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Biography of Rabindranath Tagore Author and Poet

Updated on September 10, 2016
Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore | Source

Rabindranath Tagore was a famous Indian poet and author of novels, short stories, plays and articles. He was the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

Viswakavi Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 9th, 1861 in West Bengal, in the city of Calcutta, India. His parents were Maharathi Devendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. His mother died when he was very young.

Early Life

Rabindranath Tagore was homeschooled by a tutor. He was not happy because he felt suffocated within the four walls of his home. Even though he was home schooled he adhered to a routine in his study schedule. He studied Mathematics, History, Geography, Bengali and Sanskrit in the morning and the afternoon he concentrated on Drawing, English and Physical Education.

On Sundays, he learned music and enjoyed experimenting in science. Rabindranath Tagore loved to read. He loved to read plays written by Kalidas and Shakespeare. He loved to study Bengali, his mother-tongue.

Tagore wrote poetry at the age of eight and the age of sixteen he published his first collection of poems.

Rabindranath Tagore was sent to a public school in London for further studies where he became the student of Professor Henry Morley. The lectures of Professor Morley inspired him to take great interest in English Literature. After eighteen months in England he returned to India without completing his degree.

Rabindranath Tagore married Mrinalini Devi and had two sons and three daughters.

Writings of Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore wrote poetry, novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas and many songs. His travelogues, essays and lectures were collected and published in many volumes, the most noted of which are “Letter from Europe” and “Religion of a Man”.

His most famous novels to mention a few are Choker Bali, Nauka Dubi, Ghare Baihre, Binodini. His short stories like Kabuliwalka and Kshudita Pashaan were very popular among his readers. Tagore wrote eight novels and four novellas. Rabindranath Tagore composed 2,230 songs.

In 2011 Harvard University Press collaborated with Visva-Bharathi University in India to publish “The Essential Tagore” that is the largest anthology of Tagore’s works in English.

Nobel Prize for Literature

Rabindranath Tagore started writing poetry in Bengali. He wrote, “Gitanjali”, a collection of poems reflecting on various aspects of human emotions, feelings and justice. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for writing “Gitanjali”. He was the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was also conferred knighthood and given the title of “Sir” by the British Government.

The Story Behind the Publication of the Nobel Prize Winning Collection of Poems - "Gitanjali"

Rabindranath Tagore returned to England in 1912 when he was 51 years old. On the way to England, he translated “Gitanjali” written in Bengali in English. He wrote the translated poems in a small notebook. In London Rabindranath Tagore’s son left the briefcase with the notebook in the London Subway. An honest person returned the briefcase, and it was given to Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore’s friend Rothenstein, a famous artist, got to know about the translation and requested to see it. Tagore allowed Rothenstien to read his poems with great reluctance.

Rothenstein was so impressed with Rabindranath Tagore’s poems that he asked his friend and famous poet W.B.Yeats to read it. Yeats loved Tagore’s poetry and later wrote the introduction to “Gitanjali” when it was published in September 1912 by the India Society in London. ( Gitanjali was an instant hit and became famous around the world. In 1913 Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for "Gitanjali".

National Anthem of India

Rabindranath Tagore will always be very special and close to the heart of each and every Indian. India has chosen one of Rabindranath Tagore's composition as the National Anthem of India - "Jana Gana Mana”.

Rabindranath Tagore in America
Rabindranath Tagore in America | Source

Contributions Towards Society

Rabindranath Tagore took great interest in reconstruction of villages, music and dance. He composed a new form of music called, “Rabindra Sangeet”.

He had an avid interest in Kathak and Bali style of dances. He was the leader of the Brahmo Samaj that represented a religious sect in the nineteenth century Bengal.

Rabindranath Tagore opened a school at Bolapur, a village 112 km to the north of Calcutta. This school later on came to be known as “Shanthineketan”. Shantinekatan specializes in arts, crafts, music and dance. It also works on rural construction. He also established Viswabharathi University in Calcutta.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi were great friends of Rabindranath Tagore.

