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রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর — Gurudev.
রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর — Gurudev.
Rabindranath Tagore ( IPA: [rə'bɪndrəˌnät tə'gôr] or ['täkur]; Bangla: রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর, transliteration: Robindronath Ţhakur; May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941) was a Bengali poet, Brahmo (reformed Hindu) philosopher, artist, dramatist, musician, novelist, and songwriter who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, becoming the first Asian Nobel laureate.Tagore, also known as "Gurudev", revolutionized Bengali literature with such works as Ghore Baire ("The Home and the World") and Gitanjali. Tagore extended wider Bengali art with his many poems, short stories, letters, essays, and paintings. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and a polymath (an adept in many subjects) who modernized Bangla art by challenging the strictures binding it to classical forms. Two of his songs are now the national anthems of Bangladesh and India: the Amar Shonar Bangla and the Jana Gana Mana.

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Contents

Early life (1861–1901)
Late life (1901–1941)
Works
Politics
Impact



Early life (1861–1901) - Contents

Tagore's signature.
Tagore's signature.
Tagore was born at No. 6 Dwarkanath Tagore Lane, Jorasanko — the address of his family mansion. Jorasanko was located in the Bengali section of Kolkata (Calcutta; Bangla: কলকাতা) , located near Chitpur Road. Tagore was the son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. Debendranath Tagore had formulated the Brahmo faith propagated by his friend, the reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Debendranath became the central figure in Brahmo society after Ray's death, who was addressed out of respect by followers as maharishi. He continued to lead the Adi Brahmo Shomaj until he died.Tagore — nicknamed "Rabi" — was born the youngest of fourteen children. As part of the Jorasanko branch of the Tagore family, Tagore grew up exposed to the publication of literary magazines, in-home musical recitals, and theatrical performances. Tagore was also influenced by older brothers Dwijendranath (a philosopher), Satyendranath (the first Indian appointed to the elite Indian Civil Service), and Jyotirindranath (a musician, composer, and playwright). His female relatives included sister Swarna Kumari Devi (a novelist) and Kadambari (Jyotirindranath's wife, whose 1884 suicide burdened Tagore for years). At age eleven, Tagore underwent the upanayan coming-of-age rite: he and two relatives were shaved bald and sent into retreat, where they were to chant and meditate. Tagore instead rollicked, beating drums and pulling his brothers' ears, after which he received a sacred thread of investiture. Afterward, on February 14, 1873, Tagore experienced the first close contact with his father when they set out together from Calcutta on a months-long tour of India. They first made for Shantiniketan ("Abode of Peace"), a family estate acquired in 1863 by Debendranath composed of two rooms set amidst a mango grove, trees, and plants. Tagore later recalled his stay among the rice paddies:
"What I could not see did not take me long to get over — what I did see was quite enough. There was no servant rule, and the only ring which encircled me was the blue of the horizon, drawn around these [rural] solitudes by their presiding goddess. Within this I was free to move about as I chose."
After several weeks, they traveled to Amritsar, staying near the Harmandir Sahib and worshipping at a Sikh gurudwara. They also read English- and Sanskrit-language books, exposing Tagore to astronomy, biographies of such figures as Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Later, in mid-April, Tagore and his father set off for the remote and frigid Himalayan hill station of Dalhousie, India, near what is now Himachal Pradesh's frontier with Kashmir. There, at an elevation of some 2,300 meters (7,500 feet), they lived in a house high atop Bakrota hill. Tagore was taken aback by the region's deep gorges, alpine forests, and mossy streams and waterfalls. Yet Tagore was also made to study lessons — including such things as Sanskrit declensions — starting in the icy pre-dawn twilight. Tagore took a break from his readings for a noontime meal; thereafter, Tagore was to continue his studies, although Tagore was often allowed to fall asleep. Some two months later, Tagore left his father in Dalhousie and journeyed back to Calcutta.In 1878, Tagore traveled to Brighton in England to study in a public school there. Later, he enrolled at University College London. He never did complete his degree, however, and left England after just over a year's stay. This exposure to English culture and language would later filter into his earlier acquaintance with Bengali musical tradition to create new forms of music. Nevertheless, Tagore never fully embraced either English strictures nor strict Hindu religious observances in either his life or in his art; he instead selected the best from each realm of experience. On 9 December 1883, Tagore married Mrinalini Devi, and the couple had two sons and three daughters, several of whom died at young ages. By this time he had already come into the literary limelight with several works, including a long poem set in the Maithili style pioneered by Vidyapati, which he initially claimed was that of a lost poet called Bhanu Simha. His reputation was further consolidated by compilations such as Sandhya Sangit (1882), which includes the famous poem Nirjharer Svapnabhanga — "The cry of the waterfall".Upon his return to Bengal in 1890, Tagore took up full-time management of his family's estates at Shelidah, a green and estuarine rural region along the Padma River's tributaries in what is now Bangladesh. Tagore's wife and children later joined him there in 1898. Tagore, known then as “ Zamindar Babu”, often traveled dozens of miles across the vast estate while living out of the Padma, the family's converted flat-bottomed keelless barge (known as a "budgerow" or a Daccai bajras). He dealt with his tenants — including the annual collection of (mostly token) rents and the blessing of villagers. Tagore would also regularly be the honored guest at village feasts featuring such fare as dried rice and sour milk. In this decade, Tagore authored many works and founded a new genre of Bengali writing: the short story. Tagore wrote some fifty-nine of them in 1891–1901; many had ironic elements or had emotional appeal while they dealt with a wide range of Bengali lifestyles. Examples include Sonar Tari (1894), Chitra (1896), and Katha O Kahini (1900); his essays, poems, and plays of the time also touched on village life.


