Rabindranath Tagore and the Bishnupriya Manipuri Community

Prof. Smriti Kumar Sinha


RabindranathCreation knows no bound. It’s a free-flowing stream. A creative expression may follow syntactic grammar of a certain encoding scheme but the semantics, which embodies the creation, breaks all barriers– linguistic, social and geographical– to reach to a wider audience. Thus the Bhava and Rasa the creator wants to express, is communicated to the audience, leading to the attainment of Rasasanchar  at a distance of time and space. This has exactly happened to Rabindranath Tagore’s creations. Tagore has created a huge corpus of literature. His creations, encoded in Bengali, a regional language, emanated from Bengal, reached the people of every corner of India and of the whole world crossing all boundaries. In true sense, Tagore is a Vishvakabi, a poet who took off his flight of creation from the soil of Bengal, crossed the layers of syntax and semantic and ultimately dwelled in a nandonic space. Tagore’s thought process influenced and enriched pan India art, literature and culture in general and the North-East India in particular. Tagore even influenced the thought processes and hence the art, culture and literature of a little-known microscopic minority community of North-East, the Bishnupriya Manipuri. The total population of this community is approximately 5 lakh. It’s a diasporaic populace mainly settled in North-East India and Bangladesh. Some broken villages are there in Mynmar, but the people there lost their original social identity variables, like language, and embraced new variables.

Manipuri Dance and Rabindranath

ManipuridanceThe boundless beauty of nature and culture of the North-East India attracted Rabindranath Tagore from time to time and remarkably influenced the thought process of the Vishvakabi, which is evident from his creations like Shesher Kobita, Chitrangoda etc. The dance-dramas are collectively known as Rabindra Nrityanatya. Out of all influencing cultural traits of the North-East, the one which stands out in singularity is Manipuri dance. Our Vishvakabi was thirsty, and was looking out for an opportunity to enjoy a Manipuri dance performance to get his thirst quenched. He heard about the aesthetics and spiritual maturity of this dance form, particularly the Raasleela, composed by Maharaja Bhagyachandra, but never had a chance to enjoy the blissful experience of witnessing a performance. His visits to Assam and Tripura fulfilled that dream of the poet, a true worshiper of beauty, and paved the way for the formation of a permanent symbiotic cultural bridge with the North-East. At that time, Manipuri dance was in a ritualistic form and was confined mainly in temple premises. Tagore was instrumental in bringing out the dance form from the confinement to the world arena. What Manipuri dance today is in the cultural space of the world is mainly because of the contribution of Rabindranath Tagore and dance Gurus hired by him to Shantiniketan from Assam, Tripura and Manipur. Not only patronage, Tagore also contributed later on to the lyrics of some songs of Rasaleela, like shitolo sameerono bawe….ajo….

Apart from the aesthetics and spiritual maturity aspects, there was another motivating force behind Rabindranath to study and introduce Manipuri dance in Shantiniketan. Provinces, like Tamilnadu, Kerala, Orissa etc. had fully developed dance forms– Bharata Natyam, Kathakoli, and Odissi, respectively. Bengal, being the epicentre of Indian literary, cultural and political revolution, had no dance form of its own of that stature. This vacuum in Bengali culture was painful to the heart of Tagore. He found a right candidate solution in Manipuri dance. The fusion of aesthetically rich Manipuri dance elements and poetically rich Rabindra Sangeet has given birth to a dance form, Rabindra Nrityanatya, to fill up the vacuum, thereby enriching Indian culture.

The bottom line, therefore, is Tagore’s creations influenced the culture and literature of North-East and at the same time creations of nature and of the North-East culture influenced the thought process of Tagore. It’s a symbiolic relation- a bridge. The present article is a brief account of this symbiosis.

Tagore’s Visit to Assam

Rabindranath Tagore visited undivided Assam thrice. His first visit was during October-November, 1919. During that maiden visit he had been to Guwahati, Shillong and Syllet. On his way back he visited Agartala of Tripura. He visited Assam during April-June, 1923 for the second time. The third visit was during May, 1927.

