Biography of Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 - August 7, 1941)

Rabindranath Tagore was born in Kolkata, India on the 7th of May 1861 and his life came to an end on the 7th of August 1941. By introducing prose and verse forms that were new to Bengali literature, as well as using a more colloquial language, the Bengali poet, short-story writer, music composer, playwright, novelist and painter liberated it from the standard methods based on classical Sanskrit.

He had a great impact on the transfer of Indian culture to the Western world, and he was also a major figure in conveying Western culture to India. He is widely acclaimed as one of the most creative people of early twentieth-century India. He was the first person from outside Europe to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in the year 1913.


Biography of Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 - August 7, 1941)

Biography of Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861-August 7, 1941)

Also Read: Maharana Pratap (9th May 1540 - 19th January 1597)

Rabindranath Tagore was a remarkable personality, who achieved great success in many different fields including composing the National Anthem of India and being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was an incredibly accomplished artist and philosopher, hailing from the Bengali Brahmo Samaj, who was a poet, playwright, novelist, painter and composer. As a cultural reformer, he made a significant impact on Bengali art by refusing to accept the limitations of traditional Indian forms. Possessing an immense depth of knowledge in a variety of topics, his extraordinary literary works alone are enough to earn him a spot among the most esteemed names of all time.

Even in the present, Rabindranath Tagore is still remembered for his beautiful, mercurial, and spiritually significant poetic songs. His progressive ideas were far ahead of his time, which is why his meeting with Albert Einstein is now seen as a collision between science and spirituality, and that is what makes him one of the greatest minds of all time. With the intention of spreading his ideologies to other countries, Tagore embarked on a world tour and gave lectures in places like the United States and Japan.

His work soon gained recognition from citizens from many countries, and ultimately, he was the first person from outside of Europe to be awarded a Nobel Prize. Apart from the National Anthem of India, Jana Gana Mana, Rabindranath Tagore's composition 'Amar Shonar Bangla' was chosen to be the National Anthem of Bangladesh, and the National Anthem of Sri Lanka was created as a nod to one of his musical works.


Formative Years

Rabindranath Tagore, who was born on the seventh day of May in the year 1861, was the son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi and was welcomed into the world in the Jorasanko mansion, the Tagore family's ancestral home, which was located in Calcutta. He was the littlest of the thirteen children in the family, being the youngest son. Despite the Tagore family being large in size, Rabindranath Tagore was mostly looked after by maids and servants since he lost his mother while he was still a small child and his father was often away travelling.

Rabindranath Tagore was a young contributor to the Bengal renaissance, in which his family were actively involved. At the tender age of 8, he had already begun to express himself through the art of poetry, showcasing his child prodigy talent. His passion for art started from a young age and when he was sixteen he began releasing his poems under the name Bhanusimha. In 1877, he wrote a short story titled 'Bhikharini', and two years later in 1882, he published a poem collection called 'Sandhya Sangit'.

He was encouraged and motivated to compose his own classical works of poetry after reading the classical poetry of Kalidasa. His brothers and sisters had a significant impact on his work and his life, inspiring and influencing him. Dwijendranath, being the eldest brother, was a talented poet and philosopher while Satyendranath, another brother, rose to a very esteemed position. His sister Swarnakumari was well-known in literary circles for her talent as a novelist.

Tagore was primarily educated at home and received instruction from his siblings in a range of areas, including gymnastics, martial arts, art, anatomy, literature, history, and mathematics. Together with his father, he embarked on a lengthy journey around the country in 1873. Through the course of his travels, he was able to acquire a wealth of knowledge on a variety of subjects. During his stay in Amritsar, he had the opportunity to learn more about Sikhism, and later put this knowledge to use in writing six poems and many articles about the religion.



Traditional education for Rabindranath Tagore started in the town of Brighton, situated in East Sussex, England at a public school. His father was determined that he should become a barrister and so he was sent to England in 1878. To help him during his stay in England, his niece, nephew and sister-in-law eventually joined him for emotional support. Rabindranath had never held any enthusiasm for traditional education and so had no inclination to learn from his school.

