Rabindranath Tagore

portrait of Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel laureate Bengali poet, with flowing beard and serene expression.

Rabindranath Tagore

  • Born: May 7, 1861, in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India.
  • Family: Youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leading figure of the Brahmo Samaj (a Hindu reformist movement), and Sarada Devi. He grew up in a wealthy and intellectually stimulating environment.
  • Education: A non-traditionalist, he received a blend of home-schooling steeped in Indian classics and exposure to Western ideas. He briefly studied law in England but returned to India without completing his degree.
  • Personal Life: He married Mrinalini Devi in 1883, but sadly she died in 1902. They had five children, some of whom were lost to illnesses.
  • Death: August 7, 1941, Calcutta (now Kolkata)

Literary and Artistic Pursuits

  • Polymath of the Arts: He was a poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, painter, and educator.

  • Poetry: His most notable work, “Gitanjali” (Song Offerings), earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. His poetry is characterized by mysticism, symbolism, profound connection with nature, and explorations of love and the human spirit. Other notable poetic works include Sonar Tari, Balaka, and more.

  • Music: Known as Rabindra Sangeet, his vast collection of nearly 2230 songs form a cornerstone of Bengali music and culture. These songs express a range of human emotions and celebrate devotional themes.

  • Short Stories: Tagore’s short stories, such as “Kabuliwala,” offer poignant glimpses into the lives of ordinary people, examining social issues and psychological complexity.

  • Novels: “Ghare Baire” (The Home and the World), “Chokher Bali,” and “Gora” dissect social change, nationalism, and complex individual motivations.

  • Paintings: In his later years, Tagore took to painting, expressing his artistic vision through vibrant and often abstract forms.

Other Contributions

  • Educationist: He founded the Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan with a vision of an educational system that blended Indian culture and philosophy with universal humanism.

  • Nation Building: His writings and songs, including the national anthems of India (‘Jana Gana Mana’) and Bangladesh (‘Amar Sonar Bangla’), continue to shape national identities in the Indian subcontinent.


  • Tagore’s profound impact transcends regional boundaries, making him one of the most influential literary figures of the 20th century.
  • He was a bridge-builder between Indian traditions and Western modernity, championing humanism and universalism.
  • His works continue to be translated, adapted, and celebrated for their lyrical beauty and exploration of life’s greatest questions.
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