Rabindranath Tagore: A Poet, A Musician and A Painter

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Rabindranath Tagore was born on may 7, 1861, at Jorasanko (Tagore's residence in Calcutta). He was 14th child of his father Debendranath Tagore and Sarala Devi. His father was deeply religious person and actively involved in the Brahmo Samaj. Tagore's family was well known for their riches and their patronage of art and learning. 

His initial studies were happened at Normal and Xavier's school. but he never liked education in modern schools system, he felt that school was combination of prison and hospital.

Timeline of  Tagore's Life

  • At the age of 14 years his mother died. But the void created in his life after the death of his mother was filled by his childless sister-in-law, Kadambari. In the same year his first poem was published in Amrita Bazaar Patrika. And after that he never looked back and wrote many books.
  • On September 20, 1878, he went to England along with his elder brother Satyendranath Tagore (who later became first Indian ICS officer); where he joined a Public School at Brighton. Later he joined London University to study English literature as well as a music school but he returned India without earning an academic degree in 1880. 
  • On December 9, 1883 Tagore married to Mrinalini Devi.
  • He founded Shantiniketan near Bolpore on December 22, 1901. 
  • In five years between 1902-07 he lost five of his family members including his wife, daughter, father, son and his youngest son one by one. During those tough period he wrote our National Anthem and his magnum opus, Gitanjali, which fetched him Nobel Prize in 1913.
  • He opposed the partition of bengal, and started the 'Raksha Bandhan' festival to demonstrate Bengal's Unity and led a big procession singing a poem of his own. 
  • He again left for England in 1912 for medical treatment. Where he met Rothenstein (a famous painter), who introduced him to W.B. Yeats (the gifted poet). 
  • He returned India in October 1913 and until his death devoted his all energies to 'Vishva Bharati'.
  • On August 7, 1941 he left us.

Tagore as a Poet

In his early days of his writing his poetry was dominated by  'love of nature', but he himself declared them of a "copy-book" kind. Later he produced many great books on poetry.

Some of his famous poetical writings were :-

  1. Sandhya Sangeet:- For this poetical master piece he got great appreciation from the famous poet of that time and writer of National Song of India ('Vande Maatram'), termed it as melancholic work.
  2. Prabhat Sangeet:- In this he depicted the world of childhood.
  3. Kori-o-kamal:- In this book he humanised various elements of nature. This was a new concept of human writing called as 'Chhayavad'.
  4. Gitanjali:-This has two versions one is in English, while other is in Bengali. The English version contained about 100 composition out of which more than half are borrowed from the Bengali version of Gitanjali and rests are borrowed from 'Gitimalya'.

Note:-  The English version of Gitanjali got the Nobel Prize for him in 1913. The theme of the Gitanjali is the relationship of a poet with his god. Hence the collections of poems in Gitanjali was an offering of songs to God.

Tagore's Contributions to Literature

  • He influenced the 'Chhayavad School' in 'Hindi Poetry' as well as others' such as Assamese, Oriya and Gujarati literature.
  • Besides poetry, he also wrote novels, dramas, short stories and literary criticisms.

Tagore as a Painter

He developed the taste of painting in his sixties. His early paintings were mere rhythmic lines which were unique and strange in shapes.

Earlier Tagore had an inclination towards abstract form of art but later it changed to fantastic forms of mythical beasts and prehistoric birds and reptiles that he painted embodied a transitional phase from the pure abstract to the more recognisable human shapes suggesting different moods.

Tagore as a Musician

When he was teenager he had written some 'Vaishnava lyrics' under the pseudonym Bhanu Sinha Thakur. He also wrote a musical drama 'Balmiki Pratibha' in 1881. 

He had no formal training of music, instead he learnt the technicality of the music due to close contacts with musicians and singers who. offten used to come at Jorasanko. he was also undoubtedly inspired with his brother Jyotindranath, who used to play melodic tunes on Piano.

Tagore's music was unique of its own, as it contained  al technicality of music but stayed clear from orthodox virtuosity. but that does not mean, his music lacked discipline or it was loose.

Tagore composed Dhrupad, Thumri and Tappa but mostly songs. His music was imbibed upon the spirit of Bengali folk traditions such as Sari, Baul and Kertan.

he also used common classical Ragas like Malhar, Khamaj, Bhairavi, Pilu etc. but at the same time also produced new combinations like Multani-Bhimpalasi, Asvari-Bhairavi, Darbari-Todi Bhairavi etc.

He also used new talas like Shashthi, Navami, Jhampak etc. as well In his songs, there is a fusion of mood, work and tune.