In his first visit in 1919, Tagore left Shillong for Syllet on 31st October. At that time Syllet was a part of Assam. Later on in 1947, as a consequence of Referendum, it was attached to East Pakistan. A sizable population of Meitei and Bishnupriya Manipuris, are still there. It’s evident from a letter written by Gurudev to Pramath Choudhury on 30th October –kal ami Shillong cherhe Gauhati jabo- tarpor sekhan theke Manipure jabar kotha cholche. Visiting Manipur, land of Chitrangoda and Manipuri dance, was his long cherished dream but never fulfilled. At that time special permission was required to go to Manipur. Most probably Tagore didn’t get that permission. As revealed by Padmashree M. K. Binodini Devi, noted writer and daughter of Maharaja Churachad Singh, on this matter- ami tokhon khub-i choto. borho hoye shunechi. Iccha thakleo Rabindranath aaste parenni. He was not allowed. Ekhon ki apshosh hocche. apshosh kore ki hobe. Etato itihas….tobe Gurudev Snantiniketane Manipuri nrityadhara proborton korechen. Shantiniketoner madyome Manipuri nritya choriye porheche sorbotro. We are proud. Gurudever ei kaje amra gorbito [7].  He came down to Guwahati. From there, instead of Manipur, he proceeded to Syllet by train. On the way, at Karimganj railway station a huge crowd was waiting to receive him. It was an overwhelming welcome.  Agaist the 3-minute routine halt, the train was there for 25 minutes. Tagore delivered a lecture on the platform for about 15 minutes. It was possible because of Kamini Kumar Chanda of Silchar (father of Apurba Kumar Chanda and Anil Kumar Chanda) was an officer in Railways. Since he was from Silchar and was working in Railways, the poet used to call him fondly as Relchar. But unfortunately Tagore could not visit Silchar. From there he started for Syllet. When Rabindranath Tagore reached Syllet town on 5th November,  1919 (19 Kartik 1326 Bangabda), Wednesday morning, when a huge crowd was waiting for him. He was given accommodation in the palatial bungalow of Mr Thomas located atop a  hill. Gurudev was given a reception by the  Srihatta Mahila Samity. The table in front of Gurudev was covered with a cloth woven by Bishnupriya Manipuri women. He liked the design and the colour composition of the handloom product. He wanted to see the looms and the lifestyle of the wavers. On 6th November   arrangements were done for Tagore’s visit to Masimpur, a village of Syllet situated on the bank of the river the Surma which was inhabitated by Bishnupriya Manipuris. Tagore was given a hearty welcome by the villagers in a Mandapa . The creative Bishnupriya Manipuri people of Masimpur erected a gate with banana plant. Both sides of the way were decorated with branches and leaves of mango tree. The visvakabi was pleased to see the decoration with simple objects. He was fascinated to see the dresses that the women folk were attired in and the cloths woven by them. Apart from gifts, he purchased a few more handloom items.  Bishnupriya Manipuri boys performed the Rakhalraas under the guidance of Guru Nileswar Mukharjee.  Tagore rewarded Nileswar Mukharjee with Rs 5. Guru Nileswar Mukharjee was a respected Bishnupriya Manipuri personality. Tagore expressed that he would be happy if they could arrange a Raasleela at night at his bungalow. Tagore left Masimpur at about 3 pm [10]. Accordingly, a troupe of dancers under the guidance of Nileswar Mukharjee demonstrated glimpses of Raasleela in front of Tagore. The philosopher poet was almost in meditation during the performance.  He said, “Gracefull best form of physical exercise”. He rewarded the troupe with Rs 20/- [4]. On that historic day he decided to popularise this divine dance form world-wide and to include it in the curriculum of Shantiniketan. He proposed to the artistes, particularly Ms. Renu Sinha, who organized the event, to come over to Shantiniketan, but the conservative troupe members were reluctant to go to such a distant place. Tagore later on could manage Manipuri dance teachers from Tripura. The most prominent among them were Buddhimanta Singha, Thakur Naba Kumar Singha, Basanta Singha, Rajkumar Chandrajit Singha. The rest is a history.   In an interview later Tagore was nostalgic about his experience at Masimpur-

