The Last Bird From The Golden Age Of Ghazelles. P.S.Remesh Chandran.

The Last Bird From The Golden Age Of Ghazelles.

P.S.Remesh Chandran. Editor, Sahyadri Books, Trivandrum.

PSRemeshChandraStarred Page By PSRemeshChandra, 17th Aug 2013  Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

Music crosses borders of nations and oceans and reaches hearts of human beings in strange lands. God stands just behind those who sing, so close, that we will wonder who actually sings. Ghazals are Nature’s wonderful creations in which the purest of passions, emotions and feelings are stored up so that grief-stricken human soul in loneliness can seek solace in it at any time as if in the presence of God. It is His ardence, affection and benediction once in a lifetime that flows through ghazals

Ghazals originated in pre-Islamic Arabia, existed in this world for 1500 years and is dying in Europe.

Ghazals originated in pre-Islamic Arabia, developed in Medieval Africa, Spain, Persia, Turkistan, Afghanistan, Hindustan and Russia and ended in Europe. They existed in this world for more than 1500 years. Since the diluting of their form, meter and rhyme by modern day poets, they are no longer going to remain, making already created ones endearing. Great singers like present day Salman Alvi and Habib Wali Muhammad but continue to sing old ghazals and keep the interest in them alive.

Translating Persian poems into English was the earliest hobby of the British East India Company officers to escape from boredom.

We know about the poetic form quatrain as used in The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in which a quartet of four independent lines when joined together one after another like flowers in a garland obtain a unique form and develop into exotic themes. It has an Arabic origin wherefrom it moved to Persian. In the courts of Persian Emperors, it gained importance and momentum and, as Persian rule expanded through the continent, it reached Afghanistan, Pakistan and India- then a common land under Persian rule. Every British officer posted to the English East India Company to serve in this region was required to learn Persian to converse well with the courtiers and the Emperors of this Empire. Not all of these officers were boorish illiterates. Many of them were real scholars who learned Persian well. To escape from the isolation, loneliness and boredom they felt in India, they took it as their hobby to translate famous Persian poems into English. First it was a hobby, then exhilaration and finally a career. Many British scholars who never reached India but remained inside native universities also continued undertaking this translation, once initiated into this flair by earlier translations. Thus these exotic quatrains, from Arabic through Persian, reached English literature. When translated into English, they reached the main stream of world literature and became singularly famous. ‘They began to fill the pages of English poetry books with the sweet sound of bulbuls and the scent of roses.’ Translations by some of these early British officers like such luminaries as Edward Fitzgerald and A. J. Arberry remain classics.

Whichever emotions could not be shared with a woman who is forbidden to be longed for was expressed in ghazals in more intimate terms.

Ghazals evolved the same way the quatrains were. Their origin was in Arabia and the word literally means ‘addressing a woman or speaking to a woman’. We know, seldom will a poet write poems addressing his wife, for their intimacy would have waned considerably through years. It was always ‘addressing a woman who is normally unreachable and forbidden to long for’ that necessitated and inspired the creation of ghazals. Whichever emotions could not be shared directly with that woman, were expressed in these quartets or couplets, in more intimate terms. From Arabia, this form was taken up from Turkey by the 10th century Persian literati and widely used in Persian courts where it became popular. In 12th century Hindustan, ghazals spread to Urdu language, following the installation of Islamic Sultanates and the advent of Sufi saints in India. In later years they were taken up for translation by English East India Company officers who learned both Urdu and Persian well. Sufi philosophy and mysticism also influenced and diverted the themes of ghazals. So, following the same path taken by quatrains, ghazals also reached world literature. Even before the origin of Islam, similar poetic forms had existed in Arabia, which the Persians had assimilated and developed as the Persian poetic form qasida, the real mother of all present day geets and ghazals.

Ghazals were named after that sweet loving-bird gazelle of Africa known for its love songs, crying for its beloved.

Urdu poetry or shayari has two forms which are geets and ghazals. In geet, the entire poem is independent, developing a central theme. Geet is also called as nazm, or rhymed verse. In ghazals, only the quartets or couplets are independent, complete in itself but unrelated to each other, which when combined together, develops a central theme. This poetry form is more spelt as ‘ghazal’ than as ghazelle’ which would have been more apt. We know the sweet loving-bird gazelle in Africa known for its love songs, crying for its beloved. The word ghazal is derived to symbolize this love-stricken ghazelle. Ghazals also have the characteristic of the poet’s name hidden, alluded to or referred to at the end.

Ghazals evolved from the emotional opening part of Qasîdah, the pre-Islamic poetic form of Ode.

In the pre-Islamic world in Arabia, there was a golden time for odes called qasîdahs. They included mainly four poetic genres such as madîh, hikam, hijâ and fakhr. Madîh represened praising poetry, Hikam represented moralizing poetry, Hijâ represented satirizing poetry and Fakhr accommodated boasting poetry. The love-genre which later came to be called Ghazals was not a recognized form in those golden times of Arabian poetry before the emergence of Islam. Whichever genre it belonged to, a qasîdah had three parts- the opening part called nasîb, the middle and main part called rahîl and a last part called madîh. We will normally think this first introductory part nasîb would be of comparatively lesser importance in such an elaborate structure of Arabian poetry, but strangely it was from this introductory part that ghazals evolved later. Since emotional attachment to women was an important part of human constitution and winning listeners’ hearts even from the opening lines an objective of all poets, there was no wonder the beginning part nasîb of the qasîdahs of Arabia became the foundation for ghazals to base themselves on later.

The risky, dangerous and brittle Arabian Bedouin life created ghazals for solace and escape.

Ancient Arabians were mostly Bedouins and their life was dangerous, risky and brittle. Love and emotional attachment was the only momentary respite, relief and diversion in their lives. As life became harsher, laborious and more painful, affinity for indulging not in moralizing and boasting poems but in love songs made embracing ghazals more natural and their development inevitable. Old world scholars like Ibn Qutaybah have analyzed the origin of qasîdahs, nasîbs and ghazals up to the rising of Arabian written literature. The unrecorded periods were guessed and synthesized by modern day scholars like Theodor Gaster Hayât Jâsim, Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych and Jaroslav Stetkevych who have tried to trace Bedouin life and their literature back to ancient Middle Eastern times.

Arabian urbanization made people demand for music, dance and entertainment and made ghazals shorter and lighter.

During the Ummayyad Era from 661 to 750, Arabian urbanization grew and townsfolk wanted more music, dance, songs and entertainment. Ghazals were an apt poetic form to be adapted, converted and used for these entertainment purposes. Deserts preferred classic traditional form but cities liked ghazals modified and separated into nasîb, rahîl and madîh in the qasîdah. The qasîdah form of ghazals consisted of couplets. Each line ended in the same rhyme. Each line in a couplet was called bayt in Arabic language and sher in Persian. Using the same rhyme scheme by a poet was termed qâfiyah.

