রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর (Part-5)

Monika Jaman
Published on Feb 27, 2023

Rabindranath's novels of this episode Chaturanga (1916) and Garhe Baire (1916) were published consecutively in Sabujpatra. At this time, the change in the direction of Bengali literature is significant, as well as the change in the direction of Rabindranath's mind. The poet gave form to the biography of Balaka Kavya in the play Falguni (1916).

In 1916, the poet went to Japan. He was accompanied on this trip by two India enthusiasts William Pearson and CF Andrews and the young artist Mukul Dey. Rabindranath's introduction to Japanese culture came from the proximity of painter Okakura in Calcutta. Then he saw the great side of Japan. But this time he saw the opposite picture. So he started writing speeches on 'Nationalism'. He also read that speech in America. Apart from that, the poet gave lectures on the ideals of his education, the nature of personality, the relationship between the individual and the world, etc., which were compiled in a book called Personality' (1917).

Memorable event in Rabindranath's life after traveling abroad is the rejection of the British title of 'Knight', which was conferred on him in 1915. On April 13, 1919, British police accidentally fired on Indians at a rally against the Rowlatt Act in Jallianwala Bagh, Punjab, killing the helpless people. Rabindranath wrote a letter to the viceroy and returned the title of 'knight' after seeing this tyrannical figure of the English.

As a result of the experience of traveling to America, the poet's conception of Brahmacharyasrama at Santiniketan changed and the true form of Visva Bharati became clear. During this phase of his life, he raised Visva Bharati's educational practice from the level of boyhood education in Brahmacharyashram to a higher level of independent practice. His aim was to introduce a complete educational system in harmony with Indian philosophy and education. Along with study and research, music and painting are practiced here. On a special occasion in 1921, the poet handed over this school to the nation by forming the Visva Bharati Parishad and writing a permanent set of rules. Visva Bharati became the central university. It was at that time that Kavi founded the Sriniketan Agricultural and Agricultural Organization in Surul village, two miles away from Santiniketan, as an integral part of Visva Bharati. Enterprises such as animal husbandry, weaving, farming, cottage industry etc. started here. Apart from this, rural libraries, hospitals, cooperative banks, tube wells, industrial buildings etc. were built for the development of the village people. For Rabindranath, one meaning of Visva Bharati was world action and the other meaning was the manifestation of worldview. Based on such ideas, Pearson and agronomist Leonard Elmhurst joined here at this time. Elmhurst's financial support for the development of Sriniketan is particularly memorable. The establishment of Sriniketan was made possible by the generous and long-lasting donations of his wife Dorothy Strait.

Shantiniketan Vidyalaya and Visva Bharati, established at Santiniketan Ashram, are collectively the manifestation of Rabindranath Tagore's original educational thought. Of the three Santiniketan Ashram, Santiniketan Vidyalaya and Visva Bharati, the first is purely spiritual in form; The second aimed at students living and learning in the Brahmacharya ideal; And the last aims at bridging East and West in humanities and cultural practices. Besides, he wanted to unite education and daily life. The education system imposed by the British in India at that time was detached from life. He established Sriniketan with the aim of removing this discrepancy and making education an integral part of life. The poet associated many academicians and scholars from abroad with Visva Bharati. Among them were Sylvan Levy, Moritz Winternitz, Vincent Lesni, Stan Kono, Carlo Formici, Giuseppe Tucci, Malaria specialist Dr. Harry Timbers and others. The poet was also in close contact with the world famous philosopher Rama Rala. The ideal of the educational system of this institution is the expression of Rabindranath's humanistic unifying philosophy of life. In the article 'The Center of Indian Culture' he has elaborated the essence of this innovative educational center. He has read this article in the country and abroad. Wherever he went in India, the poet spoke of his Visva Bharati; He wished everyone's cooperation to build this institution. A few ideal teachers in Santiniketan helped the poet throughout his life. They are Mohit Chandra Sen, Satish Chandra Roy, Ajitkumar Chakraborty, Jagdananda Roy, Haricaran Banerjee, Bhupendranath Sanyal, Manoranjan Banerjee, Kunjabehari Ghosh, Vidhushekhar Shastri and Kshitimohan Sen.

In 1920, the poet again went to England and from there to America via France, Holland, Belgium. Now he wants to tell about Visva Bharati by giving speeches at various places. However, his experience of traveling to America was not pleasant. In this journey, he traveled to Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. In Europe, poets get the respect of kings. His collection of lectures from this period is 'Creative Unity' (1922). It echoed the message of universal understanding and human unity.

Rabindranath returned from Europe in 1921. The nationalist movement took a new turn in the country. Mahatma Gandhi came to India from South Africa to lead the movement. On September 6, 1921, a historic discussion between Gandhi and Rabindranath took place at Vichitra Bhavan in Jorasanko. In 1932, when Mahatma Gandhi went on hunger strike at Jarveda Jail, Rabindranath broke his hunger strike by singing the song 'Jiwan Jah Sukaye Jaya, Karuna Dharaye Eso...'.