Choudha ponero bochor age jokhon silete jai tokhon dekhechilam Manipuri nach. Se nach amar monke tene niye giyechilo sudur kolpoloke, mone jegechilo nrityanatyer porikolpona, se jeno amar monke peye bosechilo. Shantiniketoner chatrochatrider nach shekhabar uddeshye 1326 son theke 1336 son, ei dosh bochore tin tinbare sobshuddha choyzon manipuri nrityoshikkhokke aniyechi…… [4]

Back in Shantiniketan, Tagore wrote a letter to Kalidas Nag dated 3rd December, 1919, about the unexpected fulfilling experience of Assam visit-

Ashrame phire esechi. Paharh (Shillong) theke neme asbar pathe Gauhati, Syllet o Agartala ghure elum….okhankar manush ekhono amake hridoy diye ador kore thake eta dekhe bismito hoyechilum…ekta golpo ache. Ekta choto meye poshushala dekhte esechilo. Ziraffer khnachatar samne onekkhon danrhiye tarpore mukh phiriye ei bole chole gelo – I simply don’t believe it. Khub beshi ador pele amaro ki erokom bhabta hoy? Bhabi, e kokhono sambhab hote pare? Kintu ebare ekhankar manusher kach theke je abhyarthona peyechilum seta biswas holo….[6]

Bishnupriya Manipuri Ntritya Gurus

Many Nritya Gurus were invited by Tagore to Shantiniketan from time to time. They contributed their best to the cultural revolution started from Shantiniketan. At the same time, vibration of Shantiniketan reached to the far-flung corners of North-East through them. I would like to limit the scope of this section to Bishnupriya Manipuri Nritya Gurus,  their interactions with Gurudev, contributions and Gurudev’s influence on them only.

Guru Rajkumar Senarik Singha

 SenarikIndiraGuru Rajkumar Senarik Singha was closely associated with Rabindranath Tagore. He was born in Kalinjar, a small village near Silchar, Assam in 1893. He was in Shantiniketan from 1931 to 1954 but not without interruptions. After the demise of Gurudev, he decided not to stay at Shantiniketan without Tagore and came back to Silchar. He toured Europe and other Asian countries. He has a long list of students including Indira Gandhi, Guru Adityasena Rajkumar, Nandini Bhattacharya, Mira Bharatwaj, Sadhana Bose, Lila Deshai, Bihari Singha, Lali of Hongkong and Jayanthi of Srilanka. He died on 6th May 1983.

 Guru Mahim Chandra Singha

 His actual name was Muhi. After going to Shantiniketan, he was given this meaningful name. He was born in a village called Machughat, near Silchar. He learnt Manipuri dance (mridanga) under Guru L Gandhar Singh of Imphal. Guru Muhi accompanied Guru Rajkumar Senarik Singha to Shantiniketan. He was engaged in Shantiniketan as a Mridanga guru and was a close associate of Rabindranath Tagore [13].

 Guru Bihari Singha

 Guru Bihari Singha was born on 10th January 1904 in a village called Singari, near Sichar. His mother Mikshu Devi was his first Nrityaguru. Later on he learnt from other gurus. In 1920, he went to Lucknow, Calcutta, Bombay and to the south for higher studies and later joined in Shantiniketan. During his stay, he was a close associate of Gurudev and participated and directed the productions like Chitrangoda, Kalmrigaya, Kumarsambhab, Mahishmardini, Chandalika, Shyama, Barshamangal and Hritu Basanta etc. After serving 14 years, he came back to Assam in 1940. He was awarded with the title Nrityasagar by Govt of Assam. He died on 10th October, 1971.

 Guru Nileswar Mukharjee

NileswarNileswar Mukharjee was a multi-faceted personality. He was born in Baligaon village near Syllet and later on settled in Tripura. Basically, he was a mridanga dancer. He was a master of Talagyan. He learnt Pung Chalam and other mridanga arts from Thokchom Prembadan of Manipur. Later on, he also wanted to learn traditional Manipuri songs. With that in mind he again went to Manipur and learned under the guidance of Guru Chaikoi, who happened to be also the guru of Maharaja Churachand Singha of Manipur.  In 1936, Tagore sent his secretary, Anil Kumar Chanda, to Silchar to search for an abled Manipuri dance teacher in Shantiniketan. Krishna Kumar Singha and Rajkumar Senarik Rajkumar of Silchar went to Nileswar Mukharjee and convinced him. They came back to Silchar, where Mr. Chanda was highly pleased by the in-depth knowedge of dance and Sangeet possessed by Nilewswar. He made all arrangements for Nileswar’s journey to Shantiniketan.