Popularity and development of ghazals also led to different schools of ghazals coming into being. Courtly love, free of eroticism and physical desire, developed as udharî, the proponents of this school being puritans like `Abd al-Rahmân, `Urwah b.Hizâm, Jamîl b. Ma`mar, and Tawbah b. al-Humayr. Erotic hissî was nothing but graphic and vivid descriptions, mostly written by `Umar b.Abî Rabî`ah. Poets like Abû al-Nuwâs practiced mudhakkar which was homo erotic. The only school of ghazals which based not on theme but on form was tamhîdî which was a transitional form with only two parts in it, the introductory part nasîb entering straight into the last part madîh without the middle part rahîl.

Arabian urbanization made ghazals becoming generally shorter and lighter also. Stiff meters like kâmil, basît, and rajaz which were used in the classical ghazals changed to lighter ones like khafîf, ramal, and muqtarab, to suit mass entertainment. Themes diverted more from memories of clan, home and heroism to romanticism and erotic, to suit people’s tastes.

Like great rivers, ghazals received everything from the lands they flowed through.

The chronological and geographical development of ghazals can be traced by following the names of the most important persons associated with ghazals. Persian mystic poets like Jalal al-Din Muhammad and Rumi in the 13th century, Hafiz in the 14th century, Turkish poet Fuzuli in the 16th century, Indian poets Mirza Ghalib in the 18th century and Muhammad Iqbal in the 19th century and finally the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the 19th century, will give a rough outline of the countries through which ghazals travelled and the time segments in which it progressed. Or, will we have to doubt, was it a progress really? It certainly became more popular and accepted and certainly recordings of them could be made as science and technology advanced, but its traditional form deteriorated through centuries. When it reached England, Thomas Hardy was the first to pick it up but even his was a poor attempt. Even though using this form by German poets Friedrich Rückert and August von Platen in the 19th century was considered somewhat of a success, its use by the American Indian poet Agha Shahid Ali and poetess Adrianne Rich in the 20th century was thorough flop, for failure in keeping metrical perfection. It is because ghazals from Arabia spread to Persia and Turkey that we have now a vast production of literature before us. But we have not yet considered the result of its spreading to two other vast regions, namely Africa and Spain.

Ghazals travelled through Africa, Spain, Persia, Turkey and India and reached Germany and England.

Arab culture and education permeated into Africa, Spain and Persia, resulting also in the spread of ghazals. Western African poets who wrote ghazals in their languages wrote in Arabic also. Hausa and Fulfulde are the African languages wherein we see so many ghazals. Spanish poets like Moses ibn Ezra of the 10th century wrote ghazals both in Spanish Hebrew and Arabic. Either in Africa or in Spain, the prominent Arabic characteristics of ghazals did not wane but they controlled the movement. Neither did these Arabic characteristics wane in Persia. In fact, the earliest Persian ghazals were more Arabic than Persian. Even though experiments and changes in their musical adaptability were undertaken by Persians, they preferred to follow the same lighter meters perfected by Arabians. The Persians did not only content themselves with the love ghazals of the Arabs; they assimilated and experimented with other Arabian poetic forms like satires, moralizers and boasting and praising poetry forms also. The first great poet of Iran, Abdullah Jafar Rudaki of the 9th century, surpassed all Arabic and Persian poets till then in excellence in composing ghazals, culminating in the fruition of all good Arabic and Persian characteristics in one single poet.

Multi language proficiency was characteristic of ghazal writers in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

During the years from when Persians borrowed ghazals from Arabians to the years when they were invaded by Ottoman Turks, the Persian Empire had spread and Persian had become the prominent and official language in Central Asia. Luckily, it was the refined ghazals of the 14th century that seeped into Afghanistan, Hindustan, Turkistan and Russia. Like those who were directly influenced by Arabic wrote both in Arabic as well as in African, Spanish and Persian languages, those who were now influenced by Persian ghazals wrote both in Persian as well as in Hindi, Urdu, Afghan, Azerbaijan, Uzbek and Turkish. Besides in Persian, Amir Khusru in 14th century wrote in Hindi also, Ali-Shir Nava’I in 15th century in Afghan Turkish also and Fuzuli in 16th century in Azerbaijani Turkish also. Ali-Shir Nava’I is called ‘the Chaucer of the Turks’ and the founder of Uzbek literature. Mirza Ghalib in 19th century wrote in Urdu. Since then, every regional language in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia and Turkey has had ghazals, entirely die to bilingual proficiency becoming prevalent.

Mongol attacks of 13th century made Persians shed Arabic conservatism in ghazals and begin their thinning.

Arabians were somewhat reluctant to spell the author’s name in the ghazals directly; they made only hidden allusions and references in the end. Even in Rudaki’s time in the 9th century, this had not changed in Persia. But before or at the time the Mongols attacked Persia in the beginning of the 13th century, this seems to have changed. Perhaps ghazal poets of this time might have decided to shed anonymity and obscurity, or they might have decided to preserve some fame for posterity before barbarian Mongols burned everything including them. Poets became more open and less shy in mentioning their names in ghazals. They devised the method called takhallus to record their name in the final couplet. It was a major change in subtlety of expression in ghazals under the care of Persians. Couplets also began to declare independence and began to look distantly-placed components in the garland more. Muslih-ul-Din Saadi of the 13th century who had to flee from Mongols to save his life was the finest example for stubbornness against this thinning in the integrity of ghazals. Topics also varied liberally with the Persians by the end of the 14th century.

Persians attached refrains to ghazals and Sufis diverted theme from erotic to mystic and divine.

Arabs also did not use refrains after the end rhyming word but Persians insisted on them as a rule. Persian poets from the 10th to 13th centuries commonly used end-refrains in ghazals. Like takhallus which was their new devise for inserting the author’s name shamelessly, use of this refrains called radif also was the Persians’ unnecessary contribution to ghazals. Poets like Abu Shukur, Daqiqi, Shahid-i Balkhi, Ma`rufi, Farid al-Din`Attar and Mahmud-i Varraq, and even the noted Jalal al-Din Rumi, liberally used it. Poetical critics and philosophers of that time like Rashid al-Din Vatvat supported it. The only exemption was again Muslih-ul-Din Saadi who used it only in a few of his poems. Eventually radifs became the characteristic of Persian ghazals to distinguish the Pre-Islamic from the Post-Mongol Invasion productions. These poems with the refrain came to be called muraddaf. When it was the time of Hafiz in the 14th century, Persian poets wrote rarely without refrains. It became a certification of mastery in poetical craft. It was after the 14th century that this practice waned and finally vanished. There was a cause for this also, which was advent of Sufism. Sufis not only tempted poets to do away with this unnecessary ornament but keep manifestation of longing and desire remain, but they also diverted ghazals’ themes to divinity and the mystic from eroticism. At the end of the 14th century, we have thus the Arabian ghazals more or less intact with us, with only a slight independence and autonomy for couplets as declared by Persians, but cleansed of fleshly desires by Sufis, aspiring for divinity.

