Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Nobel prize-winning Bengali poet, author, songwriter, philosopher, artist, and educator wrote “Gitanjali” (1912);
A humanitarian and social and religious reformer, Tagore came to dislike the British Raj ruling over his people although he was caught between their culture and that of his own peoples’. As a patriot, he composed the music and lyrics for India’s national anthem “Jana-Gana-Mana” [Thou Art the Ruler of All Minds] and when Bangladesh became independent in 1971 they chose Tagore’s song “Amar Sonar Bangla” [My Golden Bengal] as its national anthem. With his flowing white beard, robes and riveting brown eyes, the famous polymath is fondly remembered and esteemed for his hundreds of poems and songs popularly known as Rabindrasangeet; his vast collection of paintings and drawings; and the various dramas, novels, essays, operas, short stories, travel diaries, correspondence, and autobiographies that he wrote. Tagore’s life and works have made him a cultural icon, studied the world over even into the 21st Century.
Rabindranath Tagore was born on 7 May 1861 in Jorasanko (Tagore House), Calcutta, India. He was the fourteenth child born to Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) and Sarada Devi (d.1875). Tagore’s grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore (1794-1846) was a social reformer and wealthy landowner. The Tagores were a progressive family, their home a hub of social activity and culture; they often hosted theatrical and musical performances in their mansion. Many of the Tagore children became respected authors, poets, musicians, and Civil Servants. Devendranath traveled widely during his career and was a proponent of the Brahma Samaj faith, a social and religious movement also known as the Bengal Renaissance; Rabindranath too would embrace its philosophy.
Although there were times spent swimming in the Ganges River and hiking, Tagore’s childhood days were mostly confined to the family estate under the watchful eye of, sometimes...