The day Nileswar Mukharjee reached Shantiniketan, there were many people sitting in Amrakunja. Gurudev was on a chair on the balcony of Uttarayan and was discussing something with the audience present there. It was Nileswar’s second meeting with Gurudev. The first was in 1919 at Masimpur, Syllet. Suddenly Gurudev said, “Today Nileswar Mukharjee is supposed to reach. Has he?

“Yes, Gurudev, I am here.” Nileswar stood out with hands folded. Gurudev told him, “I came to know that you are a good singer too. Would you please sing a traditional song. Nileswar sang a Basaka song- sajolo kusumo shej bichaulo– At the end Gurudev asked him, “How many matras are there?”

Nileswar replied, “It is 12 Gurudev.

 “I think, it is 14”.

“Gurudev I am basically a mindanga dancer, may I have a mridanga to check it out.” A mridanga was instantly brought in. Nileswar sang the song again with mridanga sangat and established that it was 12. Tagore was highly pleased to his talagyan. He asked to sing another song. Nileswar sang another farewell song- badhuhe ar ki chariya dibo….

-It’s a farewell song by Gopis to lord Krishna. Is there any farewell song on by Krishna to Gopis?

Nileswar replied, “Gurudev, at least I don’t know whether there is any.” Then Kabiguru instantly composed a song- jabe jabe he nijaloy, tomay biday dite …. and asked Nileswar to sing the song with the traditional sur. Tagore was highly pleased. This is how Nileswar passed the ordeal for being the main dance teacher for Gurudev’s dream production Chritrangoda. From next day he started teaching dances to the students of the ashrama. Tagore himself was present during practice sessions. One day Gurudev told Nileswar, mon diye shikhiye dis, tor nam hobe. lukochuri korisna kintu….


1st performance of Chitrangoda. Nileswar with Gurudev and others

These few words became the mantra of Nileswar for the whole life. The rest is a history. The dance-drama Chitrangoda, a fusion of divine creation of Kabiguru and traits of Manipuri dance cholergraphed by Nileswar was first staged in Emrire Theatre, Calcutta 11-13 March, 1936. Tagore visited almost all prominent cities of India, Patna, Allahabad, Delhi, Lahore, Meerat, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Shillong etc. with this production. Nileswar also played different roles in the performances. He was also the organizer along with Kali Mohan Ghosh in some performances. The production went through many changes later on. In the performance on Dolpurnima in Amrakunja in Shantiniketan, Kabiguru introduced the song kon debotar se ki porihas in the production on the request of Nileswar.  He was also associated with Gurudev in his later productions like Chandalika, Rituranga, Shapmochan, Navavarsha etc. Former prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, was studying in Shantiniketan. Nileswar was teaching her Manipuri dance. For the whole life Indira Gandhi respected her nrityaguru Nileswar Mukherjee. He died on 27th September, 1977 in Tripura [9].


Pt. Nilmadhab Singha

Pt.Nilmadhab Singha was born on 11th February, 1922 to Smt Madalei Devi and Sri Tailen Singha Choudhury of Shingari, Silchar, Assam.  In 1935, the thirteen-year old boy went to Calcutta along with a family friend. Guru Senarik Singha Rajkumar found the boy extremely talented. Smt. Rama Kar, a grand daughter of Tagore, taught him Rabindra Sangeet. It became a daily routine for Nilmadhab to visit Jorasanko Thakurbari and take music lessons.