After being accepted to the University College in London, he was asked to pursue a law degree. In spite of this, he chose to drop out of school again and independently studied many of Shakespeare's works. Upon his return to India after studying and absorbing the culture of English, Irish and Scottish literature and music, he married Mrinalini Devi at the young age of 10.


Founding of Santiniketan

Rabindranath’s father was a successful investor, and he bought a great deal of property in the area of Santiniketan. To put his plan of creating an experimental school on his father's property into action, he relocated to Santiniketan in 1901 and established an ashram. Built as a place of prayer and meditation, it was known as 'The Mandir' and featured a stunning marble floor. Rabindranath Tagore had the hope that by bringing back this ancient teaching style, it would be more advantageous than the modernized method of teaching.

It was an unfortunate event as Rabindranath's wife and two of his children passed away during their stay in Santiniketan, leaving him in a state of deep sorrow. As time went on, his works were gaining a larger and larger audience, both amongst the Bengali and people from other countries. As Rabindranath Tagore's recognition increased throughout the world, he was bestowed the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, making him the first ever Nobel laureate from the Asian continent.


Global Expedition

Rabindranath Tagore was a passionate believer of the concept of one world and so he embarked on a world tour with the aim of propagating his ideas. Bringing along his newly translated works, he was able to gain the recognition of some of the most legendary poets. He traveled to the United States and Japan, amongst other countries, to give lectures.

Not long after, Tagore began to travel to many different places such as Mexico, Singapore, and Rome, having the opportunity to meet and converse with national leaders and other influential figures, including Albert Einstein and Benito Mussolini. In 1927, he set out on a voyage to Southeast Asia and amazed many with his knowledge and written works. Tagore saw this as an opportunity to engage with different world leaders and talk about the disputes between Indians and the English.

Rabindranath's primary objective was to abolish nationalism, however, as the time went on he realized that nationalism was stronger than his personal ideology, thus awakening a deep-seated hatred towards it. He had the opportunity to visit thirty countries across five continents by the time his journey had come to an end.


Written Works

Over the course of his life, Rabindranath Tagore was able to craft many poems, novels and short stories. Despite starting to write at a tender age, the passing of his wife and children drove him to produce a greater number of literary works. The list below contains some of his more notable literary works.

  • Short stories – Tagore was still a teen when he began to compose short stories. 'Bhikharini' was the first book he wrote and published, kickstarting his writing career. In the early stages of his career, his stories were a reflection of the environment he was surrounded by as he was growing up. He wanted to make sure his stories included social issues and the hardships faced by those in poverty. His writings also touched upon the negative aspects of Hindu marriages, as well as a variety of customs that were prevalent in the country's culture during that time. Rabindranath Tagore is famous for his short stories, some of which include 'Kabuliwala', 'Kshudita Pashan', 'Atotttu', 'Haimanti' and 'Musalmanir Golpo' in addition to numerous other stories.
  • Novels – People often overlook the novels of his portfolio, which are said to be under-appreciated compared to other works. His style of narrating a story is one of the reasons why it could still be difficult for readers in the modern era to comprehend it, and even harder for the readers of his time. His writings highlighted the potential risks of nationalism, as well as other significant social injustices. His novel ‘Shesher Kobita’ used poetic and rhythmic passages from the main character to narrate its story. He incorporated a satirical element to his story by having his characters jest and poke fun at the outdated poet Rabindranath Tagore! Rabindranath Tagore's other celebrated works of literature include the novels 'Noukadubi', 'Gora', 'Chaturanga', 'Ghare Baire' and 'Jogajog'.
  • Poems – The poetry of Rabindranath is often compared to that of classical 15th and 16th Century poets such as Kabir and Ramprasad Sen, and this is due to the fact that he was heavily inspired by these authors. By introducing his own unique writing style, he was able to make people take notice of not only his own works but also the works of ancient Indian poets. His poem written in 1893 was a remarkable piece of work as it addressed a poet in the future. While reading the poem, he urged the poet who is yet to be born to remember Rabindranath Tagore and his works. Amongst his most famous creations are the works known as ‘Balaka’, ‘Purobi’, ‘Sonar Tori’ and ‘Gitanjali’.


