Rabindranath -Collection of Essays by Umashankar Joshi -Edited with an introduction by Niranjan Bhagat

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Umashankar was neither a pundit nor a pedagogue,neither a scholar nor a researcher. He was a poet a major poet in his language-Gujarati. He had the first-
hand experience of writing poetry as well as of enjoying and understanding poetry over a long period of 60 years.There was a rare combination of creative imagination and critical intelligence in him. He has displayed it in the indepth study of Tagore’s works. Only a man of
Umashankar’s insight could have interpreted Tagore like he has in these essays. There is no judgment anywhere,
there is only the joy of reading Tagore and understanding his works. After reading the essays in this collection the reader would regretfully say, ‘Alas, too few!”, but would soon rejoicingly say, Fit, though too few!’.Rabindarnath and his Readers’, ‘The Solitary Journey of Joy’ and The Poet of the Soil’ are personal essays and not essays in criticism. There is not one
Rabindranath. There are many Rabindranaths, nana Rabindranath, in Tagore’s own words. There are as many
Tagores as there are readers. These essays, therefore,could be covered under one general title, “My Tagore.In “Rabindarnath and his Readers’, Umashankar presents Tagore as a man of intellectual honesty. It is his first
essay on Tagore which he wrote as a tribute paid to him at a condolence meeting in Ahmedabad in August 1941.”I have not seen Rabindranath… But, to tell you the truth I cannot accept that I have not seen Rabindranath’, said Umashankar in an interview in 1968.Not that there were no opportunities for him to see Rabindranath. There were two, one in 1928 and the other in 1938 about which in the same interview he said, ‘In 1928 Rabindranath had come to Ahmedabad. I don’t remember if he delivered any public lecture. In 1938 when Indian Writers Conference met in Calcutta under his patronage, I was invited to attend as the President of one of the sessions. But I did not have the resources to go there. These were the missed opportunities.In 1941 when Rabindranath died Umashankar in his tribute said, “A man sitting on the bank of the Ganges and looking at its stream thinks that there must be the Himalayas somewhere. Rabindranath was like that to me. Hence, today when he is not among us. I, sitting on the bank of the stream of his poetry cannot convince myself that he is no more… Rabindranath is immortal through his poetry. This collection of Umashankar’s writings on Rabindranath is a testimony to the fact that Umashankar had not only seen Rabindranath, but had seen him more clearly and more closely.In 1968, in the interview mentioned at the outset of this Introduction, Umashankar said, “When I started writing, the atmosphere in Gujarat was not favourable to thy being influenced as a writer by his (Rabindranath’s) works. What was the atmosphere in Gujarat in 1928 when Umashankar started writing?

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