Late life (1901–1941) - Contents

In 1901, Tagore left Shilaidaha and moved to Shantiniketan, about one hundred miles to Calcutta's northwest in what is now West Bengal. Shantiniketan, a spread of relatively arid and eroded red soil of seven acres bought in the 1860s by Debendranth, was made the home of Tagore's new ashram, a marble-floored prayer hall (the Mandir), experimental school, groves of trees, gardens, and a library. Unfortunately, his wife died in this period, along with a favorite daughter and son. These losses left Tagore distraught. Yet by now, he had a large following among Bengali readers. He had indeed continued writing in these years, with published works such as Naivedya (1901) and Kheya (1906). Non-Bangla renditions were also produced, but these were often of mediocre quality. In response to English admirers such as painter William Rothenstein, Tagore began himself to translate some of his poems in free verse. In 1912, he journeyed to England whilst carrying a sheaf of his translations. At readings there, these translations moved a number of Englishmen — most notably English missionary and Gandhi protégé Charles F. Andrews and assorted poets such as the Anglo-Irish W.B. Yeats. Others included Ezra Pound, Robert Bridges, Ernest Rhys, and Thomas Sturge Moore. But it was Yeats who would later write the preface to the English Gitanjali; meanwhile, Andrews joined Tagore in India for a short period. The English-language Gitanjali was later published by the India Society burnished with a glowing preface by Yeats. In November of that year, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded due to the idealistic nature and accessibility (to Western readers) of a relatively slender corpus of translated (non-Bangla) material centered on the 1912 Gitanjali: Song Offerings.When Tagore's father died on January 19, 1905 at the age of eighty-seven, Tagore began receiving 1,250–1,500 rupees (Rs.) monthly as an inheritance. This combined with income from the Maharaja of Tripura, sales of jewelry owned by him and his late wife, his bungalow at the Puri seaside, and mediocre royalties (Rs. 2,000) gleaned from the licensed publishing of thousands of copies of his works.Together with Charles F. Andrews and W. W. Pearson, Tagore on May 3, 1916 set off by boat and embarked on an extended lecturing circuit in Japan and the United States. During a four-month layover in Japan, Tagore authored “On the Way to Japan” and “In Japan”, which were later compiled into the book “Japanyatri” (“A Sojourn to Japan”). During the tour, Tagore denounced nationalistic chauvinistic and belligerant nationalism worldwide, including that of the Japanese and Americans themselves. He would also author an essay, Nationalism in India, on the subject with regards to his own land. This outspoken stance attracted much derision from militaristic critics, but also earned plaudits from pacifists and internationalists such as Romain Rolland.Tagore’s duties as steward and mentor at Santiniketan kept him busy in the years centered around October 6, 1918, teaching classes in the mornings and personally authoring the children’s textbooks in his afternoons and evenings. He would write regarding his duties that “I long to discover some fairyland of holidays … where all duties look delightfully undutiful, like clouds bearing rain appearing perfectly inconsequential”.After the Peruvian government invited him to attend Lima-based festivities commemorating the centennial of Peruvian independence, Tagore made plans to visit both Peru and Mexico. Indeed, the governments of both nations each pledged 0,000 donations to the school at Shantiniketan (Visva-Bharati) as compensation. Thus, after briefly returning from Japan via Shanghai to India, a sixty-three year old Tagore set off for South America. A week after their November 6, 1924 arrival in Buenos Aires, Argentina, an ill Tagore moved into the Villa Miralrío at the behest of Victoria Ocampo. Ocampo, aside from being a Tagore admirer, was a French-educated debonair intellectual who eventually published the literary magazine Sur ("South"). Tagore was forced to cancel his visits to Mexico and Peru; however, he was duly entertained by Ocampo, who eventually developed romantic sentiments towards Tagore, although these were unrequited. Indeed, Elmhirst reported that Ocampo was "in a hurry to establish that kind of proprietary right over him [Tagore] which he absolutely would not brook. The more she strove and suffered, the further away she seemed to be". Nevertheless, when Tagore, accompanied by Elmhirst, left Argentina in early January 1925, Ocampo sent with Tagore a favoured armchair for use in Shantiniketan, and they remained friends.
