Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year 2011: The 150th birth anniversary of Brahmabandhab Upadhyay

For the past few days, I've been revisiting Brahmabandhab Upadhyay. Year 2011 is supposed to be the year of his 150th birth anniversary. In 2007, the year of his death anniversary, some of us organized a small memorial function. Couldn't do much this year. Anyway, though I cannot agree with all that he said and stood for, he continues to be a fascinating figure to me. As "iamplural", he was "dual". And, as the year comes to an end, I remember him yet again. I perhaps will continue to grapple with him in the coming year.

Here's a small extract about him from his biography:

It is not well known that it was Brahmabandhab Updhayay who helped propel Rabindranath Tagore to fame. Upadhyay first publicly noticed Tagore in a serious way in an article entitled 'The world poet of Bengal' in the weekly Sophia (September 1, 1900). With uncanny prescience he wrote:
'Rabindra is not only a poet of nature and love but he is a witness to the unseen. Revelation apart, Kant, Tennyson and Newman are considered to be three modern witnesses to the invisible world. Poor Bengal has produced another and it is Rabindra Nath.... If ever the Bengali language is studied by foreigners it will be for the sake of Rabindra. He is a world-poet.... He will be ranked amongst those seers who have come to know the essence of beauty through pain and anguish.

(Julius J. Lipner, Brahmabandhab Upadhyay: The Life and Thought of a Revolutionary, OUP, 2001, p. 281)

Lipner calls him a "forgotten colossus" and suggests that we need a more psychological-oriented biography of the man. Perhaps someone should write a novel.