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150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore

150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore
India post issued a set of stamps on the occasion of 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
Rabindranath Tagore was an icon of Indian culture. He was a poet, philosopher, musician, writer, and educationist.He was popularly called as Gurudev and his songs were popularly known as Rabindrasangeet. Two songs from his Rabindrasangit canon are now the national anthems of India and Bangladesh: the Jana Gana Mana and the Amar Shonar Bangla.

Rabindranath Tagore was born on May 7, 1861 in a wealthy Brahmin family in Calcutta. He was the ninth son of Debendranath and Sarada Devi. His grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore was a rich landlord and social reformer. Rabindra Nath Tagore had his initial education in Oriental Seminary School. But he did not like the conventional education and started studying at home under several teachers.Rabindranath Tagore became the first Asian to became Nobel laureate when he won Nobel Prize for his collection of poems, Gitanjali, in 1913; awarded knighthood by the British King George V; established Viswabharati University.

Title: 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore
Date of Issue: 7 May 2011
Country: India
Denominations: 500p x 2


  1. A.B.M. Shamsud Doulah


    A. B. M. Shamsud Doulah

    We have been reviewing the much propagated 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in Bangladesh, India, and in different countries around the world. I am taking the opportunity to append the following observations inviting comments:

    1. The 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore was too much propagated officially by the Governments of India, Bangladesh, as well as the Government of West Bengal. It may be noted that though Rabindranath Tagore is a National poet of India, yet no Indian state officially celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.

    2. The various programmes celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in Bangladesh, India, and in different countries around the world seems to be more motivated by political impetus than literary and artistic taste.

    3. Honestly speaking we rarely found the notable response from the younger and new generations of the Bengalees from Bangladesh, India, and in different countries

    around the world. In fact, the response in Europe, Americas, Africa, Far East and South East of Asia was very poor. Hardly there was any new notable publication marking the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in these areas.

    4. Perhaps it will be more interesting to note that even in the core areas of Calcutta and Dhaka there was hardly any new publications, excepting a few articles and those also by the traditional propagators of Rabindranath Tagore.

    5. The melodious songs of Rabindranath Tagore are indeed enjoyable for their relaxing feminine lyrical tune of Hindu religious baul songs and music. Rabindranath Tagore made his remarkable songs rich with mixture of the Western music. But out of his thousands of songs only 200 were mostly found to be repeatedly sung during the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in Bangladesh, India, and in different countries around the world. The question comes why it is so? The answer is simple: because only these songs of Rabindranath Tagore are popular and the others are unpopular.

    6. Rabindranath Tagore was essentially an orthodox Hindu poet with the Western artistic and spiritual impact. As to spiritual impact we find the influence of Christianity on his school of Hindu religious belief called Brahmmo Samaj. This point and in addition the close obedience and appreciation of all Tagore ancestors as well as Rabindranath Tagore himself greatly helped to achieve the reward of Nobel

    Prize in literature in 1913. Perhaps this may become more clear from the excerpts of the Nobel Prize Presentation Speech by Harald Hjärne, Chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, on December 10, 1913:

    “The true inwardness of this work is most clearly and purely revealed in the efforts exerted in the Christian mission-field throughout the world. In times to come, historical inquirers will know better how to appraise its importance and influence, even in what is at present hidden from our gaze and where no or only grudging recognition is accorded. They will undoubtedly form a higher estimate of it than the one now deemed fitting in many quarters. Thanks to this movement, fresh, bubbling springs of living water have been tapped, from which poetry in particular may draw inspiration, even though those springs are perhaps intermingled with alien streams, and whether or not they be traced to their right source or their origin be attributed to the depths of the dreamworld. More especially, the preaching of the Christian religion has provided in many places the first definite impulse toward a revival and regeneration of the vernacular language, i.e., its liberation from the bondage of an artificial tradition, and consequently also toward a development of its capacity for nurturing and sustaining a vein of living and natural poetry.

    ”The Christian mission has exercised its influence as a rejuvenating force in India, too, where in conjunction with religious revivals many of the vernaculars were early put to literary use, thereby acquiring status and stability. However, with only too regular frequency, they fossilized again under pressure from the new tradition that gradually established itself. But the influence of the Christian mission has extended far beyond the range of the actually registered proselytizing work. The struggle that the last century witnessed between the living vernaculars and the sacred language of ancient times for control over the new literatures springing into life would have had a very different course and outcome, had not the former found able support in the fostering care bestowed upon them by the self-sacrificing missionaries.

    ”It was in Bengal, the oldest Anglo-Indian province and the scene many years before of the indefatigable labours of that missionary pioneer, Carey, to promote the Christian religion and to
    improve the vernacular language, that Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861. He was a

    scion of a respected family that had already given evidence of intellectual ability in many areas. The surroundings in which the boy and young man grew up were in no sense primitive or calculated to hem in his conceptions of the world and of life. On the contrary, in his home there prevailed, along with a highly cultivated appreciation of art, a profound reverence for the inquiring spirit and wisdom of the forefathers of the race, whose texts were used for family devotional worship. Around him, too, there was then coming into being a new literary spirit that consciously sought to reach forth to the people and to make itself acquainted with their life needs. This new spirit gained in force as reforms ere firmly effected by the Government, after the quelling of the widespread, confused Indian Mutiny.

