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 the song by Baul Singer
The icing on top of this experience was hearing a Baul Singer – Sh Pradip Das Baul, sing this well-known poem. Now I have heard this song sung by many prominent singers especially those with Bengali roots. It was listening to it live in a space that had Tagore all around that it made sense to me.
“Ekla Chalo Re” Lyrics
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 a 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 rendition of the song 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 the Swadeshi section of another collection Gitabitan. Music was given by Tagore’s niece Indira Devi.
Meaning of the poem
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 rendition of the song with Do-Tara musical instrument
Personally, I relate a lot to this song. I have walked alone for 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 a new path and you must do it alone.
Video of the rendition of the song 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 cannot 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. And gives you strength and it tells you that others before you have been in the same situation.
Video of the rendition of the song by Amitabh Bachchan
The song had a flash of the recent limelight when Amitabh Bachchan sang it for the film Kahaani in his trademark voice.
So, what is your favorite version of the rendition of the song by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore?
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