Santiniketan, Feb.17: Visva-Bharati today received Tagore memorabilia that was in possession of writer Victoria Ocampo, including gifts the bard gave to his Argentine muse.
The 11 items include Tagore’s spectacles that he gifted to Ocampo, records of the poet’s rendition of his own work and books autographed by Tagore.
The articles will be displayed in the Rabindra Bhavana museum at Visva-Bharati.
Today, the items were handed over to Rabindra Bhavana authorities by Shyama Prasad Ganguly, a professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), at a programme held at the Lipika auditorium of Visva-Bharati.
According to BBC, Ocampo idolised Tagore ever since she read Andre Gide’s French translation of Gitanjali in 1914, a year after Tagore won the Nobel Prize.
Tagore met Ocampo (1890 to 1979) during his Argentine sojourn in 1924.
The two shared a deep emotional bond. Tagore, who was 64 when he met Ocampo, gave her the nickname Vijaya.
Tagore dedicated his 1925 book of poems, Purabi, to his Argentine muse, who also inspired him to take up painting, according to BBC.
A copy of Purabi, autographed and gifted to Ocampo by Tagore, is among the memorabilia.
In 1930, Ocampo organised the poet’s first art exhibition in Paris, where they met in person for the second and last time.
However, until he died in 1941, Tagore exchanged a series of letters with Ocampo.
Ganguly, the JNU professor, had obtained the memorabilia from Ocampo’s secretary Maria Renee Cura, who brought them to India in 2002.
“Cura and I had tried to hand over these articles to Visva-Bharati five times earlier. However, it was not possible as we did not get proper response from the former varsity authorities,” Ganguly said.
“Now, this administration showed interest and finally, the items were handed over to Visva-Bharati. I am glad because the articles will be displayed in the appropriate place,” he added.
Cura had come to Visva-Bharati in 2002 and requested the varsity to accept the memorabilia. But she returned to Delhi after failing to get any response from the varsity.
She then handed over the items to her friend Ganguly in Delhi. In 2005 and 2006, Ganguly visited Visva-Bharati thrice but “I, too, did not get any response”.
Three months ago, Ganguly requested Tagore scholar Martin Kampchen to speak to Visva-Bharati. Kampchen contacted the current authorities, who agreed to take the items.
In 1968, Visva-Bharati conferred its honorary degree, Desikottoma, on Ocampo. Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was on a state visit to Argentina, presented the award to Ocampo. Indira was then the chancellor of Visva-Bharati, too.
Today, vice-chancellor Sushanta Duttagupta, Rabindra Bhavana director Tapati Mukherjee, Tagore researcher Kampchen and former Rabindra Bharati University VC Chinmoy Guha addressed the event.
“We are really happy that we got several memorabilia of Tagore. These will be properly displayed in the museum,” Duttagupta said.
Mukherjee said: “We are happy that Shyama Prasad Ganguly chose Rabindra Bhavana. These items will enrich us and help those researching about Tagore and Ocampo.”
Anandarup Ray handed over to the Rabindra Bhavan authorities two letters written by Tagore to his father Annada Sankar Ray.