The cultural bond between Bengal and Tripura is often forgotten. It began with the King Krishna Kishore Manikya&’s rapport with Prince Dwarkanath Tagore during a political crisis in Tripura. In 1881 when King Bir Chandra Manikya&’s wife died young, Rabindranath&’s poem Bhagna Hridaya gave him peace of mind. The king sent an emissary to Calcutta to thank the budding poet.
The rulers of Tripura, originally a tribal kingdom, were grand patrons of the arts. At the age of 21, Rabindranath received an honour from the king for his poetry. The bond between the poet and the royalty of Tripura survived all his life. When the young Rabindranath was being criticized in Bengal, King Birchandra decided to buy a state-ofthe-art printing machine for publishing the poet&’s works himself. He died suddenly but his son Radhakishore was equally generous. The poet went to Tripura at least five times on his invitation. Radhakishore treated Rabindranath as an adviser even in political and economic matters. On one occasion, scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose was stuck in England for lack of funds. Radhakishore offered him Rs 50,000 at the poet&’s behest cutting the cost of his daughter&’s marriage. He sanctioned an annual grant of Rs 1,000 to Visva Bharati and it continued for 50 years. Later, Raja Bir Bikram Manikya sent the prince of Tripura to teach Manipuri dance in Santiniketan. Tagore&’s play Biswarjan was a tribute to the royalty.
All this is part of history which was recalled recently during an evening at Sisir Mancha organised by a cultural outfit . Officials of the Tripura government were present. Awards were given to talented people from Tripura. Later, songs by Tripti Dev Barman, Swarup and Swati Pal were sort of a happy reminder of the poet&’s bond with Tripura.