility of remotely yearning for illusive things that will be anyways taken away by time questions the very need of yearning in the song. Thus, Tagore’s song is a poignant reminder of the complexities inherent in human emotions, leaving the listener with a lingering sense of both melancholy and fascination. Its ability to transport listeners to a world of longing and desire, while exploring the mysteries of human nature, is a testament to the artistic prowess of Tagore. 

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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 popularise 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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