Rabindranath Tagore | A Legend

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His Life: The Greatest Indian Polymath

  • Year 1861 – Born in Calcutta.
  • Year 1883 – Married Mrinalini Devi.
  • Year 1913 – Won the Noble Prize in Literature.
  • Year 1915 – Was Knighted by the British Government.
  • Year 1918 – Founded the Visva Bharati institution.
  • Year 1941 – Left the mortal world at the age of eighty.

“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”

Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali writer, poet, musician and painter. He was the first Indian and the first non-European to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize in 1913. Regarded as one of the greatest literary and polymath of all time, he was also a social reformer and member of the Brahmo Samaj.

This great poet and philosopher was born into an aristocratic Bengali family of Zamindars:

Rabindranath Tagore (born Robindronath Thakur) was born on May 7, 1861, in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He was the youngest of the thirteen children of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. Tagore’s family had a large amount of land from which they received a lot of revenue.

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His early education was done at home and he started writing poetry at the early age of eight. He released his first substantial poems collection under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha (Sun Lion). In 1873, he was withdrawn from school to accompany his father on a tour of northern India and the Himalayas. This journey served as a rite of passage for the boy who was deeply influenced by his father’s presence and by the grandeur of nature.

Let’s look into the personal life of Gurudev:

In 1883, he married Mrinalini Devi. In 1890, Tagore’s father sent him to Shelaidaha, their family home in eastern Bengal, to oversee the family estates, and thus began the most productive period of Tagore’s prolific career. He loved to travel and in fact, he had set foot in almost 30 countries.

He was the Indian Renaissance man who could sing, write, paint and dance:

Returning to Calcutta, Tagore boycotted school and from 1873 onwards, was educated at home by tutors and his brothers. In 1874, he began to recite his poetry publicly, and his first long poem was published in the monthly journal Bhārati. In 1878, Tagore went to England to prepare for a career in law at University College, London, but withdrew in 1880 and returned to India. Tagore’s stay in England paved the way to his interest in the English Language.

In 1891, he started the monthly journal Sadhana, in which he published some of his work. In addition to literary output, Tagore began to lecture and write about his educational theories and the politics of Bengal. He composed the music and the lyrics for India’s national anthem Jana-Gana-Mana [Thou Art the Ruler of All Minds] and when Bangladesh became independent in 1971 they chose Tagore’s song Amar Sonar Bangla [My Golden Bengal] as their national anthem.

He was also a great patriot. He renounced his Knighthood in protest of Jallianwalla Bagh mass killing:

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In 1907, due to growing violence, Tagore withdrew from politics and moved to Santiniketan, where he resumed a life of educational and literary activity and meditation. One of his best work Gitanjali: Song of Offering was written in 1910. Tagore became known outside India through the influence of the English painter William Rothenstein, the organizer of the India Society in London. Rothenstein arranged to publish a private edition of Gitanjali for India Society members.

In 1913, Tagore won the Noble Prize in Literature and in 1915, he was Knighted by the British Government, which he renounced because of the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre in 1919. Tagore founded the Visva Bharati institution on December 24, 1918 in Santiniketan with the ambition of connecting India with the World. He used to personally take classes there. Tagore left the mortal world on August 7, 1941, at the age of 80.

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