An ode to Sankha Ghosh

The country just lost an eminent poet and a Rabindranath Tagore specialist. I had first heard of Sankha Ghosh from Raman Sivakumar at Santiniketan, who had suggested I take his help in annotating Rabindranath Tagore’s speeches from the Rathindranath Tagore estate. Annotating Rabindranath is not an easy task, there are many nuances. These speeches were written in interesting times – independence movement, internal politics in Santiniketan, impending wars, and leading up to the famous crisis of civilizations speech just before he passed away.

It is pure politics that these speeches have remained in private hands as his son Rathindranath was forced to leave Santiniketan around the time of conversion to a centrally funded university – he took this important archival material with him to Dehradun.

Around the time, I had met Sankha da, the letter exchanges between Romain Rolland and Rabindranath Tagore were just published by Oxford University Press. Sankha da had agreed to move in a similar direction. Unfortunately, his health was not cooperating – problems in speaking made every discussion difficult. Still, each time I visited Kolkata – I made it a point to visit him and of course, each time was served with a platter ‘mishti’ in style – Shankho da was a man of custom.

His demise leaves this project incomplete and since we are not sure if it ever will be completed, we are putting these in the public domain. There are discussions on art, politics, doodles – a rare glimpse and an insight into his thinking. What is seen here are the raw speeches, written initially from an extemporaneous transcription and then corrected and re-written (and corrected via erasures and doodles) by Rabindranath himself.

Indrajit Chatterjee

REFERENCES

[1] Cover image taken from: https://indianculturalforum.in/2021/02/09/poetry-from-the-soul-on-sankha-ghosh-k-satchidanandan/