Rabindranath Tagore was one of the modern Indian writers who had great influence on the social and political scene in India. He was a humanist, with universality based thinking.
He was born on 7th May 1861 in Kolkata.
Rabindranath Tagore in his younger days
Tagore’s novels which are well known today, were based on topics of social relevance, issues such as nationalism, religious intolerance and violence.
He had completely different idea about a nation.
He had defined his idea about India in his famous words,
What did Tagore mean by this word “ideational”?
India is a nation that is ideational. It is bound by invisible threads.
What do these statements signify?
India is one culturally, yet, water harnessing techniques vary across regions.
India is one culturally, yet the designs of shelters vary across regions.
India is one culturally, yet food habits vary across regions.
India is one culturally, yet clothing varies across regions.
India is one culturally, yet languages vary across regions.
India is one culturally, yet art forms vary across regions.
Thus Tagore through his concept of India, promoted unity among the people, who were a Mass of Diversity. This greatly helped in the freedom struggle.
More on Tagore’s concept about India, in our book, Breaking The Myths – Vol-1 – About Identity.
Author of Jana Gana Mana
We all know that, Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet, the first Nobel Laureate of India was the author of Jana Gana Mana, our National Anthem.
Rabindranath Tagore writing the poem
This song, Jana Gana Mana, was written in English and set to music in Madanapalle in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh in the year 1919.
Rabindranath Tagore had then come to visit his friend, an Irish poet, James H. Cousins, who was the Principal of Besant Theosophical College in Madanapalle. It was in the midst of the rolling hills of Madanapalle, along with Mrs. Cousins, who was a Western music exponent, that Tagore set the tune for Jana Gana Mana, which we sing today with pride.
Bust of Tagore Besant Theosophical College
Jana Gana Mana was first sung in this tune at the Besant Theosophical College, Madanapalle, on February 28, 1919, by the students of this College. The original hand written notations of the composition are now framed and proudly displayed on the walls of this college.
Hills of Madanapalle
Poem in the own handwriting of Tagore
It was thus the winds of the dreamy hills of Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh that breathed the tune into our National Anthem.
More on Jana Gana Mana, in our book, Breaking The Myths – Vol-1 – About Identity and Telugu Talli.
Mahatma to Gandhi
It was Rabindranath Tagore who had given the term Mahatma to Gandhi.
A Poet Par Excellence
The famous work Gitanjali is a collection of poems by Rabindranath Tagore, from, for which he received the Nobel Prize in literature from UNESCO. This original Bengali work consisting of 157 poems was first published on August 14, 1910.
The English translations by Rabindranath Tagore of his 53 poems from Gitanjali, and 50 other poems from his drama Achalaytan, 17 other poems from his work Gitimalya, 15 poems from his work Naivedya and 11 poems from his work Kheya were published in 1912 by the India Society of London, as a separate work.
Tagore’s Visit to Japan
Tagore had visited Japan between 1916 and 1917 and delivered a few lectures there on universality. Tagore held forth strongly on the concept of one world family or Vasudeiva Kutumbakam.
On his return from Japan, Rabindranath Tagore penned the book “Japan Jatri” in Bengali, describing his journeys and experiences there.
On June 5, 1916, when Tagore had landed at the Tokyo station from Kobe, there was a crowd between 20000 to 50000 strong, waiting at the station to catch a glimpse of this Nobel Laureate.
Rabindranath Tagore in Japan
On June 11, 1916, when Tagore was due to deliver a formal lecture at the Tokyo Imperial University at 4 PM, the hall was overflowing at 2 PM itself, with over 2000 listeners who had come to listen to him, even though they did not know English and there was no translation.
On September 3, 1916, when Tagore boarded the ship S.S.Canada Maru for the US, he was seen off by the who is who of the Japanese literary and art circles.
Such was the respect that this poet from India had commanded in Japan.
Santiniketan, a town in the Birbhum district of West Bengal was established by Maharishi Devendranath Tagore, the esteemed father of Rabindranath Tagore. This town was expanded by Tagore, who converted it into a University town of Vishva Bharati University. A Univeristy which reflected the vision of Tagore. The educational contributions of this university based on the idealism of Tagore, made it the first recognized university of India, by the Central Government in 1951.
Rabindranath Tagore at the Santiniketan
Rabindranath Tagore had this to say on the education system then under British Raj, which he wanted to transform,
At the Santiniketan under Tagore, the focus was mostly on Nature Based Education, and open air learning.
There was a time when Tagore used to endorse soap in advertisements.
A Freedom Fighter who facilitated India’s Freedom
Rabindranath Tagore passed away on 7th August 1941, in Kolkata.
6 years later, India became independent.
Rabindranath Tagore is today revered as one of those freedom fighters who worked for India’s Independence, through his literary and poetic works, which inculcated patriotism in the minds of the people, and also by creating awareness among general mass, by promoting education. It is due to the tireless efforts of such leaders that Indian finally gained freedom from the British Raj in 1947.