Tagore (center, at right) visits with academics at Tsinghua University (清華大學) during an extended journey to China in 1924. (泰戈尔在清华大学讲学).
Tagore (center, at right) visits with academics at Tsinghua University (清華大學) during an extended journey to China in 1924. (泰戈尔在清华大学讲学).
On July 14, 1927, Tagore together with two companions later embarked on a four-month tour of Southeast Asia — visiting such places as Bali, Java, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Penang, Siam, and Singapore. The travelogues from this tour was collected into the work “Jatri”. In April 1932, Tagore was invited as a personal guest of Iranian Shah Reza Shah Pahlavi.
Tagore sits with Einstein during their widely-publicized July 14, 1930 conversation.
Tagore sits with Einstein during their widely-publicized July 14, 1930 conversation.
All along, Tagore had an artist's eye regarding his own handwriting, and he embellished the cross-outs and word layouts in his manuscripts with simple artistic leitmotifs. At the age of sixty, he started to paint, and successful art exhibitions were held in much of Europe. He died in the Jorasanko house on 7 August 1941 (22 Shravan 1348), a day that is still mourned in public functions across the Bangla-speaking world.When in 1912 Tagore toured the United Kingdom, he consulted with both William Rothenstein and W. B. Yeats, who took the opportunity to read his “Gitanjali”. Later, he dwelled in Butterton, Staffordshire, where he stayed with C.F. Andrews’ clergymen friends.Over the course of his life, Tagore interacted with with many luminaries — including Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Subhas Bose and Rolland. Particularly famous was the famous Tagore-Einstein dialogue that occurred at Einstein’s home in Kaputh, Berlin on July 14, 1930; the conversation’s second stage occurred when Einstein visited Tagore at the home of their common friend, Dr. Mendel. They probed a variety of subjects, including epistemology, ontology, music theory, and creativity:
Einstein: One tries to understand in the higher plane how the order is. The order is there, where the big elements combine and guide existence, but in the minute elements this order is not perceptible. Tagore: Thus, duality is in the depths of existence, the contradiction of free impulse and the directive will which works upon it and evolves an orderly scheme of things.
“When I began my life as a poet, the writers among our educated community took their inspiration from English literature. I suppose it was fortunate for me that I never in my life had what is called an education, that is to say, the kind of school and college training which is considered proper for a boy from a respectable family”.
Tagore (left) meets with Mahatma Gandhi at Santiniketan in 1940.
Tagore (left) meets with Mahatma Gandhi at Santiniketan in 1940.
Tagore's international travels also sharpened his opinion that human divisions were shallow. When in May 1932 he visited a Bedouin desert encampment in Iraq, the chief told him, "Our prophet has said that a true Muslim is he by whose words and deeds not the least of his brother-men may ever come to any harm..." Tagore noted in his diary: "I was startled into recognizing in his words the voice of essential humanity."
"The moment is arising when you also must find a basis of unity which is not political .... There is only one history — the history of Man. All national histories are chapters in the larger one."
After an extended period of ill health and chronic pain, Tagore died on August 7, 1941 in an upstairs room of the Jorasanko mansion in which he was raised.


