Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Emancipation Of Women ::By:Susmita Das
 

Rabindra Nath Tagore’s Emancipation Of Women 

By:Mrs. Susmita Das   

INTRODUCTION

In the context of social, family and political setup everywhere now and then the women has to pass through all those humiliation, neglect, deprivation, hurdles and tortures from our society in many ways  and Rabindranath Tagore took up his pen for the cause of these attitude of society towards  women. He tirelessly took up the cudgel for the removal of injustice to women in his writing. In his short stories, novel, essay, poem and songs, the effort of women to uplift their self respect and self dignity has been reflected very well.

Spanning from “Chitrangada” (1892) to “Badnam” (1941) influenced by social upheaval consequent upon 19th Century Renaissance in Bengal, although some contradicted the rising of this Renaissance in Bengal Rabindranath inspired women folk to break the shackle of prejudice and social dogma. He instilled the thought of freedom in the mindset of women and he believed that woman can do it.

The trio Raja Ram Mohan , Derezio and  Vidyasagar has given their able leadership for all revolutionary movement in such a special setup. The result of such a comprehensive revolution, the women got soil under their feet and came out flawlessly to enjoy their freedom of speech through writings.  We can see the literature of Rabindranath has outpoured vividly the feelings and emancipation of women and their desire to break the darks clashed window in-search of hope and freedom.

Lots of people has mentioned the two character Kalyani and Urvashi of Rabindranath’s poem ‘Dui Nari’ to highlight his quest for knowing the knowledge and mindset of women.

The women on one side plays role of mother, daughter, sister,wife and on the other side she is ‘Bishamohini’(attraction of universe). But after this two line of thinking women has a different self entity and there she is enlightened in  intrinsic and self established personality. These women has broken the cordon of the male dominated and controlled society  and raised protest again and again sometimes  vehemently.

 

Their protest was against the long practiced dictum of the family (Strirpatra), neglect of husband (for example ‘Payla nambar’, ‘Manbhajan’, ‘Shasti’ and sometimes against disrespect of family (‘Aparichita’, ‘Niskriti’). Sometimes getting motivated politically, they came out breaking the shackles of society and family (“Lalita”, “Badman”) and they also did it for want of establishing their self respect. It can be felt very well in the following lines, the deep feeling and expression going on in the mindset of all women characters of Rabindranath Tagore.

 

“ Narike Apan Bhagya jay Karibar

Kena Nahi Dibe Adhikar

Hey bidhata ?

Nata Kari Matha

Patha prante kena raba jagi

Klanta dhairja pratyashar puraner lagi

Daibagata dine”

WOMEN IN THE ESSAY (PRABANDHA) OF RABINDRANATH TAGORE

In his essay “Nari” (women) he said “Manusher Sristite nari puratani; Nara Samaje Nari Shakti ke Bala jete pare Adyasakti. Ei sei shakti ja jibaloke pranke bahan kare,pranke pushan kare|”.The power of women in the society of man can be called as prime source of power. It is that power that bears life in the world of mankind and takes care of the life. He also said “Kalpanter bhumikay nutun sabbhata garbar kaje meyera ase darieche-prastut hache tara prithibir Sarbatrai.Tader Mukher upar theke je Ghomta khasla ta nay--- je ghomtar abarane tara adhikangsha jagater arale pare giye chila sei moner ghomtao tader khasche”.It means women has also started to play major role in the making of civilization and they are getting ready everywhere. In the process Rabindranath not only unveiled cover of darkness of women from their face but unveiled the darkness deep down inside, altogether illuminating them to a different plane of existence.

 

In the essay of ‘Strishiksha’ Rabindranath said that there are a band of people who says education is not required for  women because if women gets educated man will suffer from different problems. Educated wife will not respect her husband as God and she will not devote her time for taking care of her husband and she will be busy with her studies etc.

Again there are other band of male who says education is very much required for women because we do live with them in a family and if they are not educated our family life will be disturbed and they will not understand what do we want.

So both the band are considering the matter thinking of their own need and desire. Both are not thinking that women too has her own identity and she can have her own thought and decision. That is  why Rabindranath said,” Garaj jahader taha diga kei karja khetre namite haibe nijer uddam o shaktite nijeke mukta na karile anne mukti dite parena.Anne jetake mukti baliya upastit kare seta bandanerei murti”

 

It is women who need to come forward themselves with full energy for freedom and other cannot do it for them. whatever other say about the freedom of women it is another form of binding.

