Rabindranath Tagore

MAY 9

Preliminary   > Modern Indian History   >   Personalities   >   Eminent personalities

Why in news?

  • The 161st birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was celebrated across the nation on May 7, 2022.

About Rabindranath Tagore:

  • Tagore was primarily known as a writer, poet, playwright, philosopher and aesthetician, music composer and choreographer, founder of a unique educational institution – Visva- Bharati (established in 1921) and a painter.
  • He published his first poems aged 16 under the pen-name ‘Bhanusimha’.
  • He had spoken at the World Parliament for Religions in the years 1929 and 1937.

Awards:

  • In 1913, he became the first Indian to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel ‘Geetanjali’.
  • He was the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize.

Role in the freedom struggle:

  • He denounced British imperialism, yet he did not fully support or agree with Gandhi and his Non-Cooperation Movement.
  • He viewed British rule as a symptom of the overall “sickness” of the social “disease” of the public.
  • In his writings, he also voiced his support of Indian nationalists.
  • Rabindranath Tagore wrote the song Banglar Mati Banglar Jol (Soil of Bengal, Water of Bengal) to unite the Bengali population after Bengal partition in 1905.
  • He also wrote the famed ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’, which helped ignite a feeling of nationalism amongst people.
  • He started the Rakhi Utsav where people from Hindu and Muslim communities tied colourful threads on each other’s wrists.
  • He renounced the knighthood that had been given to him in by British King George V in 1915 in protest of the violent Jallianwala Bagh massacre (1919) in which the British killed at least 1526 unarmed Indian citizens.

Incorporation of western culture with Indian culture:

  • The cornerstone of Tagore’s beliefs and work is the idea that anti-colonialism cannot simply be achieved by rejecting all things British, but should consist of incorporating all the best aspects of western culture into the best of Indian culture.

Add ons:

  • He wrote the National Anthems of India (Jana Gana Mana) and Bangladesh (Amar Sonar Bangla).
  • Between 1928 and 1940, Rabindranath painted more than 2000 images. He never gave any title to his paintings.
    • Expressionism in European art and the primitive art of ancient cultures inspired him.

Quotes by him:

  • “You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the sea.”
  • “Don’t limit the child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.”
  • “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.”

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Consider the following statements:

1. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Peace

2. In 1919, following the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre, he renounced his Knighthood.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer