|"R" for Rabindranath Tagore|
Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) also known as Gurudev was a Bengali poet, novelist, musician, educator and playwright, who reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As author of Gitanjali he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.
One of the great writers in Modern Indian Literature, he was born in Calcutta into wealthy and prominent family of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. Debendranath Tagore was a religious reformer and a scholar. He tried to combine traditional cultural ideas along with western thinking and provided such an education to young Tagore.
Rabindranath Tagore received his initial education from various tutors and later through a variety of schools and educational institutions. Among them were Bengal Academy where he received education in History and Culture. At University College, London he studied Law for a year but left it in a year’s time to return to India, and instead pursued a career as a writer, playwright, songwriter, poet, philosopher and educator.
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.
Tagore then moved to East Bengal (now Bangladesh) and started writing several poems and plays. Tagore wrote most of the poems and plays in the local language that could be understood by the common men. He was labelled “King of Poets” for an exquisite collection of poems. His poems revolved around nature and spiritual themes because of his deep love and reverence for Mother Nature and inclination towards Spirituality. He was also awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913 for the collection of his best poems named Gitanjali. With this honour he received a lot of prestige from East as well as the West.
He wrote over 1000 poems, eight volumes of short stories, almost two dozen plays, eight novels, and many books and essays on philosophy, religion, education and social topics. He also composed more than 2000 songs including the music. Two of them became the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh. For the world he became the voice of India's spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.
He also founded an experimental residential school at Shantiniketan as an alternative to the British education system, in which he tried to combine the best of both Eastern and Western culture and values. Here 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; and Gandhiji, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, butfollowing the Amritsar massacre of 400 Indian demonstrators by British troops in 1919, he renounced his Knighthood. Tagore promoted spiritual values and the creation of a new world culture founded in multi-culturalism, diversity and tolerance. He served as a spiritual and creative beacon to his countrymen, and indeed, the whole world.
What would I like to learn from Rabindranath Tagore?
a) Commitment to highest values of life (as reflected in his poetry and other literary works)
b) Ability to appreciate and combine the best of both worlds – Eastern and Western
c) Love for Mother Nature