Biography of Rabindranath Tagore Author and Poet
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.
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. (schoolofwisdom.com). 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”.
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.
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.
© 2013 Nithya Venkat