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Remembering Tagore


On the 73rd death anniversary of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, here are some interesting vignettes into the life and times of the poet. Compiled by: Indrani Dutta Photos: Sushanta Patronobish


Established in 1784 this was the house where Rabindranath Thakur was born and where he breathed his last. He spent half his life here with other members of the Tagore family. Known as ‘Thakurbari’ (Tagore being an anglicized form) this house was the cradle of Bengal’s cultural renaissance for well over a century.


This is the family maternity room where Rabindranath was born on May 8, 1861. The part-ajar door to the left has suffered the ravages of time and one has to peer into the dark to view the place where a midwife helped show light to one of the most illustrious sons-of-the-soil.


In elite households of olden times, children were mostly left in the foster care of domestic helps and child Robi’s early days were spent with the helps and in gazing out of his room at a pond encircled by rows of coconut trees. This long balcony finds frequent mention in his memoirs.


The house with its paired Tuscan columns, its cast iron railings and wooden jails is a top grade heritage structure with historical and architectural significance. Seen here is the thakurdalan where the family pujas (till the Brahmo influence came to play) and the family festivities took place. The natya manch opposite (not seen in the picture) is where cultural performance by the family members were held.


Successive generations of stalwarts lived in Jorasanko. Prince Dwarkanath Tagore , Rabindranth’s grandfather to Devendranath Tagore his father, who founded Shantiniketan. Picture shows a chair used by Dwarkanath who was bestowed an ensign by Queen Victoria.


The poet married Bhabatarini Devi who was renamed Mrinalini by the House of Tagores. Rabindranath wrote some of his wedding invites in his own hand. The picture shows a letter written to his wife by the poet from Paris. Rabindranath has signed off the letter with kisses for the children.


Rabindranath Tagore was the first `non-Caucasian’ to win the Nobel Prize. In 1913 he won the award for literature for Gitanjali (an offering of songs). This gallery, at his ancestral house commemorates that event which received wide publicity in the Western media.


A photo of Subhas Chandra Bose and Tagore.


Moving to Shantiniketan, Tagore travelled far and wide on lecture tours. Japan was one of the countries he visited the most and its tea ceremonies and its culture had a deep impact on him. But he also travelled to Germany where he met Albert Einstein. Tagore had to give encore performances on his lectures at the Berlin University.


A playwright dons the casting robes. Rabindranath enacted multiple roles in this play which he scripted in 1912. It was enacted in this hall in Jorasanko as is seen in this picture. One of Tagore’s best known works, Dakghar captures the pathos of a bed ridden Amal. Tagore plays the role of a wandering minstrel. The play has been translated and enacted in many countries.


A gallery is devoted to paintings following the Bengal School of art - a style which evolved during the Swadeshi Movement (1905). Rabindranath’s nephew Abanindranath was among the forerunners evolving a style that marked a distinct shift from the western style of painting.


Although it was traditional to sit on the floor during those times, Tagore’s Japanese influence came to play in this dining room where a row of low but wide chairs offer a unique seating arrangement. A Japanese carpenter was brought over to craft these furniture.


A car used by the poet seems to be in reasonably good condition


Death visited Rabindranath several times during his long life span when he lost his near and dear ones. This is the room where the poet breathed his last in August 1941. He lived a full life and seemed to have had a sense of foreboding, as is evident from the several verses on death that he had penned. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish


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