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Among the finest epochal personalities of the world, Rabindranath Tagore was one of the greatest Naturalist philosopher as well as poet-laureate who worshipped the Nature as the Greatest Teacher of the Universe. According to his thought-currents, the correlation between Nature and Music is too significant that they can beautifully complement each other. It is not an exaggeration if we say that the germination of music occurred in the womb of the Mother Nature during the time of the creation of the Universe. Therefore the connection between the Nature and the Music is erected by the virtue of benevolent affection. The ‘pure music’ evolved from the Indian Classical Music has justified the phrase ‘sounds artistically combined’ which was speculated by the renowned western aesthetician named Hanslick. Especially the instrumental tunes and the ‘alapa’ of a raga by a vocalist provoke the sublime beauty of ‘pure music’. The structure and the pattern of notes of each raga are important to produce their own exceptional appeal. By this distinction, each raga unfolds the beauty of expressiveness and creates the bridge towards aesthetics. Tagore found an analogy between the imageries of nature and the expressiveness of the Indian ragas as well as raginis and illustrated them with his beautiful metaphorical encomiums viz. various essays, letters and conversations of ‘Sangit Chinta’, the book which expresses the thoughts of R. N. Tagore regarding Music. The tunes of Indian raga-raginis manifest the constancy of the all-pervading Nature in such a way that it becomes difficult to judge if the Nature amplitudes its impact on Music or the Music expands the imageries in Nature by its tendency to abstractionism. The intermingled relationship between Nature and Music in the light of Tagorean philosophy expresses the utmost Romanticism.

In the introductory song of Geetabitan, Tagore reveals his extreme imagination about the germination of the first tune of the music in the womb of the Mother Nature. He asserts- in the eastern sky of the very first era, when the first ray of dawn came towards the earth, moved by the thirst of expressions the earth raised a question to her Nature or the herbages- when would she get the tune of expression? She evoked the welcome note to the Sun, the Great Poet of the renaissance who brought the first ‘song’ composed in a new metre to the Nature at the time of the greatest revolution in the dualities of light and dark while creation was going on. The very first song of the Nature analogizes with the tunes of today’s raagas and raginis heard in invocation song which awakening the new vision. Tagore, an epochal personality, was one of the greatest Naturalist philosopher as well as poet-laureate who worshipped the Nature as the Greatest Teacher of the Universe. In his every encomium he expresses the connection between the Nature and the Music which is erected by the virtue of benevolent affection.

‘Sangit O Bhab’ (Music and Emotion), the first essay of ‘Sangit Chinta’ depicts the Emotionalism of the early age of Tagore. In this essay, Tagore emphasised on the emotional values of the Indian Classical Music. He was also inspired by the speculation of Herbert Spencer and in like-mindedness with Spencer’s essay entitled ‘Origin and Function of Music’, Tagore stated that music complements our ‘language of emotions’. According to him a beautiful tune of a ragini brings pleasure to our hearts because it reminds us that in the state of distant future with our higher civilization, we shall have modified pleasant emotive languages with fine modulations. Therefore we can see that Tagore states that the finest civilised sociological environment can modify our ‘language of emotion’ or the musicality of human. On the other hand the continuous endeavour of the ‘language of emotion’ brings forth an ideal state of finest as well as the civilised sociological environment.

Tagore Rabindranath, Geetabitan ( The entire song collections of RabindranathTagore), Visba-Bharati publication. Here the introductory song is :

‘Prothom juger udoydigongone
Prothom diner usha neme elo jobe
Prokashpiyashi dhoritri boney boney
Shudhaye phirilo sur khunje pabe kobe.
Esho esho sei nobosristir kobi
Nobojagoronjug probhater robi
Gan enechhile nobochonder taley
Toruni ushar shishirshanner kaley
Alo-andharer anondobiplobe.
Se gan ajio nana ragraginite
Shunao tahare agomonisangite
Je jagaye chokhe nutan-dekhar dekha.’ (in Bengali)

In the same essay, Tagore raised a question- “Why does raag Purvi depict the early evening sensation and Vairon portray the daybreak? Both ragas have the majority of minor notes then why they express different imageries? Is it only for the ancient practice or belief?”3 We all know that our Indian Classical Music has the Raag Samay Chakra or the cyclical time theory of raga where each raag and ragini has a specific time of singing. According to Raga Samay Chakra, Vairon is the raag of early morning (6a.m-8a.m) and Purvi is the raag of dusk (4p.m 6p.m). In our North Indian 12 notes (major+minor+tivra), Madhyam or Maa is the Adhvadarshak or the pathfinder note in Raag Time Theory. Generally, the ragas that have Shuddha Madhyam, are sung in Uttaranga (12a.m-12p.m) and the ragas that have Tivra Madhyam are sung in Poorvanga (12p.m-12a.m). It is the reason that Vairon is the raag of Uttaranga and Purvi is Poorvanga. It is interesting that Tagore stated this concept in his essay but he emphasizes on the analogy of the tunes of both ragas with the ambiences reflect in the Mother Nature.