When direct contact with Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages ceased, the fountain of inspiration for ghazals also dried up.

It was in their Persian and Urdu form in the 18th and 19th centuries that ghazals arrived in Europe, directly introduced in Germany by Goethe and indirectly introduced in Britain by the bored British East India Company officers, as we have already seen. We can say, in conclusion, that the Golden Age of Ghazals ended with the 14th century, and the tree continued to rain till the 18th century, long after the rain had actually ceased. Perhaps Goethe, Edward Fitzgerald, Atkins, and A. J.Arberry were the last ones to see Arabic and Persian ghazals in their originality and magnificence and take them to Europe. When direct contact with Arabic, Persian and Urdu languages ended, contact with original ghazals also ended, and the fountain of inspiration got ghazals also dried up with it. People but still continued to write ghazals for the simple reason that they wanted to be known as ghazal writers, for writing ghazals had been made so easy after abandoning metrical form, rules and themes and declaring full independence and autonomy for couplets. This applies to all ghazals created in Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries, without any direct contact with Arabic, Persian or Urdu languages. Today, the trend in writing ghazals is, whatever is strenuous, difficult and demanding is abandoned and whatever is cool, easy and effortless retained, as is in the case of all other forms of poetry. Limitations of length are now strictly adhered to because today no one can write too much. Poets proclaim that emotions flow from their heart as free verse and they are entitled to present it as poems and ghazals without editing or transfiguration which would be unnatural and taboo. Ghazals are going that way in Arabia, Persia, Afghan, India, Russia and Europe, deteriorating every day. Every compromise and relaxation brought about by these lazy, uninspired and untrained ‘poets’ is innovation in their terms and degeneration in our terms. Like when oral epics like Beowulf were translated from semi-German into modern English, Song Of Roland was translated from French and Rubaiyat was translated from Persian, rhyme and meter systems used by the original poets in their original languages are no more researched on, experimented with and modified for adaptation with translation by modern poets. They are now thought of as hindrances, not as intellectual challenges. The Persians, Africans, Spaniards, Turks, Afghans, Indians and the Russians took great care in incorporating alien rhyme schemes and unfamiliar meters into their complicated language systems and retaining the beauty of the original works or they devised new meters or rhymes to accommodate the guest. Modern day poets with lesser intelligence and lesser still patience challenge the poetical excellence and exotic versifications of pious centuries with their licenscious and poor creations. Arabian ghazals are so now dying away, vanishing with those grief-stricken and crying ghazelle birds of Africa.

English ghazal writing has reached the bizarre stage where radif is invariably present and rhyme is totally absent.

In conventional poetry, in general, there has to be a continuity flowing though all lines maintained but in ghazals, today, there needn’t be any such necessity and obligation for keeping continuity, provided lines are arranged in couplets to show likeliness of ghazals, remotely. This self-declared simplicity of form attracts everyone to writing ghazals. English ghazals writing has reached the bizarre stage where radif is invariably present and rhyme is totally absent. The author of this article went through a few of the most famous volumes of ghazals published recently in English, including those by John Thompson in Canada and Adrienne Rich in America, and is of the opinion that they all belong to the vain category of pseudo ghazals. They failed to obey true-to-form principles and became bastard ghazals. They only have the word Ghazal printed on their covers, mere copyrighted creations with no Arabic, Persian or Indian glory, magnificence and generosity, in conviction or in execution.

Once, ghazals meant a well-cut and defined poetic form and a genre. Now, they mean only a genre. Form has been sacrificed for easiness in writing. Free verse penetrated Arabian, Persian, African, Spanish, Afghan, Indian and Russian ghazals in the 20th century. There is no possibility of ghazals ever regaining their traditional form. Today, ghazals are being written about anything and everything, even without keeping ever even a trace of a longing and desire for a beloved human being. So, imperceptibly, ghazals are unbecoming a genre also. With the passing of each day, ghazals are distancing themselves more from a defined form and genre as ‘a love song of longing’.

The heritage of ghazals does not continue through modern poets anymore.

Ghazals have traditional restrictions of form. They have strict rhyme and rhythm patterns. Traditional ghazals are composed of five to fifteen couplets, with the poet’s signature skillfully embedded in the last one. Iranian, Indian and Pakistani singers, who take up old ghazals, orchestrate record and distribute them and hold live concerts are who keep the interest in ghazals alive. Turkish, Pashto, Urdu, Hindi, Spanish and German languages have fine ghazals. Americans are not introduced enough to ghazals, for none of the poets except the 18th and 19th century British translators who introduced ghazals to that continent did justice to traditional form, rhyme and meter. Translations from other languages into English are still in the infancy stage, or we can say that it stopped at the infancy stage with the passing away of such talented poets like Prof. A.J.Arberry. Nearly all of them have only been able to copy the theme of ghazals, not its form. Lack of patience, reverence and training, and over-orientation for publishing were what made their ghazals flop. There indeed are several modern names associated with translation of ghazals into English or creating them of their own, such as Aijaz Ahmad, Agha Shahid Ali, Adriane Rich, David Ray, Edward Lowbury, Elise Paschen, Elizabeth Gray, James Clarence Mangan, James Elroy Flecker, John Hollander, John Thompson, Phyllis Webb, Spencer Reece, William Hunt, William Stafford, W. S. Merwin, etc. which needn’t imply that the heritage of ghazals continues through them anymore. Deviating from traditional form has become such unquestioned and common that there are now scores of writers in every language who seek shelter and fame in the folds of ghazals.

What keep alive the interest in ghazals are the presence of exquisite singers and the availability of their recorded creations.

Indian and Pakistani singers touring abroad and conducting concerts made ghazals very popular in the modern day Europe. Famous Urdu ghazal writers include Mirza Ghalib, Muhammad Iqbal, Nasir Kazmi, Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Morza Rafi Sauda, Majrooh Sultanpuri. Singers who made ghazals in Asia popular include Kundan Lal Saigal, Ustad Barkat Ali, Begum Akhtar, Mehdi Hassan, Noor Jehan, Iqbal Bano, Amanat Ali Khan, Jagjit Singh, Farida Khanum, Ghulam Ali, Begum Akhtar. Mohammad Rafi popularized them through films. Bengali and Gujarathi have quite a number of ghazals. Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam languages in South India also have many ghazal singers.

