Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindra Nath Tagore are two Indians who are equally well known in India and abroad. His father Maharishi Davendra Nath and grandfather Dawarika Dass were landlords who were addressed as ‘Thakur’.

The term was later anglicised as Tagore. Rabindra Nath Tagore was born in Jorasanko in Calcutta on 8th May, 1861. His mother’s name was Sharda Devi. He was the youngest of fourteen brothers and sisters.

Rabindra Nath Tagore is the most famous man of words that modern Indian has produced so far. He was many things rolled into one. He was a novelist, playwright, painter, philosopher, educationist, freedom fighter and an actor. But above all he was a poet. His position as a world poet in now universally recognized through the English translations of some of his writings.

Generally he was considered to be only a religious poet. No doubt he was a great religious poet, perhaps one of the greatest that the world has ever produced. But at the same time he was a nature poet, a love poet, a patriotic poet and a poet of childhood. But above all he was a maker of songs. On 13th November, 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his collection of well known poems named Geetanjali.


Rabindranath’s childhood was not very happy. He lost his mother when he was very young. He could not meet or speak to his father frequently as the latter was pre-occupied with his own pursuits. Rabindra Nath could not develop love for schooling. He hated authority and coercion. Therefore, he was allowed to study at home. He was, in fact, not very much interested in private lessons either. He was too independent, too sensitive and too dreamy to fall into traditional ruts.

Rabindra Nath Tagore was a voluminous writer. Out of eighty years that he lived, he did his literary work for seventy years. It is so because he started writing poems as a chi Id of eight and he continued it until his death.

His literary production was vast and varied. Poems, songs, dramas, short stories, novels, letters, diaries, sermons, addresses and essays of various kinds flowed from his pen. He wrote on all kinds of subjects-politics, religion, education, social reform, literary English books, whether translations or original works, form only a very small part of his writings.

Though Rabindra Nath Tagore learnt to rite in English rather late, he was able to achieve a style of his own which is beautifully distinct. It is also very surprising that, though he started painting at a very old age yet he achieved an individuality of style in this art.


His father was a great traveler. He took the boy with him on his wanderings. During these journeys he developed love for fields. He also developed love for simple peasant folk. He enjoyed nature. He enjoyed the sights and sounds that these wanderings offered to him.

Rabindra Nath Tagore had great love for humanity Love for mankind was the very corner-stone of his religion. He loved mother earth more than the fabled heaven. Man was the measure of all things for him. He once said, “If there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing.” He denounced the aggressive nationalism of the West. He deemed it a crime against humanity.

Tagore’s love for humanity was the outcome of his spirituality. His love for mankind was only the obverse of his love for God. He was a mystical poet, he sang of man and nature, life and death, love and beauty and their relations to the infinite spirit. A critic has said, “Perhaps no living poet was more religious, and no man of religion was more poetical than Tagore.” In fact, Upanishads and the teachings of the Buddha played a great part in shaping his spiritual life.

Besides our National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’, Tagore gave us his famous Gitanjali, Sonar Tari, Puravi, The cycle of the spring, The Evening Songs and the Morning Songs. Among his famous novels are: Gora, The Wreck, Raja and Rani, Mukt Dhara, Raja Rishi, Nauka Dubi and Binodini Kabuli Wallah and Kshudita Pashan are two of famous stories.


He was opposed to the foreign rule. He strongly disliked the slavish mentality of the Indian politicians of his time. He wanted Indians to be self-reliant and proud of their cultural heritage.

He spent the entire money that he got from the Nobel Prize on Shantiniketan. This is his great gift to the people at large and also his most enduring memorial. He wanted to bring the East and the West closer to each other. Shantiniketan later on developed into Vishvabharti University.

He was honoured with the title of ‘Sir’. But in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, he returned the title in 1919. The great ‘Maker of Songs’ breathed his last on 8th August, 1941. His death was widely mourned throughout the world. But he lives forever in his lofty ideas:

Where the mind is without fear and where the head is held high.


In that heaven of freedom, O Lord! Let my country awake.