    ”Rabindranath’s father was one of the leading and most zealous members of a religious community to which his son still belongs. That body, known by the name of «Brahmo Samaj», did not arise as a sect of the ancient Hindu type, with the purpose of spreading the worship of some particular godhead as superior to all others. Rather, it was founded in the early part of the nineteenth century by an enlightened and influential man who had been much impressed by the doctrines of Christianity, which he had studied also in England. He endeavoured to give to the native Hindu traditions, handed down from the past, an interpretation in agreement with what he conceived to be the spirit and import of the Christian faith. Doctrinal controversy has since been rife regarding the interpretation of truth that he and his successors were thus led to give, whereby the community has been subdivided into a number of independent sects. The character, too, of the community, appealing essentially to highly trained intellectual minds, has from its inception always precluded any large growth of the numbers of its avowed adherents. Nevertheless, the indirect influence exercised by the body, even upon the development of popular education and literature, is held to be very considerable indeed. Among those community members who have grown up in recent years, Rabindranath Tagore has laboured to a pre-eminent degree. To them he has stood as a revered master and prophet. That intimate interplay of teacher and pupil so earnestly sought after has attained a deep, hearty, and simple manifestation, both in religious life and in literary training.”

    7. The Christian West always favoured and pampered the Hindus of India because they found them quite friendly in the making and shaping of the British colonial

    rule in the Indian sub-continent. Moreover, many Hindus were converted into the Christianity faith, hardly requiring any religious and spiritual practice and performances. Also many other Bengalee Hindus of the 19th Century were, if not converted into Christianity, of such type in their way of life. The grand father of Rabindranath Tagore, the then multi-millionaire Dwarka Nath Tagore was of such type.

    8. During the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in Bangladesh, India, and in different countries around the world no publication of the complete works or a sizable publication like one entitled Bichitra in Bengali was made by Vishwa Bharati, Rabindranath Tagore’s own publishing house came up. Why? Is it so because of the declining values of Rabindranath Tagore? Yes, it may be partly true.

    9. The protagonists of Rabindranath Tagore also tried during the occasion to reintroduce the paintings and unsung songs of Rabindranath Tagore. But it was failure due to poor response from the readers who cannot be forced to respond as was done for the autobiographical book entitled Mein Kampf of Adolf Hitler of Germany.

    10. Rabindranath Tagore is the National Poet of India. But even in the 150th year of his death anniversary no school book in India contains any selection from Rabindranath Tagore’s literature in any Indian language excepting in West Bengal and that is also in Bengali and English. It is an obvious result of non-response from the readers.

    11. Rabindranath Tagore was great success in the vacuum era of the Bengali literature. From 1900 to 1940 the Bengali literature meant to be Rabindranath Tagore and Rabindranath Tagore only. Though it sounds funny yet it is reality.

    From the above it becomes clear that Rabindranath Tagore was indeed a great mentor of the Bengali language and literature as well as music, dance and drama etc. But also it is notable that he was barred by the orthodoxy of Hinduism as well as pro-British taste. He wrote and fought for the glory of his motherland but not for liberation from the British Rule. In this respect Rabindranath Tagore was different from Mahatma Gandhi who openly declared the “Quit India” call against the British colonialists.

    A. B. M. Shamsud Doulah
    Freelance Writer &
    Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court
    G. P. O. Box 351, Dhaka-1000

  2. I am sure you have either not read Tagore or have failed to realise his creations and also have been pre-occupied with orthodoxy of, may be another religion during analysis.; as you have made the same mistake with Nazrul in Bangladesh.

    So my dear friend we can agree to disagree on your analysis of his cretions and personal milieu.



    • It is a matter of great shame that Tagore, though declared national poet of India and India has accepted Tagore’s ‘Jana Gana Mana’ as national anthem, could NOT made any progress in disseminating Tagore’s literature and Tagore’s language to all over India. Tagore’s language – Bangla is shunned and disregarded by all other Indians. NO India film actors/ actresses, players, political,leaders, celebrities can speak Bangla, or try to, though most of them can speak Panjabi, Telegu, Tamil, Gujrathi, etc. Tagore’s literature has NOT entered into the textbooks of Indian schools and colleges, even after 65 years of Partition.

  3. Joydeep Bhattacharya

    Siddique Mahasai,
    We, the people of India who are Bengali, can speak in our mother tounge, but as India is not all about Bengalis’s land, how we can expect a Tamil actor to speak in Bangla?!! are are talking with sense?? it’s not a tiny bengali nation like Bangladesh…though i personally feel very proud to see the existence of Bangladesh, but India is different and much greater in nature than any other part of this world. Tagore is a name uttered with respect eeven by a telugu/punjabi school student..So don’t worry much. we are doing good here along with our Muslish friends as well. They sing the same Jana Gana Mana with full reverence…Take care, and please invest more time to build a powerful Bangladesh(not by only population and islamic idea, but education, economy and technology side)..all the best.

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