Rabindra Sangeet

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Tagore's Bengali-language initials are worked into this "Ro-Tho" wooden seal, stylistically similar to designs used in traditional Haida carvings. Tagore embellished his manuscripts with such art.
Dance accompanied by Rabindra Sangeet

Rabindra Sangeet (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রসঙ্গীত Robindro shonggit, Bengali pronunciation: [ɾobind̪ɾo ʃoŋɡit̪]), also known as Tagore Songs, are songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore.[1] They have distinctive characteristics in the music of Bengal, popular in India and Bangladesh.[2][3] It is characterised by its distinctive rendition while singing which includes a significant amount of ornamentation like meend, murki, etc. and is filled with expressions of romanticism. The music is mostly based on Hindustani classical music and folk music of Bengal. Works of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore, also reflected the descriptions of Lord Jesus Christ.Till today many of his composed songs form the worship hymnal and hymns in many Churches in Kolkata and West Bengal. Some examples are Aaguner Poroshmoniand Aanondoloke Mongolaloke.[4]


Tagore was a prolific composer with 7864 songs to his credit.[5] Rabindra Sangeet merges fluidly into his literature, most of which—poems or parts of novels, stories, or plays alike—were lyricised. Influenced by the thumri style of Hindustani music, they ran the entire gamut of human emotion, ranging from his early dirge-like Brahmo devotional hymns to quasi-erotic compositions.[6] They emulated the tonal color of classical ragas to varying extents. Some songs mimicked a given raga's melody and rhythm faithfully; others newly blended elements of different ragas.[7] Yet about nine-tenths of his work was not bhanga gaan, the body of tunes revamped with "fresh value" from select Western, Hindustani, Bengali folk and other regional flavours "external" to Tagore's own ancestral culture.[8] Scholars have attempted to gauge the emotive force and range of Hindustani ragas:

the pathos of the purabi raga reminded Tagore of the evening tears of a lonely widow, while kanara was the confused realization of a nocturnal wanderer who had lost his way. In bhupali he seemed to hear a voice in the wind saying 'stop and come hither'.Paraj conveyed to him the deep slumber that overtook one at night's end.[8]

— Reba Som, Rabindranath Tagore: The Singer and His Song."[9]

Tagore influenced sitar maestro Vilayat Khan and sarodiyas Buddhadev Dasgupta and Amjad Ali Khan.[7] His songs are widely popular and undergird the Bengali ethos to an extent perhaps rivalling Shakespeare's impact on the English-speaking world.[citation needed][who?] It is said that his songs are the outcome of five centuries of Bengali literary churning and communal yearning.[citation needed] Dhan Gopal Mukerji has said that these songs transcend the mundane to the aesthetic and express all ranges and categories of human emotion. The poet gave voice to all—big or small, rich or poor. The poor Ganges boatman and the rich landlord air their emotions in them. They birthed a distinctive school of music whose practitioners can be fiercely traditional: novel interpretations have drawn severe censure in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.[citation needed]

For Bengalis, the songs' appeal, stemming from the combination of emotive strength and beauty described as surpassing even Tagore's poetry, was such that the Modern Review observed that "[t]here is in Bengal no cultured home where Rabindranath's songs are not sung or at least attempted to be sung ... Even illiterate villagers sing his songs". A. H. Fox Strangways of The Observer introduced non-Bengalis to rabindrasangit in The Music of Hindostan, calling it a "vehicle of a personality ... [that] go behind this or that system of music to that beauty of sound which all systems put out their hands to seize."[11]

In 1971, Amar Shonar Bangla became the national anthem of Bangladesh. It was written—ironically—to protest the 1905 Partition of Bengal along communal lines: lopping Muslim-majority East Bengal from Hindu-dominated West Bengal was to avert a regional bloodbath. Tagore saw the partition as a ploy to upend the independence movement, and he aimed to rekindle Bengali unity and tar communalism. Jana Gana Mana was written in shadhu-bhasha, a Sanskritised register of Bengali, and is the first of five stanzas of a Brahmo hymn that Tagore composed. It was first sung in 1911 at a Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress[12] and was adopted in 1950 by the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of India as its national anthem.

Collection of compositions[edit]

The book forming a collection of all songs written by Rabindranath is called Gitabitan ("Garden of songs")[13] and forms an important part of extant historical materials pertaining to Bengali musical expression. The six major parts of this book are Puja (worship), Prem (love), Prakriti (seasons), Swadesh (patriotism), Aanushthanik (occasion-specific), Bichitro (miscellaneous) and Nrityonatya (dance dramas and lyrical plays).[14]

Historical influence[edit]

Rabindra Sangeet has been an integral part of Bengal culture for over a century.[3][15] Indian social reformer Swami Vivekananda became an admirer of Rabindra Sangeet in his youth. He composed music in the Rabindra Sangeet style, for example Gaganer Thale in Raga Jaijaivanti.[3]

Notable singers of Rabindrasangeet[edit]

Rabindrasangeet singers from Bengal[edit]

Some well-known singers of Rabindrasangeet are:

Artistes from the film industry[edit]

Contemporary Updates[edit]

As of July 2016, Rabindra Sangeet has been digitized and is available online for download.[16]


  1. ^ Sigi 2006, p. 90
  2. ^ Tagore 2007, p. xii
  3. ^ a b c "Magic of Rabindra Sangeet". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 9 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  4. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-3RNg8dRTY
  5. ^ Srijani, Ganguly (16 July 2016). "Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geet are now digitised, and you can buy them online". India Today. Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  6. ^ Tagore, Dutta & Robinson 1997, p. 94.
  7. ^ a b Dasgupta 2001.
  8. ^ a b Ghosh 2011.
  9. ^ Som 2010, p. 38.
  10. ^ "Tabu mone rekho" (in Bengali). tagoreweb.in. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Tagore, Dutta & Robinson 1997, p. 359.
  12. ^ Monish R. Chatterjee (13 August 2003). "Tagore and Jana Gana Mana". countercurrents.org. 
  13. ^ gitabitan.net. "GITABITAN of Rabindranath Tagore - An Encyclopedic Site". www.gitabitan.net. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  14. ^ Som 2010, p. 89-91.
  15. ^ Dasgupta & Guha 2013, p. 252
  16. ^ "Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geet are now digitised, and you can buy them online". Retrieved 2016-12-09. 

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]