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Walking on the path delineated by the Cultural Icon of Bengal: Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was a poet, writer, scriptwriter, songwriter, scholar, philanthropist, and artist from Bengal. Tagore utilized Contextual Modernism to transform Bengali music, literature, and art. He is renowned across the world for his collection of poems, ‘Gitanjali’, which got him the Nobel Prize in 1913. Tagore's evocative songs were considered spiritual and enigmatic, but his "elegant prose and magical poetry" are relatively unknown outside of Bengal. He was a Royal Asiatic Society fellow. Tagore, known as "the Bard of Bengal," also went by the alias Gurudev, Kobiguru, and Biswakobi.

Tagore’s Contributions

His major contributions were in the fields of drama, literature, poetry, music, and art. Tagore was particularly known for his work in influencing Indian poetry, but he also wrote novels, articles, short stories, travel books, dramas, and thousands of songs. Tagore's short stories are perhaps the most well-known of his works; he is known for creating the Bengali-language version of the genre. His works are often praised for their percussive, hopeful, and poetic supremacy.

  • Drama - Tagore's literary journey with drama began at the age of sixteen. His very first venture in the sphere of dramatics and theater was his original script, ‘Valmiki Pratibha.’ Tagore explained that his creations strived to express "the play of feeling rather than action." As the years progressed, Tagore’s dramas explored philosophical and allegorical motifs. 

  • Short Stories - Tagore's literary professional debut in 1877, when he was only sixteen years old, with the short story, "Bhikharini" ("The Beggar Woman"). Tagore successfully developed the Bengali-language short story genre with this. The common themes explored in his short stories were conflict in love and affection in various aspects of life.

  • Poetry - The tonality and writing style of Tagore's poem's tone, was inspired by the Vaishnava poets. His poems explored themes that ranged from classical formalism to the comic, idealist, and ecstatic. He was significantly affected by Vyasa's atavistic mysticism and other Upanishad rishi-authors, the Bhakti-Sufi mystic Kabir, and Ramprasad Sen. His most well-known body of work in the sphere of poetry was his collection of poems, ‘Gitanjali’, for which he won the Nobel Prize. 

  • Music - Tagore was an influential composer, having written approximately 2,230 songs. His songs are referred to as 'Rabindra Sangeet' ("Tagore Song"), and they blend seamlessly with his literature, the majority of which have been lyricised poems or sections of novels, stories, or plays. They ranged from his initial Brahmo devotional hymns to quasi-erotic creations, all inspired by the Thumri genre of Hindustani music. To varying degrees, they imitated the stylistic patterns of classical ragas. Some songs devotedly imitated the melody and rhythm of a specific raga, while others creatively blended elements from various ragas. Tagore is revered for his musical influence, particularly in India and Bangladesh. Both these nations’ National Anthems are composed by Rabindranath Tagore. 

Tagore loathed the conventional system of education that existed in India at the time. Thus, he came up with the idea of a new instruction of learning. This brought on the birth of the Santiniketan School of Art, which was built to serve as a link between India and the outside world. 


Q1. What is the reason behind Tagore’s nickname, Bard of Bengal? 

Rabindranath Tagore was popularly associated with the sobriquet, ‘Bard of Bengal.’ His major influence in Bengali art got him this nickname. He played an influential role in dismissing austere art forms and promoted resistance toward linguistic limits. 

Q2. What is the significance of Tagore’s Gitanjali in Indian history? 

The collection of poems written by Tagore, by the name, ‘Gitanjali’ is an important body of literature in Indian history. This is because it was the first Indian body of literature that received universal acceptance across the world when Tagore received a Nobel Prize for this beautiful body of work.