Rabindranath Tagore was born into a distinguished Bengali family in Calcutta, West Bengal on 1861. His father’s name was the Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, a well known Hindu reformer and mystic and his mother was Shrimati Sharada Devi.
Tagore received his education at home.He was taught in Bengali, with English lessons in the afternoon. He read the Bengali poets since his early age and himself began writing poetry himself by the age of eight.
Rabindranath Tagore did have a brief spell at St Xavier’s Jesuit school, but found the conventional system of education uncongenial.
His father wanted him to become a barrister and he was sent to England for this reason.
In England, Tagore heard John Bright and W.E.Gladstone speak and was highly impressed and inspired by their “large-hearted, radical liberalism.”
In 1879, he enrolled at University College, at London, but was called back by his father to return to India in 1880.
By l883 he was married. Tagore’s family chose his bride, an almost illiterate girl of ten named Bhabatarini (renamed Mrinalini), whom he married with little ceremony.
They were to have four children, the eldest was born when Mrinalini was 13. However, Mrinalini died at the age of 30.
From 1890, Tagore had undertaken the management of his family estates.
His earliest poetic collections Manasi (l890), Chitra (1895) and Sonar Tari (1895) used colloquial Bengali instead of the usual archaic literary form.
In 1901 he founded the famous Shantiniketan near Calcutta. This was designed to provide a traditional ashram and Western education. He began with 5 pupils and 5 teachers (three of whom were Christian). His ideals were simplicity of living and the cultivation of beauty.
In 1912, Tagore visited Britain again and his own English translation of Gitanjali was published under Yeats’ auspices. A lecture tour of Britain and the USA followed.
In 1913, he was awarded the famous Nobel Prize and used the prize money to improve his school at Shantiniketan.
Apart from his poetry, he held major exhibitions of his paintings in the West. He was also a noted composer. His works and his life influenced film director Shri Satyajit Ray, who had been one of his pupils.
Tagore was not politically motivated and tried to harmonise the views of east and west.
In August 1941, Shri Rabindranath Tagore was moved from Shantiniketan ashram to Calcutta for an operation.
In the same year i.e 1941, he passes away in the same house in which he was born in.
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