Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861. A renowned scholar, poet, writer, playwright and novelist, Tagore’s contributions to Indian culture are endless. He’s one of those artists who introduced the best of Indian culture to the west.
On his 155th birth anniversary, here are 8 reasons why the legend that is Rabindranath Tagore must be remembered always.
1. He was the first non-European to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
Tagore is regarded as the person behind reshaping Bengali literature and music. He wrote the Gitanjali, a collection of 157 poems, that was published in 1910. The English Gitanjali or Song Offerings consisted of Tagore’s own translations of 53 poems from the original version. The Gitanjali was a huge success in the west and was translated in several other languages. In 1913, Tagore became the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 2004, his Nobel Prize was stolen from Vishwa Bharati University.
2. He started writing poetry at the age of 8.
Tagore could play with words from a young age. In fact, he was only 16 when he published his first set of poems under the name Bhanusimha ( Sun Lion).
3. He has written the national anthem for two
Tagore’s compositions have been chosen as the national anthem by two nations – India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amaar Shonar Bangla.
4. He has composed about 2200 songs.
Tagore has a total of 2230 songs to his credit. His collection of songs is often called Rabindrasangit. They have been influenced by the Thumri style of Hindustani music. Interestingly, his songs covered diverse themes from devotional hymns to almost erotic compositions.
5. Although Tagore is most known for his poetry, he was an equally good lyricist, novelist, playwright and painter.
Tagore’s short stories are most highly regarded because of their simple subject matter. On the whole, his works dealt with history, linguistics and spirituality. Clearly, we cannot imagine the depth of his writing!
6. He was granted Knighthood in 1915.
In 1915, the British Crown conferred Tagore with Knighthood. However, in 1919, after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he renounced it.
7. His work has been adapted by artists all over the world.
Charulata, directed by Satyajit Ray, was a story written by Tagore. In fact, a couple of Ray’s films are based on stories of Tagore, including Ghare Baire and Teen Kanya.
Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali was also based on a story written by Tagore.
8. He founded the Vishwa Bharti University.
Located in Santiniketan, West Bengal, Vishwa Bharti is one of India’s major central government funded universities. Tagore established this institute in 1939 by using the money he received with his Nobel Prize. Vishwa Bharti means uniting India with the world. The university is considered one of India’s most renowned places for higher learning with alumni such as Amartya Sen and Satyajit Ray.