Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Rabindranath Tagore, Asia's first Nobel laureate,was born in Calcutta on the 8th May, 1861 and died in Calcutta on the 7th August, 1941. He is a towering figure in the millennium-old literature of Bengal. For millions of Indians and Bangladeshis, Rabindranath Tagore is, as he was in his lifetime, a cultural icon. . The national anthems of both these countries were composed by him. Tagore was a prolific writer and composed about seven thousand poems, songs, short stories, novels, dramas, musicals letters and essays in all. These are very widely read, and the songs he composed reverberate around the eastern part of India and throughout Bangladesh. In his late years, Tagore started painting also and initiated a new style of the art.
Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for the English version of his collection of Bengali poems, Geetanjali (an offering in songs). His citation read that he was being awarded the prize “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”. The University of Oxford held a special convocation in Calcutta in 1940 to honour him with the Doctor of Letters, honoris causa degree.
Tagore’s philosophy and writings were extremely important elements in the renaissance of Bengal and India at large in the early twentieth century and shaped the Bengali literature and culture in a modern, progressive mould. He founded a new school in Santiniketan (abode of peace), in West Bengal in 1901 to implement his idea of imparting education in a holistic way. he was able to use the school as a base from which he could take a major part in India's social, political, and cultural movements.