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The Original Cool Guy: Raja Ram Mohan Roy

The Original Cool Guy: Raja Ram Mohan Roy

On the occasion of Raja Rammohan Roy‘s 250th birth anniversary, a unique tribute evening ‘Charan Rekha Taba’ (Mystic Footprints) was held at Sri Ram Center jointly organized by Dakshinayan UK and Rabindra Kishore Sarkar

By Kavya Nallabrolu with inputs from Sudipta Chanda

“Knowledgeable, wise, genius… how does one differentiate?” Annie asked the intellectually superior bunch sitting in front of her. Her dad, an accomplished writer, and his colleagues had come over for dinner and drinks. Usually, she would feel very intimidated to speak up in front of such a crowd, let alone instigate a conversation. But the magic juice in her hands helped her forget about her insecurities. Don’t frit, she’s above 21 so it’s all legal.

“Knowledge comes through education, wise is someone who implies his knowledge in daily life and a genius uses his knowledge to positively impact the world.” one of them replied. Satisfied by the answer Annie retreated into her thoughts; how these privileged glimpses into the mind of others via exchange of thoughts showed the splendour of humanity. Free thinking: once a foreign and grotesque conceit is now necessary and, dare she thinks, cool.

As this past conversation dissolved in her mind, she was dropped into reality where yet another discussion was taking place. “That man is a genius, hands down! He believed in the omnipresence of a higher power, monotheism. However, this doctrine was in stark contrast with the prevailing corruptions of Hindu idolatry, but in 1805 he still published “Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhidin ” or “A Gift to Monotheism” a Persian treatise with an Arabic preface.” raved Joyita.

“It must have taken serious guts to raise his voice for what he truly believed in. And to go against all society when he spoke to abolish Sati. Truly impressive!” Annie added. “You know, his sister-in-law was burned after the death of his brother, it’s believed that incident added fuel to his fire. He said no human should ever be pressured to kill themselves for any reason.” continued Joyita.

“Free thinking of one age is common sense of the next,” said Annie quoting Matthew Arnold. “Oh yes, very great man. He was also a brilliant painter, I hear,” said Siddharth. Annie and Joyita exchanged confused glances. “Painter? I don’t think he was a painter,” said Joyita. And then it hit us. Siddharth thought we were speaking of Raja Ravi Verma, and that was a very sad realization.

He was an epitome of knowledge in ancient Vedantic literature, more over the father of Bengal Renaissance and yet his genius goes unrecognized. This however might only be true for a few. Because on the occasion of Raja Rammohan Roy’s 250th birth anniversary, a unique tribute evening ‘Charan Rekha Taba’ (Mystic Footprints) was held at Sri Ram Center jointly organized by Dakshinayan UK and Rabindra Kishore Sarkar. Annie and Joyita made sure to take Siddharth with them. On the way to the center, in the metro, they informed Sid that the production featured artists from Kolkata-London and that the concept of this program has been designed by Dr. Anand Gupta, Head of Dakshinayan UK.

Dr. Anand Gupta
Dr. Anand Gupta

Upon their arrival what they heard was commendable music by Raja Rammohan Roy. The way he preached and propagated monotheism in his music, speaks volumes. Dr. Anand Gupta has shown the effect of Rammohan’s idea of God on Rabindranath in songs and words. Various genres of Indian dance were combined with music in this event. The three adult, free thinkers were engrossed in the celebration. The event took on another dimension with performances by eminent instrumentalists from Kolkata.

The Artists

Annie recognized the Brahmo songs composed by Raja Rammohan Roy, such as Pran Sakha Hey (danced by Sangeeta Majumdar), Bipada Bhoy Baran (danced by Soma Ghosh), Bhoy Karile Jaare (danced by Sadananda Biswas), Rabindranath Nath’s Song like Jiban Jakhan Sukaye Jay – it got Chou dance style by Rakesh Sai. These songs, she often heard coming from her baba’s room. She said to Joyita “Baba would have fanboyed over this event. The team did such a spectacular job.”

After getting home Annie told her father all about the spectacle of that evening. She added “Averi Chaure, Dr. Anand Gupta were the commentators of the entire program. And as if this wasn’t enough to rave about, in the instrumental music part Pandit Biplab Mandal (Percussion), Pandit Subrata Babu Mandal (Keyboard), Ustad Arshad Khan (Esraj), Ustad Fateh Ali Khan (Sitar) took the program to another level. And that’s not where it ends, noted singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya was among the special guests.”

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Debojyoti Mishra performing

Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya with Dr. Anand Gupta
Singer Abhijeet Bhattacharya with Dr. Anand Gupta

“You know what he said Baba? He said that he was very impressed to see such a performance. And that wants to get the production performed during Durga Puja in Mumbai. He invited Dr. Gupta to do so.”

“Looks like I missed one heck of an evening!” Baba said with a hint of regret in his voice.

“Oh no Baba, Dr. Anand Gupta said that this program will also be held in Delhi, Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh, and London. So, all is not lost,” replied Annie.

“Moreover, Siddharth learnt so much, previously he knew nothing about Raja Ram Mohan Roy but now he said he’s the original cool guy.”

Laughter filled the room.

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