Zamindar Rabindranath - 4

Continued from Zamindar Rabindranath - 3

From the progressive fall in the number of viewers of my blogs on Zamindar Rabindranath I sense that by now our readers might have become very impatient and anxious to know what the poet thought about the agrarian situation in Bengal during the British rule. Before proceeding further we therefore propose to hear what he had to say on the matter. In 1924 Pramathanath Choudhury, the son of a zamindar, who became a barrister and later married Rabindranath’s most favourite niece Indira and also worked for some time as the managing agent of the Tagore estates, had written a small booklet called Raiyater katha. He had sent a copy to Rabindranath asking for his views. Within just four days of the receipt of the booklet the poet expressed his views in a letter which as an article, Raiyater katha, was first published in the magazine Sabujpatra edited by Pramathanath and later included in the collection of Rabindranath’s political essays, Kalantar. It has already been published in boloji in my translation as The Story of the Raiyat
. Rabindranath wrote very extensively on our agrarian problems, but for our present purpose this article is the most relevant. It is therefore highlighted below.
The Story of the Raiyat
 According to our scriptures this world is like a strange tree which has its roots above. It grows from the top and spreads its branches downwards; which means it is not standing on its own, it is hanging from above.

Reading your \'Raiyater katha\' (The story of the raiyat) it seems to me that our politics is of a similar kind. At the time of its birth the Congress party was found to have struck its roots among those who rule us \' both for its sustenance and existence it was dependant on the same higher sphere.  Read On


In this context it needs to be mentioned that at this time amendment of the Bengal Tenancy Act had become a burning issue. Under growing pressure of population on land sub-letting had become very rampant and the number of landless agricultural labourers and under-raiyats called bargadars or share-croppers were growing apace. The bargadars were paying as rent as much as 50% of the gross produce and they could be evicted at will at any time by the raiyats whose lands they cultivated. An amending bill was introduced in 1928 in which, among other things, there was a proposal to confer tenancy rights on the bargadars. Pending passing of this amendment even records were being corrected accordingly. But while passing the bill this particular provision was rejected on the ground that it would cause detriment to the interests of the middle class people. The babus must be saved before the bargadars whose blood they sucked! And the man who as chairman of the Select Committee recommended making the bargadars tenants was a Briton while the majority of the men who as members of the provincial Legislature rejected it were Bengali bhadraloks and babus!

Continued to Zamindar Rabindranath - 5

More By  :  Kumud Biswas

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  • Comments: 10

Comments on this Blog


Index.. Amazing :)
05-Jun-2011 06:00 AM

Comment Thank you Index.

03-Jun-2011 08:28 AM


Index.. Great idea :)
03-Jun-2011 05:42 AM

Comment Dear Mr. Mutsuddi, A cheap edition of the poet's complete works is available from Viswabharati. You should buy it. It may be available in Delhi.

09-Oct-2010 10:46 AM

Comment Hi Tagoreblog,
Surely I will try. But the thing is that out of Bengal, that may make it difficult to get hold of it. Still i will give a try.

Nalinaksha Mutsuddi
09-Oct-2010 09:12 AM

Comment Dear Mr. Mutsuddi, please read this essay in the original. It is a marvellous piece of writing.

04-Oct-2010 12:34 PM

Comment Thanks, it helps me in reviving interest in Tagore's works.

04-Oct-2010 11:21 AM

Comment Dear friend Dipankar, I knew you will react. But from the progressive fall in the number of viewers of these blogs on Rabindranath I am not at all astonished. We Indians seem to have rejected the two greatest sons of our country - Rabindranath and Gandhiji. Your assessment of the current situation is absolutely correct. When I recount what Rabindranath actually did as a zamindar you will find your views vindicated. The zamindar in Ghare Bairey was none other than Rabindranath himself. I will need some time before my next instalment of this blog because two people are after me - my daughter and my publisher. I have to give the manuscript of two books to the publisher before he leaves for Frankfurt bookfair and my daughter commands me not to defer my visit to her at Cairo any further - in fact she gave me the ultimatum only a few minutes ago. Love to you.

29-Sep-2010 05:33 AM


Kumudbabu: Finished Part 4 and your translation of Rayater Katha. The poet's opinion on the hypocrisy as well as confusion surrounding the self-appointed saviours of our society has great contemporary relevance. I am sure that you are aware of this. Nothing much has changed. We are still living in the same Fool's Paradise. As I was reading you, I also remembered parts of Ghare Baire, where a Zamindar was faced with crisis that was similar to Tagore's own. I enjoyed reading all this, though I doubt that "enjoyed" is the right word to use to express the state of my mind right now. Perhaps a more correct way of describing my reaction is "depression". I feel immensely depressed, especially when I ponder over what has overtaken our country in general now and the state of WB in particular.

29-Sep-2010 05:01 AM

Comment Kumudbabu: Sorry for arriving late. I want to read up Part 4 though before collecting my thoughts.

29-Sep-2010 03:41 AM

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