When someone wants to build a collection of ghazals which are first class ones worthy of being listened to again and again and which also are recorded and available for purchase, the main problem he faces is, every CD has good and bad ghazals. Not all singers are good. There is the other option of searching for selected songs and downloading them from You Tube as videos or from pay or free sites as audios. Here is a selection, the really first class ones without which no collection will be complete.

01. Amanat Ali….1. Ghar Wapas Kab Aaoge. 2. Honton Pe Kabhi. 3. Insha Ji Utho.
02. Anup Jalota….1. Dil Hi Nahin To Dil Ke. 2. Do Din To Junoon Ke Hain 3. Ruk Jao Subah Tak. 4. Tumne Kitne Sapne Dekhe.
03. Fareeda Khanum….1. Kuch Ishq Tha Kuch Majboori. 2. Woh Ishq Jo Hum Se.
04. Ghulam Ali….1. Ae Dard E Hijre Yaar. 2. Chamakte Chand Ko. 3. Chhup Chhup Ke Piyo. 4. Gugunati Hai Hawa. 5. Hum Tere Shahar Me Aaye Hai.
05. Gul Bahar Bano….1. Dard Kay Saz. 2. Dhal Gaee Raat. 3. Hamain Jahan Mai. 4. Kabhi Kabhi To. 5. Kya Kya Ye Rang. 6. Tu Pass Bhi Ho To.
06. Habib Wali Muhammad….1. Aa Hum Thode Zindagii. 2. Chaahat Ki Har Geeth Niraalii. 3. Deir Lagii Aane Mein Unko. 4. Kab Mera Nache Man. 5. Lagta Nahin He Dil Mera. 6. Pehla Sahaal Pehle Hii. 7. Thume Meri Na Mujh Ko Na. 8. Yeh Na Dhi Hamari Hota.
07. Iqbal Bano….Daag-e-Dil Hum Ko.
08. Jagjit Singh….1. Aap Aaye Janaab Barson Mein. 2. Aap Se Gila Aap Ki Kasam. 3. Jhuki Jhuki Ki Nazar. 4. Nazar Nazar Se Mila Ker Sharab.
09. Mehdi Hassan….1. Aye Kuchh Ab Kuchh. 2. Gali Gali Teri Yaad. 3. Yun Zindagi Ki Raah.
10. Munni Begum….1. Chaman Roye. 2. Koi Humnafas Nahin. 3. Koi Mujh e Gul Se. 4. Kuch Din Kate Hain. 5. Is Jagah Pyar Karna Ma’na Hai. 6. Tumharaa Shaharka Musam Bara.
11. Musrat Nazeer….Raat Dhammi Dhammi.
12. Nayyara Noor….1. Ae Jazba-e-Dil. 2. Mor Macha Way Sor.
13. Noor Jehan….Dil Ke Afsaane.
14. Talat Mehmood….1. Aaja Tujhe Mohabbat. 2. Aansoo Samajh Ke Kyu.
3. Bechain Nazar. 4. Hum Se Aaya Na Gaya. 5. Jalte Hai Jiske Liye.
6. Zindagi Denewale Sun.

And of course, 15. Salman Alvi.

Salman Alvi, the last bird from the golden age of ghazals and the music ambassador of Asia.

The latest and one of the finest ghazal singers is Mr. Salman Alvi in Pakistan whose services in keeping the interest in ghazals are invaluable. The other equally enchanting gentleman singer from Pakistan is Habeeb Wali Muhammad. In the modern age, the biography of almost all singers is available in the internet. Wikipedia is the first and foremost and then comes the famous and popular music downloadable sites. And there is Face Book too. But Salman Alvi is the most elusive bird in the world of ghazal singers. Not a line regarding his life is available anywhere in the whole digital world, except three or four lines in his Face Book page. You Tube Channels including tahayyur, hilalconfectionery, Sain Shaada, kukdila, tauseefqau and RAORASHID1982 have selected and uploaded his songs. They are available as audio compact discs and video compact discs in music stores around the world. His is perhaps the finest ghazal orchestra in the world now, a few pictures of which are included here, as graciously allowed by him, as a concession to an admirer. Also links to his most famous ghazal videos are attached here. Today, if someone wants to know what ghazals are, his is the best introduction. If someone follows these links and becomes an addict of ghazals, do not blame the author.


We dedicate this article to Ghazals Guitarist Qamar Allahditta who thrilled us through his many vibrant performances and who is no more.

Salman Alvi’s immortal ghazals can be viewed here.

1. Yeh Kiya Keh Sab Se Bayan Dil Ki Halatain Karni 7:09 RAORASHID1982

2. Sakht Hai Isaq Ki Rah Guzar 7:29 tauseefqau

3. Us Ki Gali Mein Phir. Salman Alvi 7:37 kukdila

4. Nazm, Jan-e-Pidar 6:42 tahayyur

5. Dil Dhoondta Hai – Live Tribute 6:58 tahayyur

6. Is Jagah Pyaar Karnaa Mana Hai 4:17 tahayyur

7. Meri Kahani Bhoolney Waley 4:10 tahayyur

8. Jinhe Bhoolne Mein 3:48 Sain Shaada

9. Ae Mere Noor-e-Nazar by Salman Alvi 5:14 tahayyur

10. Zindagi Mein Ek Pal Bhi 3:21 tahayyur

11. Tumhe Pukarlo Tumhara Intezar 4:48 hilalconfectionery

12. Apni Soi Hui Dunya 6:21 tahayyur

13. Muhabbaton Mein Agar 6:30 tahayyur

Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, with his permission, has set up a venue where Salman Alvi’s ghazals can be reached and downloaded from You Tube. It is ‘Bloom Books Channel Kerala’ in Google Plus, constituted via Weebly.

Bloom Books Channel Kerala

Pictures Courtesy: Dear Salman Alvi.
Via his Face Book Page. With his permission

Dear Reader,
If you cannot access all pages of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:

To read about the life and people of Kerala, the author’s native land, visit KERALA COMMENTARY here.

For more articles of this kind, visit SAHYADRI BOOKS here or BLOOM BOOKS, TRIVANDRUM.



author avatar Madan G Singh
25th Aug 2013 (#)

Must congratulate you for a wonderful and interesting post

010. Leave This Chanting. Rabindranath Tagore Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran


Leave This Chanting. Rabindranath Tagore Poem. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum


By PSRemeshChandra, 22nd Mar 2011.| Short URL
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism



God was the most beautiful creation of mankind, created in his exact image- man’s own image- playful, lovely and comely, so that he can easily identify himself with God. So why not love him ardently and affectionately, and respect him beyond everything? After creating mankind, God did not wish to leave them alone but decided to stay with them, which was a great sacrifice on His part. Leave This Chanting is one of the most read poems of Rabindranath Tagore, with the most universal message.

