Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali poet, novelist, musician, painter and playwright who reshaped Bengali literature and music. He was born in the Jorasako mansion in Kolkata of parents Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905) and Sarada Devi (1830–1875) on 7 May 1861(Bangla Year; 25 Boishakh, 1268 Bongabdo). He is the national anthem writer of Bangladesh, who generally known as “Rabindranath Takhur”. In 1913, he was the first non-European who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature as author of “Gitanjali”. His elegant prose
and magical poetry still remain largely unknown outside the confines of Bengal. Tagore was already writing poems at age eight. At age 16, he published his first substantial poetry under the pseudonym “Vanushingho (Sun Lion)” and wrote his first short stories and dramas in 1877. Tagore achieved further note when he denounced the British Raj and supported Indian independence. His efforts endure in his vast canon and in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghore-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works. Perhaps Tagore is the only litterateur who writes anthems of two countries – “Amar Shonar Bangla”, (the Bangladeshi national anthem) and “Jana Gana Mana” (the Indian national anthem).

The youngest of 13 children, Tagore was mostly raised by servants due his mother had died in his early childhood and his father travelled extensively. He largely declined classroom schooling, preferring to roam the mansion or nearby idylls: Bolpur, Panihati, and others. At the age of eleven, he left Calcutta on 14 February 1873 to tour India with his father for several months. Before reaching the Himalayan hill station of Dalhousie, they visited his father's estate (Santinikaton) and stopped in Amritsar. In Amritsar, young Tagore read biographies and was home-educated in astronomy, modern science, history and Sanskrit, and examined the poetry of Kalidasa. He completed major works in 1877, one a long poem of the Maithili style pioneered by Vidyapati. Published pseudonymously, experts accepted them as the lost works of Vanushingho, a newly discovered 17th-century Vaisnava poet. In 1877, he wrote “Bhikharini (The Beggar Women)” and in 1882, he wrote “Sandhya Sangit” - including the famous poem "Nirjharer Swapnabhanga (The Rousing of the Waterfall)”.

In 1878, a prospective barrister, Tagore enrolled at a public school in Brighton, East Sussex (England). He first stayed for some months at a house that the Tagore family owned near Brighton and Hove, in Medina Villas in 1877. His nephew and niece (Suren and Indira - the children of Tagore's brother Satyendranath) were sent together with their mother (Tagore's sister-in-law) to live with him. He read law at University College London, but left school to explore Shakespeare and more: Religio Medici, Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra but in 1880, he returned degreeless to Bengal. But due to his earlier acquaintance with Bengali musical tradition, allowing him to create new modes of poetry, drama and Music.

Tagore began managing his family's vast estates in Shilaidaha (a region now in Bangladesh) in 1890 and in 1898; he was joined by his wife and children. Tagore released his Manasi poems in 1890, among his best-known work. As "Zamindar Babu", Tagore criss-crossed the holdings while living out of the family's luxurious barge, the Padma, to collect (mostly token) rents and bless villagers, who held feasts in his honor. 1891–1895 years is known as Tagore’s “shadhona” period because during this period, he wrote more than half the stories of the three-volume (84-story Galpaguchchha). With irony and gravity, he depicted a wide range of Bengali lifestyles, particularly village life. On 9 December 1883, Rabindranath married Mrinalini Devi (born Bhabatarini, 1873–1902) and they had five children. Two children died before reaching adulthood.

Tagore left Shilaidaha and moved to Santiniketon to found an ashram which grew to include a marble-floored prayer hall (The Mandir), an experimental school, groves of trees, gardens, and a library in 1901. There, Tagore's wife and two of his children died and his father died on 19 January 1905. He received monthly payments as part of his inheritance and additional income from the Maharaja of Tripura, sales of his family's jewellery, his seaside bungalow in Puri, and mediocre royalties from his works. By now, his work was gaining him large following among Bengali and foreign readers alike, and he published such works as Naivedya (1901) and Kheya (1906) while translating his poems into free verse. On 14 November 1913, Tagore learned that he had won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first Asian Nobel laureate. In 1915, Tagore was knighted by the British Crown. Later he returned his knighthood in protest of the massacre of unarmed Indians at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919.