NilmadhabIn 1936, having returned from Kalimpong, Rabindranath was resting on the balcony at Jorasanko. A sweet melodious voice was floating in the air –bhenge mor ghorer chabi niye jabi ke amare. Tagore summoned daughter-in-law, Protima Devi and sent her to search the voice. It was Nilmadhab singing! She embraced him and told him how much Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had liked his singing- ‘Would he be interested in learning music at Shantiniketan?’ How could he say ‘No’. He was asked to be there at Jorasanko at 8:00 am the next morning to accompany Gurudev to Shantiniketan. Having arrived too early at 6:00 am on the appointed day, his friends took him to the terrace for games. Having lost count of time, when he came down from the terrace, he came to know that Protima Devi had looked around for him and left. The sobbing child was calmed down soon as Protima Devi had instructed the care-taker to send Nilmadhab by the next morning train to Bolpur. It was a journey which Nilmadhab will never forget. As instructed, when he reached Bolpur, he was received by Tagore’s driver and taken to the abode of Gurudev. What followed was like a dream, with Protima Devi to take care of him, to stay in Uttarayan, meeting such personalities as Nanda Lal Basu, Kshiti Mohan Shastry, Ramdhari Kinkar, Charles F Andrews, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru & Mahatma Gandhi (when they visited the Poet). To mention, Smt Indira Gandhi was his batch mate for some time, Satyajit Ray was persuing studies at Kalabhavan, Kanika Bandopadhyay & Suchitra Mitra were his class mates. Rehearsals for Barsha-Mangal, 1940 were on. As Nilmadhab would sing, Tagore would smile. Later on he asked Protima Devi to find out as to why the poet was smiling. Protima Devi got him the answer that Gurudev was wondering as to how this young fellow was putting so much of his soul into his compositions which may not be fully understood at his age. Impressed Gurudev asked him to sing solo- Esho Shyamala Sundaro during the function.

During Holo-Karshan Utsav, 1941, Gurudev suddenly asked Nilmadhab to dance. Being inspired he danced with dedication, which pleased Gurudev, who wanted the boy to dance a similar one during the poet’s birthday celebrations to follow soon. Coming from the lips of Gurudev was a big honour but the boy replied-no he wouldn’t dance any more. Tagore was enraged and expressed his feelings to Sri Shailajaranjan Majumdar. Shailaja confronted the boy and the reason he conveyed to the poet: Nilmadhab feared that dancing would affect his vocal chords and would disturb his main goal of life – to learn music. Gurudev could not control his laughter at the boy’s misconception.

Rabindranath Tagore’s last birthday celebrations was in 1941 which the poet witnessed.

When Nilmadhab, adorned with garlands of white flowers danced to the accompaniment of Dhak played by Guru Atomba Singh, Kabiguru was overjoyed and blessed him-You will go a long way in your excellence in the field of music. The Poet’s deteriorating health made him shift to Jorasanko and three months later, on 7th August, 1941, he breathed his last. In the condolence meeting when Nilmadhab Singha sang-tui fele esechis mon, mon re amar Abanindranath Thakur was overwhelmed and embraced the boy who was nicknamed Manipuri Beta by Rabindranath Tagore.

 Nilmadhab was chosen the ambassador for spreading Rabindra Culture. He was sent by Protima Devi outside Bengal to spread Rabindra Culture. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru spearheaded this project and Nilmadhab Singha was deputed to Lucknow for the same. In1950, he received a letter from Protima Devi that Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime-Minister of India and the Chancellor of Vishva Bharati, Shantiniketan, wanted to spread Rabindra Culture in the Capital. Nilmadhab Sinha was deputed for the same. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen’s father, Sri Ashutosh Sen was posted in Delhi that time. He personally helped Nilmadhab Sinha settle down in Delhi.


Pt. Nilmadhab Sinha with Pt. Nehru

The instrumental rendition of the national anthem on the 15th of August, that had long been the prerogative of the army band, gave way to the voices of Delhi’s children, taught by Nilmadhab Sinha, to sing Jana Gana Mana at Red Fort from 1951 onwards when the Prime Minister hoisted the flag.  Vande Mataram as tuned by Rabindranath Tagore was sung for the first time on Teacher’s Day in presence of Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan under the direction of Nilmadhab. Later on in conjunction with Mr Anil Biswas of AIR, it was simplified for public singing.  During 1950-1960, he was engaged with the Government assignments to welcome, with his voice renditions, state guests like Queen Elizabeth II, First Lady of the US Jacqueline Kennedy, Maharaja Mahendra of Nepal etc.

