Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kadambari Devi

Krishna Kripalani, who married Tagore's granddaughter, writes in his own biography of Tagore, the futility of speculating on the causes of the suicide by Kadambari Devi.
The effect of Kadambari Devi's death on the mind of Rabindranath can readily be established from Tagore's own words expressed in  a correspondence to a young Amiya Chakraborty of about 16, who would, a decade or so later, become Tagore's literary secretary for a period of time. Tagore wrote to him in 1917 (Kripalani's translation):
Once, when I was about your age, I suffered a devastating sorrow, similar to yours now. A very close relative  of mine committed suicide, and she had been my life's total support, right from childhood onward. And so with her unexpected death it was as if the earth itself receded from beneath my feet, as though the skies above me all went dark. My universe turned empty, my zest for life departed.

In 1884, there were three sad deaths: On 8 January, Keshab Chandra Sen, on  19 April, Kadambari Devi (an unnatural death), and on 5 June,  Hemendranath Tagore. This was a great loss to the Tagore family, specially the untimely death of Hemendranath Tagore at the age of 40 years. In his reminiscences, Rabindranath spent more than 2,500 words to explain the loss of Kadambari Devi. He wrote that his mother's death did not affect him so strongly for  he was too young ( 14 years old) and Kadambari Devi, aged 16, assumed the role of a surrogate maternal figure. Tagore's biographer, Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyaya, writes that she was more a playmate.  A number of poems written by Rabindranath at different times expresses his deep sorrow.  He dedicated four books to her before her death and two more after. In 1901, he portrayed her as Charu in Nashtanir.  Mr. Krishna Kripalini concluded that
"I have nothing more to add to this controversy. I, personally, believe that, with my little knowledge of Rabindranath Tagore and his family life, Kadambari Devi was in love with him, and when his marriage was organised by  his family she was heartbroken and committed suicide. (http:// 
(Quote From Reminiscences of Tagore)