Tagore and agricultural economist Leonard Elmhurst set up the Institute for Rural Reconstruction in 1921. Later it renamed Shriniketan or "Abode of Welfare" in Surul (a village near the ashram at Santiniketon). In the early 1930s, he targeted India's "abnormal caste consciousness" and untouchability. Lecturing against these, he penned untouchable heroes for his poems and dramas and campaigned successfully to open Guruvayoor Temple to Dalits.

In 1932, Tagore mourned the endemic poverty of Calcutta (present Kolkata) and the accelerating socioeconomic decline of Bengal, which he detailed in an unrhymed 100 line poem whose technique of searing double vision would foreshadow Satyajit Ray's film “Apur Sansar”. Fifteen new volumes of Tagore writings appeared, among them the prose-poems works Punashcha (1932), Shes Saptak (1935), and Patradut (1936). Experimentation continued as he developed prose-songs and dance-dramas, including Chitrangada (1914), Shyama (1939), and Chandalika (1938), and wrote the novels Dui Bon (1933), Malancha (1934), and Char Adhyay (1934). In 1937, Tagore wrote Visva-Parichay (a collection of essays) due to an interest in science. His exploration of physics, biology and astronomy impacted his poetry, which often contained extensive naturalism that underscored his respect for scientific laws. He also wove the process of science, including narratives of scientists, into many stories contained in such volumes as Se (1937), Tin Sangi (1940), and Galpasalpa (1941).


Some extra-ordinary quotations of Rabindranath Tagore’s are given below:
1.    Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
2.    Our fight is a spiritual fight, it is for Man.
3.    Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
4.    The danger inherent in all force grows stronger when it is likely to gain success, for then it becomes temptation.
5.    India has ever declared that Unity is Truth, and separateness is maya.
6.    Our country is the land of rites and ceremonials, so that we have more faith in worshiping the feet of the priest than the Divinity whom he serves.
7.    Freedom is true when it is a revelation of truth.
8.    I say again and again that I am a poet, that I am not a fighter by nature. I would give everything to be one with my surroundings. I love my fellow beings and I prize their love.
9.    Creation is an endless activity of God's freedom; it is an end in itself.
10.    I believe in the true meeting of the East and the West.
11.    It's difficult to know a person until he turns twenty-five – difficult to say what would happen to him ... but it is easy to recognize a twenty seven-year old – it can be said he's become what he's supposed to be, and from now on this is how his life would be guided, (if) there's anything left in his life to get astonished.
12.    It hurts me deeply when the cry of rejection rings loud against the West in my country with the clamor that the Western education can only injure us.
13.    the religion of economics is where we should above all try to bring about this union of ours ... If this field ceases to be one of warfare, if there we can prove, that not competition but cooperation is the real truth, then indeed we can reclaim from the hands of the Evil One an immense territory for the reign of peace and goodwill.
14.    That which fails to illuminate the intellect, and only keeps it in the obsession of some delusion, is its greatest obstacle.
15.    After sixty years of self-experience, I have found that out and out hypocrisy is an almost impossible achievement.
16.    I have no zeal for life. You know the only thing that concerns me? That I have labored so hard to build Viswa-bharati, wouldn't it have no value after my exit? ... I think I have one reservation regarding death, and that is Viswa-bharati, nothing else.
17.    To enjoy something, it's essential to guard it with the fence of leisure.
18.    I do not put my faith in institutions, but in individuals all over the world, who think clearly, feel nobly and act rightly. They are the channels of moral truth.

Rabindranath's last four years were marked by two long periods of illness and chronic pain. These began when Tagore lost consciousness in late 1937; he remained comatose and near death for an extended period. This was followed three years later, in late 1940, by a similar spell, from which he never recovered. The poetry Tagore wrote in these years is among his finest, and is distinctive for its preoccupation with death. After extended suffering, Tagore died on 7 August 1941 (Bangla year; 22 Shravan, 1348 Bongabdo) in an upstairs room of the Jorasako mansion in which he was raised. His death anniversary is mourned across the Bengali-speaking world. The last person to see Tagore alive was Amiya Kumar Sen (brother of Sukumar Sen). Tagore dictated his last poem to Sen, who wrote it down. Sen later donated the resulting draft to a museum in Kolkata.

You can also see here some Rabindranath Tagore’s work in Online.


  1. Rabindranath Tagore is a real play writer in the world.

  2. Thanks to you because your article about Rabindranath Tagore is too much awesome.

  3. Rabindranath Tagore is a very meritorious in every literature sector, he is my one of the favorite poets in the world.