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Rabindranath Tagore

May 07, 1861 - Aug 07, 1941

 Rabindranath Tagore


  • Name : Rabindranath Tagore
  • Date of Birth : May 07, 1861
  • Passed Away On : Aug 07, 1941
  • Religion : Hindu
  • Death Place : Calcutta (Kolkata)
  • Address : Kolkata
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Life Summary


    NAME: Rabindranath Tagore

    DATE OF BIRTH: 7 May 1861

    PASSED AWAY ON: 7 August 1941

    PLACE OF BIRTH:  Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India

    DEATH PLACE: Calcutta (Kolkata)

    OCCUPATION: Writer and Painter


    Rabindranath Tagore was an eminent personality of Bengali Literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote the famous book Gitanjali and was the first non-European who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 1913.

    He was also referred to as "the Bard of Bengal". Tagore introduced new techniques of prose and verse forms in his writings unlike the previous writers who emphasised on the classical Sanskrit only. Thus, he gave Bengali form of writing the status of a separate genre altogether.



    Rabindranath Tagore belonged to Pirali Brahmin family based out of Calcutta.

    His Childhood

    Tagore was born in Jorasanko mansion and was the youngest of the thirteen siblings. His father was Debendranath Tagore and mother was Sarada Devi who died when Tagore was very young. Thus, he was raised by servants of the house as his father travelled a lot during his formative years. Tagore and his family was an active participant in Bengal Renaissance.

    His Siblings

    ·         Dwijendranath was his eldest brother who was a philosopher and poet.

    ·         His other brother, Satyendranath was the first Indian who was appointed to the elite and formerly all-European Indian Civil Service.

    ·         Jyotirindranath, was his another brother who was a musician, composer, and a playwright.

    ·         Swarnakumari was his sister who was a novelist.

    ·         His brother Hemendranath tutored Tagore and taught him swimming in the river Ganges and trekking in the hills.

    Tagore avoided formal education and increased his knowledge base by roaming here and there.

    Tagore along with his father travelled extensively in the year 1873 to places like Amritsar, Santiniketan estate of his father and Dalhousie. At the latter hill station he read diverse subjects viz. Astronomy, biographies of famous people, History, Modern science, Sanskrit, etc. He also studied the classical poetry of Kalidasa.

    His Education

    Tagore studied at a Public school in Brighton, East Sussex in England in the year 1878. During this period he stayed in a house located near the places Brighton and Hove in Medina Villas. This house was owned by his family.

    Later on he studied law at University College London, but again left the formal education at school and continued his learning independently by studying  Shakespeare, Religio MediciAntony and CleopatraCoriolanus, etc.

    In the year 1880 he returned to Bengal but without a graduate degree.


    His Marriage

    He married in the year 1883 to a ten year old girl named Mrinalini Devi. He had five children but two of his kids died very young.


    His Stint at Santiniketan

    In the year 1901 Tagore shifted to Santiniketan and found an ashram there that had a prayer hall named ‘The Mandir’. It was at Santiniketan that his wife and his two children Renuka ( died in 1903) and Samindranath (died in 1907), died. Also, his father who was 87 years old too died in the year 1905.

    It was during his stay at Santiniketan that he received 1,250–1,500 Rupees monthly income as an inheritance. The amount included

    ·         His income from the Maharaja of Tripura,

    ·         The sale of jewellery owned by him and his late wife,

    ·         Sale of his bungalow at the seaside at Puri,

    ·         Royalties of Rs. 2,000 from his licensed publishing of thousands of copies of his works.


    His Notable work

    Tagore was a Novelist, Painter, Musician, Philosopher, etc. and wrote essays, dramas, novels, short stories, travelogues, and innumerable songs.

    As a Writer:

    ·         He won the Nobel Prize in the year 1913 for his work Gitanjali.

    Tagore wrote Bhanusimha under a pseudonym. The former was a collection of poems.

    ·         ‘The Religion of Man’ was written by him in the year 1931. It is basically a compilation of lectures delivered by Tagore. This famous work has undertones of divine experience, illumination, God and spirituality. Also, in the appendix of this work is added the brief conversation that Tagore had with Albert Einstein. This small dialogue is named as ‘Note on the Nature of Reality’.   

    As a Musician:

    ·         He composed 2230 songs collectively known as Rabindrasangit or ‘Tagore Song’. Tagore was inspired by the ‘Thumri style’ of Hindustani Music. Consequently, he greatly influenced sarod maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta and Amjad Ali Khan. Also, he was a great influence for famous sitar player Vilayat Khan

    ·         Tagore wrote a song Amar Shonar Bangla that later on became the National Anthem of Bangladesh in the year 1971.  Initially it was written by Tagore as a protest against the 1905 Partition of Bengal. Later on the first 10 lines of the song were added in the National Anthem of Bangladesh in 1971during the liberation war.

    ·         He also wrote Jana Gana Mana; Indian National Anthem in 1911. Originally it was written in Sanskritised version of Bengali named shadhu-bhasha. He wrote the first of five stanzas of the Brahmo hymn titled Bharoto Bhagyo Bidhata.. It was first sung on December 27, 1911 at Calcutta Session of Indian National Congress.

    As a Painter:

    ·         At the age of 60 years, Tagore took on painting and drawing. Due to red-green colour blindness many of his paintings have strange colour combinations and patterns. His paintings were inspired by the following:

    1.       Scrimshaw from northern New Ireland, 

    2.       Haida carvings from British Columbia, and

    3.       Woodcuts by Max Pechstein.


    Theft of his Nobel Prize

    In the year 2004, on 25th March, Tagore's Nobel Prize was stolen from the Visva-Bharati University, despite high security arrangements. Not only this but many of his other belongings also went missing.

    On 7 December 2004, the Swedish Academy presented two replicas of Tagore's Nobel Prize, one made of gold and the other made of bronze to the Visva-Bharati University to replenish the loss.


    A Tribute to Him

    ·         In the year 2011, Harvard University Press collaborated with Visva-Bharati University to publish a work named The Essential Tagore. The latter is the largest anthology of Tagore's works that is available in English language. The work was edited by Fakrul Alam and Radha Chakravarthy. Its publishing marked the 150th anniversary of Tagore. 


    ·         The Last Harvest: Paintings of Rabindranath Tagore 


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