Rabindranath Thakur’s ” Vijaya”

Victoria Ocampo

Rabindranath Thakur dedicated his ” Purabi” to Vijaya which he called to Argentinean poet and columnist, Victoria Ocampo.

Rabindranath and Victoria Ocampo

In 1924, when Rabindranath Tagore fell ill en route to Peru, he was forced to disembark in Buenos Aires. This sudden break in the journey, opened a new vista for Tagore. He was to meet Victoria Ocampo with whom a new relation would open up soon. Victoria received Tagore and took him to her family estate at San Isidro in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. The poet spent the next two months recuperating in a garden villa overlooking the River Plate in San Isidro. Ocampo, then 34, was enamoured after reading Andre Gide’s French translation of Tagore’s Gitanjali. For her, Tagore was an idol. She looked after him with the diligence of a devoted admirer. It was during this time that the two authors, it is said, developed a very emotional but platonic relationship and started corresponding and exchanging gifts after they met.

Victoria Ocampo

It was a subtle affair, a platonic love, born on the banks of the river Plata.They spent together two unforgettable months in 1924 at the villa Miralrio of Victoria with a view of the river,in San Isidro on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The river Plata was flowing quietly overhearing their light conversation and heavy breathing. The famous Tipa tree in the garden of the house was bending and crouching …listening to the silence of the couple who used to sit under its shade.He called his muse Bijaya ( victoria ).

One third of his Purabi poems are said to be inspired by this Argentine angel.

Here is a poem

” Exotic blossom, I whispered again in your ear

What is your language dear

you smiled and shook your head

and the leaves murmurred instead ”

Tagore in Argentina with Victoria Ocampo

He thought, “he had received ‘a woman’s love’, the kind of love he had been hoping for a long time to ‘deserve’ the love that alleviates a man’s inner loneliness and is like a’ supply of water’ in his journey across a desert.” This was reflected in his poem Shesh Basanth (the last spring) which he wrote on November 21 during his stay as the guest of Ocampo.

While walking on my solitary way

I met you at the dusk of nightfall

I was about to ask you take my hand

When I gazed at your face and was afraid.

For I saw there the glow of the fire that lay asleep

In the deep of your heart’s dark silence

The poet and the Vijaya

Ocampo appeared to be distinctly different from them because of her depth of thought, deep spiritual inclination and high level of intellectual capability that enabled her to understand Tagore much more closely than the other females Tagore had been in contact with. The feminine charms and affections of other females around him had certainly helped Tagore considerably to overcome loneliness and inspired him to go ahead with relentless creative activities, but none could give him the level of intellectual and spiritual satisfaction like Victoria Ocampo. The memory of her company at San Isidro, and continuous correspondence with her, went on inspiring Tagore to new levels of creative activities. Her memory was subtly reflected in many of Tagore’s poems written after his Argentine venture. In three poems (Atithi, Ashanka and Shesh Basanta), written later on, Tagore addressed Ocampo although her name was not explicitly mentioned.