Rabindernath Tagore: India’s Literary Epic

Rabindernath Tagore, the first non European to won the Noble prize in Literature (1913) was born on 7 May 1861. He was youngest of the thirteen children and was born to the parents Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. His oldest brother Divijendranath was a renowned philosopher and his another brother Jyotirindranath was a musician, composer and playwright. His sister Swarna Kumari was also a novelist.R Tagore

Tagore started writing poetry at the age of eight and at age sixteen he released his first collection of poems under the pseudo name ‘ Bhanusimha’. Tagore had travelled a lot with his father and gained the tremendous knowledge in different literatures. He largely avoided classroom schooling so his brother and father tutored him Drawing, Anatomy, Geography, History, Literature, Mathematics, Sanskrit and English. An extract of his views on schooling is :

“It knock[s] at the doors of the mind. If any boy is asked to give an account of what is awakened in him by such knocking, he will probably say something silly. For what happens within is much bigger than what comes out in words. Those who pin their faith on university examinations as the test of education take no account of this.”

In his later years Tagore developed an equal liking for Sciences also. In his poetry various scientific laws of Physics, Biology and Astronomy are exhibited which add verisimilitude and naturalism to his works.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

—Verse 292, Stray Birds, 1916.

 

Tagore had travelled extensively on the foreign lands and gained the friendship of many known literary personalities of his times like W.B Yeats, Ezra Pound, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost and G.B Shaw. He denounced communalism and nationalism and on his visit to Iran in 1932 he wrote :

 “each country of Asia will solve its own historical problems according to its strength, nature and needs, but the lamp they will each carry on their path to progress will converge to illuminate the common ray of knowledge”.] His ideas on culture, gender, poverty, education, freedom, and a resurgent Asia remain relevant today.

Tagore wrote novels, essays, short stories, dramas, songs but earned bewildering fame for his poetries. He wrote mostly in Bengali and opened a new genre of Bengali short stories. His stories were mostly based on commoners and they are rhythmic, optimistic and lyrical in nature. His famous writings are Gitanjali, Valmiki-Pratibha, Raja, Nastanirh, Ghare Baire , national anthem on India ( Jana Gana Mana) and Bangladesh (Amar Shonar Bangla). 

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