Alain Daniélou

The archives at Alain Daniélou’s residence in Italy include a section on relations between the poet Rabindranath Tagore and Alain Daniélou. Although his life was marked by many changes and moves from India to Italy, Germany and France, Daniélou left records in his correspondence: not only letters from recipients but also copies of his own to them. The archives kept at the headquarters of the FIND Foundation (Fondation Inde Europe de nouveaux dialogues – India-Europe Foundation for New Dialogues) at Zagarolo, near Rome, are very extensive. The section concerning Tagore numbers around 500 letters from or to Alain Daniélou, about his activities on Tagore’s works, mostly unpublished. The first encounter of Daniélou and Tagore took place in 1932 and their relationship continued up to the poet’s death in 1941. 


These archive letters are either manuscript or typewritten. Their content varies greatly, some very factual, without further interest, while others throw significant light on the work either of Daniélou or of Tagore. Fifty-four of these letters have been scanned. They are classified in chronological order, each index card bearing the sender’s NAME + the recipient’s NAME + the day, month and year. 


Most letters date between 1932 and 1949 and the recipients are numerous: those under examination include no fewer than 23, belonging to 5 categories. The first is that of Tagore himself. One letter and a postcard are signed in the poet’s own hand. The letter expresses thanks to Alain Daniélou after the latter’s stay at Santiniketan. The second category includes staff members of Visva Bharati, Tagore’s school at Santiniketan, or else the publishers or printers of Daniélou’s works on Indian music, the songs by Tagore in general, or specifically about the Indian National Anthem. The third category consists of intermediaries, agents or Alain Daniélou’s family members, with requests to get in touch. The fourth category deals with musicians or musicologists outside Visva Bharati, contacted by Daniélou with regard to his harmonisation of Tagore’s songs or the Indian National Anthem. The fifth category includes representatives of the Indian Government and consists of correspondence dealing with Daniélou’s work on the National Anthem. 


Three poles emerge from this correspondence: the first concerns the question of humanism at a universal level, so dear to both Tagore and Daniélou; the second deals with Daniélou’s work on Indian music; the third concerns the harmonisation of Tagore’s songs, with a specificity of a political nature given to the song that would become the Indian National Anthem. The newly-independent Indian Government (15 August 1947) chose for the National Anthem one of Tagore’s songs: Jana Gana Mana, officially adopted on 24 January 1950. The archives include numerous letters tracing Alain Daniélou’s orchestration of this anthem, as also of the National Song.


To request access to the archives, please visit the Legal Notice page.