Listening Vairon, Tagore states that the imageries of daybreak are bringing forth by the pattern of the notes. As if, dawn is awakening with the unblemished life in profound tranquillity; its life is intact and untouched as it is not frittered away hitherto. On the other hand, Purvi depicts the sensation of dusk or the early evening consequently fulfilled with the utmost gravity, apathy, stoicism and utter tiredness patiently waiting in still silence for the invocation of the unlit night. We can say that the ascending pattern of the notes in Vairon makes us imagine the ascension of the sun and the descending pattern of notes in Purvi makes us imagine the setting of the sun. So, the impact of the Nature on music evokes the tunes of ragas which make us to drink the nectar of the beauty of the music and to imagine the imageries that are portraying in the nature by the brush stroke of the artistry.

In the essay named ‘Sangit O Kobita’ (Music and Poetry), Tagore asserts that the languages of emotions are rhythmic. As if the oscillations of the heart of the ‘emotion’ are alike with the rhythmic ups and downs of the sea in the full-moon night, the exhalations of the ‘emotion’ have been falling incessantly by the oscillation of the respiration. With the rhythmical respiration and the ups and downs of the oscillation of the heart continue the metre of the ‘language of emotion’. Tagore also asserts- when a poet is going to write poetry on eventide, he has to think about the sensations and the imageries of the evening. Just like this, if a composer has to compose a piece in raga Purvi, he should visualize the beauty of the twilight rather than only be attentive to the tune fastening the visualisations and sensations. If the perception of the natural beauty of the twilight as well as eventide evokes in the mind of the musicians, automatically the tunes will have its descending characteristics, with the setting of the sun the Purvi tune also sets the descension of the expression.

Next essay named ‘Gaan Sombondhe Probondho’ (Essay on Music) depicts the sense of the Configurationism in the mind of Tagore about the pure beauty of music where the tune’s supremacy on lyric is appreciated by Tagore. Once he wrote a lyric –‘tomar gopon katha ti, sokhi, rekho na mone’ (Ladylove, don’t hide your secret discourse in your mind) and he realised the secrecy of the discourse is no more hiding from the beauty of nature. The tune of the lyric blows the imagination of the poet to such a height where the lyric cannot reach. Tagore finds that the secret words are in concordance with the greenery of the herbages, the words are plunging in the profound brightness of the moonlit night and hiding in the bluish faraway of the horizon. As if those secret words are the supreme secrecy of the words of the aqua, terra and aura.

In the essay entitled ‘Antor-Bahir’ (Inner and Outer) Tagore questioned that the external inspirations of natural beauties evoke the internal tunes in the heart of the artist but are they just imitations? Once in a journey by ship, Tagore was continuously hearing the roar of the sea and a tune emerged in his mind. Though he knew that the inspiration of the newly born tune was that rumble of the sea but in utter astonishment, he found that the newly born tune was not the imitation of that rumbling rather it was a pure tune of music. He asserts that the tune which is evoked by the ocean in his internal instrument of mind was neither an imitation of the roar of the wind nor the echo of the rumble of the ocean. It is an exception in character; it is music where the tunes evoke just like the petals bloom one by one in a flower. Tagore personified the Nature and he thought that it is the inner soul of the Nature which sings randomly by her various elements as well as in the voice of her inhabitants. When the maestros have been composed tunes in raga Vairon or Todi, there neither any imitative sound of the new awaking busy day life nor any onomatopoeic sound. Then why do we say that raag Vairon and raag Todi represent the expressiveness of the daytime? Tagore answered- those ragas cultivate and absorb the internal music with all resonances and tranquilities of the daytime and our maestros have listened to the internal music by their inner ears. According to Tagore Art is never an exhibition but a revelation; the pride of exhibition is in its enormous abundance but revelation is in the harmonious whole of the artistry. Therefore when expression of music reveals the true and inner self of the nature beyond materialistic sensations, it should be the greatest art form beyond era.

In the essay entitled ‘Sangit’ (Music), Tagore amalgamates the contrasting beauties of the Indian and the Western music. According to Tagore’s illuminating remarks on music, it is clear that Indian music moves above the incidents of daily life with full of detachment and tenderness as it is appointed to reveal the beauty of the innermost and unutterable mystery of the human heart as well as the Nature. Tagorean aesthetics analogized the solo performance of the Indian melody with the infinite oneness of still midnight. The multitudinous character of the Western music has been compared with the bustle of active daytime that gives emphasis to social enjoyment of human world while Indian music is just like the soft lustre of the silvery ray of the moonlit night.

