Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary: Lesser-known facts about the Bard of Bengal
May 7 (Friday) is the 160th birth anniversary of poet, philosopher, patriot, and a social thinker Rabindranath Tagore. Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861 in the Jorasanko Thakurbari in Kolkata to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. His birth anniversary falls on the 25th day of the Bengali month of Boishakh and is popularly called “Pachishe Boishakh”. On this day numerous cultural programmes & events such as poetries, dances and dramas completion are held in various schools, colleges and universities.
Tagore is one of the greatest revolutionaries India has produced. His contribution to Bengali and English literature is unmatched and he is known as the Bard of Bengal.
As the nation remembers ‘Gurudev’, here are some little-known facts about him:
Composed the National Anthems for three nations:
Do you know that the literary icon is father to national anthems of three nations of Indian sub-continent? From India’s ‘Jan Gan Man’, to Bangladesh’s ‘Amar Sona Banlga’, Sri Lanka’s national anthem is also based on Tagore’s poem. It is said that Tagore’s Bangla poem was translated in Sinhalese and adopted as the national anthem in 1951.
First non-European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature:
Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse…” Rabindranath Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature on November 13, in 1913.
Conferred title of ‘Mahatma’ on the Father of Nation:
The special bond shared between Gandhiji and Tagore is well-known. However, little do people know that it was ‘Gurudev’ who conferred the title ‘Mahatma’ on the Father of Nation.
Beautiful friendship with Albert Einstein:
Tagore and Einstein met four times between 1931 and 1931. Not only did they revere each other, but they also shared common interest of music and curiosity for general things. In describing Einstein, Tagore wrote, “There was nothing stiff about him – there was no intellectual aloofness. He seemed to me a man who valued human relationship and he showed toward me a real interest and understanding.”
The bard who was music icon:
From his iconic body of work in field of literature, Tagore was also a well-known expert in music. Gurudev wrote more than 2,000 songs, which are now known as ‘Rabindra Sangeet’. Several of them are inspired by his travels. He was also highly influenced by the up-beat English, Irish and Scottish folk music that he often listened to along with Hindustani classical music.
World traveller at heart”
Tagore travelled to over 30 countries on five continents in a little over five decades in the late 19th century and the early 20th century. The more he travelled, the more he fell in love with the concept of internationalism.
When Tagore returned his Knighthood in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre:
On May 31, 1919, a month after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Tagore renounced his 1915 knighthood. In his letter to the viceroy, Tagore wrote” The time has come when the badge of honour makes our shame glaring in their incongruous text of humiliation, and I, for my part, wish to stand shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so-called insignificance are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings.”