The City of Kolkata and a Select-Few Who Brought Fame and Dignity:
  Kolkata, The City
  Rabindranath Tagore [1861-1941]   Satyendra Nath Bose [1894-1974]
  Swami Vivekananda [1863-1902]   Mother Teresa [1910-1997]
  Prof. Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis [1893-1972]   Satyajit Ray [1921-1992]

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Rabindranath Tagore [1861-1941]

Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet, writer, philosopher was the ambassador of Indian culture to the rest of the world. He is probably the most prominent figure in the cultural world of Indian subcontinent and the first Asian to be awarded with Nobel prize. Even though he is mainly known as a poet, his multifaceted talent showered upon different branches of art, such as, novels, short stories, dramas, articles, essays, painting etc. And his songs, popularly known as Rabindrasangeet, have an eternal appeal and is permanently placed in the heart of the Bengalis. He was a social reformer, patriot and above all, a great humanitarian and philosopher. India and Bangladesh - the national anthems of these two countries are his composition.


Tagore was born on Tuesday, 7th May 1861 in a wealthy family in Calcutta at 6, Dwarakanath Thakur Lane, Calcutta. He was son of Debenadranath and Sarada Devi and the grand son of Dwarakanath Tagore, a rich landlord and social reformer. He could not cope with the conventional system of education and started study at home under several teachers.  He translated a part of Shakespare's Macbeth into Bengali verse which was later published in Bharati magazine. His first book of poems, Kabi Kahini ( tale of a poet ) was published in 1878. In the same year, he sailed to England with his brother Satyandranath. He got admitted into the University College in England and started studying under Prof Henry Morley. Retuned to India in 1880.Got married to Bhabatarini Devi in 1883 at the age of 22. Later her name was changed to Mrinalini Devi. By this time he had already been established as a leading writer of Bengali literature.
In 1890 Tagore attended session of Indian National Congress and on the opening day sang Vandemataram composed by Bankim Chandra Chattapadhayay, the exponent of novel in Bengali literature. In 1901 he took the editorial charge of the magazine Bangadarshan. Got involved with freedom fighting movement.  Established Bolpur Bramhacharyaashram at Shantiniketan, a school in the pattern of old Indian Ashrama. He strongly protested Lord Curzon's decision to divide Bengal on the basis of religion. Wrote a number of national songs and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan ceremony , symbolizing the underlying unity in undivided Bengal. In 1909 started writing Gitanjali at Silaidaha. Composed Janaganamana in 1911 which later became the national anthem of India. 
In 1912 went to Europe for the second time. On his journey to London he translated into English some of his poems/songs from Gitanjali. He met William Rothenstein, a noted British painter, in London. Earlier he was introduced to Rothenstein in Calcutta at a gathering at  Abanindranath Tagore's house before. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems, made copies and gave to Yeats and other English poets. He arranged a reading in his house where Yeats read Tagore's poems in front of a distinguished audience comprising of Ezra Pound, May Sinclair, Ernest Rhys etc. Tagore sailed for America ( for the first time ) from England. Reached New York, came to Urbana, Illinois, gave a lecture and went to Chicago. In the mean time  Gitanjali ( song offerings ) containing 103 translated poems of Tagore was published in London. Yeats wrote the introduction for this book and Rothenstein did a pencil sketch for the cover page. The book created a sensation in the English literary world. Tagore delivered lectures in Rochester, Boston, Harvard University. Ezra Pound's "Poetry" Magazine published from Chicago had the honor of publishing the first English poem of Tagore. His six Gitanjali poems appeared in Poetry in December, 1912 issue. The poet returned to Calcutta. 13th November, 1913, Indians came to know that the Nobel prize for literature had been awarded to Tagore for Gitanjali. On 26th Decemeber, University of Calcutta conferred on him the honorary degree of "D.Litt.". Received Knighthood in 1915. 
Proceeded to Japan in 1916. On his way gave speeches at Rangoon, Singapore, Hongkong. In September, 1916 got invitation from different institutions in USA and reached Seattle ( Washington). Lectured at Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Iowa, Milwakee, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston. At Columbia Theatre, New York read translation from his novel Raja. Returned to Calcutta in 1917. In 1919, the poet started a tour to South India. Delivered lectures on different topics at Bangalore, Mysroe, Ooty, Coimbatore, Palghat, Salem, Trichy, Sirangapatnam, Kumbakonam, Tanjore and Madras. At Madras spoke as Chancellor of National University, founded by Annie Besant and stayed as a guest of Mr. Besant at Adyar. In 1919, he wrote a historic letter to Lord Chelmsford repudiating his Knighthood in protest against the massacre at Jalianwalabag, Punjab. In 1920 he went to Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram and visited Ahmedabad, Surat and Bombay. Call came from Europe again in 1920. Delivered lectures at New York, Princeton, Chicago and came back to Europe. His effort to raise fund for Viswabharati was not very fruitful in America, mostly because he was seen as an anti-British and pro-German. He continued talks at Geneva, Zurich, Humburg, Copenhaegen, Stockholm, Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna, Prague and in other cities. 
In 1921, established Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and royalty money from his books to this University. Went to Bombay and from there to Poona. Visited and lectured at Mysore, Bangalore,Coimbatore, Trivandam, Cochin and Colombo.  Got invitation from China and visited Sanghai, Peiking. Visited Japan again in this tour. Went to South America. Met Argentine poet Madam Victoria Ocampo at Buenos Ayres. The poet gave her a name , Vijaya and wrote Purabi - a collection of poems dedicated to her. On the return journey visited Italy and lectured in Milan, Venice, Florence. Mahatma Gandhi visited Santiniketan on the poet's birthday. In 1926 visited Dacca, Moimonsingha, Comilla. Visited Europe again and this time went to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Huungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece and Egypt. In 1927 went to Malayasia, Java, Thailand. In 1929 Canada. In 1930 Russia. In 1932 Iran, Iraq. And in 1934 to SriLanka. 
In 1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan to honor the poet with Doctorate Of Literature. Tagore passed away on 7th August, 1941.
Sad demise of his beloved ones came almost in a procession but with the placidity of a yogi he tolerated the shock and it never could stop both his creative and constructive activities. In all his literary output he searched after the eternal values of life: human, aesthetic and deeply spiritual; his songs specially are endowed with all the different shades and forms of love which often transcends to the love for God and also God's love for man.

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