From bond between Lord Krishna and Draupadi to Bengal Partition and Tagore’s mass call for Rakhi

Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti 2022, Books

Rabindranath Tagore. (Image: Facebook/@kabiguru1861)

While, we all know the importance of Raksha Bandhan, a sister tying a sacred thread around the wrist of her brother.

Historically, Raksha Bandhan can be traced back to a tale from Indian mythology about the bond between Lord Krishna and Draupadi. According to the Mahabharata, Draupadi tore a piece of her sari and tied it around Lord Krishna’s wrist to stop the bleeding from a minor injury.  Touched by her gesture, Lord Krishna promised to protect her in times of need.

However, another facet of the festival we may not know about is the connection between Raksha Bandhan and the 1905 Bengal Partition.


The Bengal Partition of 1905 was an administrative decision made by the British colonial government to divide the Bengal province into two parts: East Bengal and Assam, and the rest of Bengal which we call today as West Bengal. The official reason for this partition was to improve administrative efficiency, but it was met with strong opposition from various segments of the population, including political leaders, intellectuals, and religious groups.

During this time, Rabindranath Tagore, a prominent Bengali poet, writer, and philosopher, was actively involved in the cultural and political scene of Bengal. He was a vocal critic of the partition and saw it as an attempt to divide the Bengali-speaking population. He saw the partition as a strategy to weaken the growing nationalist movement.

In response to the partition and as a form of peaceful protest, Rabindranath Tagore used Raksha Bandhan as a way to unite the people and foster a sense of unity and brotherhood. He encouraged people to tie rakhi threads not just within families, but across religious and social boundaries, symbolising a bond of solidarity and unity among the people of Bengal. While the partition was eventually revoked in 1911, the spirit of unity that Tagore’s efforts fostered during that time still resonates in the way Raksha Bandhan is celebrated today, emphasising the importance of protecting and maintaining strong bonds between individuals and communities.