Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore
was not only a greatest Bengali poet, novelist, educator but was a greatest writer in modern Indian
literature. He was an early advocate of Independence for India. Rabindranath Tagore
won the Nobel Prize for Literature (GITANJALI: SONG OFFERINGS, about divine and human
love) in 1913. Two years later he was awarded the knighthood, but he surrendered it in 1919 as a protest against the Massacre of the
Jalianabagh at Amritsar, where British troops killed some 400 Indian demonstrators.
In 1901 Tagore founded a school outside Calcutta, Visva- Bharati, which was dedicated to emerging Western and Indian philosophy and education. It become a university in 1921
At the age of 70 Tagore took up painting. He was also a composer, settings hundreds of poems to music known as Rabindra
Sangeet. Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet, writer, philosopher was the ambassador of Indian culture to the rest of the world.
He was a social reformer, patriot and above all, a great
humanitarian and philosopher. India and Bangladesh - the national anthems of these two countries are taken from his composition.
Rabindranath Tagore was born on Tuesday, 7th May 1861 in a wealthy family in Calcutta (Now Kolkata) at 6,
Dwarakanath Thakur Lane, Calcutta. He was the ninth son of Debenadranath and Sarada Devi. His grand father Dwarakanath Tagore
was a rich landlord and social reformer. Even though he was from a very wealthy family, in those days his Jorasanko house
was a center of culture. He was first admitted into Oriental Seminary School. But he did not like the conventional education and started home study under
several teachers. Later he went to Normal School, Bengal Academy and St Xaviers School, but all lasted for brief periods. At the age of 7
he wrote a rhyme. Went to visit Northern part of India and Himalayas with his father.
In 1874, his first published poem Abhilaash(Desire) was published anonymously in a magazine called Tattobodhini. Poet's
mother Sarada Devi expired in 1875 when he was 13 years old. For the
first time a poem with credit to his name was published in Amritabazar Patrika (weekly). He translated Macbeth into Bengali
verse which was later published in Bharati magazine. Following the style of Vaisnava Padalvali (verses), he wrote Bhanusingher Padavali
under the penname of Bhanusingha. In the beginning of his literary works, there was impact of his elder brother Jyotirindranath and his
wife Kadambari Devi. Two magazines, Bharati and Balaka - were used to get published from the Tagore house and he
regularly contributed to those.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)
1861: Born in Calcutta.
1873: Publishes first poem.
1885: First collection of his songs Rabichchaya.
1901: Santiniketan is founded.
1911: Publishes Gitanjali.
1912: Wote Jana Gana Mana
1913: Wins Nobel Prize.
1918: Founded Visva-bharati University.
1919: Returns knighthood in protest against
Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
1941: Dies in Calcutta.
with Albert Einstein. Tagore and Einstein met through a common friend, Dr. Mendel. Tagore visited Einstein at his residence at Kaputh in the suburbs of Berlin
on July 14, 1930, and Einstein returned the call and visited Tagore at the Mendel home.
His first book of poems, Kabi Kahini ( tale of a poet ) was published in 1878. In the
same year, he sailed to England with his brother Satyandranath. He got admitted into the University College in England and started studying
under Prof Henry Morley. Retuned to India on 1880. Wrote two musical plays - Valmiki Prativa (The Genius of Valmiki) and Kalmrigaya (The
Fatal Hunt ). Acted in these plays too. Left for England in 1881, butchanged his mind and came back from Madras and went to Mussorie to
meet his father. In 1882, he wrote Sandhya Sangeet ( Evening Songs ) which impressed Bankim Chandra Chatterjee so much that he conferred
his garland on Tagore in a function. Wrote a famous poem - Nirjharer
Swapnabhanga ( The Fountain Awakened from its Dream )
Marriage and Political Life
In 1883 at the age of 22.Rabindranath Tagore married to Mrinalini
Devi. His first child (daughter) Madhurilata was born in 1886. In 1890 daughter Renuka was born.
He continued writing in different forms. In 1884 he wrote a collection of poem - Kori-o-kamal (Sharp and
Flats), a musical drama - Mayar Khela, Raja-o-rani ( King and Queen) and Visarjan (Sacrifice).
In 1890, Tagore went to Shilaidaha (now in Bangladesh) to look after the family estate. Here, he was
influenced by the natural beauty and simple but elegant life of rural Bengal. Attended session of Indian National
Congress and sang the song Vandemataram on the opening day. Wrote famous dance/musical drama -
Chitrangada. His youngest daughter Mira was born in 1892. In 1894 , wrote famous collection poems - Sonar Tari (The Golden Boat). Son Samindra was born in 1894.