 In 1982, Acharya Nilmadhab Sinha was awarded by Vishwa Bharati University and Govt. of West Bengal for his lifetime contributions in popularizing Rabindra Sangeet.

 Guru Bipin Singha

Born on 23rd August, 1918, in Singari village, Silchar, Guru Bipin Singha is reckoned as the pioneer of Manipuri Dance. He is one of the prominent names amongst them, who made the place of Manipuri dance on the world stage. His father Laikhomsana Singh was a legendary pioneering poet in Bishnupriya Manipuri language and mother Indubala Devi was a renowned singer.  Guru Bipin Singh was a rare combination of a dancer, choreographer, scholar and teacher. He came to Calcutta in his teen and taught dance in Bansanti Bidya Bithi. This was a time when he worked with several pioneers in the Bengali arts like Kaji Nazrul Islam, Haren Ghosh and so on. He toured Europe with dancer Madame Menaka and became a teacher in her dance institute, where he was exposed to other classical dances of India. He went back to Manipur where the then king supported his cause. Under royal orders, all the gurus of Manipur initially reluctant to teach this outsider taught young Bipin Singh their arts. He worked day and night for years in Manipur delving deep into the tradition. Out of all the gurus he learnt from his closest mentor was the revered ‘Aigya Amudon,’ Guru Amudon Sharma, the legendary descendant of the royal lineage of gurus who choreographed the first Raslila in the eighteenth century.

In 1972, he founded Manipuri Nartanalaya in Kolkata with branches in Mumbai and Imphal and trained a new generation of Manipuri dancers, many of whom are the forebearers of the field today. He was awarded the title of Hanjaba by the maharaja of Manipur, Sangit Natak Akademy award in 1966, Kalidas samman by Madhya Pradesh government and numerous others. His well-known disciples are Jhaveri sisters and Kalavati Devi. His direct student Tamanna Rahman is currently carrying on the legacy of Guru Bipin Singh in Bangladesh. He died on 9th January, 2000 in Kolkata.

Guru Adityasena Rajkumar

Guru Adityasena Rajkumar wa born on 27th February, 1938 in a village Rajnagar near Silchar. He learnt Manipuri dance under Guru Senarik Rajkumar for six years and later on under Guru Bipin Singh for eleven years. He taught Manipuri dance in Dakshini, Kolkata, founded by Subho Guha Thakurta for a long time. Sucahrita Sarma, Chanda Mukharjee and others were his students. He had no direct interaction with Gurudev but he directed and parformed in many Tagore plays, like Bhanusingher Podaboli, Basobdotta etc.

 Tagore’s influence on Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature

 Tagore has directly and indirectly influenced Bishnupriya Manipuri Literature. Poet Bihari Singha of Narsingpur, Silchar was highly influenced by Tagore. He published two anthologies of poems, Gitmanjuri and Gitbitan in an isomorphic format of Tagore. Of course, these two anthologies were in Bengali. Even seasoned Rabindra scholars were confused to differentiate Bihari Singh’s poems from those of Tagore. If we observe minutely, the anthologies of lyrics by Brajendra Kumar Sinha, namely Elar Khuttol, Dhubapada, ahir panir pathgo, direct influence of Tagore is evident in style, muses and figurative languages used. Indirect influence of Tagore is that Tagore is considered as the standard frame of reference and poets and writers of this developing language are striving to achieve. This may be a fact behind the fast development of the literature of this language within a short span of time. If any poet or a writer of this language is asked about who is his or her dearest poet, most probable answer would be Rabindranath Tagore. Those who studied Rabindranath thoroughly, their literary works are of distinct quality. They realise that anything written is not literature. Their writings are indirectly influenced by Rabindranath. One exception is Poet Senarup Sinha. He used to say Rabindranath was his dearest of dear poets but his poems don’t seem to be influenced by Tagore. The readers in Bishnupriya Manipuri community are generally well-versed in Tagore’s works. Therefore, writers have to struggle hard to reach up to their expectations of standard literature. Bishnupriya Manipuri literature is a classical example, how Tagore’s literature, acting as a standard benchmark, helped a microscopic minority language in developing in a neck speed.

