Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary: The great voice of India’s cultural heritage and rich legacy

By: |
May 07, 2021 1:02 PM

At a time when patriarchy and social taboos were constructed, Tagore effortlessly deconstructed these societal norms with natural ease.

A closer look at Rabindranath Tagore's life is a testimony of why art and literature, poetry and music, theatre and dance dramas offer solace to the world.

Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary: The nation pays homage to one of its greatest cultural icons on the occasion of Pochishe Boishakh, as Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary is revered in Bengali. For those wondering what is the significance of Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary, we briefly touch upon why Tagore’s legacy is remarkable and one that inspires several generations of Indians.

At one of Delhi’s International Book Festivals held at Pragati Maidan, a renowned young publisher told her audience that she grew up in a home that resonated with ‘Rabindra Sangeet’ and it paved the way for her decision to become a publisher of books that are translated mostly from other Indian languages. The decision stemmed from an artistic awareness that much is lost in translation but one cannot stop striving for perfection and crossing language barriers while revering great wordsmiths whose works stand the test of time. While choosing manuscripts to publish, she emphasised that it is the intrinsic value of literature that she looks for over and above other considerations. Thus, reading Rabindranath Tagore’s masterful works have deeply influenced a publisher in choosing literary works with masterful narratives.

For many Indians worldwide, Rabindranath Tagore is an instrinsic part of their everyday life, cultural identity and existence, particularly for those who love poetry, literature and music.

Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti 2021: Significance

Known popularly as India’s greatest literary figure and the ‘Bard of Bengal’, Rabindranath Tagore towers over India’s cultural and literary landscape in a way that no other poet, writer or musician ever has. Gurudev Tagore’s profound wisdom has become more relevant to the world today than ever as his legacy continues to inspire artists, writers, readers and poetry lovers across all spheres of life.

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s magnum opus ‘Gitanjali’ catapulted Indian poetry and literature in English into global fame. WB Yeats wrote in the introduction to ‘Gitanjali’, for which Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize in 1913, likens ‘Mr. Tagore’ to the Indian civilisation itself as he seems ‘content to discover the soul and surrender to its spontaneity.’

Rabindranth Tagore: Empowering women as equals

Published by Penguin Books India, ‘Women of the Tagore Household’ by Chitra Deb (translated by Smita Chowdhry and Sona Roy), one is shown how the Tagore family emerged as the ‘cradle of Bengal’s renaissance’. The book articulates an in-depth glimpse of how ladies of the Tagore family contributed greatly to Bengal’s music, art and literature.

Highlighting how Rabindranath Tagore always turned to the women in his family to give shape to his ideas of musical plays, dance and music, the book shares interesting snippets that show that the women of the Tagore family ‘lit the lamp of women’s emancipation’ in Bengal, thereby shattering many social taboos.

Musical sessions, plays and dance performances were a part of the Tagore household with young Rabindranath singing and enthralling the family audience. Not only did the young Rabindranath freely express his creativity in the form of music, literature and poetry, he encouraged women in the household to do the same and scrutinised their written works and provided constructive feedback.

Rabindranath Tagore encouraged his wife Mrinalini to act, to write and to translate, according to Chitra Deb’s book ‘Women of the Tagore Household.’ In the first staging of Rabindranath’s ‘Raja O Rani’, she portrayed the role of Narayani. As acting did not further interest her, she began to translate slokas from the Mahabharata, Manusamhita and the Upanishads. The book also cites that Rabindranath is known to have expressed his love openly for his wife Mrinalini, referring to her as ‘Seema Swarger Indrani’ as ‘Queen of Heaven’.

Interestingly, the book also goes on to share that Rabindranath used to tell his daughter-in-law Pratima that he had taught her mother–in-law to cook many dishes and when others would point out that she had been a good cook, Tagore’s humorous response used to be, “Of course, otherwise how would my menus be so successful?”

At a time when patriarchy and social taboos were constructed , Tagore effortlessly deconstructed these societal norms with natural ease, little realising that his efforts would pave the way for shaping a futuristic role of women in Bengal’s cultural renaissance, including leaving behind another invaluable legacy as the pioneer of Shantiniketan.

Rabindranath Tagore birth anniversary: Celebrating human emotions through art and poetry

Ever wondered what keeps an artist, a writer, a dancer or a musician truly alive in these depressing times? A closer look at Rabindranath Tagore’s life is a testimony of why art and literature, poetry and music, theatre and dance dramas offer solace to the world.

Celebrating human emotions, vulnerabilities, flaws and acknowledging its role in making our identities and lives more whole and meaningful, striving to explore its role in shaping who we are, not merely as individuals but also as a civilised, cultured and flourishing society, is perhaps one of the greatest contributions of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore to humanity.

In these difficult times as families grapple with grief, sorrow and gloom, the great works of Tagore – a poet, novelist, philosopher and musician – can transcend the darkest gloom that pervades the world today.

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