‘Ekla Chalo Re’ By Rabindranath Tagore

Ekla Chalo re is an iconic Rabindranath Tagore Song that was used frequently during India's independence movement. It tells you walk alone when no one responds to your call. Ekla Chalo Re inspired a whole generation and continues to inspire. Best rendition is the local Baul singers, I met one of them at Shanti Niketan. Ekla Chalo Re has been set to music by Tagore himself.

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Ekla Chalo Re by Ravindranath Tagore
Ekla Chalo Re by Ravindranath Tagore

Ekla Chalo Re was echoing in the air. We were in Shanti Niketan. I was absorbing the only space that I have seen or experienced that was created by a poet – Rabindranath Tagore. His signs and his legacy are scattered all across this small rustic Bengali village.

Video of “Ekla Chalo Re” by Baul Singer

The icing on top of this experience was hearing a Baul Singer – Sh Pradip Das Baul, sing his well known poem ‘Ekla Chalo Re’. Now I have heard this song sung by many prominent singers specially those with Bengali roots. It was listening it live in a space that had Tagore all around that it made sense to me.

“Ekla Chalo Re” Lyrics

Ekla Chalo Re Lyrics in Bangla - Rabindranath Tagore
Ekla Chalo Re Lyrics in Bangla

I came back home with the voice of Pradip Das Baul still haunting me. It was time to understand the words and thanks to Google and Wikipedia, I could understand the lyrics. For couple of days I was singing it along with prominent voices like Kishore Kumar. As I kept singing, the meaning started emerging from the words.

 Video of “Ekla Chalo Re” by Kishore Kumar

‘Ekla Chalo Re’ was written by Rabindranath Tagore in 1905 for a magazine Bhandar. It then appeared first in an anthology called ‘Baul’. I do not know much about this collection, though I am keen to find more about it. It later appeared in Swadeshi section of another collection Gitabitan. Music was given by Tagore’s niece Indira Devi.

Meaning of “Ekla Chalo Re” poem

Ekla Chalo Re - English Translation by Rabindranath Tagore
Ekla Chalo Re – English Translation by Tagore himself

Rabindranath Tagore recorded the song himself but unfortunately the record has been lost. Song though is such an integral part of Bengali ethos that everything other than Tagore’s voice is pretty much there. While attempting to find Tagore’s version I landed on this old Baul version where you can hear the Do-Tara clearly. Do-Tara is a double stringed musical instrument popular with Baul singers of Bengal.

Video of classical “Ekla Chalo Re” with Do-Tara musical instrument

Personally, I relate a lot to this song. I have walked alone most of my life.

Hear Manna Day sing a Hindi version of Ekla Chalo Re…

When Tagore says ‘ When no one responds to your call, walk alone’, I am reminded of many turning points in my life when I was exactly at that spot. I wanted to go somewhere and I asked people to come along. No one responded, I walked alone and when I came back – all of them wanted to walk on that path with me.

While telling you to walk alone, gives you the company of all those who have walked alone and left a mark.

When you are hurt and you seek solace in someone’s support, it is more often than not, not there and you better walk alone and deal with it. If you want to change the world, you must light the lamp within you that would show a new path to the world. You have to burn to create the new path and you must do it alone.

Video of “Ekla Chalo Re” by Shreya Ghosal

The song resonates at every level of existence – practical where it is not possible to have support all the time, emotional – where we all feel alone every once in a while even though surrounded by people and at a spiritual level – where we must walk alone, a seeker can not move in groups like a Bhakti poet has said ‘Sadhu na chale jamaat’

It is an inspirational song. It is a song that can give you the very support that it tells you to not worry about. It gives you strength and it tells you that others before you have been in the same situation.

Video of “Ekla Chalo Re” by Amitabh Bachchan

The song had a flash of recent limelight when Amitabh Bachchan sang it for the film Kahaani in his trademark voice.

So, what is your favorite version of Ekla Chalo Re by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore?

Recommend you to read following Places to Visit in West Bengal.

  1. Brush with Kolkata – Jorasanko Thakurbari.
  2. Idol Makers of Kumartuli, Kolkata.
  3. Bishnupur Terracotta Temples.
  4. Art Mart of Bishnupur.
  5. Here & There in Bishnupur Town.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Anuradha ,

    Nicely written…..now just think if “I relate a lot to this song” happens to almost strong emotion in our life…then u will understand how important Tagore is to most of the Bengalis. (Unfortunately young middle class Bengalis are not interested in Bengali any more and do not understand his music because of lack of understanding of the language)…..Most of translations of Tagore song does not actually touch the real spirit of his poetry (many think Tagore was not a good translator).

    • Thanks Sourabh. I, as a Hindi speaker, could understand the Bengali words and the nuances there off. So, I am sure most people in India would be able to appreciate it if they make a bit of effort. Of course it is easy for Bengalis to understand and relate. I guess what you are saying is happening to all Indian language.

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