Rabindranath Tagore

Biography of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali Rabīndranāth Ṭhākur, (born May 7, 1861, Calcutta [now Kolkata], India—died August 7, 1941, Calcutta), Bengali poet, short-story writer, song composer, playwright, essayist, and painter who introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit.

Rabindranath Tagore was the youngest son 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 the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. He was educated at home; and although at seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, he did not finish his studies there. 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.

He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where 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 Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years, he resigned the honor as a protest against British policies in India.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems, he became rapidly known in the West. In fact, his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. For the world he became the voice of India’s spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution.

Rabindranath Tagore Books for Kids (9-14 years)

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1) Kabuliwallah

This is a short story about a merchant from Pashtun who visits Calcutta every year to sell dry fruits and spices. Over his many trips, he befriends a young girl named Mini. These two formed a strong bond. Things were going just fine until an unexpected event causes turbulence in their relationship. Will it crumble under pressure – or will it become stronger than ever?

2) The Little Big Man

Every young child dreams of the day they can fit into their parents’ shoes. Well, this is a story about a young boy who, literally, tries his father’s shoes on every day, but in vain. Tagore tells this story from the eyes of the little boy. He describes how growing up in a father’s shadow feels for a small boy. It is a fun read and something any child would relate to!

3) The Astronomer

In this short story, a young girl tries to catch the moon. She spends days devising plans and simply staring up at the moon, adamant her big plans will work. However, her elder brother, well, he thinks otherwise. Does the young girl hold her ground or does the brother manage to get in her way?

4) Clouds and Waves

In this book, readers follow a child who appreciates the beauty of nature – seeing the world from his eyes, as he travels the countryside. His pure and simple descriptions of everything he sees will melt your heart and allow your children to see nature in a different light as well.

5) The Land of the Cards: Stories, Poems and Plays

An anthology of Tagore’s poems, plays and stories – this book will give your children a glimpse into Tagore’s work as they navigate through a host of stories, each expressing a different emotion. It will encourage your children to connect with their inner self and introspect!

Rabindranath Tagore Books for Older Readers (15 years+)

1) Gitanjali (Song Offerings)

The Nobel Prize winner, Gitanjali, is a real work of art. This compilation of 103 Bengali poems has now been translated into many languages such as English and Hindi. Each poem has a strong devotional tone and will invoke a sense of faith in the reader’s heart.

2) Gora

Gora cemented Tagore’s place as a visionary and as someone who writes compelling, thought-provoking literature. In this book, he tackles some of the most controversial social practices head-on. Tagore hoped this book would transform the country’s social, political and religious scene. His analysis of that time is still applicable in today’s modern world, and everybody should read this book at least once in their lifetime.

3) Shesher Kabita

Tagore had hit a lull according to many until this book was published. It is a satirical novel which mocks all of Tagore’s haters. Amit, a young poet from Calcutta falls in love with Labanya, a girl from Shillong. They both share a love of literature. However, the catch is that Amit is an anti-Tagore youth who can’t stand Rabindranath Tagore’s work, contrary to Labanya, who has a deep passion for Tagore’s books. Will this rift in interests cause problems for the young couple?

4) The Postmaster

This book was written by Tagore in a period of complete isolation. Who knew this would transform him into one of India’s greatest romantics? It depicts human emotions in such a way that it will lead you to believe that they exist in parallel. It is all about the notion of duality – comparing life in the city with a village life or the belief in the natural vs supernatural. Read the book to find out how he pitches each idea against another!

5) Ghare Bhaire

This book is a collection of 10 essays and short stories which cover the complexity of colonial history. Tagore gives critiques on religion, nationalism and the historical processes of old colonial India. Ghare Bhaire is different from the others because it goes deeper and covers topics unseen and unheard by most. It is of great value to those interested in Indian literature.

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