In 1901 he took the editorial charge of the magazine
Bangadarshan. Got involved with freedom fighting movement. Established Bolpur Bramhacharyaashram at
Shantiniketan, a school in the pattern of old Indian Ashrama. In 1902, his wife Mrinalini died. Composed Smaran ( In Memoriam ), a collection of poems, dedicated to his wife. Within six months from
this incident his daughter Renuka expired. The demise of father Debendranath happened in 1905. He strongly protested Lord Curzon's decision to divide Bengal on the basis of religion.
He wrote a number of national songs and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan ceremony, symbolizing the underlying unity in
undivided Bengal. In 1907 he shocked by the death of son Samindra.
Nobel prize for literature
In 1909 started writing Gitanjali from Silaidaha. Composed Janaganamana in 1911 which later was selected as the national anthem of India.
In 1912, journeyed to Europe for the second time. On the journey to London he translated some of his poems/songs from Gitanjali to English. He met William
Rothenstein, a noted British painter, in London. Rothenstien arranged a reading in his house where Yeats read Tagore's poems in front of a distinguished
audience comprising of Ezra Pound, May Sinclair, Ernest Rhys etc. Tagore sailed for America
from England. Reached New York, came to Urbana, Illinois, gave a lecture and then went to Chicago. In the mean time, India Society of London published Gitanjali
containing 103 translated poems of Tagore.
Rabindranath Tagore with Mahatma Gandhi.
Tagore's influence over Mahatma Gandhi and the founders of modern India was enormous.
GITANJALI: SONG OFFERINGS, about
divine and human love.
Yeats wrote the introduction for this book and Rothenstein did a pencil sketch for the cover page. The
book created a sensation in English literary world. Tagore was traveling America then. Delivered lectures in Rochester, Boston,
Harvard University. In 13th November of 1913, the Nobel prize for literature has been awarded to Tagore for
Gitanjali. On 26th December, University of Calcutta conferred on him the honorary degree of "D.Litt.".
Tagore received Knighthood in 1915.
Rabindranath Tagore visited to Japan in 1916, speech at Rangoon, Singapore,
Hongkong. In Sep 1916, got invitation from different institutions in USA and lectured at Portland, San Fransisco, Los
Angeles, Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Iowa, Milwakee, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston.
In 1918, his eldest daughter Madhurilata passed away. In 1919, the poet started a tour to South India. Delivered lectures on different topics at Bangalore,
Mysroe, Ooty, Coimbatore, Palghat, Salem, Trichy, Sirangapatnam, Kumbakonam, Tanjore and Madras. At Madras spoke as
Chancellor of National University, founded by Annie Besant and stayed as a guest of Mr. Besant at Adyar.
In 1919, he returned his Knighthood in protest of the massacre at Jalianwalabag, Punjab. In 1920 he went to Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram and visited Ahmedabad, Surat and
Bombay. In 1920 he toured again in England and Paris, Hague , Brussells and delivered lectures at New York, Princeton, Chicago and Europe.
1n 1921, established Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University.
Mahatma Gandhi visited Santiniketan in poet's birthday. In 1926 visited Dacca, Moimonsingha, Comilla (all now in Bangladesh). Visited Europe again and this time went to Norway, Sweden, Denmark,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece and Egypt. In 1927 went to
Malaysia, Java, Thailand. In 1929 Canada. In 1930 Russia. In 1932 Iran, Iraq. And in 1934 to
Mahtama Gandhi and Tagore
Gandhi and Tagore were great friends, and the poet called Gandhi ‘Mahatma’ (which meant ‘great soul’). Gandhi and his wife Kasturba had visited and stayed at the Shantiniketan.
But the poet did not agree with Gandhi in his methods of the civil disobedience movement and the boycott of foreign goods. Tagore also opposed Gandhi’s charkha
movement aimed at hand-spun and hand-woven clothes.
In 1913 Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for his book of 103 verses, Gitanjali, (published in English
translation in 1912 with an introduction from W.B Yates) and this brought world-wide fame for the poet of India. It was the first Nobel Prize not just for India, but for the whole of Asia.
Tagore wrote his most important works in Bengali, but he often translated his poems into English. At the age of 70 Tagore took up painting. He was
also a composer, settings hundreds of poems to music. Many of his poems are actually songs, and inseparable from their music.