On 8th August 1930, Tagore had written a letter to Nirmalkumari Mahalanabish from Copenhagen regarding the pastoral essence of the Indian Folk music. The pastoral tune of flute makes us feel the rural flavour with its folklore which is too sensitive and down to earth. The tune calls one’s mind through the path of oneness where the bamboo bushes spread their shadows, a rural maid is walking with the water-filled pitcher, the cuckoo is singing somewhere in the mango tree and the ‘sari’ tune evokes its pastoral essence through the voice of a boatman. All these obsess the mind of the poet and smudge his eyes with tears with no serious issues. 

While writing the ‘Foreword’ to ‘Thirty Songs from the Punjab and Kashmir’, Tagore addressed that the Indian music as the music of ‘cosmic emotion’ which nurtures by the sense of ‘Bhuma’. Sahana is a ragini used for the wedding occasion is not at all gay or frolicsome, but utmost sad in its solemnity. Indian raginis of springtide and rains, of midnight and daybreak, have the profound pathos of all-pervading intimacy, yet immense aloofness of Nature. Again he said after listening to the alapa of raga Kanada rendered by Ratan Devi, wife of Mr. Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, Tagore was mesmerised and he almost forgot for a moment that he was in a drawing room of London. His mind got itself transported in the magnificence of an eastern night, with its darkness, transparent, yet unfathomable, like the eyes of an Indian maiden and Tagore seemed to be standing alone in the depth of its stillness and stars.

In the perspective of beauty in music, it is told by the western aesthetician Edward Hanslick- the beautiful is not contingent upon nor in need of any subject introduced from without, but that it contains wholly of sounds artistically combined.....(Hanslick, 1854) Indian Classical Music has justified the phrase ‘sounds artistically combined’. Especially the instrumental tunes and the ‘alapa’ of a raga by a vocalist provoke the sublime beauty of ‘pure music’. The structure and the pattern of notes of each raga are important to produce their own exceptional appeal. By this distinction, each raga unfolds the beauty of expressiveness and creates the bridge towards aesthetics. So it should not be an exaggeration that the expressiveness of the Indian Classical Music and the concept of its beauty is ‘end in itself’.

In 1917 according to Tagore’s essay named ‘Sangit-er Mukti’ in ‘Sangit Chinta’, he has portrayed the eternal sensations of ragas and raginis with the illustrations of his words. Raga Vairon is not just a tune with major and minor chords but actually it embellish the ‘awake’ of the first ray of the dawn; raga Vairabi illustrates the melancholy of the companionless Absolute; raga Multan renders the utmost tiredness of the respiration of the scorching dusk; raga Kanada evokes the forgetful state of midnight-lady about her journey of love; raga Purvi elicits the draining of the tears from the eyes of a companionless evening as like a widow; raga Paraj sketches the drowsiness of the last part of the night. 

Tagore has written about the utmost expressiveness of Indian ragas which coalescences with Nature in his ‘Chchinnapatrabali’ (a bunch of letters of Tagore’s scattered thoughts or a collection of dull, mundane letters) while supervising the zamindari of Tagore family in Shiladaha-Patisar-Sajadpur area of Bangladesh by the boat-riding on the river Padma. The poet’s sensation towards the relationship between the Classical music and the Nature is expressed through metaphors. It seems to him that the torsion of Vairabi tunes expresses the extraordinary sensations towards the universe. It seems that the intrinsic core of the heart of the universe is going to be poured with the tragic senses; this essence originates from none but ‘ananda’ or the joyful avatar of the Brahma. Tagore was supposed to feel that the key of the organ instrument is being twisted continuously by the conscious hand of the Almighty Time, the Mahakaal originating a profound melancholic ragini from the midst of the heart of the universe. The sunshine becomes timid; even the herbages become silent as they are listening to something; the magnificent sky overwhelmed by the worldwide tears-stream; the poet can see the blue eye of the sky moist with tears has given the steadfast look. That is why poet Tagore has written in his song -

‘sakalbelar aaloy baje biday-byathar bhairabi…’

[‘The morning light aches with the pain of parting by Vairabi tune’ (Translated)] The Vairabi tune playing by the Indian metallic instrument Sanai emerges the utmost lamentation of the universe. Tagore regretted, why the metallic tune of Sanai is so expressive than a human vocalist! Actually, both of these arts are evolved by human and what makes difference between them is the expressiveness which varies artist to artist. It is the magic of expressions by which a non-lively material is reforming to its lively-entity. It seems to Tagore that science and philosophy cannot but Vairabi can express the mystery of the birth of the universe; it can reveal the ultimate truth of the livelihood of Mother Nature. Whatever we know, are all about the mortal world and they are too little to know the ‘Big Bang’ but we have no direct idea about the ultimate truth, embellishes by Vairabi, is immortal and can conceive the whole universe.