 

WOMEN IN THE SHORT STORIES AND NOVEL OF RABINDRANATH TAGORE

A wind of change in the mindset of women was revealed in short stories and novel of Rabindranath with March of time. Though in his early stages of writing the conjugal relationship of women’s was explored but in latter stages of his writing like “Teen Sangeet” the other facets of women personality was explored outside  her conjugal relationship.

In “Denapaona” story Nirupama protested and said to her father when he came to repay dowry having lost everything, “Tomar meyer ki kono marjada nei.Ami ki kebal ekta takar thali ? jatakhan taka ache tatakhan Amar dam”. She questioned whether she doesn’t have any self respect and is she only a bag of money that she will be valued as long as money is available.

In the story of ‘Shasti’ Chandara a village bride gave her life in protest when her husband supported the murder of wife of his elder brother and made her accused for the death stating that if one wife goes another will come but once brother gone brother will not come.

The same thing happened in ‘Strirpatra’  when Bindu has surrender her life to death to get rid of unbearable pain and torture in her conjugal relationship. But Mrinal the heroine of the story could came out of the house leaving her husband in protest to keep her self respect and self entity. The way Rabindranath manifested the self entity and personality of women though Mrinal is splendid. Mrinal infused courage in the mind set of women and said “you covered me in the darkness of your habit. During this short time Bindu entered through the holes of these cover and she saw me. She has broken the cover fully which tied. Now outside this binding in the whole world I see that today I don’t have place to keep my glory. You are thinking that I am going to die – don’t worry I will not repeat such old mockery with you all. Mirabai was also a woman like me and she also had heavy chain and shackles around her but she lived with honor and had not chosen death. I shall live. I am alive now”

After getting experience novelist Rabindranath felt to open up before his readers the “Ater Katha” of mankind. And following this path arrived one woman Binodini a widow women of ‘Chokher Bali’ with strong determination to awake the man from their sleep. Here he mocked the reformers who believed the agony  and pain of the widow in their fasting in ekadasi , their in ability to eat fish and their living in the home in isolation. From the very beginning Rabindranath tried to feel the suppression of the blooming of the self entity, body and souls of women. He tried to make a comprehensive understanding of the widowhood problem. Bankim told us the heartfelt torture and neglect of widow and Rabindranath took this onward and has opened up a new door in understanding the issue. Through his own experience he opened up before readers the minute details of the pain of widow, the turmoil inside her due to deprivation and where such turmoil will ends.

There is apparent similarity of this crisis in the “ Krisna Kanter will”. The way the hungry heart of Rohini awakened seeing the conjugal life of “ Govinda and Bhramar”. Similar things happened with Binodini. After reading the letter of Asha and Mahendra her belief got warmed like the wind of desert. Binodini had all the qualities in her to become the wife of Mahendra which was unimaginable for Rohini. A terrible agitation developed in the life of Rohini where she could not get all those which she could get easily. Rohini had true longing for life and she wanted to enjoy this life by any means. But gracious and educated Binodini’s reflection and consciousness was well refined and well cultured. In the imagination of Rabindranath the discontented women are not sheer symbol of demolition or ruin but they too have inside them the cool and prosperous image. This image of Binodini has been expressed through the feeling of Bihari. Rabindranath has opened the pain, agony of not getting anything by widow her thirst for love, the neglect of her cordoned personality. He also made us to see a woman as perpetual prosperous, affectionate and pain bearing human being.

WOMEN IN THE POEM OF RABINDRANATH TAGORE

Women has different role to play, sometimes as daughter and other time as wife and mother. Sometimes women want to be identified with other personality of her own besides these identities. We see this facets of women’s personality fully accomplished in different stages of his poetics. Rabindranath in his poem ‘Narir Ukti’ of ‘Manasi’ expressed deeply in-words the inner pain of heart of women:

“Achi jeno Sonar khachay,

Ek khani poshmana pran

Ae o ki Bujate hay- Prem jadi Nahi Roy

Hasie Suhag Kara Sudhu Apaman”

In the poem of Rabindranath women are sometime symbol of ideal beauty, goddess of life and sometimes absconding partner of underground beautiful world. In the poem ‘ Manas sundari’ of ‘Sonartari’ Rabindranath depicted women as graceful and image of prosperity.

