It takes more than bricks and mortars to be a legend, to be special, to be historic. When this house was constructed by using cold bricks and mortars, it was expected that this house will be ordinary and be cold like others. But this house had other plans. Over the centuries, this house developed warmth, nurtured it’s residents to be a legend and in the process, this house itself became a legend. This legendary house of North Calcutta has nurtured and hosted several generations of Tagore family since 1785.
Yes readers, I am talking about the grand Jorasanko Thakur Bari (জোড়াসাঁকো ঠাকুর বাড়ি) commonly known as Thakur Bari which was built by Prince Dwarakanath Tagore (দ্বারকানাথ ঠাকুর).
This house has a long list of intellectual people to be produced. The residents of this house is famous world wide even today and will also be in day to come. Every corner of this house is filled with pride as it boasts of sheltering multitudes of talents. Every room has a pride of it’s own. The room where the house’s most prized possession was born – Rabindranath Tagore ( রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) on 9th May (২৫’এ বৈশাখ) is simple in look but has high pride and honour for giving birth to such a legend whom the world worships.
Leaving the birth room alone, the beautiful corridors, the majestic dining room, the beautiful gardens, the marvellous courtyard takes pride for nurturing the several generations of Tagore family and fir converting them into historically important persons around the globe.
Talking about the house, once a famous Bengali poet Kamini Ray (কামিনী রায়) has written in her poem Smritichinha (স্মৃতিচীহ্ন),
“প্রস্তর খসিছে প্রস্তরের পরে,
চারি দিকে ভগ্ন স্তূপ, তাহাদের তলে
লুপ্ত স্মৃতি; শুষ্ক তৃণ কাল-নদী-জলে
ভেসে যায় নামগুলি, কেবা রক্ষা করে”
(The building, monuments ruins and get crumbled to dust with waves of time and then no one remembers these artifacts.) This has proven true for most artifacts but Thakur Bari has proved it wrong for this house still holds the golden throne in the hearts of millions of people be it Bengali or not.
The grand courtyard of Thakur Bari has also hosted several plays of Rabindranath including the dynamic Rajarshi where Rabindranath himself played the role of jubilant Raghupati – The Royal Priest.
The house is proud for all her children, but it takes special pride for Rabindranath Tagore, as the house played an influential role in helping him to become the first Indian and first Non European to win the Nobel Prize For Literature in 1913 for his own English translations of his grand collection of poems in the book called Gitanjali – an offering of poems.
This place has not only enjoyed success of it’s children but also shed silent tears at the deaths of her children at everytime. In spite of it’s silent tears, this house gave the atmosphere, the environment for these young buds to mature and bloom into flowers and helped them to rule the hearts of the people for aeons to come.
“Facts are many but
Truth is one”
– Rabindranath Tagore
This quote is appropriate for this house. Many call this house the centre of business during the British Empire and many more, but the truth is that this house is the epicentre of Bengali Renaissance and many revolutionary movements as well.
“In the city’s heart lies the house of the man of God. Tagore’s ancestral house which is now a museum dedicated to life and work of this Nobel Laureate.”
This place has not only contributed to Indian Literature but also to the Indian Struggle for Independence against the British Throne. This house is the birthplace of movements like “Rakhi Bondhon” which protested against “Bongo Vongo Andolon” (partition of Bengal in 1905). During this movement, Rabindranath Tagore tied rakhi (holy thread for Hindus) to common folks signifying that we are all brothers and sisters and are indivisible. He even composed “Amar Sonar Bangla” for this movement, which was later adapted as the National Anthem for Bangladesh. This house instills moral values at highest level, by virtue of which Rabindranath Tagore slapped the title of Knighthood given to him by the British Government, back at their face as a protest against the Jalianwala Bagh Massacre when innocent people were ruthlessly fired upon by the British Cavalry under the order of General Dyer in 1919.
During these golden day, this was the probably only house in West Bengal to be a confluence of Western And Eastern Literature whose effect we do find in Rabindra Sangeet. Speaking of Literature, Nobel Laurete W. B.Yeats wrote in preface of English Translation of Gitanjali that:
” I have carried these manuscripts with me for days, reading it in railway trains, top of omnibus, in restaurant and often had to close it lest some stranger see how much it moves me.”
“Heard melodies are sweet,but those unheard. Are sweeter.
– John Keats
So true are these lines of Ode To Grecian Urn. Alternately, heard sobs are sorrowful but the unheard ones are bitter. When Rabindranath breathed left for heavenly abode on 7th August (২২’শে শ্রাবণ), the room where he died and every inch of this house mourned for dismissal of her greatest son but this house also knew that Rabindranath Tagore is immortal for aeons to come.
“তুমি রবে নীরবে”
– Rabindranath Tagore
This house also knew that with death of Rabindranath Tagore, it was the beginning of a new age. As Rabindranath Tagore himself quoted
“Death is not extinguishing the light;
it is only putting out the lamp
because the dawn has come. “
– Rabindranath Tagore
The peacefulness of this place, the unity amongst the family member soon degraded. The family politics ruined it all and the grandeur of this place limped forward for many years.
“যদি তোর ডাক শুনে কেউ
না আসে তবে একলা চলো রে”
– Rabindranath Tagore
(If no one answers thy call, walk alone)
Well, this place has limped on alone after the family breakups till it’s call was heard. In the year 1961, as a part of centenary celebration of Rabindranath Tagore, the then Chief Minister Dr. Bidhan Chandra Ray legally procured this house. Finally a museum was established in this two hundred and seventeen year old building on 8th May by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India.
“Men may come and Men may go
But I go on for ever.”
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
Yes, Men may come and go but this house will stay for ever and will nurture those who asks for it. Previously this house used to nurture the Tagore members only and now being an university, this place nurtures thousands of students each year and helps them to excel in day to come. In recent times, these students, present and past host annual cultural programmes performing the works of Rabindranath Tagore on his birthday which attracts many tourists all over the globe.
“It’s not just a house, but a
Jorasanko Thakur Bari is now the world of the students studying here and will also hold a nostalgic place in the hearts of all Bengalis. One of the eminent Scholar beliefs that the following poem is apt for this place:
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Address: 6/4 Dwarakanath Tagore Lane, Jorasanko, Kolkata 700007
Timings : 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
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