A house in Bengal where veena, thabala and mridangam resounded day and night.


01. A Tagore Portrait 1886 By Unknown.

Rabindranath Tagore was an educationalist, poet and social reformer of India. He wrote hundreds of poems, plays, novels and short stories in English which enjoy universal appeal and esteem. He was a noted painter also. In a house where Thabala, Veena and Mridangam resounded day and night, it was no wonder music and rhythm found their way into his heart. Only the immovable things in Tagore’s House did not sing, dance or write. Santhinikethan was a model educational institution founded by him where all fine arts faculties enjoyed privileges. Educated in England and in India, he himself was an educational visionary with exceptional dreams. His hundreds of poems and songs written in the Bengali language brought renaissance to Bengal. He himself tuned his songs and rarely translated these songs to English himself, a very unfortunate affair.

A poem which exposed the pseudo-zeal of worshippers everywhere.


02. Tagore In 1925 By Unknown.

Politics also seemed to fit him well. Along with Mahathma Gandhi, Nehru and Sarojini Naidu- all writers- he served as one of the leading lights and sources of inspiration for the Independence Movement of India. His poem ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ was a world famous creation in which he mixed fact and fancy, reality and dream and politics and poetry. Without telling it directly and plainly, he skillfully portrayed in this poem the wretched position into which the British Administration pushed India into, a country with a longer and richer heritage than England. Another famous poem, ‘Govinda’s Disciple’, was a satire on the greed for material wealth manifest even in supposedly spiritual people. This poem Leave This Chanting exposed the pseudo-zeal of worshippers everywhere and gained an important place in world literature for this reason. Just as ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ contained his vision of a Free India, and Govinda’s Disciple the need for Renouncement of Material Wealth for Enlightenment, ‘Leave This Chanting’ contains his vision of Uncontaminated Worship.

God has gone out to stay with tillers, stone-breakers and path makers.


03. Close Family of Rabindranath Tagore By Unknown.

(Left to right: Mira Devi, youngest daughter, Rathindranath Tagore, eldest son, Rabindranath Tagore, Protima Devi, wife of eldest son Rathindranath Tagore and Madhurilata Devi, eldest daughter).

Leave This Chanting is an advice to worshippers everywhere, to seek God not inside but outside the temples, among labourers. The worshippers sing Manthras and count Rudraksha Beads inside the shut, dark, lone corners of their temples, but when they open their eyes their God is not to be seen anywhere there inside those temples. They must be blind to think that the God who created open lands and mountains and oceans would be pleased to stay inside their shut little temples. How could God rest in such suffocating places of confinement? Tagore was not new to sights of Jungle Shrines in Bengal where anyone could light a lamp and pray to the deity and stealthily come and go as he wished. (As Jungle Shrines are pagan places of worship in rustic jungles which are ideal places for Tagore’s kind of Gods to stay, a short note on Jungle Shrines is provided as Annexure at the end of this article). When at night a desperate human being seeks the solace at the door steps of a temple or a church, he finds that they are walled-in, closed and locked preventing entry. What kind of a temple and worship is that? So God has gone out to stay with the tillers, stone-breakers and path makers who do the dirtiest and the heaviest of works, opting to stay with them all day and night, in the heavy heat of the Sun and the chilling cold of the down pouring Rain, without minding his clothes getting covered with dust and dirty water. Those who seek God must put off their holy mantles, wear workers’ uniforms and come down to the dusty soil to be steeped in their own sweat and tears.

Release is after as many births and deaths as there are leaves in the huge banyan tree.


04. Tagore Born, Brought Up, And Passed Away Here By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary.

When and where will blind deity worshippers ever listen to good advice? They answer that they are after Deliverance, i.e. Mukthi or Moksha, which means release from the clutches of life. There is the story of a saint travelling to see God. On his way he came across a group of meditating saints who asked him to enquire with God when he sees Him when they would each be given their final release. He came back with the good news that the first saint would be given release after his second birth. This saint started wailing about the misfortune of the tediousness and boredom of passing through yet another life. His hoary wailing was to last till the end of his un-contented second life, so it is told. God’s message to the second saint was that he had to pass through as many births and deaths before his Release as there were leaves in that huge banyan tree standing above him. The instant he heard this ‘good news’ he began to shout and laugh out of beaming happiness now that he has been assured Deliverance some day, though in a far distant future, a day perhaps Aeons away. The amused and kindly God could not help himself from appearing there and offering this contended saint Deliverance then and there.

He will not leave the world any day: he has come to stay.


05. Tagore Reading To Others 1925 By Unknown.

Deliverance is for those who love this world and the life here. Mukthi or Release is not the leaving this world; it is divine attachment, not detachment. God created this world and decided to stay with this world forever. How tender, ardent, and comely such a God must have been! The result is mankind would feel he is one among them. He has joyfully taken upon him the responsibility of preserving and caring for his creations. Even God does not seek Moksha. He has come to stay till the end of the days, and he likes being bonded to this world. Most of his worshippers are but living in a virtual world of incense, meditation and flowers which displeases him much. He wishes them to come out of this world of illusion, to stand by him in the Sun and the Shower. There is no harm in their robes becoming tattered and stained like God’s, because they are standing nearer to their God now anyway. Those who seek God should be prepared to meet him and stand by him in toil and in the sweat of their brow.

Tagore acquainted himself with peasants and workers at Santi Niketan.


06. Tagore With Gandhi And Kasturba 1940 By Unknown.

Tagore was born in 1861 in Calcutta as the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. At the age of 12 he conducted extensive travels in North India with his father. His first poem was published in 1877 at the age of 16. In 1878 he traveled to England for schooling but returned in 1800 without finishing and married Mrinalini Devi in 1883. He was 22 and she was 10, not unusual among Hindu Brahmins then. For the next ten years he managed their vast ancestral family estates in Bengal and Orissa where he acquainted himself with peasants and workers. As their Zemindar, he collected only a nominal rent from his tenants. His family’s famous Shelaidaha Estate is now in Bangladesh. In 1901 Tagore moved to the family estate at Santi Niketan (Abode of Peace) and found an ashram there- actually an experimental school. It followed in the lines of Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum. Soon a Sri Niketan for rural agricultural development also was founded. His educational concepts as a writer and philosopher fruitioned here and the ashram later became famous as an experimental school for young men, equally famous as its annexed Viswa Bharati World University.


Tagore hated closed class rooms and loved to study in the open, under shades of trees.