Works - Contents

Poetry dominates Tagore's literary reputation, but he also wrote novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, and drama. In addition to these, he wrote numerous songs and composed music for all of them himself. Of Tagore's prose, perhaps most highly regarded are his short stories. He is credited with developing Bangla short story writing. His short stories are written in a prose that is rhythmic, often to the point of being poetic. However, his stories mostly borrow from deceptively simple subject matter — the lives of ordinary people.Tagore first began authoring short stories in 1877 — when he was only sixteen — beginning with "Bhikharini" ("The Beggar Woman"). With this, Tagore effectively invented the Bangla short story genre. The four years between 1891–1895 is defined by experts as Tagore’s "Sadhana" period (named after one of Tagore’s magazines). Then, an unusually large volume of creative work poured forth from Tagore’s pen. The main "Sadhana" work are over half the stories contained in the three-volume Galpaguchchha, which itself is a collection of eighty-four stories. Such stories usually reflected Tagore’s thoughts on his surroundings, on modern and fashionable ideas, and on interesting mind puzzles that Tagore was fond of testing his intellect with. Tagore typically associated his earliest stories (such as those of the "Sadhana" period) with an exuberance of vitality and spontaneity; these characteristics were intimately connected with Tagore’s life in the common villages of, among others, Patisar, Shajadpur, and Shilaida while managing the Tagore family’s vast landholdings. There, he beheld the lives of India’s poor and common people; Tagore thereby took to examining their lives with a penetrative depth and feeling that was singular in Indian literature up to that point. In particular, such stories as "Cabuliwallah" ("The Fruitseller from Kabul", published November 1892), "Kshudita Pashan" (“The Hungry Stones”) (August 1895), and "Atithi" ("The Runaway”, August 1895) typified this analytic focus on the downtrodden. In "The Fruitseller from Kabul", Tagore speaks in first person as townsman and novelist who chances upon the Afghani seller. Tagore therein attempts to capture such longing of one trapped in the dusty and hardscrabble confines of Indian urban life who dreams of an existence in the mountainous and wild land that the seller must have sacrificed: "There were autumn mornings, the time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world. At the very name of another country, my heart would go out to it … I would fall to weaving a network of dreams: the mountains, the glens, the forest .... ". Much of the remaining “Galpaguchchha” stories were penned in Tagore’s “Sabuj Patra” period (1914–1917, again, named after one of the magazines that Tagore edited and heavily contributed to).Tagore's Golpoguchchho (Bunch of Stories) remains among the most popular fictional works in Bangla literature. Its continuing influence on Bengali art and culture cannot be overstated; to this day, Golpoguchchho remains a point of cultural reference. Golpoguchchho has furnished subject matter for numerous successful films and theatrical plays, and its characters are among the most well known to Bengalis. The acclaimed film director Satyajit Ray based his film Charulata (The Lonely Wife) on Nashtanir (The Broken Nest). This famous story has an autobiographical element to it, modelled to some extent on the relationship between Tagore and his sister-in-law, Kadambari Devi. Ray has also made memorable films of other stories from Golpoguchchho, including Samapti, Postmaster and Monihara, bundling them together as Teen Kanya (Three Daughters). Atithi is another poignantly lyrical Tagore story. Tarapada, a young Brahmin boy, catches a boat ride with a village zamindar. It turns out that he has run away from his home and has been wandering around ever since. The zamindar adopts him, and finally arranges a marriage to his own daughter. The night before the wedding Tarapada runs away again. Strir Patra (The letter from the wife) has to be one of the earliest depictions in Bangla literature of such bold emancipation of women. Mrinal is the wife of a typical Bengali middle class man. The letter, written while she is traveling (which consists all of the story), describes her petty life and struggles. and finally declares that she will not return to his patriarchal home. The final line declares, "Amio bachbo. Ei bachlum" (And I shall live. Here, I live).In Haimanti, Tagore takes on the institution of Hindu marriage. He describes, ala Strir Patra, the dismal lifelessness of Bengali women after they are married off, the deep hypocrisies of the Indian middle class, and how Haimanti, a sensitive young woman, has to pay for her sensitiveness and free spirit with her life. In the last passage, Tagore directly attacks the Hindu custom of glorifying Sita's entering in fire to appease her husband Rama's doubts, as depicted in the epic Ramayana. Tagore takes a look at the Hindu-Muslim problem in Musalmani didi, and it embodies in many ways the essence of Tagore's humanism. Darpaharan on the other hand, is interestingly self-conscious. It describes a young man with literary ambitions who loves his wife but wants to stifle her own literary career as he deems it unfeminine. Tagore himself, in his youth, seems to have harbored similar ideas about women. The story depicts the final humbling of the man and acceptance of his wife's talents. As many other Tagore stories, Jibito o Mrito