Parjaay: Natya-geeti (1)
Written on: 1875
Notation by: Indira Debi Chowdhurani
Notes: This song was published in November 1875.
This was incorporated in the drama 'Sarojini' that was written by Jyotirindranath, Rabindranath's elder brother. The drama was published in November 1875 and Rabindranath was merely a boy of fourteen and half years. Reference of this song can be found in 'Jibonsmriti' the autobiography of Jyotirindranath. Historical evidences and contemporary documents suggest that the tune may not have been composed by Rabindranath as he was yet to start his own compositions. Reasons are there to believe that it was composed by Jyotirindranath.
-' young Rabindranath used to take lessons in Sanskrit from Ramsarbaswa in a room beside mine where I remained engrossed in finalising proof of the drama 'Sarojini'. While consulting with Ramsarbaswa Rabi used to add his comments on the play. Once we were talking about a scene where the Rajput ladies were to commit mass suicide by taking on the burning pyre, Rabi rushed from the side room and expressed his displeasure on a lecture that was programmed for the scene. He was in favour of a song that he thought was indispensable to the scene. In fact, not that I was against it but I argued for not having enough time to compose a new song. Rabi quickly wrote this song and it was an instant hit. ...
Members of Thakur-bari had lost hope by then for Rabindranath, a young boy, who was particularly indifferent with his school and education. After writing a successful song like this he was in fact awarded with a promotion. The man behind his achievement was clearly Jyotirindranath, a significant character for Thakur-bari.
... We had taken Rabi into confidence by then and three of us, Akshay, Rabi and myself worked in tandem. ...
Until the publication of 'Jibonsmriti' by Jyotirindranath in 1920 it was widely known that he was the writer of the song. 'Sangeet-kalpataru', a book published by Swami Vivekananda in 1887/88 included a portion of the song and the credit was given to Jyotirindranath. A collection of 'Bangalar Gaan' published by Durgadas Lahiri (1905) too has incorporated Jyotirindranath's name as the writer. The truth was revealed while after 37 years of the publication of the play while Jyotirindranath was elaborating his life to Basanta Kumar Chattopadhyay, the writer of his biography. The famous heroine Binodini describes in her book 'Aamar Kotha' how the awestruck audience watched scene in horror. She used to take the stage as 'Sarojini', the key role in this drama.
... Three or four pyres were lighted on the stage with their flames rising high. We didn't have electric lights those days. Dried twigs were lighted placing them on a sheet of tin. Rajput ladies walked around the burning pyre while singing the song. Clad in red coloured sari, with floral ornaments on, with floral garlands on their hands. And they would finally jump into the fire. Kerosene oil was sprinkled on the fire with a syringe, the flames raged higher, even more infuriating the audience. Hairs, clothes caught fire but the actresses would not care. They repeated the show again and again.
One day I was going to climb up the pyre, so much engrossed with the acting that I did not notice that my veil and hair had kindled. I started jumping into the fire with flames already on my clothes. Standing beside the stage was Mr.Upendra Mitra, who did the role of Ravana. Immediately he pounced on me and started dousing the flame with his bare hands. The drop-scene was yet to come down completely. Others too rushed for a rescue. Mr. Mitra had burnt hands as I had several blisters on my body. ...
It is true that scene created a typical ambience and left the audience spellbound, and it is never an exaggeration by Binodini. Although, she was only fourteen at that time and had been acting on the stage for not more than two years. She had enchanted the audience in the show of 'Sarojini' that was premiered on 15th January 1876 at the Great National Theatre. In his book 'Sahitya-sadhak-charitmala' Brajendranath Bandopadhyay had referred to the immense popularity of the song among common people as it can be seen in most of the contemporary reviews of the drama.
Jwal jwal chita, dwigun dwigun- Paran sanpibe bidhaba bala.
Jwaluk jwaluk chitaar aagun, Juraabe ekhoni praner jwala.
Shon re jabon, shon re tora, je jwala hriday jwalali sabe
Sakhshi ralen debota tar- er pratiphal bhugite habe.
Dekh re jagat, meliya nayan, dekh re chadrama, dekh re gagan,
Swargo hate sab dekho debgaan- Jwalod-akhsare raakho go likhe.
Spardhito jaban, torao dekh re, sateetwa-raton karite rakhsan
Raajput-satee aajike kamon sanpiche paran anolshikhe.
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