Monday, July 31, 2006

Soils


I was born in a Tamil family. And I grew up and have lived all my life in Bengal.

10 years ago, on a holiday in the Nilgiri hills in south India, through a sequence of melodic encounters and experiences, one after another - I felt that the Tamils were essentially a race of bards, and had been so through centuries of history and circumstance, right through to the present day, expressing their unstoppable melodic urge in religion after religion. And I felt that blood running through my own veins. I could understand anew the lyrics of the beautiful song "Putham pudhu bhumi" that I'd been captivated by (from the Tamil film Thiruda Thiruda, set to melody by AR Rehman) :

"Want a fresh new land,
Want one meal every day,
Golden rain must shower,
And the cuckoo must sing Tamil."

Here's a video clip of that song.



A couple of years later, I made a chance visit to Bangladesh, spending two days in Dhaka. I spent some time at a seminar organised by the Department of Sanskrit & Pali at the university. I came upon the Charyagiti, the earliest extant Bangla poems, and the songs of Lalan Fakir. I learnt about the Tantrik, Buddhist and Islamic heritage of the folk of east Bengal. I felt the unique sensibility of that soil, that has endured through millenia, and which has moulded folk devotion. If one wants to see the highest kind of human being, the most refined sensibility, the most lofty, sweetest and child-like face of humanity - it is the golden soil of Bangla that produces this. The national anthem of Bangladesh begins:

My Bangla of gold, I love you!

If my Tamil blood makes me sing - it is of Bengal that I sing, and the humble Bengali Muslim peasant's rare sensibility that I venerate. I am supremely fortunate indeed, and doubly blessed, by these two precious soils.

Here's the Bengali folk songs group Dohar's song offering to the soil of Bengal.

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8 comments:

MysticSaint said...

Namaste!

Wonderful feelings and sharing.

thanks a lot.

Truly indeed!

kowshik said...

Really wonderful! heart sinks!

MysticSaint said...

Dear Rama,

i have posted a review of this beautiful post in Bangladesh's pioneer community blog, somewhereinblog.

the address is:
www.somewhereinblog.net

ur post review is here:
www.somewhereinblog.net/lensblog/post/15008

hope to see u there as well.

Tasneem said...

For a true son of soil, knowing one's soil is that what kicks. Nice post.

bodda said...

heart touching!!!
nice post Rama

Anonymous said...

Recently I came across your blog. Bengali a Bengali Hindu from Bangladesh I would like to inform you a little thing. And that is, Bangladeshi Hindus are being kicked out of the country everyday. In less than 60 years since partition, 30% population has reduced to 10%.

All you said I liked. But things are not that rosy, my friend. Bangladeshi Hindus feel suffocated and wants to breathe!

Anonymous said...

The last comment is from myself. Sorry for writing such a grammatically incorrect post.

I try to understand why I a Bengali Hindu from Bangladesh feel insecure. Why I feel I don't have a country of my own. You a Tamil and very learned person living in Bengal since your birth and still you know very little about the problem. What a tragedy! With your powerful blog you are reaching to many people and giving a wrong message. Why people are so unfair? Why can't you say the truth when you apparently believe in "SATYAMEVA JAYATE"?

Nila-kantha-chandra said...

Hullo Anonymous, thank you for your visit and your comment. I do not claim to be all-knowing or all-seeing. But yes, I know, Hindus in Bangladesh face all kinds of difficulties; just as Muslims in India do. That's the tragic legacy of partition. Yet there are many, in Bangladesh, in India and in Pakistan, who are trying to conserve and build something else, a legacy of harmony, goodwill and cooperation. For various reasons, this is far more difficult to realise than other, narrow, sectarian, short-term objectives. I would like to think and feel well about Bangladesh and her people, despite everything else, because I believe what I think and feel is not made false by anything else. It is, it is something genuine and good, and all the more so in the face of something destructive.