In the period between 1878 and 1932 Tagore toured more than thirty countries where he gave lectures and interacted with famous personalities – Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann and H.G. Wells.

Rabindranath Tagore with Gahndhiji
Rabindranath Tagore with Gahndhiji | Source

Towards the end of his life, Rabindranath Tagore suffered from chronic pain and severe illness. Tagore died on the 7th of August 1941 at the age of eighty.

Rabindranath Tagore's works are still being read and enjoyed all over the world.



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    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 10 months ago from Dubai

      Jay C OBrien yes he was a Hindu, and he believed in reincarnation, but he also stated that he cannot satisfactorily answer any questions what happens after death.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 10 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      Did he believe in reincarnation? Was he Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or something else?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Thanks. I sing Bengali songs. I do not read music, but I feel it in my Soul. Much mehta.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      manatita44 yes he is truly a great person and a wonderful human being. Thank you for reading and yes he is deeply spiritual. Great to know that you have composed in Bengali.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      A truly great man, indeed a genius! My Teacher is also Bengali and we have done some compositions together with Bannya and Shura Dhara in Bangladesh. The Sri Chinmoy Bhajan singers and Songs of The Soul, have sung with some of Rabindranath's devotees.

      God will bless you for this great spiritual service; your attempts to make Rabindranath known. You will appreciate, perhaps, that he was a deeply spiritual human being. Hari Om Tat Sat!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      pinto2011 thank you for your visit.

      Denise thank you and yes he was a truly fascinating man. Thank you for your appreciation, you made my day!

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Vellur, this is one interesting hub! What a fascinating man. I truly enjoyed the information you provided about Tagore. What an accomplishment-to win the Nobel Prize for writing-that is amazing and what a feat. Stellor hub, Vellur. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes, his works are a legacy left behind for the world.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      cclitgirl thank you for your visit, much appreciated. You are so right he lead a wonderful life.

      torrilynn thank you for taking the time to read and leave a comment. Thank you for the vote and share.

      rohanfelix thank you, great to meet a Tagore Fan through HubPages!! Thank you for the vote up.

    • rohanfelix profile image

      Rohan Rinaldo Felix 4 years ago from Chennai, India

      I really have a lot of respect for Tagore. In fact, he is a role model to me ever since I read his biography when I was in class 9. Kudos on the great hub! Voted up and beautiful!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 4 years ago

      Its always a delight to read about people who have done extraordinaries things in their lifetime and how they have shared their talent with the world. Good article. Voted up and shared.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Wow! It sounds like this man led a full life - full of wonderful literature, words, art, music - and a beautiful family! What an interesting read. Thank you also for your sweet words over at my blog! xo

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 thank you for your visit, India is proud of Rabindranath Tagore.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Thank you for the education and history about this talented man. His winning the nobel prize is impressive and I'm sure his country was proud of his accomplishment.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      always exploring thank you for your visit. Am glad you came to know about him.

      tillsontitan thank you for stopping by. He has weaved magic with his pen and his life. Thank you for the many votes.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      always exploring thank you for your visit. Am glad you came to know about him.

      tillsontitan thank you for stopping by. He has weaved magic with his pen and his life. Thank you for the many votes.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      Thank you for introducing me to this incredible man. So much accomplished in his life!

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very interesting Vellur. He sounds like a wonderful man who loved all aspects of life, song, dance, poetry, he must have been a happy man. Thank you for writing about him. I have never heard of him, that's why i love to read hubs from people who live in other lands, like you. Thank you....

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      Jackie Lynnley, you are a great writer! Thank you for reading, the vote up and share. Much appreciated.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Interesting bio of someone I did not know either. Many of these great writers are not so different from you and me, huh? Maybe there is hope for us. lol Up and sharing.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      billybuc thank you for your visit. He is fascinating!

      DDE thank you for reading and leaving a comment.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Biography of Rabindranath Tagore a very interesting and thoughtful write up here so well written and explained.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very interesting biography. I have never heard of the man but he sounds fascinating. Thank you for enriching me.