07. Tagore And Jawaharlal Nehru 1940 By Unknown.

Debendranath Tagore’s family in Calcutta consisted of thirteen sons and daughters, his in-laws and their children, most of them poets, playwrights, composers, musicians, novelists and philosophers. Their concerts and plays were performed in their vast mansion and people gathered there to view. Classical Western music and Bengali music were regularly performed there. Their interests spread from making theatrical productions and publishing literary magazines, to managing vast family estates and mansions, even in Brighton in England.


Tagore loved studying in the open, preferably under tree shades, and hated closed class rooms. Swimming, trekking, gymnastics, judo, wrestling, literature, history, biology, mathematics, astronomy, drawing, Bengali, Sanskrit and English- all came under the syllabus he himself decreed for him. His self-decreed syllabus more than compensated for his lack of interest in regular academic instruction. In Santi Niketan and Viswa Bharati University, he gave importance to all these faculties to be instructed in the open. It was in Santi Niketan the great bulk of his literature was produced.


One of the few persons who renounced British Knighthood.


Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his collection of poems Gitanjali after it got translated into English. He was the first non-European to get the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish Academy assessed the prize-winning Gitanjali as a ‘profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse’. He was knighted by the British in 1915 but unsuccessfully tried to renounce this title after the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre, as a protest against Britain’s suppressive policies in India. His repudiation letter to the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford was not accepted.


A prolific composer who set tune to more than 2200 songs, known collectively as Rabindra Sangeet.   


The talent of Tagore is spread over a variety of genres. There are fifty plus volumes of poetry and several volumes of short stories, besides eight novels and four novellas. Quite a number of essays, dance and musical dramas, travel diaries and two autobiographies were also spawned by him. Exhibitions of his drawings and paintings were held in Paris and London and throughout Europe. Tagore was a prolific composer of music who set tune to more than 2200 songs, flowing through the entire range of human emotions, this great mass of music generally known as Rabindra Sangeet. It is said ‘there is no cultured home in Bengal where Rabindranath’s songs are not sung. Even illiterate villagers are well-versed in his songs’. His achievements as a poet, philosopher, playwright, novelist, composer and visual artist reshaped the literature and music of not a few countries in his continent and other continents.


The National Poet of India passing away.


08. Tagore Portrait 1909 By Anonymous.

Tagore’s poems, plays, dramas, short stories, novels, essays and travelogues are noted for their simple and non-complicated language. His thousands of songs are noted for their rhythmic and lyrical quality. Letters from Europe and The Religion of Man are compilations of his essays, lectures and travelogues which gained for him an immortal place in world literature. The Religion of Man includes as appendix a brief note on his conversations with Einstein, titled ‘Note on the Nature of Reality’. The Complete Works of Tagore published in Bengali in connection with his 150th birthday came to eighty volumes. Tagore’s all works available in English were published as ‘The Essential Tagore’ by the Harvard University Press in collaboration with Viswa Bharati University in 2011. In 1940 Oxford University awarded him an honorary doctorate. He died on August 7, 1941 in Calcutta aged eighty. 


Tagore- an international influence.


09. Tagore With Einstein In Berlin 1930 By Unknown.

The more than thirty countries in the five continents which Tagore visited between 1878 and 1932 include England, United States, Japan, Peru Mexico, Argentina, Italy, Bali, Java, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Soviet Union and Sri Lanka. His travels in Russia, Europe and America in the 1930 were mostly lecture tours. His international friends included Charles F. Andrews, William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Robert Bridges, Ernest Rhys, Romaine Rolland, Albert Einstein, Aga Khan III, Reza Shah Pahlavi, Henri Bergson, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. Yeats wrote the preface to the English Gitanjali. Andrews came to live with Tagore at Santi Niketan. Mexico and Peru gave $100,000 each to Shanti Niketan School.


International celebrities and Nobel laureates influenced by Tagore.


10. Tagore At His Painting Desk 1932 By Unknown.

There is also a long line of international celebrities and writers, many of them Nobel Prize winners, who were influenced by Tagore directly or indirectly. Their names include Yasunari Kawabata of Japan, Vincenc Lesný of Czech Republic, André Gide of France, poet Anna Akhmatova of Russia, Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit of Turkey, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral of Chile; Octavio Paz of Mexico; Zenobia Camprubí, Juan Ramón Jiménez, José Ortega y Gasset, and Jiménez-Camprubí of Spain. The sitar maestros Vilayat Khan and Amjad Ali Khan were also inspired by him.


Poems, novels, plays, travelogues, short stories, and memoirs written by Tagore.


Songs of Bhanusimha Takur 1884, The Golden Boat 1894, Gitanjali 1910, Wreath of Songs 1914 and The Flight of Cranes 1916 are original collections of Tagore’s Bengali poems. The Genius of Valmiki (Valmiki-Pratibha) 1881, The Sacrifice 1890, The King of the Dark Chamber 1910, The Post Office 1912, The Waterfall 1922 and Red Oleanders 1926 are his original Bengali plays. The Broken Nest 1901, Fair-Faced 1910, The Home and the World 1916 and Crosscurrents 1929 are his original Bengali fiction. My Reminiscences 1912 and My Boyhood Days 1940 are memoirs in Bengali. Thought Relics 1921 is one of the original works of Tagore in English.


Translations of Tagore from Bengali into English.


So many of Tagore’s Bengali works have been translated into English. They include Gitanjali: Song Offerings 1912, The Gardener 1913, The Crescent Moon 1913, Chitra 1914, The Post Office 1914, The King Of The Dark Chamber 1914, Songs Of Kabir 1915, The Spirit Of Japan 1916, Stray Birds 1916, The Hungry Stones 1916, Fruit-Gathering 1916, The Cycle of Spring 1919, The Fugitive 1921, The Wreck 1921, Fireflies 1928, My Boyhood Days 1943, The Home And The World 1985, My Reminiscences 1991, I Won’t Let you Go 1991, Glimpses of Bengal 1991 and The Lover of God 2003.


Critics are of the opinion that translations of Tagore’s poems into English are almost all inferior, unless Tagore himself translated them. Tagore, who was a gifted writer in English, but did not care to translate his poems into English or write them in English; only a few of them were written by him in English. That fact was, he thrilled in writing in Bengali.


Films in Bengali and Hindi based on Tagore’s works.


