Tagore

Topics: Rabindranath Tagore, Tagore family, Debendranath Tagore Pages: 25 (9637 words) Published: April 24, 2014
* Tagore was born on 7 May 1861. At some time towards the end of the seventeenthcentury, his forefathers had migrated from their native lands to Govindpur, one of the three villageswhich later came to constitute Calcutta. In the course of time, the family came to acquire propertyand considerable business interests through the pursuit of commercial and banking activities. Theyhad particularly benefited from the growing power of the British East India Company.Rabindranath’s grandfather, Dwarkanath Tagore, lived lavishly and broke the Hindu religious banof those times by travelling to Europe, just like his contemporary, Rammohan Roy, the nineteenthcentury social and religious reformer. Roy started a religious reform movement in 1828 that came to be known as the BrahmaSamaj Movement. Rabindranath’s grandfather supported Roy in his attempts at reforming Hindusociety. Dwarkanath’s son, Devendranath Tagore, also became a staunch supporter of the BrahmaSamaj Movement. In order to encourage its spread, in 1863 he established a meditation centre andguest house on some land about 100 miles from Calcutta at a place called ‘Santiniketan’, the Abodeof Peace. Although deeply steeped in Hindu and Islamic traditions, Tagore’s family contributed largesums of money for the introduction of Western education, including colleges for the study ofscience and medicine. This peculiar situation explains the combination of tradition and experimentthat came to characterize Rabindranath Tagore’s attitude to life. Rabindranath’s father was one of the leading figures of the newly awakened phase ofBengali society. He had been educated at one stage in Rammohan Roy’s Anglo-Hindu school andhad been greatly influenced by Roy’s character, ideals and religious devotion. Devendranath Tagorewas well versed in European philosophy and, though deeply religious, did not accept all aspects ofHinduism. He was to have a profound influence on his son’s mental and practical attitudes. Rabindranath was the fourteenth child of his parents. His brothers and sisters were poets,musicians, playwrights and novelists and the Tagore home was thus filled with musical, literary anddramatic pursuits. The family was also involved with diverse activities at the national level. Important changes were taking place in Bengal at the time Rabindranath was born. IswarChandra Vidyasagar had been attempting to reform the position of women in society. Schoolsusing English as the language of teaching were being established, alongside the traditional Sanskritschools. Vidyasagar had established Bengali-medium schools at different places in Bengal with littleor limited government support. He had also established a centre to train teachers for these schools.Rabindranath attended this school and, as he says himself, owed his love of Bengali language andliterature to it. He was also sent to a number of English-speaking schools, but he did not like their 1 * 2. teaching style and had no wish to be taught in a foreign language. He gradually withdrew from formal schooling when he was around 14 years old. Theremainder of his education was carried out at home through his own personal efforts and with thehelp of tutors in various subjects. He also had lessons from professionals in wrestling, music and 2drawing. The manner of his early schooling was to leave a deep impression on him. When Rabindranath was 12, his father took him to Santiniketan, the meditation centreestablished in 1863. During their brief stay there, Devendranath gave his son lessons in Sanskrit,astronomy and the scriptures that formed the basis of his reformed religion. After these lessonswere over, Rabindranath was free to roam among the fields and forests. This routine continuedwhen father and son journeyed on and stayed at Dalhousie in the Himalayan foothills. After lessonsin Sanskrit, English literature and religion, the would-be poet explored the mountains and forests.Life in close proximity to nature was unknown to him in the urban...
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