provides the Bengalis with one of their more widely used epigrams Kadombini moriya proman korilo she more nai (Kadombini died, and thus proved that she hadn't).Tagore's career as a dramatist debuted when Tagore was sixteen, after he played the lead role in Jyotirindranath's adaptation of Molière's Le Bourgeois gentilhomme. Tagore authored his own first original dramatic piece when he was twenty — Valmiki Pratibha (The Genius of Valmiki), which was featured at the Tagore compound. The essence of Tagore's drama was unlike anything previously produced by Bengali dramatists before: Tagore's works emphasized the fusion of lyrical flow and emotional rhythm that focused on a core idea. Tagore said that his plays sought to articulate "the play of feeling and not of action". Visarjan (Sacrifice), which Tagore wrote in 1890, is considered by experts as his finest work of drama. In the original Bengalis, such works featured intricate suplots and extended monologues. Later, Tagore's drama pondered themes of a more philosphical and allegorical dent — Dakghar (Post Office), written in 1912, exemplifies this trend, and received enthusiastic reviews in the West; it was staged in London's Irish Theater while also featuring in Berlin and Paris. Tagore's late-stage drama was exhibited in such works as Chandalika. Tagore modelled Chandalika (Untouchable Girl) on an ancient Buddhist legend wherein Buddha's disciple Ananda asks water of an Adivasi (or "untouchable" caste) girl.Tagore's plays have an equally central position in Bengali literature. All of his plays have been repeatedly staged and re-interpreted over the years. His most famous play, perhaps, is Roktokorobi, which is the name of a red flower. The play depicts a kingdom where the king lives behind an iron curtain, and the people are subjected to cruelty and death at the slightest pretext. People are forced to work in the mines so that the kleptocratic king and his cronies may render themselves even more wealthy. The play follows Nandini, the heroine, who leads the people and finally the king himself towards the destruction of this artifact of subjugation. However, this ultimate victory is preceded by numerous deaths, most importantly that of Ranjan, Nandini's lover and Kishore and young boy devoted to her. This is a play Tagore worked hard on, and at least eleven revisions of it have been located. What motivated Tagore to write Roktokarabi is not clear, some suggesting his recent visit to the mines of Bombay, some to his dislike of what he saw in the west, and some other think that he was motivated by a woman to create the character of Nandini. Other plays of Tagore include Chitrangada, Raja, Valmiki-Pratibha and Mayar Khela.Internationally, Gitanjali is Tagore's most well-known collection of poetry. In Bengal, other works — Manasi, Sonar Tori (Golden Boat), Bolaka and Purobi — also are recognized. Sonar Tori's most famous poem goes by the same name, and deals with the ephemeral nature of life. The poem ends with the haunting phrase "যাহা ছিল লয়ে গেল সোনার তরী" ("jaha chhilo loye gelo shonar tori" — "all I had left was the golden boat"). In Dui Bigha Jomi ("Two Acres of Land"), Tagore treats the plight of the downtrodden and the avarice of the rich; indeed the poem ends with "rajar hosto kore shomosto kangaler dhon churi" ("the king's hand steals from all the poor"). Sonar Tori also contains the delightful Hing Ting Chhot, comic in form yet illuminating the crippling lack of vision and knowledge that Tagore saw as permeating Bengali society: durbodh ja chhilo kichu hoye gelo jol, shunno akasher moto ottonto nirmol ("Oh yes, now all has been explained, like the null expanse of the open sky"). Throughout his life, Tagore continuously changed his poetic style. In the late 19th century, he wrote in Shadhu Bhasha (a Sanskritized dialect of Bangla); later, Tagore then moved seamlessly to Chalit (a more popular dialect) in the twentieth century. Balaka marks a start of an epoch, exemplified in the most well known of the Balaka poems:
Ore nobin, ore amar kacha,
ore shobuj, ore obhujh,
adh morader gha mere tui bancha.
Oh young, oh the tender,
oh green, oh unknowing,
hit the halfdead back to life.
Later, with the development of new poetic ideas in Bengal — many of them from younger poets who wanted to break break with Tagore's original style — Tagore's adoption of some of the new concepts allowed him to evolve his own new poetic identity. Africa and Camalia, perhaps most well known of his later poems, are cases in point.Tagore was also an accomplished musician, and his most enduring legacy to Bangla may be his 2,000 songs, now known as Rabindra Sangeet which are part of the Bengali cultural heritage in both India's West Bengal and Bangladesh. Tagore's music cannot really be separated from his literature, because almost all of it was music for his songs, and they were oftened initially written as poems or written as a part of a novel, story or play.He is the only person to have ever written the national anthems of two different nations: Jana Gana Mana (জন গণ মন) in India and Aamaar Sonaar Baanglaa (আমার সোনার বাঙলা) in Bangladesh. In 1913, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first non-European to receive this honor, for his English translation of his work Gitanjali (গীতাঞ্জলি, An Offering of Song). Song VII from the text reads as follows:Original text in Bangla and Roman scripts (গীতাঞ্জলি 127):
আমার এ গান ছেড়েছে তার সকল অলংকার
তোমার কাছে রাখে নি আর সাজের অহংকার
অলংকার যে মাঝে পড়ে মিলনেতে আড়াল করে,
তোমার কথা ঢাকে যে তার মুখর ঝংকার।

