রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর (Part-1)

Monika Jaman
Published on Feb 27, 2023

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) poet, musician, fiction writer, dramatist, painter, essayist, philosopher, educationist and social reformer. His talent as a poet is recognized worldwide. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913. He is the first among the learned and distinguished people of Asia to win this award.

It is possible to understand the nature of Rabindranath's poetry and literary works in the context of his entire life. His philosophy of life and literary philosophy has changed over the course of his life. Rabindranath absorbed all the transformations that have taken place in the world in literature, culture, civilization, philosophy and science through the ages through deep practice, constant observation and world tour. Therefore, the constant change of subject and style at different stages of his literary career is noticeable. These experiments resulted in his numerous poems, songs, short stories, novels, essays, plays, ballads, dance plays, travelogues, letters and lectures delivered at home and abroad. Rabindranath's inner sense of life was stable and steadfast in his ideals despite many changes; His creative style, on the other hand, was fluid and variable. Rabindranath is not only the poet of his time, he is timeless. His appearance was a turning point in the history of Bengali poetry.

Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861 (25 Baisakh of 1268 Bangabd) in Jorasanko, Calcutta, to an aristocratic Tagore family. His father was Maharshi Devendranath Tagore and grandfather was Prince Dwarkanath Tagore. The ancestors of this family came to Calcutta from East Bengal (present day Bangladesh) for business purposes. Due to the efforts of Dwarkanath Tagore, the zamindari and wealth of this clan increased. Raised in English education and culture and established himself, Dwarkanath achieved success in business as well as philanthropy. The role of Jorasanko's Tagore family in the 19th century Bengali renaissance and religious and social reform movements is particularly memorable. Rammohan Roy, one of the social reformers and proponent of monotheism of this era, was a close friend of Dwarkanath. Rammohan Roy's ideals exerted an incalculable influence on Dwarkanath, his son Devendranath and his daughter-in-law Rabindranath.

Devendranath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore, the patriarch of the reawakened Bengali society, was educated at the Hindu College. While Dwarkanath was engaged in business and managing the estate, his son Devendranath passed on spiritual consciousness. In Ishwar-Bakulta he became absorbed in European and Indian philosophies. Finally, through the practice of the Upanishads, his soul is settled and self-confidence awakens in him in the realization of one pure truth. This characteristic of Devendranath attracted his son Rabindranath. His father's influence on his entire psyche and practical life was profound. In his father, Rabindranath saw an ideal man, one who was devoted to worldly matters but dispassionate, a strong rationalist but kind-hearted.

Devendranath was unique in integrity, piety, sage character and generous nobility. Devendranath's influence on Rabindranath's entire life and literary pursuits was extensive. In that era, Jorasanko's Tagore family was one of the cradles of literature and culture, free thinking and progressive thought. On the one hand, Devendranath's religious practice and his family's patriotism, the sophisticated atmosphere of music-literature and art practices, on the other hand, various changes in the country brought deep significance to Rabindranath's life.

Rabindranath was the fourteenth child of Devendranath Tagore. Nothing much is known about his mother Sarada Devi. Rabindranath's elder brother Dwijendranath Tagore was a philosopher and poet, his elder brother Satyendranath Tagore was the first Indian ICS; Another brother Jyotirindranath Tagore was a musician and dramatist and among the sisters Swarnakumari Devi became famous as a novelist. The environment of Thakurbari was full of music, literature and drama. Not only that, their contact with the outside world was also close. In those large families, boys were brought up with care under the supervision of servants. Rabindranath wrote a wonderful memoir of his childhood in Jibansmriti. That palatial house in Calcutta had ponds, gardens and many other mysterious places. It was not possible for the boy Rabindranath Tagore to go far away, avoiding the rule of the servants. So his childish mind was filled with strange imaginations of the vast world outside. This desire of childhood is embodied in various ways in later life's poetry, songs and foreign travel.

Rabindranath Tagore's formal education began at the Oriental Seminary in Calcutta. Later he studied at Vidyasagar Normal School for several years. There the foundation of his Bengali education was created. He was finally admitted to St. Xavier's. But his schooling was stopped due to irregular attendance. However, studying at home continued. A significant event in Rabindranath Tagore's life was his trip to the Himalayas with his father in 1873. On the way, they spent some time at Santiniketan established by Maharishi. That first poet stepped outside the city into the great arena of nature. Gaining the loving presence of his father during this journey is an important chapter in Rabindra's life. He was overwhelmed by the ideal of his father's extraordinary personality. He studied Sanskrit with his father in a secluded home in the Himalayas. In the evening, Maharishi would introduce him to the constellations in the sky. In this way, the poet became closely acquainted with Maharishi's love of nature and sense of beauty.

After returning from the Himalayas, Rabindranath suddenly stepped into youth from childhood. From then on, his education and literary practice were largely unhindered. At that time, he had to study Sanskrit, English literature, physics, mathematics, history, geography, natural science etc. from the tutor. Along with this, drawing, music education and gymnastics continued. Even though he stopped going to regular school, the poet's literary practice continued. Rabindranath's first printed poem 'Avilash' was published in Tattvabodhini magazine in the month of Agrahayana 1281 (1874) (some say the first poem 'Bharatbhumi' was published in Bangdarshan magazine in 1874). His second published poem was 'Prakritir Khed' (1875). He read these two poems at Thakurbari Vidwajjan meeting. It should be noted that in early 1874, Thakurbari sages organized a literary gathering called 'Bidwajjan Samagam' by inviting scholars including poets, writers, newspaper editors of Bangladesh. Dwijendranath, Satyendranath and Jyotirindranath were the initiators of the Sammilani.

At that time Rabindranath kept himself engaged in studies. Literary practice also goes on at the same time. His Banphool and Kavi-Kahini (1878) continued to appear in Gyanankur and Pratibimb magazines and Bharti magazine. Bharti Patrika was published from Thakurbari under the editorship of Dwijendranath Tagore. Rabindranath was ranked with the famous writers of the time in Gnanankur Sahitya Patra. One of the reasons for this is his poem 'Gift of Hindu Mela' read at Hindu Mela. The Hindu Mela was introduced in favor of the patriotism that developed easily in Devendranath's family. The Hindu Mela is particularly memorable in the history of the discovery and development of Bengali national consciousness