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Why Su-prose? "Su" in Sanskrit is a prefix for "good". This is a place where we will discuss and analyze prose (with a South Asian Connection) - that which is good, awesome, excellent, and maybe rant about prose that could be better.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Remembering Tagore 150 years after his birth... A Short Biography

2011 was Rabindranath Tagore's 10th birth anniversary. What better way to begin 2012 than to remember him and honor his works. Through the next few weeks Suprose will be posting a few pieces in memory of this iconic artist and writer.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is one of the most revered and talented writers and artists that India has produced. The first Asian Nobel Laureate to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for ‘Geetanjali’, a compilation of some of his poems. He was not only a poet but truly a multifaceted genius – a Writer, Painter, Philosopher, Educator, Businessman, Social Reformer and advocate of Indian Independence. He has composed over 2000+ songs popularlycalled ‘Rabindra-Sangeet’ (Tagore’s Songs) which still continue to top the charts. He is the only composer and lyricist in the world whose compositions are used as the National Anthems of 2 different nations, India and Bangladesh. 2011 is the 150th anniversary of his birth and it seems fitting to honor him and his work.

Here is a crisp biography of Tagore from the Nobel Prize Website --

Tagore at Age 12
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads
He was educated at home; and although at seventeen he was sent to England for formal schooling, he did not finish his studies there. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he managed the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity and increased his interest in social reforms. He also started an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education. 
From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way; and Gandhi, the political father of modern India, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India. 
Tagore With His Wife
Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. In fact his fame attained a luminous height, taking him across continents on lecture tours and tours of friendship. 
For the world he became the voice of India's spiritual heritage; and for India, especially for Bengal, he became a great living institution. 
Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. 
Among his fifty and odd volumes of poetry are Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One], Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat], Gitanjali (1910) [Song Offerings], Gitimalya (1914) [Wreath of Songs], and Balaka(1916) [The Flight of Cranes]. The English renderings of his poetry, which include The Gardener (1913), Fruit-Gathering (1916), and The Fugitive (1921), do not generally correspond to particular volumes in the original Bengali; and in spite of its title, Gitanjali: Song Offerings(1912), the most acclaimed of them, contains poems from other works besides its namesake. 
Tagore and Einstein
Tagore's major plays are Raja (1910) [The King of the Dark Chamber], Dakghar (1912) [The Post Office], Achalayatan (1912) [The Immovable], Muktadhara (1922) [The Waterfall], andRaktakaravi (1926) [Red Oleanders]. 
He is the author of several volumes of short stories and a number of novels, among them Gora (1910), Ghare-Baire (1916) [The Home and the World], and Yogayog (1929) [Crosscurrents]. 
Tagore and Gandhi
Besides these, he wrote musical dramas, dance dramas, essays of all types, travel diaries,  and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself. 
From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967,  Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969
Suprose will be blogging several posts honoring Tagore, you can see all of them by clicking on the label Tagore.

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