“ Jibaner Pratidin

Tomar alok pabe bicchedbihin,

Jibaner prati ratri habe sumudhur

Madhurje tomar bajibe tomar sur

Sarba dehe; jibaner parti shukhe

Paribe tomar shubra hasi, prati dukhe

Paribe tomar asrujal; prati kaje

Rabe taba shubra hasta duti; griha majhe

Jagaye rakhibe sada sumangal jyoti

In ‘Biday –Abhishap’ he built up Koch and Debjani in the light of modern infusion for life. That is why Debjani tells Koch “biddyari lagia sudhu loke dukha sahe a jagate? Kareni ki ramanir lagi konu nara mahatap.” In the poem ‘Mukti’ of ‘palatak’ poet discussed the pain of house wife confined in the house.

“Suni nai ta manuser ki bani

Mahakaler binay baje . ami kebal jani,

Radhar pare khaoa, abar khaoar pare radha.

Baish bachar ek – chakatei badha”

I don’t know  the outer world of mankind and  what they say or what they sing there. I only know that my self cooking and eating and then cooking and tied up in this wheel for the last 22 years. After 22 years of family life and binding in the wheels of family got to know the meaning of life when she has come to nearer to her death……

We find the same mental agony of women in his poem ‘Niskriti’. Father of Manjulika married her to an aristocratic Panchanan who is five time older than her.Manjulika’s mother cried helplessly in silent. During farewell father said to her “hau tumi sabitrir mata, ei kamana kari”. I pray that you become like Sabitri . The first part of his blessing became true that her husband Panchanon has fallen sick but Manjulika could not returned him back alive from the door of yama. She came back to her father’s house as widow. Her time passes like the fallen leaves over the current of water. At last at the age of sixteen love comes to her life. Poet says:

“ Bahir hate tar

Ghuche geche sakal alankar;

Antar tar rangiye uthe stare stare”

Manjulika’s mother understands everything and went to her husband to persuade him so that she can arrange the marriage of Manjulika again. But in the name of religion he stops her. As time passed the determination and desire of mother also went up in the wind of bearing pain.Manjulika took up the responsibility of her family onto her shoulder. She bears everything and she is calm all the time. Childhood companion Pulin wants to marry her. But manjulika got afraid to responds to this. Manjulika started to give more time for family. But one day she heard that her father is going to Bakharganj for his own marriage.

Manjulika asked her father:

“Tumi Naki Karte jabe biye”

Father said smilingly:

“amar pakhe biye kara bisham kathor karma,

Kintu griha dharma

Stri na hale apurna je ray.”

When father came home after his marriage he saw that manjulika had left house with Pulin to start her new life in farakkabad. In the 20th century  too women were neglected tortured and in human behavior showed to them in the name of religion and traditional customs and Rabindra nath has not only shown this in his poem but showed the path also. In  ‘Chitrangada’ Chitrangada said to Arjun;

“Jadi parshe rakha more sankate sampade,

Sammati dao jadi kathin brate sahay hate

Pabe tabe tumi chinite more.”

CONCLUSION

Many centuries back pertaining to Vedic ages women had voice of their own. Subjugation of women for ages rendered them voiceless and inarticulate. Slowly in ignorance they started to think themselves as faceless. And they lost their  voice. 

Although, Rabindranath expressed different thinking in some cases but he showed path to those poor voiceless women to become powerful and strong in life. He instilled fire in their mind. There is no way to ignore his role in this regard. The heavy load of long prejudice and notion has engulfed the minds of women, and women are still lagging behind. Women have to get rid of these things themselves with their own effort. On our thorny road we the women feel the importance of inspiration of Rabindranath.

His women in the poem “Nababadhu” speaks:

“Amare rekha na bakya heena-

Rokte mor jage rudrabina

Uttaria jibaner sarbonnata muhurter pare

Jibaner Sarbuttam bani jena jhare

kantha hate Nirbarita Srote.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mrs.Susmita Das has done her MA (Bengali) from Tripura University. She writes  in several   news papers and magazines. She lives with her two daughters and husband at Agartala.You can write to Mrs. Susmita Das at  susmitatosha@gmail.com

 

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