তোমার কাছে খাটে না মোর কবির গর্ব করা,
মহাকবি তোমার পায়ে দিতে যে চাই ধরা।
জীবন লয়ে যতন করি যদি সরল বাঁশি গড়ি,
আপন সুরে দিবে ভরি সকল ছিদ্র তার।
AmAr e gAn chheRechhe tAr sakal alaMkAr
tomAr kAchhe rAkhe ni Ar sAjer ahaMkAr
alaMkAr Je mAjhe paRe milanete ARAl kare,
tomAr kathA DhAke Je tAr mukhara jhaMkAr.

tomAr kAchhe khATe nA mor kabir garba karA,
mahAkabi, tomAr pAye dite chAi Je dharA.
jIban laye Jatan kari Jadi saral bA.Mshi gaRi,
Apan sure dibe bhari sakal chhidra tAr.
Free-verse translation by Tagore (English Gitanjali VII):
My song has put off her adornments. She has no pride of dress and decoration.
Ornaments would mar our union; they would come between thee and me; their jingling would drown thy whispers.My poet's vanity dies in shame before thy sight.
O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet. Only let me make my life simple and straight, like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.
His novels have received perhaps the least critical acclaim of all of his prose. Tagore's novels include Bou Thakurani'r Haat, Chaturanga, Gora, Shesher Kobita, Ghore Baire, Char Odhay, Noukadubi etc. Ghore Baire is an examination of the rising nationalistic feeling in India and the dangers of it. This novel clearly depicts Tagore's distrust of nationalism, specially when associated with a religious element. Gora in some sense has the same theme, raising a deep question of the Indian identity. Shesher Kobita is his most lyrical novel, probably more widely read as a collection of poems and rhythmic passages rather than as a novel on its own. His non-fiction includes Iurop Jatrir Patro (Letters from Europe), Manusher Dhormo (The religion of man) and numerous other works.