According to Tagore, the whole world is wreathed by a garland of a single tune that is why, when raag Multan has been playing out, the whole world response at a time. After listening Multan by Sanai, the Indian instrument, Tagore realised one note of the Multan ragini disclose the beauty of the whole world. The apathetic poet imagines that Multan ragini drags a veil of the tear-steam upon the green herbages of the nature. Multan ragini is perceptible by Tagore with its melancholic sharp middle stave in the glittery ray of the dusk at the aqua, terra and aura of Nature. 

Ramkeli is the raag of the dawn. While staying in Patisar, Tagore realised that the tune of Ramkeli may sound emotionless in the congested busy city life of Kolkata but when it gets the direct touch of Nature, the tune gets the actual elixir of life. A worldwide compassionate tune evokes by the tune of Ramkeli and it seems the music as well as song of the magnificent sky and the earth. It seems to Tagore a work of sorcery or an illusion. Even Tagore was sure that if Ramkeli is being played while gazing at nature, the expanded greenish-blue nature comes to the artist like an enchanted hind and gives him a lick.

While roaming on the Padma River by boat at the golden eventide, Tagore heard the ‘alapa’ of raga Purvi followed by raag Yaman-Kalyan by the torsion of the bow of a violin. He felt the tranquil river and the silent sky pours the human heart with precious feelings. He felt the nature of eventide is alluring and ‘Purvi taan’ assimilates all the magic of the natural subjectivity in itself.

On the bank of the river Padma in Selaidaha, Tagore was mesmerised by the beauty of the monsoon. He expressed his desire to learn a quality number of tunes in raag Bhupali and in melancholic monsoon tunes. Raag Bhupali is not a seasonal raag. In the imagination of Tagore, the correlation between Bhupali and monsoon is profound. He also desired to compose various associations of raag Meghmalhar with countless expressions and imageries inspired by the solemn beauty of the monsoon nature.

These are the mysteries of the expressiveness of the human minds as well as the masterminds which are unable to describe by words but to feel by heart. Tagore realised that the incongruity of our everyday life can be set aside by music as well as the musical symmetry. Music erects the universe in a ‘perspective’ where those little incongruities erased by the majestic power of the symmetrical harmonious whole and the universe emerge as the loveliest portrait sketched by the finest artist beyond centuries. The birth-death, giggles-weeps, past-future-present of human world is being played as a compassionate rhythm of poetry through the inner-ear or the soul of an artist. These feelings decrease personal prevalence and intensity; our hearts are being poured with full of levity; we float in the musical stream and relish the ultimate peace and the cyclic motion of the ‘expression-creation revelation’ is going to betide continuously.

The intermingle relation between the Nature and the music in the light of Tagorean aesthetics is the expressiveness of the utmost Romanticism of the poet. The whole nature is garlanded by the eternal tune. As if the Nature cries out through the suppressing emotion of the musical tune. The tunes of Indian raga raginis manifest the constancy of the all-pervading Nature in such a way that it becomes difficult to judge if the Nature amplitudes its impact on Music or the Music expands the imageries in Nature by its tendency to abstractionism.

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  • Hanslick, E. (1854). The Beautiful In Music. Newyork: The Library Of Liberal Arts.
  • Rabindranath Tagore. (1912). Antar-Bahir. Bharati .
  • Rabindranath Tagore. (1912). Gaan Sombondhe Probondho. Prabasi . Rabindranath Tagore. (1912). Sangit. Bharati .
  • Rabindranath Tagore. (1966). Sangit Chinta (1st Edition ed.). Calcutta: Albatros.
  • Rabindranath Tagore. (1881). Sangit O Bhab. Bharati .
  • Rabindranath Tagore. (1881). Sangit O Kabita. Bharati .
  • Rabindranath Tagore. (1917). Sangiter Mukti. Sabuj Patra .
  • 30 Ibid, pp-191-192
  • Tagore, R. (1913). Foreward to the 'Thirty Songs from The Punjab and Kashmir'. In Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, Thirty Songs from The Punjab and Kashmir (A. K. Coomaraswamy, Trans.). London: Old Bourne Press.
  • Tagore, Rabindranath. (1889-1895). Chhinnapatrabali. In R. Tagore, Atmakatha.