Tagore has been a constant in the world of music and nevertheless in portraying women empowerment
Rabindranath Tagore is someone we’ve all grown up listening to his song and reading and quoting. If you come from a ridiculously cultured Bengali family like mine, you’ve probably spent half your life singing from the Gitabitan. However, for good reason. Rabindranath Tagore was a man who was decades ahead of his time. Tagore has been a permanent fixture in most of our households, challenging the norms of the classroom as a young boy, taking to the pen as a protest against the dominance of British rule, and, most importantly, giving a voice to women empowerment through his stories and literature.
Tagore was knighted by the British for his contributions, which he later renounced in the aftermath of the Jallianwalla Bhag massacre. He also made history as the first Asian to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore became a messiah of the lyrical word for those seeking inspiration in poetry, song, and art from all over the world, and he would often graciously host visitors arriving at his doorstep to learn the same.
However, we will not be discussing the innumerable ways in which he altered the course of Indian social history. Rather, as a tribute, we honor the legacy of his leading heroines, who were fearless, talented, and empowered, and who challenged the deeply embedded patriarchal notions of nineteenth-century India.
Tagore‘s portrayal of women can be divided into three broad categories.
● When he first spoke out about social injustices against women, it was between 1881 and 1897.
● From 1893 to 1913: he first portrayed an educated and urban Indian woman fighting for human rights and equality.
● Between 1914 and 1941, Tagore‘s heroines openly challenged social evils such as widow-remarriage, untouchability, the rigid caste system, and patriarchy in general.
Mrinmoyee from Sampati
Mrinmoyee, Tagore‘s young, carefree heroine, was dubbed an “eternal tomboy.” She grew up playing cricket in the mud, bringing home various unidentified insects, and discovering joy in the most basic aspects of nature. As a result, when her marriage was arranged with Amulya, a graduate from Kolkata who was visiting his village on vacation, she naturally refused. Mrinmoyee did everything she could to stop those who tried to extinguish her personality, including cutting off her hair before the wedding and refusing to see the groom during the entire ceremony.
Following her marriage, she refused to sleep with her husband and would frequently flee to nature, climbing trees and making friends with small birds. On the night of her wedding, she returned to her favorite spot by the bank, where she reunited with her pet squirrel, Chorky, and celebrated her freedom from a forced marriage by swinging in the moonlight.
Mrinal from A Wife’s Letter
Possibly one of the most powerful depictions of a woman speaking out against patriarchy, The story of A Wife’s Letter is about a young woman who leaves her husband after his family forces her sister-in-younger law’s sister into an abusive marriage, which leads to the latter immolating herself to escape it. Mrinal leaves her husband and seeks refuge on an island after several years of witnessing his family’s hypocritical treatment of those of the lower caste, the pressure they put on her to be a perfect mother and wife, and finally their love for the superficial at the expense of human emotions and relationships. She writes him a letter in which she explains that he tried to kill her passions and talents, treated her as an accessory, and never stood up to his family’s wrongs against her, and thus lost her respect a long time ago. Tagore described a woman through Mrinal who was not afraid to choose herself over her husband and his family, despite societal oppression of her bold nature and decision to become a writer and create an independent life for herself.
Charulata from A Broken Nest
Charulata led a comfortable but emotionally depleted life with her always-busy journalist husband, who had no time for her or her abilities. The arrival of his brother, Amal, who inspires her to pursue writing and singing, breaks the monotony of her life, and she begins to develop feelings for him. She rediscovers herself and her nascent talents as a result of her time with Amal. And, despite her decision to stay with her husband despite his offer to relocate for their sake, the experience helps her find herself. Tagore explores the concept of a woman taking control of her desires and ambitions and making a choice of her own volition in Charulata.
A lonely housewife whose husband beats her steals her jewelry and marries his lover, the theatre actress Latika (Labongo in Tagore‘s story). While spying on her husband, she develops an interest in the theatre and the (artistry) involved.
She does not sit at home and cry about her fate after her husband’s betrayal; instead, she reinvents herself as Mandira Devi, an actress in a successful play. Latika returns with her husband to see the actress who has taken her place, and both are taken aback. While Giribala’s husband is enraged because he still believes he has authority over her as his wife/property, Latika is resentful of having given up her flourishing career for a man. Giribala demonstrates that women do not have to rely on men in their lives and that they can achieve success.
Due to the groom’s (Anupam) uncle’s greed, Kalyani’s father calls off her wedding on the wedding day. She is a fearless and independent woman who, in one scene, speaks out against British mistreatment.
Anupam witnesses this years after the wedding are canceled and are filled with guilt because he did not speak out against his uncle’s bad behavior. He asks Kalyani’s hand in marriage once more, but she declines and explains, “After the wedding was broken, I found the true goal in my life.” I discovered a new path. I am in charge of hundreds of orphaned girls. Their smiles have given new meaning to my life. I am now finished. Now there is no space for any relationship in my life. And neither do I require it.”