TAGORE, CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI AND THE BHAGVA DHVAJ
Tagore's memorable poem 'Pratinidhi' ought to be better known throughout India in that it describes in lyric, that he alone was capable of, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's adoption of the Bhagva Dhvaj as his Royal Standard..The poem is to be found in the book 'Katha o Kahini', in which the exploits of many Rajput and Sikh heroes have also been described in inimitable poetry.
'Pratinidhi' begins with a scene in which one morning at Satara Fort, Shivaji finds his Guru Ramdas begging from door to door. Shivaji wonders, what can satisfy this unlikely mendicant who has the king among his disciples! So he sends his courtier Balaji with a slip of paper to Ramdas. Ramdas receives the slip and sees that in it Shivaji has given away to him his entire kingdom.
The next day Ramdas goes to Shivaji and says, "Now that you have given away your kingdom, of what use will you be"? Shivaji replies, Ï shall happily sacrifice my life for you in your service". Ramdas then asks Shivaji to come with him begging and Shivaji does so.
They then go from door to door together, with a begging bowl in hand. Ramdas then tells him that he should continue to act as king, but as the 'Pratinidhi' (representative) of the mendicant who is Ramdas. Thus the kingdom will be ruled by someone who has no kingdom. In order to symbolise that, Ramdas gives his bhagwa cloth to Shivaji with his blessings, and says, from now on this will be your Royal Standard, the cloth of someone who has no interest in worldly things.
Then Ramdas sings to the almighty, tears flowing from his eyes, "O Lord, it is you who have made me king in this world. I shall be at your feet always, please come and take over your kingdom from me".
The topical few lines in Bengali are reproduced below in Roman. Because the language is highly Sanskritised, even people who do not speak Bengali should be able to catch the meaning and the music of the lines.
Tomare korilo vidhi Bhikshuker pratinidhi
Rajyeshwar deen udaseen
Palibe je rajdharma Jeno taha mor karma
Rajya loye rabe rajyaheen
Vatsa, tobe ei laho mor ashirvad saho
Amar gerua gatravas
Bairagir uttariya pataka koriya niyo
Kahilen Guru Ramdas''