Recently there has been much noise and adulation (Rightfully so) for Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize . As a matter of fact ,within the Northeast it seems like Bob Dylan was one of our own.
And much as we would like to give/take some pride in our regions association with Bob Dylan (Remember we celebrate his birthday for the last 5 decades religiously) it is time for us to look back in history and get certain perspective in the correct context.
A Bengali literary giant who probably wrote even more songs preceded Dylan’s win by over a century Rabindra Nath Tagore, a wildly talented Indian poet, painter and musician, took the prize in 1913.
The Northeast Connection is there as well, three of his books were on the Tripura Royal Family who aided and funded his Shantiniketan and also gave him the title Bharat Bhaskar.
In Shillong Rabindranath Tagore where he visited thrice no other hill station or resort had that privilege and Tagore loved Shillong so much that when he went back, he wrote his masterpiece ‘Sesher Kabita’ a novel whose total background was Shillong.
On his numerous visits to Tripura where he was a close friend of the Royal Family (Which had deep historical influences with the Manipur Royal family and culture) the Tripura royal family entertained him with Manipuri dance. Tagore was so enchanted by the dance that he took a Manipuri dance teacher, Nabakumar Singha, to Santiniketan to acquaint its students with Manipuri culture and help them to learn the dance form.
Both Bob Dylan and Tagore were associated with nonviolent social change. Tagore was a supporter of Indian independence and a friend of Gandhi, while Dylan penned much of the soundtrack for the 1960’s movement for civil liberties.
However one thing which even BOB cannot boast about is that Tagore was perhaps the first songwriter/Lyricist whose songs have become the National Anthems of Three countries Sri Lanka,Bangladesh and India.
Now folks can we just stand up and give a bit more respect to our very own Tagore before the same is rightly given to Bob Dylan