Ratna Bagchi - December 20th, 2010
Gagan Harkara, (1845? – 1910?) – His real name was Gaganchandra Dam. There is no accurate information about his birth and death. It is known that he lived at Kasba village in Kumarkhali Upazilla in Kushtia. He was Dak Harkara (Postman) at Silaidaha Post office in Kumarkhali. Gagan Harkara was the Baul poet. He was called Harkara because he did the job of a Harkara or a runner: postal mail courier. What we get about Harkara is totally based on Tagore’s adaptation of his popular song. Tagore adopted the Baul melodic pattern of Gagan Harkara’s song ‘Ami kothay pabo tare amar maner manush je re’ [where shall I get him who is the man of my love] for his Amar sonar Bangla ami tomay bhalobasi: ‘My golden Bengal I love you’. This based patriotic song of Baul genre ran in high popularity during the Swadeshi movements, particularly during the movement opposing the partition of Bengal (1905-1911). Harkara’s song was first published by Tagore in his Prabashi Patra (a magazine) in 1322 BS. It was again published in the Jaishtha issue in a modified form. Before this Tagore’s niece Sarala Devi( 1872 – 1945) published an essay entitled ‘Lalon Fakir and Gagan’ in Bharati, a mouthpiece of Tagore Family. This essay included two songs of Gagan – ‘Ami Kothai Pabo Tare’ and ‘(O Mon) Asar Mayai Vule Robe. Previously Balendranath Tagore collected the songs of Gagan in 1889. Rabindranath Tagore cited the name of Gagan and his songs in his article(An Indian Folk Religion), songs and speeches.