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How Tagore inspired Sri Lanka's national anthem

How Tagore inspired Sri Lanka's national anthem

Ananda Samarakoon, Rabindranath Tagore's student at Shantiniketan, composed "Sri Lanka Matha."

New Delhi: Though the multi-faceted genius of Rabindranath Tagore comes through the massive body of literary works and the treasure trove of music and paintings he has left behind for awestruck admirers, his influence on the thought and nation building can be gauged from the fact that he not just wrote the national anthems for two countries, India and Bangladesh, but inspired a Ceylonese student of his to pen and compose one which would become the national anthem of Sri Lanka.

Ananda Samarakoon came to Visva Bharati, the university founded by Tagore in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. Influenced by Tagore, he went back to his country, then under British rule, and composed the Sri Lankan national anthem, "Sri Lanka Matha." Samarakoon was the founder of the modern Sri Lankan Geeta Sahitya (Song Literature) genre which incorporated local and international musical influences and gave Sri Lankan artistic music a new direction.

While the varsity founded by Tagore has received international fame and attention and periodical grant of money from the Centre and the state, his ancestral house of in north Kolkata has not received that much attention.

However, Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal chief minister has recently expressed her desire to convert the structure into a museum.

"This (Tagore's house) should be converted into a museum to preserve our cultural heritage for the coming generations," Mamata said.