Pride of Tripura


Rabindranath Tagore with Bir Bikram Kishore Debmanikya

Rabindranath Tagore and Tripura

Nobel-laureate poet Rabindra Nath Tagore's close relation with the princely state of Tripura and its four successive rulers forms an important chapter in the state's history. This was of course a natural corollary to the liberal patronage extended to Bengali language and culture by the Manikya dynasty rulers of Tripura since the days of king Ratna Manikya (1464-68). It was in the course of a political crisis that Tripura's ruling monarch Krishna Kishore Manikya (1830-1849) got in touch with prince Dwaraka Nath Tagore, fabled grand father of Rabindra Nath, and obtained timely assistance. In his maiden letter to king Bir Chandra Manikya (1862-1896) dated may 6, 1886 poet Rabindra Nath Tagore referred to this familial relation while seeking ingredients of Tripuras history on which he later based his celebrated novel Rajarshi anddramas Visarjan and Mukut. Even before that, young Rabindra Nath had occasion to have a feel of king Bir Chandra Manikyas magnanimity in 1882.

The king was in a state of shock following the untimely death of his dear wife and queen Ms. Bhanumati in the year 1881 and during that period of bereavement he studied young Rabindra Naths celebrated lovepoem Bhagna Hriday. A highly refined and sensitive man practically a poet in the core of his heart-king Birchandra sent his emissary Mr Radharaman Ghosh to the family home of the Tagores at Jorasanko near Calcutta to congratulate the poet on his behalf. Rabindranaths relation with Tripuras royal family did not however snap-as he himself had feared-with the demise of king Bir Chandra Manikya in 1896. Birchandras son and successor king Radhakishore Manikya (1897-1909) also maintained a close relation with Rabindranath Tagore and it was during his reign that the poet visited Tripura for the first time in 1899. The poet also tried to help his benefactor in many ways and visited Tripura five times during his reign. Apart from this, a number of Bengali men of letters received financial assistance from King Radhakishore Manikya. Similarly, king Birendra Kishore Manikya also maintained a close but respectful relation with Rabindranath. After Rabindranath had won Nobel Prize King Birendra Kishore organized a function to celebrate the occasion and the poet visited Tripura again in the year 1919. Rabindranath visited Agartala for the last time in the year 1926 when he was introduced to King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya (1923-1947).

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