In 1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan to honor the poet with Doctorate Of Literature. Tagore passed away on 7th August, 1941 in his
ancestral home in Calcutta, the house where he was born. Tagore died
leaving behind a huge contribution of 100 anthologies of 3000 poems, around 1400 songs, 50 plays, around 40 collections of stories, 15
collections of essays, around 3000 paintings and a unique system of music called Rabindra Sangeeth
KABIKAHINI, 1878 , SADHYA SANGEET, 1882
, PRABHAT SANGEET, 1883
BAU-THAKURANIR HAT, 1883 , RAJASHI,
1887, RAJA O RANI, 1889 ,-
VISARGAN, 1890m, MANASI, 1890
, IUROPE-JATRIR DIARI, 1891, 1893 (2 vols.)
VALMIKI PRATIBHA, 1893 , SONAR TARI, 1894 , KSHANIKA, 1900
KATHA, 1900, KALPANA, 1900 , NAIVEDYA, 1901, NASHTANIR, 1901
SHARAN, 1902 , CHOCHER BALI, 1903, NAUKADUBI, 1905
KHEYA, 1906 , GORA, 1907-09 , SARADOTSAVA, 1908, RAJA, 1910 -
GALPAGUCCHA, 1912, CHINNAPATRA, 1912, VIDAY-ABHISAP, 1912
GITANJALI, 1912 - Gitanjali (tr. by Rabindranath Tagore) / Gitanjali
JIBAN SMRTI, 1912 , DAKGHAR, 1912, GHITIMALAYA, 1914
PHALGUNI, 1916 - GHARE-BAIRE, 1916 , BALAK, 1916 , CHATURANGA, 1916 ,
Fruit Gathering, 1916 . SADHANA, 1916, Stray Birds, 1916
PERSONALITY, 1917, Sacrifice, and Other Plays, 1917 , Nationalism, 1917
Mashi and Other Stories, 1918, Stories from Tagore,
1918, The Parrots Training, 1918 , PALATAKA, 1918
JAPAN-JATRI, 1919 , Greater India, 1921, The Fugitive, 1921
Creative Unity, 1921, LIPIKA, 1922, MUKTA-DHARA, 1922, Poems, 1923
Letters from Abroad, 1924, GRIHAPRABESH, 1925, Broken Ties and Other Stories, 1925
Rabindranath Tagore: Twenty-Two Poems, 1925 , RAKTA-KARABI, 1925
NATIR PUJA, 1926 - Fireflies, 1928 , SESHER KAVITA, 1929 -
MAHUA, 1929 -, JATRI, 1929 , YAGAYOG, 1929, The Child, 1931
RASHIAR CHITHI, 1931 , PATRAPUTA, 1932, PUNASCHA, 1932
Mahatmahi and the Depressed Humanity, 1932, The Golden Boat, 1932
DUI BON, 1933 , CHANDALIKA, 1933 ,, MALANCHA, 1934 -
CHAR ADHYAYA, 1934 - Four Chapters (tr. 1950) , BITHIKA, 1935 , SHESH SAPTAK, 1935
SYAMALI, 1936 , PATRAPUT, 1936 , KHAPCHARA, 1937 , SEMJUTI, 1938
PRANTIK, 1938, PRAHASINI, 1939, PATHER SANCAY, 1939 , AKASPRADIP, 1939
SYAMA, 1939 , NABAJATAK, 1940 , SHANAI, 1940 , CHELEBELA, 1940 -
ROGSHAJYAY, 1940. AROGYA, 1941 ,JANMADINE, 1941 GALPASALPA, 1941 , Last Poems, 1941
Tagore's literary works online
In a bid to popularise Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's literary works, the
West Bengal government has launched a new Rabindra Rachanabali website which contains poems, songs, novels and short stories, essays and verses written by
the author. The website www.rabindra-rachanabali.nltr.org
will help a large number of people access Tagore's literary works, state IT Minister Debesh Das said.
It may also facilitate many students and academicians to carry out research activities on the nobel laureate as it will have a powerful search engine that
will help find other important references on Tagore online. The Rabindra Rachanabali website was launched with an initiative taken up by the
Society for Natural Language Research (SNLR), which was formed to promote Bengali literature on the internet in the age of IT communication. The research
board has also taken up an initiative to design a Bengali operating system. SNLR vice president Pabitra Sarkar said the research body, under the aegis of
the state IT department.
Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore used art as a bridge to connect the
individual with the world at large, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on
May 9, 2010 adding that the government has set up a panel to "rekindle public interest in
Gurudev's rich cultural legacy". The prime minister inaugurated an exhibition of Tagore's art, titled "The Master
Strokes: Art of Rabindranath Tagore" at the National Gallery of Modern Art in
the capital, to mark the beginning of the bard's 150th birth anniversary celebrations.
The exhibition showcases 70 doodles and paintings from NGMA's collection of 100
of the Nobel Laureate's art works executed in the last 17 years of his life.
In the last 17 years of his life, Tagore made more than 3000 paintings and drawings.