Rabindranath Tagore is India’s most noteworthy literary genius – he was a poet, philosopher, author, philanthropist, and freedom fighter. His official birthdate is May 7, 1861, but in West Bengal his birth anniversary (also called Jayanti) is not celebrated as per date, but as per the Hindu calendar and so it is celebrated on the 25th day of the Boisakh month, which in 2022, falls on May 9.
Rabindranath Tagore put Bengali literature on the world map when he became the first non-European as well the first Indian ever to win a Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1913.
He received the Nobel Prize for his work ‘Gitanjali’. Rabindranath Tagore passed away in 1941, six years before India got freedom from the British. It has been 81 years since the literary stalwart passed away, but his work continues to be an inspiration to all.
When India was fighting for freedom, Tagore was instrumental in instilling the feeling of patriotism and nationalism through his inspiring and moving poems.
On his 162nd birth anniversary, let’s look at some of the reasons why Rabindranath Tagore is still a source of immense inspiration to all:
In the year 1915, Tagore was bestowed the honour of knighthood by Britain’s reigning monarch King George V. While Tagore accepted the honour then, in 1919 he renounced his knighthood as a sign of protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
He is the only person to have inspired the national anthem of three countries – India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
He used the money he won from the Nobel Prize to build the ‘Visva Bharti’ school in Shantiniketan, which is a university of exemplary education even today.
The preface of Tagore’s Nobel Prize winning, ‘Geetanjali’ was written by another renowned poet of the 20th century – W.B. Yeats.
In the year 2004, Tagore’s Nobel Prize was stolen from Shantiniketan. The Swedish Academy then gave the award again in the form of two replicas – one silver and another golden.
Tagore was the most versatile writer. Usually writers stick to one genre – either poetry, fiction, songs and so on. But Tagore was so creative and versatile he has penned short stories, novels, poems, songs, dramas, verses, essays and so on. It is believed that Rabindranath Tagore has dabbled in all genres of literature.
At the grand age of sixty Rabindranath Tagore took up painting and like everything else, his art too was exceptional and many of his works were later exhibited in various galleries across Europe. It was through examining his colour schemes, which were strange and the aesthetics of the painting, which were off-beat, that led art experts to realize that Tagore was actually red and green colour blind.
Some of his most popular and relevant quotes are:
- “You can’t cross the sea by merely standing and staring at the water”
- “Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it”
- “Don’t limit the child to your learning, for he was born in another time”
- “It’s so simple to be happy, but so difficult to be simple”
- “We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us”