Rabindranath Tagore was the first ever Indian poet and writer to have been honoured with Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his collection of poems ‘Gitanjali’ . He was a poet, a dramatist, a novelist, a short story writer, an essayist and a great educationist. He had a dream of establishing an educational institution from primary to higher education in the lap of nature on the pattern of Gurukul Ashramas of the ancient-times. He realised his dream by founding an open air school by the name of Shanti Niketan at Bolepur in West Bengal which has now developed into Vishwa Bharti University. Many of the famous personalities, in the field of politics, literature, films, etc., received their education here. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi met Tagore whom Gandhi addressed as Gurudev and Tagore addressed Gandhi as ‘Mahatma’.
Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 6, 1861. He was the youngest son of Maharishi Devendranath Tagore who was a great thinker of Bengal. His mother was a noble lady of high ideals. For education, he was sent to a school but he did not like it for the boys there were not allowed to play. Reading without playing or mental work without physical exercise was meaningless to him. So he left school and received his early education at home. At the age of sixteen he went to England and there he attended lectures on English literature. He also studied some plays of William Shakespeare. He came in contact with literary personalities like W.B. Yeats.
Tagore came back from England and at the age of 24 took charge of his father’s estates. In 1901, when he was 40, he founded a school at Bolepur which later developed into the Vishwa Bharti University. There is hardly a form of literature which Tagore has left untouched and which he has not adorned by his writings. His work is marked by religious spirit and a keen appreciation of the landscape of Bengal. Tagore also played a notable part in the struggle for independence.
Of Tagore’s works the best known is ‘Gitanjali’ (1912) for which he was awarded Nobel Prize. Among his other works are The Gardener (1913), The Crescent Moon (1913), Fruit Gathering(l916), The Post Office (1914), Sacrifice (1917), Red Oleanders (1925), The Home and the Word (1919), The Wreck (1921), Gora (1924), Hungry Stones and Other Stories (1918), Mashi and Other Stories (1918), My Reminiscences (1917) and My Boyhood Days (1940). Tagore wrote mostly in Bengali but he also wrote in English and translated into English some of his own writings.
Tagore is one of the greatest poets of the modern age. He was a great patriot too. He renounced title of Knighthood (‘Sir’) as a protest against the massacre of Jalian wala Bagh. He did his best to serve his country in his own way. He was widely read and appreciated. He breathed his last in 1941.
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