Rabindranath Tagore was a multi-talented person. He was a great writer, poet, playwright, painter, song composer, socialist thinker and philosopher. Tagore composed our national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’. In 1911, it was sung for the first time at the Calcutta Congress session.
He was popularly known as ‘Gurudev’. Some people called him Rabindranath Thakur as well. He was a very curious person and was not satisfied by the formal education given by the school.
His writings are studied by people across the globe. On 13 November 1913, he won the Nobel Prize in literature for his collection of poetry known as ‘Gitanjali’.
Youngest among the thirteen siblings, Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7 May 1861 at Jorasanko in Calcutta (Kolkata). He was born in a wealthy and renowned brahmin family.
He was the grandson of Dwarakanath Tagore and the youngest son of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi.
In his childhood, he never really attended school. Tagore studied at home with the help of private tutors. He started composing verses when he was young. Tagore’s mother passed away when he was a kid, he was accompanied by servants in his early days.
Rabindranath Tagore started writing poems when he was a child. He was only 12, when his first poem was published in a magazine.
He left for England for formal schooling at the age of 17, but he did not complete his studies.
After his return to India, Rabindranath Tagore opened his own school called ‘Shantiniketan’ at Bolpur in Bengal.
His deep affection for the country and humanitarian nature motivated him to bring about social reforms in the country.
Tagore achieved success as a writer at a very early stage. He was interested in learning English, Scottish, and Irish literature and music.
In 1983, Tagore married Mrinalini Devi Raichaudhuri. They had five kids. Two sons and three daughters. They were Rathindranath, Shamindranath, Bela, Renuka, and Meera.
Tagore became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage. He started writing dramas when he was just 16 years old. At the age of 20, he wrote the ‘Valmiki Pratibha’.
His dramas focused on feelings and not on action. In 1890, he had compiled another drama called ‘Visarjan’.
His famous poems include Gitanjali, Manasi, Sonar Tari, Puravi and Sandhya Sangeet.
Tagore’s autobiography was titled ‘Jiban Smriti’. His wide spectrum of works include novels, essays, travelogues, musical plays and over 2,000 songs.
Valmiki pratibha, Visarjan, and Rakta Karabi are among his memorable plays.
His famous musical plays include Shyama, Chitrangada and Mayer Khela.
‘Rabindra Sangeet’ is an integral part of Bengali and Indian music and culture.
New phase of writing
By 1890, Rabindranath entered a new stage of writing. He started writing on controversial, political/social issues. His writings inspired people from all walks of life. He was an ardent supporter of intellectual upliftment.
Rabindranath Tagore established his school at Shantiniketan on 22nd December 1901. His school became the Visva Bharati University in 1921. The university was declared as a central university in May 1951.
Two songs composed by Rabindranath Tagore are very famous. “Jan Man Gana” is the national anthem of our country and “Amar Sonar Bangla” is the national anthem of Bangladesh.
Patriotic songs written by Tagore inspired youth during the freedom struggle.
Tagore’s works were translated into several languages. ‘Gitanjali’ was published in English. Tagore won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913 and was the first Indian ever to win the award.
He was awarded knighthood by the British Crown in 1915.
As a mark of protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he relinquished his knighthood award on May 31st, 1919.
Tagore was also a master in painting. His paintings were vivid and exceptional. By late 1920s, he was among India’s famous artists.
Rabindranath Tagore died on 7th August 1941.
Humanist and Swadeshi Samaj
Rabindranath Tagore always wished for a self-reliant India. He wanted our country to be independent in fields such as agriculture, commerce, business, art and literature. He had protested against the sedition bills of 1898. He worked alongside his sister Nivedita for plague victims in Calcutta in 1899.
Rabindranath Tagore has given great contributions to Indian literature and is definitely one of the most influential Indian writers of all time.