Tagore's Acting Career

Tagore wrote a number of plays and dramas, with stories drawn from Indian mythology and relevant topics of the day. When he was still a teenager, he and his brother began to work on their dramatic projects together. As a twenty year old, he not only wrote the play ‘Valmiki Pratibha’, but he also portrayed the lead character in the performance. The drama was based on the life of the legendary dacoit Valmiki and his journey of reform, eventually leading him to pen down the Ramayana, one of the two Indian epics.


Tagore, the Painter

Rabindranath Tagore, who was approaching sixty, began to take an interest in drawing and painting. His works of art were showcased and exhibited at various events organized throughout Europe. Tagore's style of art was distinct in its aesthetic elements and use of color, which set it apart from the rest. The craftwork of the Malanggan people, a cultural group located in the northern parts of New Ireland, had a great influence on him. His artwork was significantly impacted by the Haida carvings from the west coast of Canada and Max Pechstein's woodcuts. The National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi is home to an impressive collection of 102 art works of Tagore.


Political Standpoint

Tagore, a vocal critic of nationalism, also wrote songs that had strong political messages, in support of Indian independence. He was vocal in his support of Indian nationalists and publicly expressed his disapproval of European imperialism. He spoke out against the education system that had been coercively put in place by the English in India. In 1915, he was given knighthood by the British Crown, yet he decided to renounce it in response to the massacre that transpired in Jallianwala Bagh. When the British failed to even recognize the humanity of his fellow Indians, he declared that the knighthood he had been given was meaningless.


Famous quotes by Rabindranath Tagore

  • If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.
  • You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
  • I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
  • The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
  • Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
  • Love’s gift cannot be given, it waits to be accepted.
  • A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.
  • Most people believe the mind to be a mirror, more or less accurately reflecting the world outside them, not realizing on the contrary that the mind is itself the principal element of creation.
  • If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or i’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.
  • Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.
  • The roots below the earth claim no rewards for making the branches fruitful.
  • Inspiration follows aspiration.
  • The little flower lies in the dust. It sought the path of the butterfly.
  • The Stronger is the imagination the less imaginary it is.
  • Perfect gain is the best of all; but if that is impossible, then the next best gain is perfect losing.



The last four years of Rabindranath Tagore's life were filled with intense pain and health struggles because of two prolonged illnesses. In 1937, he fell into a coma-like state, and after a span of three years, he relapsed back into the same state. Following a prolonged period of distress and agony, Tagore passed away on August 7, 1941 in the Jorasanko mansion, where he had spent his formative years.



Rabindranath Tagore was an influential figure in Indian literature and culture, having made major contributions to poetry, music, art, and philosophy that continue to be an inspiration to people all around India and beyond. His life and works present an invaluable viewpoint of India's intricate and varied culture, and he is still remembered as a crucial part of India's intellectual and creative history.

A thorough examination of Rabindranath Tagore's life, successes, and impact on Indian culture and society can be found in his biography. His journey as a writer, his experiments with the different forms of poetry and music, and his involvement in social and political activism are all explored in this work. Tagore's biography also helps to reveal his philosophy on life, which highlighted the value of independence, ingenuity, and humanism. He believes that literature and the arts have the potential to unite people, foster social harmony, and promote understanding among different communities.

Tagore's works still have a profound impact on readers and audiences all over the globe, further cementing his legacy as an integral part of India's cultural heritage. His works of poetry, music, and art have been preserved for centuries, and his ideas still have an influence on the way people perceive literature, art, and culture.

As a final thought, the biography of Rabindranath Tagore, as a recognition of his genius and influence, is an appropriate way to honor his far-reaching contributions to Indian culture and society. It provides a full and in-depth analysis of his life, his works, and his beliefs, as well as emphasizing his tremendous impact on Indian literature, art, and philosophy. The legacy of Tagore continues to be an inspiration to many and his vision of a free and humane society still resonates just as strongly now as it did during his lifetime.

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