Remembering Rabindranath Tagore on his 160th birth anniversary
India has given birth to many visionaries who have made a mark on not only us but also worldwide. One such personality is Shri Robindro Nath Thakur also known as Rabindranath Tagore, a pride of our great nation. Today on 7th of may we commomorate his 160 birth anniversary .
Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj. He came from a long line of aristocratic upper caste Brahmins. He was homeschooled till seventeen. His sister-in-law Kadambari Devi paid an instrumental role in framing his character. Kadambari Devi was 10 when she was married to Jyotirindranath Tagore almost the same age as Rabindranath who was nine, therfore she acted as a companion and friend for Rabindranath Tagore and later acted as a motherly figure on the death of the mother of Rabindranath. After that he was sent to England for formal schooling because his father wanted him to become a barrister, but he did not finish his studies there instead he opted for independant study of Shakespeare’s plays Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra and the Religio Medici of Thomas Browne. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he managed the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity and increased his interest in social reforms.
He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way . Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against Jallianwala Bagh and imposition of martial law in Punjab. He also recieved the Nobel Price in Literature in 1913 “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”
Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.
Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. Among his fifty and odd volumes of poetry are Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One], Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat], Gitanjali (1910) and Balaka (1916) [The Flight of Cranes]. Tagore’s major plays are Raja (1910) [The King of the Dark Chamber], Dakghar (1912) [The Post Office] and Raktakaravi (1926) [Red Oleanders]. He is the author of several volumes of short stories and a number of novels, among them Gora (1910), Ghare-Baire (1916) [The Home and the World], and Yogayog (1929) [Crosscurrents]. Besides these, he wrote dramas Chandalika [Untouchable Girl] and Raktakarabi [Blood Oleanders], short stories such as Kabuliwala [The Fruitseller from Kabul, published in 1892], Kshudita Pashan [The Hungry Stones, published in August 1895], and Atithi [The Runaway, 1895], travel diaries, and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings. He was an important contributer to the Bengal School of Art. Tagore was also prolific composer with around 2,230 songs to his credit which are popularly known as Rabindra Sangeet. He has also composed the Indian National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and the Bangladesh National Anthem ‘Amar Shonar Bangla’.
His last five years were marked by chronic pain and two long periods of illness. These began when Tagore lost consciousness in late 1937; he remained comatose and near death for a time. This was followed in late 1940 by a similar spell, from which he never recovered. Poetry from these valetudinary years is among his finest. A period of prolonged agony ended with Tagore’s death on 7 August 1941, aged 80. Even today his death is mourned all over the world. His death can be summed up by his own quote:
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
In today’s testing times it is important to learn from the great maestro. He had famously said:
“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or i’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”
Even though the present is dark right now we need to keep striving for opportunities and something terrific will always come our way and even if nothing seems coming our way just like he said we need to make the opportunity for ourselves after all necessity is the mother of all invention.