11. Leave This Chanting Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.


Quite a number of films were produced based on the novels and short stories of Tagore. The first one Natir Puja of 1932 was directed by Tagore himself, the only film ever directed by him. Then came Naukadubi 1947, Kabuliwala 1957, Kshudhita Pashaan 1960, Teen Kanya 1961, Charulata 1964, Ghare Baire 1985, Chokher Bali 2003, Shasti 2004, Shuva 2006 and Chaturanga 2008 in Bengali, directed by eminent directors at the time. Kabuliwala was directed by Tapan Sinha, Teen Kanya, Charulata and Ghare Baire by Satyajit Ray and Chokher Bali by Rituparno Ghosh. Balidan 1927, Milan 1946, Kabuliwala 1961, Dak Ghar 1965, Uphaar 1971, Lekin 1991 and Char Adhyay 1997 were Hindi films based on Tagore’s works.


The man who composed the national anthems of three countries.


India’s national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and Bangladesh’s national anthem ‘Amar Shonar Bangla’ were Tagore’s compositions. The Sri Lankan national anthem ‘Namo Namo Mata’ was inspired by his work. Amar Shonar Bangla was written to protest the 1905 Partition of Bengal by the British along communal lines, dividing the Muslim-dominated East Bengal and Hindu-dominated West Bengal. Jana Gana Mana was written in a Sanskritized form of Bengali, to be used in Indian National Congress platforms. Namo Namo Mata’s composer Ananda Samarakoon was a student at Tagore’s at Viswa-Bharati University in Santiniketan and it is even doubted that Tagore himself composed the tune or wrote the lyrics.


Narrow-minded teachers like to reiterate that Tagore wrote prose poems and free verse.


In a house where tabala, sitar, harmonium, violin and tambourine resounded day and night from all rooms and all inhabitants were poets, musicians or composers, how could a child grow up without music in his mind? Many experts on Tagore Literature shamelessly and ignorantly claim that he wrote poems in free verse! Actually he was locking his lines as a challenge to music lovers and teachers, to prevent the haughty and the unpersevering among them from trying to access them without doing some hard work. We know Tagore had a built-in allergy towards narrow-minded academics and closed class rooms. All great poets from Tennyson to Tagore have their locking methods to prevent the non-interested and the un-tasteful from accessing them easily. The great poet Kalidasa, when asked what his greatest wish in life was, answered that ‘he never shall have the un-luck of having to recite poems before an un-tasteful audience! Un-tasteful teachers even go to the extreme of forbidding reciting poems tunefully by students; they are unable to sing them, so they do not tolerate students singing them. They will only permit poems to be spoken like prosaic uttering, in those ridiculous accents they teach of course, hiding from children the fact that accents are impurities on language, added by generations through time. Tagore wrote poems in finished metrical forms, with perfect music inborn, but he split his lines to confuse the reader. Once the lines are rearranged as they should be, they are no more free verse but perfectly singable songs. It is not any ‘licentious dealing with the language’ as Matthew Arnold pointed out, but the legitimate right of the reader and the singer to rediscover the original tune that was in the mind of the poet when he wrote that poem. An illustration of how easy it is to recast Tagore’s poems in the true poetic form and sing them in the original tune incorporated in them is given here. Links are also provided here to recitation videos to prove that Tagore’s poems are not prose poems or free verse constructions as many teachers and critics like to repeat but perfectly metered poems with their own tunes.




12. Where The Mind Is Without Fear Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.


Here is given a sample of the supposed free verse form Tagore used in writing ‘The Gardener 1915. See how it becomes a perfectly metered and singable poem by simply changing words in a line. It is clear Tagore wrote a perfectly metered poem and locked lines to prevent the ugly-minded and the un-interested from singing and enjoying it- a universal trend among brilliant poets.


I. Free verse form with lines locked:


‘Who are you, reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence? I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds. Open your doors and look abroad. From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before. In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.’ (From ‘The Gardener 1915’).


II. Metrical form with lines recast:


The Gardener 1915


Who ‘are you, reader, reading my

Po’ems a hundred years

Hence? I cannot send you one single

Flower from this ‘wealth of spring,


One single streak of gold from yonder

Clouds. Open your doors

And look abroad. ‘From your ‘blossoming garden

Ga’ther fragrant mem’ries


Of the ‘vanished flowers of an ‘hundred years before.

In the ‘joy of your heart,

May you ‘feel the living joy that sang one

Spring morning, sending

Its ‘glad vo’ice across a hundred years.


(Recast in the true poetic form By P S Remesh Chandran)


See how easy it is to recast his poems. This technique can be applied to poems written by him in English and poems of his translated into English by others. (Link to a poem by Rabeendranath Tagore from ‘Love Songs of Tagore’, translated into English free verse from Bengali by Rabeendranath Chowdhury, and recast in the true poetic form by Remesh Chandran P S is provided at the end of this article. Free verse form dissuades people from singing them. Metrical form prompts them to sing them. Unfortunately Tagore chose to write in Bengali and even when he wrote in English, he locked his lines- a great loss to the English-speaking world.




13. Govinda’s Disciple Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.


Jungle shrines are common in almost all states of India where anyone can light a lamp at any time of the day or night. In Kerala in the Trivandrum-Schencottah Route, turning right at Venkolla after Madathara will bring us to the Saasthaam Nada Marsh where there is one such shrine. It is situated in the middle of a dense forest but close to an inner-going forest road and is devoted to Saastha or Ayyappa, the son and manifestation of Lord Vishnu, himself a forest and mountain-dweller headquartered at Sabarimala. Lorries will stop there on their way to take in reed and bamboo loads, to pray for their safety through the climbs and descends in the steeply inclined and curvaceous hill tracts. They will dump oil bottles, cloth, incense sticks and match boxes under nearby rocks to protect them from rain and flash floods, so that the materials could be used by anyone any time. I myself was a frequenter of this jungle beauty spot inhabited by aborigines, and have liberally used these materials. After bathing in the cold and fresh forest stream and reposing lying on shaded rocks and shielding foliages for a while, I would light a lamp. When we light a lamp in this sequestered cool wilderness- if it is daylight fading and night approaching, the better- we feel the sublimity and pleasantness of God standing on our back and embracing us from behind. It is unique in that the traditional position of we standing in front of god is reversed. It’s like a father and mother holding child on their laps, not like the child standing in front of its father and mother for worshipping. This spot had the stone statue of a baby elephant. One day a real lone elephant- one among a herd which usually passes that way- gave the baby elephant a blow with its trunk and broke the statue’s trunk. It did not like the way the baby stone elephant held its trunk.


Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song.


Bloom Books Channel has a video of this song. A primitive prototype rendering of this song was made in a crude tape recorder decades earlier, in 1984. In 2014, a home made video of this song was released. In 2015, a third version with comparatively better audio was released. The next version, it’s hoped, would be fully orchestrated. It’s free for reuse, and anyone interested in can develop and build on it, till it becomes a fine musical video production, to help our little learners and their teachers. The other two Tagore poems available as recitation videos in Bloom Books Channel are Where The Mind Is Without Fear and Govinda’s Disciple.


