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What is Tagore’s Tripura connection?
Published on 19 Jun. 2011 10:34 PM IST
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A telegram has made waves in Writers’ Buildings. For, it relates to Rabindranath Tagore. The Bengal information and cultural affairs has decided to send a team to Agartala to explore Rabindranath Tagore’s Tripura connection. The Nobel laureate, says a recent finding, had a close relationship with the Tripura kings.
According to Times of India, one of them had even sponsored the bard’s visit to Bali and Jawa in 1927 for accompanying a famous sculptor, Dhirendra Krishna Deb Barman, from Bengal. In fact, the last Tripura king, Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur, had paid Tagore Rs 3,000 for the trip, as the hitherto unpublished document, reveals. The document, a telegram, was released recently by Prof Arunoday Saha, vice-chancellor of Tripura University.
Officials of the information and culture department, which is under chief minister Mamata Banerjee, recently held a meeting on the issue. Mamata has already unfolded a host of plans for the 150-year celebrations of Tagore’s birthday. A committee with luminaries from the culture world has been set up. The committee chaired by thespian Shaoli Mitra is organising Tagore’s death anniversary in July in a big way.
Meanwhile, the document on Tagore’s Tripura connection has created quite a flutter in the new government that is bent on promoting Bengal’s rich cultural heritage. Officials are trying to fix a meeting with the Tripura University VC. He is said to be an authority on the special relationship that kings of Tripura had with Tagore and Visva-Bharati University. He received the secret telegram from Prajna Devi, a member of Tripura’s royal family.
The telegram was sent by Tagore on 28 June, 1927. It read, “His Highness, Maharaja Tripura, Agartala, May I seek your help about Dhiren’s expenses approximately three thousand rupees accompanying me to Java, giving him unique opportunity for his artistic career -- Rabindra Nath Tagore.” Dhirendra Krishna Deb Barman, who is a close relative of the Tripura king, later became a renowned painter, sculptor and principal of Kala Bhavan, Visva-Bharati. The telegram has the signature of King Bir Bikram, dated 5 July, 1927 and an order from the king for payment.
Dhirendra Krishna, in an article, Ashram School and reminiscences of Rabindra Nath, wrote that Tagore’s entourage to Java and Bali included stalwarts like Suniti Kumar Chatterjee and Surendra Nath Kar.
A senior official in information and cultural affairs department said, “We shall get in touch with Visva-Bharati for more documents on Tagore’s Tripura connection. This could lead to a research subject in future.” Tagore visited Tripura seven times and was in touch with four successive kings Birchandra, Radhakishore, Birendra Kishore and last king Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur.

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