 Tagore in translation in Bishnupriya Manipuri

 Bishnupriya Manipuri people are multi-lingual. Most of them are fluent both in Assamese and Bengali. Therefore, they prefer to read the literary works of Tagore directly in Bengali. As a result, Tagore in translation is limited but not negligible. Founder of Manipuri Thearte, Bangladesh and famous dramatist Subhashish Samir translated Rudrachanda and staged it several times. His other productions include Karna-Kunti Sambad, Juta Abishkar etc. Famous poet Brajendra Kumar Sinha, who is termed as Rabindranath of Bishnupriya Manipuri, has translated several poems of Kaviguru in a collection Kurou Ahan Rabindranath. He has in-depth study on Tagore and is considered as a Rabindra scholar in Assam. He also translated Laxmir Parixa, Dakghar etc. A sizable collection of Rabindra Sageet are translated by him. Some CDs based on his translations are available. Bidhan Sinha has translated Tagore’s poems in a collection, Rabindranathor Kabita Kotohan.  Bimal Sinha has also a collection of Tagore’s poems translated, Biswakabir Kabitakhani,  in his credit. Sudhanya Sinha also translated few selected poems of Tagore.


 In the present brief account, the symbiosis between Rabindranath Tagore and the North-East, with special reference to Bishnupriya Manipuri, is discussed. However, the discussion remains incomplete without incorporating other Manipuri Nrityagurus and felicitators from Assam, Tripura and Manipur in detail. Gurudev visited Tripura seven times. The detailed account of which will be a huge volume in itself. Rabindranath Tagore, the ambassador of Manipuri dance to the world, is revered in the heart of every Bishnupriya Manipuri.


[1] Ghosh, Shantideb, Gurudeb Rabindranath O Adhunik Bharatiya Nritya, Ananda Publishers

[2] Choudhuri, Amitabh, Rabindranath O Islam, Dey’s Publishers

[3] Some, Shobhan, Bichitrer Doot, Bichitra

[4] Kobi Pronam,

[5] Bhattacharya, Usha Ranjan, Rabindranath O Asom

[6] Bhattacharya, Usha Ranjan, Rabindra Rachanay Loghu-Guru kotha, Souvenir, 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath, Guwahati 2010

[7] Roy, Pannalal, Shantiniketane Tripurar Manipuri Nritya Shikshak, Srot Sahityer Srot O Srotoswini, 16th yr, vol 55-56,  ed by Gobinda Dhar, Tripura, 2009

[8] Sengupta, Robin, Tripurar Rajonya Yuge Manipuri Nrityakala: Sanskritik Kromobiborton, Srot Shahityer Srot O Srotoswini, 16th yr, vol 55-56,  ed by Gobinda Dhar, Tripura, 2009

[9] Sinha, Haridas, Nrityacharya Nileswar Mukhapadhyay, Kannapi Publishers, Kailashahar, Tripura, 2009

[10] Sinha, Sunil, Masimpure Biswakobi Rabindranath, The Ithak, 10th Edn November, 2009

[11] Sinha, Prof Kali Prasad, Manipuri dance and Shantiniketan, Souvenir, 2nd General Meeting, Guru Bipin Singh Manipuri Nartashram, Silchar, 2000

[12] Sinha, Sunil, Shastriya Manipuri Nritya Aru Guru Bipin Singha, In press

[13] Sinha, Sunil, Meirik Mingal, Selping Sahitya Sanskiti Bikash Sangstha, Guwahati, 2011

[14] Sinha, Rishikesh, Life History of Pt. Nilmadhab Sinha, www.bishnupriyamanipuri.com

[15] Sinha, Dils Lakshmindra, Biswakabi Rabindranath baro Manipuri Drupadi Nritya, Pouri, 2010

 Courtesy: The original article (without photographs) appeared in “Rabindra Beeksha (রবীন্দ্র বীক্ষা )”edited by Barun Kumar Chakraborty, a monumental collection of articles from all over the world on Rabindranath Tagore, published on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary by Parul publishers, Kolkata. Revised version was published in POURI, Bangladesh.