Politics - Contents

Tagore (at right, on the dais) hosts Mahatma Gandhi and wife Kasturba at Santiniketan in 1940.
Tagore (at right, on the dais) hosts Mahatma Gandhi and wife Kasturba at Santiniketan in 1940.
In reaction to a July 22, 1904 suggestion by the British that Bengal should be partitioned, an outraged Tagore took to delivering a lecture — entitled Swadeshi Samaj ("The Union Of Our Homeland") — that instead proposed an alternative solution: a self-help based comprehensive reorganization of rural Bengal.Tagore wrote a number of songs in support of the Indian independence movement. He renounced the knighthood conferred by the British Crown in 1915 in protest against the 1919 Jaliyaanwala Bagh Massacre (Amritsar), where, without warning, British soldiers opened fire upon an unarmed gathering of civilians, killing over five hundred innocent men, women and children.He felt very strongly about this incident and when he came to know that the guilty officer Reginald Dyer who had ordered the firing was felicitated with a purse of 18,000 pound sterling collected by Morning Post newspaper on his return to England , he renounced his knighthood in protest. He was also instrumental in bringing about a rapproachment between Gandhi and Ambedkar when the latter had insisted on sperate electortes for the untouchables and the former had decided to go on an indefinite fast in protest. He felt equally strongly that the nation could be uplifted only through widespread education. Writing of the rote-oriented education system introduced in India under the British Raj, he once said:
"We pass examinations, and shrivel up into clerks, lawyers and police inspectors, and we die young .... Once upon a time we were in possession of such a thing as our mind in India. It was living. It thought, it felt, it expressed itself. But it has been thrust aside, and we are made to tread the mill of passing examinations, not for learning anything, but for notifying that we are qualified for employment under organizations conducted in English. Our educated community is not a cultured community, but a community of qualified candidates."
These views crystallized in the experimental school at Santiniketan, (শান্তিনিকেতন, "abode of peace") in West Bengal in 1901, where his father had left a landed estate in his possession. This school, established in the traditional Brahmacharya structure of the student living together with his Guru in a self-sustaining community, became a magnet for a talented International group of scholars, artists, linguists, and musicians. Tagore spent prodigious amounts of energy obtaining funds for this school (contributing all his Nobel monies). Today the institution is known as Visva Bharati University (বিশ্বভারতী, 'India in the World"), a Central University under the Government of India.


Impact - Contents

Tagore, through Spanish translations of his works, also influenced the style of leading figures of Spanish-language literature such as the Argentinian Zenobia Camprubi, Chileans Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, Mexican writer Octavio Paz, and Spaniards José Ortega y Gasset and Juan Ramón Jiménez. The first two, as husband and wife, translated no less than twenty-two of Tagore's books between 1914 and 1922. Jiménez, as part of this work, also extensively revised and adapted such works as Tagore's The Crescent Moon. Indeed, during this time, Jiménez developed the now-heralded innovation of poesia desnuda ( Spanish language: "naked poetry"). Meanwhile, Ortega y Gasset wrote that "Tagore's wide appeal [could be because] he speaks of longings for perfection that we all have .... Tagore awakens a dormant sense of childish wonder, and he saturates the air with all kinds of enchanting promises for the reader, who ... pays little attention to the deeper import of Oriental mysticism". Indeed, Tagore's works were — alongside works by Dante Alighieri, Miguel de Cervantes, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Plato, and Leo Tolstoy — published in free editions around 1920. Modern remnants of a once widespread Latin American reverence of Tagore were discovered, for example, by an astonished Salman Rushdie during a visit in Nicaragua.One of Tagore's most notable legacies is his denunciation of nationalism, which he perceived — in the shadows of the two world wars — as among the most significant threats faced by humanity. "A nation," he wrote, "... is that aspect which a whole population assumes when organized for a mechanical purpose", a purpose often associated with a "selfishness" that "can be a grandly magnified form" of personal selfishness. During his extensive travels, he formed a vision of East-West unity. Subsequently, he was shocked by the rising nationalism found in Germany and other nations prior to the World War II. Tagore thus delivered a series of lectures on nationalism; these were well-received throughout much of Europe — but not so much in the United States or Japan. However, among the Bangla-speaking people of West Bengal and Bangladesh, his literary legacy is prime in influencing Bengali artistic and cultural life.
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