Sikhism inspired Tagore: Expert - An article from the Times of India

Very interesting read:

Sikhism inspired Tagore: Expert 

Sep 3, 2004
PATIALA: The simplicity and beauty of Sikhism left a lasting impact on Nobel laureate and Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was later inspired to write three beautiful poems titled ''Gobind Guru'', ''Veer Guru'' and ''The Last Lesson'', Himandri Banerji, Guru Nanak Professor of Indian History in Jadawpur University of Kolkata, told Times News Network on Thursday.

He wrote about Guru Gobind Singh and a composition titled ''Bandi Veer'' about Baba Banda Singh Bahadur. Tagore was also inspired by the sacrifice of Bhai Taru Singh.

Not only this, Banerji said that Tagore also wrote an essay on Guru Nanak's Sacha Sauda at the age of 21 years for a Bengali children''s magazine called 'Balak'.

But Tagore's opinion about Sikhism changed with the sudden partition of the Bengal Presidency. He held Guru Gobind Singh''s militant approach responsible for contemporary Bengali politics.

He said that he later wrote an article in 1909 and in 1914, which was criticised by Professor Vinu Sarkar.

Tagore, however, changed his opinion on seeing the peaceful movement of the Akali Morcha. This was followed by a poem about Sikh sacrifice and martyrdom, Banerji said.

Banerji who is also author of "The Other Sikhs: A View From Eastern India" based on Assamese, Bengali and Oriya writings on Sikh history and religion, said that Tagore had visited Golden Temple with his father Davinder Nath Tagore in 1873.

Back then, ''kirtan'' performed by a noted Sikh Kirtankar had left a lasting impression on him. Speaking about Rabindra Sangeet, he said the Gurbani has inspired certain songs. In fact, Tagore also translated Guru Nanak''s ''aarti'' ''Gagan Mein Thal'' to Bengali.

Banerji said that a Nanak Panthi Sikh Lal Bihari Singh translated the Guru Granth Sahib to Bengali in 1899 and by later Prof Chakladhar during the pre-independence era.