Rabindranath Tagore. Pic/AFP
On the 156th birth anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore today, here are some interesting and lesser known facts on the life and times of this finest poet.
Rabindranath Tagore, who was fondly called as Gurudev, was born in the Jorasanko mansion in Kolkata to parents Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. He was educated at home and at seventeen was sent to England for formal schooling. In the later years, in addition to his literary activities, he managed the family estates which brought him into close touch with common people and increased his interest in social reforms.
In 1913, he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
His compositions were chosen by two nations as their national anthems, India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla.
Among his volumes of poetry, the finest are Manasi (1890), Sonar Tari (1894), Gitanjali (1910), and Balaka (1916) and plays such as Raja (1910), Dakghar (1912), Achalayatan (1912), Muktadhara (1922) and Raktakaravi (1926). He authored several volumes of short stories and a number of novels, among them Gora (1910), Ghare-Baire (1916), and Yogayog (1929) are his best-known works. Besides these, he wrote musical dramas, dance dramas, essays of all types, travel diaries, and two autobiographies, the second one shortly before his death in 1941.
It is surprising that he only started as a painter in last 17 years of his life. His dream to be a painter was eternal but initially, he believed he wasn't "good enough".
Gurudev was a prolific composer with 2,230 songs to his credit, known as 'Rabindrasangit'. Not many are familiar that the celebrated veteran Bollywood actress Sharmila Tagore is his distant relative.
The university town of Santiniketan shot to global prominence as a cultural centre as well as the place where Rabindranath penned most of his literary works and where music, art and literature amalgamated. He founded Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan in 1921 drawing scholars from all over the world.
On the 152nd birth anniversary of Tagore, the Government of India announced that his entire literary work will be available online as Bichitra, which will be an online electronic variorum to aid readers in accessing all his works including manuscripts and different editions in form of digital prints, available in both Bengali as well as English.