You Tube Link:


External Links to Tagore’s works by the author.


1. Leave This Chanting: Poem

Article March 2012

Video June 2015


2. Where The Mind Is Without Fear: Poem

Article October 2014    

Video May 2015


3. Govinda’s Disciple: Poem

Video June 2015


4. The Home Coming: Short Story

Article September 2014 


5. Awakening: Poem Lyrics September 2010


First Published: 22nd Mar 2011

Last Edited…….: 29 March 2017


Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons


Picture Credits:

01. A Tagore Portrait 1886 By Unknown.

02. Tagore In 1925 By Unknown.

03. Close Family of Rabindranath Tagore By Unknown.

04. Born Brought Up Passed Away Here By Mark Kobayashi-Hillary.

05. Tagore Reading To Others 1925 By Unknown.

06. Tagore With Gandhi And Kasturba 1940 By Unknown.

07. Tagore And Jawaharlal Nehru 1940 By Unknown.

08. Tagore Portrait 1909 By Anonymous.

09. Tagore With Einstein In Berlin 1930 By Unknown.

10. Tagore At His Painting Desk 1932 By Unknown.

11. Leave This Chanting Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

12. Where The Mind Is Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

13. Govinda’s Disciple Video Title By Bloom Books Channel.

14. Author Profile Of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives


Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.


Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

14. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.


Dear Reader,

If you cannot access all pages of P S Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum, kindly access them via this link provided here:
Visit author’s Sahyadri Books Trivandrum in Blogger at and his Bloom Books Channel in You Tube at  

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Bloom Books Trivandrum, English Songs, Free Student Notes, Indian Poems, Indian Poets, Indian Writers In English, Leave This Chanting, P S Remesh Chandran, Poem Reviews, Poetry, Poetry Appreciations, Poets, Rabindranath Tagore, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, Tagore Poems.

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17th Apr 2011 (#)


I love reading into the musings of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali. There is always an unknown and revealing space in the inner sanctum of a poet with such a meditative composition of a divine song.


rama devi nina
29th Apr 2011 (#)


Ah yes, Gitanjali is one of my favorites by Tagore. You may have heard of Parameshwaraji, a famous person in Kerala. I used to visit him and share long discussions when he was admitted as a patient in Amma’s hospital in Cochin (where I do seva). He read my poems and then gifted me with Gitanjali. My favorite quote from Tagore (may not be exact–from memory):

“I slept and dreamt that life is joy.
I awoke and saw that it was service;
I acted, and behold! service was joy.”


19th May 2011 (#)


Tagore did not translate many of his beautiful Bengali Songs into English. His Udbodhan was translated into English by Mr. Rabindranath Chowdhury which has now been recast in the true poetic form, making it an exquisite piece of poetry that can be sung tunefully. The link to this recast poem is


11th Jun 2012 (#)


Dear Remesh sir,
I liked the way you have given the beautiful explanation of God and his ways while analyzing this poem. The way you related Tagore’s understanding of life with apt photos is great. Congrats and thanks sir.


26th Jun 2012 (#)


Tagore’s family background with all in his large family being artists, litterateurs and musicians, and his national background of all geniuses of his time being optimistic about the future of mankind, contributed much to the molding of his mind, which thrilled at the prospect of creating music for a generation, just like touching the tightened string of a sitar. This ‘unknown and revealing space in the inner sanctum of his mind’ as Mr. Rathnashikamani phrases it, he attributed to the centuries-old light of thought, enveloping the heritage of India. Tagore composing his songs of the soul at the same time as Sarojini Naidu pouring out her heart through the melodious songs of hers, both in English, marks an immortal phase in the history of the world literature. Thank you, Rathnashikamani, by adding the beauty of your words to this simple page. @ Rathnashikamani.


26th Jun 2012 (#)


I do know about the person if it is Mr. P. Parameshwaran whom sister Rama Devi Nina is referring to here. He is a person dedicated to the spiritual up-liftment of India and keeps alive the interest of Indian society in religious awareness. He presenting a gifted poetess like you with a copy of Tagore’s Gitanjali is indeed a symbolic tribute to your singing soul. The line you quoted from Gitanjali, ‘I slept and dreamt that life is joy…..I awoke and saw that it was service…..’ reminds me of the famous lines of another poet of more than Tagore’s caliber: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ has exactly similar lines. Perhaps Tagore was inspired by the exhilarating music in Coleridge’s lines or these two great souls in two different countries might have thought the same way. Do you still find time to do voluntary service at Amrithanandamayi Hospital in Ernakulam Cochin? @ Rama Devi Nina.


26th Jun 2012 (#)


When we sing, the playful god stands behind us. We will actually wonder who is singing, we or him. When we write about a person, imagine that person whom we write about is standing close behind us, watching what we are writing. It is like a little school girl writing an essay for her class describing the ‘role model of her life’, which is actually her mother, and the mother is secretly standing behind her, reading it. Surely the mother will want to kiss and embrace the daughter. When we write about bygone persons, remember that are standing behind us, reading it all.


26th Jun 2012 (#)


God is a playful being as any of us. He is not a revengeful person. When we see tiny little children, we see him; when we hold them, we hold him. He has a child’s mind. The radiance we see in the face and body of all little children is his feature. Their character is his character. He is our early childhood, and it is out duty not to fail him ever. Thank you, dear Divya, for enjoying this article. From the flow of your words it is only evident that you intended to write more things. So please do write. @ Divya.


26th Jun 2012 (#)


A very nice interpretation….one of my favorite poems.


26th Jun 2012 (#)


Do you like to sing it dear Sakshi Narang? Leave This Chanting is one of the most musical poems of Tagore, with admirable lyrical perfection. He himself was a music composer who not only wrote but composed music also for hundreds of songs in the Bengali language which collectively is termed as Rabindra Sangeet. His English songs like Where The Mind Is Without Fear, Govinda’s Disciple and Leave This Chanting also are all exotic musical creations. As all talented poets of the past did, like Kahlil Gibran and many others, he locked his lines to the reader, by arranging the lines in the continuous flow of prose, without marking or suggesting where the lines should end or begin. He knew a persevering reader and singer will struggle for days on end and one day, at one blessèd moment, rediscover the real music hidden in them, which would the greatest thrill for that diligent and persevering reader. So, Tagore’s poems including Leave This Chanting provide us a double delight: we delight in its meaning and sense, and then we delight in its music. Or it also can be in the other order. @ Sakshi Narang.


First Published: 21 March 2011

Last Edited:       28 March 2017


Identifier: SBT-AE-010. Leave This Chanting. Rabindranath Tagore Poem.

Articles English Downloads Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

Editor: P S Remesh Chandran







April 2020