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A complete dissection of the song Bohu Juger Opar hote. The untold story.
A column, titled Bohu Juger O Par Hote - A critical analysis, written by Anjan Ganguly on 04.11.2019.
Published on 4th November, 2019.
This is perhaps the most difficult song I have encountered so far. I find it little curious that people do not seem to avoid this song and it would not be unfair either to mark it as a popular one. It is hard to presume that singers who have so far tried to reproduce the song have done so without having any knowledge on its background. Nevertheless, I feel no shame to declare that my chances to decipher the riches within the song would have been remote unless someone had given me a clue.
As usual the song has four sections or 'tuk'. The first section appears to be an expression of a pensive mood inflicted by the relentless monsoon rain. Remembering the eternal poet, Brahma, seems to come spontaneously on the second line. It is not very lucid, although, whether he wishes to extend his gratitude or it is just a flamboyant expression of a concordant rhythmic pattering.
The composition opens from Pancham and climbs up to Sadaj that can be done best to express 'Bohujuger', meaning 'eons apart'. It may appear that the touch of Tibra madhyam is to accommodate the traditional movement of raag Kedar; one cannot ignore, nevertheless, the impact of the touch in order to enhance the degree of expression of more than quite a few eons. The second movement 'opaar hote'starts from Pancham once again but this time it stands still and returns shuddha-madhyam at last to express the long distance is being traversed. Due importance has been awarded to the word 'Aasharh' by diving down and raising the pitch again. The phrase 'Aamar mone' being a statement with a little ripple on 'mone' aptly describing ripples in the mind. Bit of amazement is added next in 'kon se kobir' followed by some ripples again to describe rhythm on 'chhando baaje' and the movement ends with a touch of Tibra madhyam. The stage is set for the last movement of sthayee, the first section of the song. This part 'jharo jharo borishane' is full of energy depicting the ferocity of rain.
Once we enter into the second or the Antara section we face a baffling situation. The poet maintains an ambiguity about the floral garlands that remain unused and finally discarded. Faint fragrance of the flowers seems to reach the poet that propagates along the wet breeze and the poet is drenched with some sort of nostalgic manifestation. The affair is not clear about whom or what he is talking. Who makes the garland and whom is it intended for. Well, for the time being it is supposedly two persons, may be romantic partners of some kind.
The Antara too opens with Pancham and slides to Sadaj with a touch of Tibra madhyam for a similar reason as the sthayee section. The movement on 'Je miloner maalaguli' creates a bit of tension while hovering around shuddha Nishad, finally coasting onto Sadaj. It is to be noted that it starts from Pancham for 'dhulay mishe holo dhuli'. A small ripple is added to realise the wavy nature of the fragrant breeze. Softness belongs to the word 'sajalo' in 'Aaji sajalo somirane'. The section ends with 'Jhari jharo borishane' in the similar way as sthayee.
Next section or 'sanchari' again has something very unusual. The poet refers to a particular day ... overcast and raining ... green-top hill ... beside a river. The may be several places with such geographical characters. That place must be well-suited for a romantic exchange. Obviously, we are more interested in the affair and the persons involved than the place which had a profound impact on the poet's mind.
This part of the composition contains words that are abruptly cut short. 'Sedin', 'emni', 'megher', 'nodir' - all these words end abruptly. The notes follow in a stepwise increment, like a story-teller, drawing interest. The focus lays on the word 'sedin' and it is clear that the poet has deliberately created the focal point. Both the lines of 'sanchari' ends on shuddha madhyam, the characteristic movement of raag Kedar. The legato suggests that the poet had something more to express and that the expressions of 'Abhog' bears close relation with 'sanchari'.
The 'Abhog' section starts with a jerk and for a listener it comes like a surprise. The melody leaps from madhyam to gandhar of the upper octave. This again draws interest onto a lady, named 'Maalobika', who is portrayed as someone staring at the pathway, her eyes did not blink. She must be waiting for someone whom she loves. Her staring eyes, her earnest expectation has affected the poet. Her pang is once again found to instil from the moist ambience, the dark clouds and the floral fragrance.
The next question is as obvious as it has to be - Who is it referred to?
The dictionary displayed no such word - 'Maalobika', neither a lady with garlands around her neck may be named 'Maalobika', as I would have expected. Despite my best endeavour I failed to reveal her identity.
I thought I was closing to a location following a certain direction. My point of interest was the name of a river 'Reba'. I could locate a river in Madhya Pradesh with a similar name. Later I came to know that 'Rewa' was, in fact, a second name of river Narmada. At this point it was one of my friends drew my attention towards something very unique. He pointed towards the ancient history of India.
The last king of Mayuran dynasty, Brihadratha, had been ousted and Pushyamitra, the Sunga ruler ascended the throne. Despite the fact he ruled the country for about thirty six years, he never adopted the supreme title. His son Agnimitra, instead, was known as the 'Raja' or king. Pushyamitra was engaged in fighting battles with other kings throughout the period of his reign. It is assumed that he had completed 'Ashwamedha jajyna' horse-offering twice in his lifetime. Obviously his son, Agnimitra too was busy fighting battles and had to stay outside the capital for longer times.
The chief queen of Agnimitra had a pretty maiden. He did not see her in person but had a glimpse in a painting only which was enough to arouse his desire. Agnimitra somehow came in contact with her and fell in love. In order to conceal her from the Raja's sight the queen did not even hesitate to imprison her. However, at last her identity was revealed as a princess of Vidharva and married her.
This maiden was named 'Malavika'. Kalidas had written the immortal play 'Malavikagnimitram', the storyline of which is based on this fact. Not only the Raja but 'Malavika' too was passionate about him. Both of them were sick of the separation and their estranged hearts were ever-desirous of the sight of the other. Malavika used to string jasmine-garlands for him each day on expectation that the Raja would return from battle. Sadly her garlands were left unused and were thrown out on the next day onto the dust.
In this song a reference of the Master poet 'Kalidas' is given in the second line. On the third line we find the passion with which 'Malavika' used to string garlands. The green-top mountains are the ones found around the Vindya mountains in Central India, the background of this story. And finally we can latch on to the character 'Maalobika' who is thus described as 'Malavika' in 'Malavikagnimitram'.
Pundits have always opined against imposing shadow while reproducing it of a story that may have influenced the composition of a song. The song may be accepted as a general one where 'Maalobika' is a fictitious character of our own locality who strings garland on a regular basis. To get rid of unsold bouquets is not at all uncommon, although the feeling of the stringer, who had been ever-passionate while their construction is never taken into consideration. Only a poet, who is passionate about a composition, and has an idea about how much it would hurt an ardent artist to see an artwork lying on the dust, feels the sting of the artist.
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