Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Tagore hailed from a wealthy, aristocratic Bengali family whose members
were remarkably unorthodox, eclectic in their tastes, well traveled, artistic,
and ardently in favor of social reform. He became a poet, playwright,
thespian, songwriter, painter, composer, choreographer, novelist, educator,
and world traveler. He wrote virtually every day of his life, and was
equally eloquent in Bengali and in English.
In 1910, Tagore won the Nobel Prize for literature for Gtnjal,
a collection of verse songs from his vast and varied writings. Knighted
in 1915, he returned his title in 1919 in protest against a government
that had opened fire on thousands of innocent unarmed civilians, many
of whom were infants and children, at the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
Tagore was an elegant, imposing, and revered personage. He was the first
person to address Gandhi as the Mahtm,
and the appellation stuck. Although they were close and each admired the
other, Gandhi and Tagore strongly disagreed on political and ideological
Blending the best of Eastern and Western traditions, Tagore opened a
(Abode of Peace). Although it had a slow and rocky start, the school became
the foundation for the Vi'svabhrat
Universitya flourishing and unique world university remarkable for
its serenity and genuine respect for study.
Rabindranath Tagore. Gtnjal
(Song offerings). Translated by the author; with an introduction by
W. B. Yeats. London: Printed at the Chiswick Press for the India Society,
1912. Gift of James A. Healy.
© 2002 Division of Rare & Manuscript
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