Ever since Rabindranath started his circumnavigation in 1916, he had been preoccupied with world problems for a long time. Thinking about the salvation of mankind from the devastation of the great war, he guided his way by giving speeches in every country. Meanwhile, he composed Palatka (1918) and Puravi (1925) poetry and Muktdhara (1922) drama. In 1924, the poet went on a trip to the East and visited China and Japan. His famous drama Raktkarbi (published in Pravasi in 1924) was composed during this time. This year he could not even travel to South America to attend the centenary of the independence of Peru; Due to illness, he had to stop in Argentina. There he met the eccentric Spanish poet Victoria Ocampo. Ocampo hosted the poet in Buenos Aires. He also took responsibility for serving the poet. Rabindranath dedicated his early poetry to this foreign devotee. The poet returned home via Italy from Buenos Aires. Between 1926 and 1927, he traveled again and visited several countries in Europe and finally returned home via Java. In Java, he found some traces of ancient Indian civilization, which he identified in the Java-Traveler's Letter.

Rabindranath's next visit was to Canada in 1929. His famous lecture 'The Philosophy of Leisure' delivered there. The poet from Canada visited Japan for the third time. Between 1926 and 1930 some of Rabindranath's famous books were published. These included the poetry book Mahua, the novel Communication, the last poem, the play Tapati, Last Raksha and the ballad Riturang. Besides, he has written various articles and speeches on the occasion of various speeches. In 1926, as the president of the Indian Philosophy Conference, he gave a speech explaining the humanism of the Bauls of this country, titled The Philosophy of our People. In 1930, Rabindranath received an invitation from Oxford to deliver the Hibbert Lecture. Famous philosophers of the world have given this speech. His Hibbert Lectures were delivered at Manchester College in Oxford on 19 May that year. The title of the lecture is The Religion of Man. As a result, the poet Rabindranath was placed on par with the first class philosophers of the world.

Rabindranath started painting at the age of sixty. His practice started from the beginning of writing. The poet's exhibitions held in Paris, England, Germany, Denmark etc. impressed the art lovers. Meanwhile, he traveled to Russia. He was impressed by the Russian social revolution and their actions after the First World War. The letter to Russia is a reflection of his experience. Then he returned home in January 1931 via America. This was his last trip to the West. Later the poet went outside India twice in 1932 to Persia and Iraq and in 1934 to Sinhalese.

Calcutta University has honored Rabindranath in various ways. In 1921, he was the first to be awarded the 'Jagatarini Padak' of this university. In the 'Orange Lecture' delivered there in 1932, the poet spoke about the 'Religion of Man'. Rabindranath accepted the post of Professor of Calcutta University and gave a few lectures and created history in 1938 by delivering the Convocation Address in Bengali at this University.

In the last ten years of his life, Rabindranath wrote many poems, songs, dramas, travelogues, criticism, novels and essays. Coming to this episode, his work gets a touch of the new era. The number of his poems written during this period is about fifteen. Among them Punashch (1932), Last Saptak (1935), Patraput (1936) and Shyamli (1936) were written in prose. At this stage, a subtle change can be observed in Rabindramanas. The poet becomes more and more scientific, philosophical detachment descends in his consciousness. Poems also become brooding and meditative. The consciousness of death haunts him at times. It is reflected in the poem of Thanhika (1938). The poet's mind again runs towards human society, in the world of fairy tales, in search of people in Baul's mind, in childhood memories, in the pain of oppressed people. But on the other hand experiments and new creations with literature continued. This time he writes prose songs. Dance dramas are his wonderful creations. He transformed the old poetry into a dance; Composed by Chitrangada, Shyama and Chandalika. Nataraj, Navin, Sravangatha are musical forms of nature. The last decade of the poet's novels Duibon (1933), Malanch (1934) and Char Adhaya (1934).

In his lifetime, Rabindranath thought about various complex theories of science. His work is World Introduction (1937). The poet had an innate love for science from childhood. He wrote many articles on zoology, physics and astronomy. Acharya Jagadischandra Bose's companionship and friendship in early life fueled his curiosity towards science. The impression of a conscious scientific consciousness and philosophical understanding is evident in his entire poetic literature. During his European tour, Rabindranath met Einstein in Germany. The rhythm of the pace of contemporary science echoes in his numerous poems. Behind the poet's poems about nature, the mysterious scientific theory of world creation has emerged. In Se (1937), Tinsangi (1840), Ghavalasalp (1941), Rabindranath presented wonderful stories about science and scientists.

The world-minded poet witnessed the deep crisis of human civilization before his death. Yet he was an eternal believer in the greatness of man. In Kalantar (1937) and Crisis of Civilization (1941), the tone of the poet's faith is intact. Rabindranath Tagore's final words are the crisis of civilization. He read this speech on his last birthday. Kabir completes eighty years of service. In September 1940, the poet went to Kalimpong and fell ill. Since then his physical condition started to deteriorate. Rabindranath breathed his last on 7 August 1941 (22 Shravan 1348) at Jorasanko's house.

Rabindranath Tagore was a poet of eternal life, eternal human spirit and eternal beauty of nature. He saw death as the end of life. Life-death and the world-family appeared to him in a single form. So in his song Jeeban Leela sounds like this:

There is sorrow, there is death

Yet peace yet joy yet eternal wakes.


Sri Sukumar Sen, Rabindranath Tagore, Eastern Publishers, Calcutta, 4th edition, 1969;

Purnananda Chatterjee, Rabindranath and Rabindranath, Anand Publishers Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta, 1981;

Introduction to Rabindra, Visva Bharati Bibliography, Calcutta, 1982;

Rabindra Rachnavali, Volumes 1-27, Biswa Bharati Bibliography, Calcutta, 1974-1983;

Santiniketan 1901-1951, Visva-Bharati, 1971.