Rabindranath Tagore was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal which attempted a revival of the ultimate monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads. He was educated at home until seventeen when he was sent to England for schooling. |
Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems he became rapidly known in the West. Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was first of all a poet. Among his fifty and odd volumes of poetry are Manasi (1890) [The Ideal One], Sonar Tari (1894) [The Golden Boat], Gitanjali (1910) [Song Offerings], Gitimalya (1914) [Wreath of Songs], and Balaka (1916) [The Flight of Cranes]. He also wrote many plays, several volumes of short stories and a number of novels, travel diaries, and two autobiographies, one in his middle years and the other shortly before his death in 1941. Tagore also left numerous drawings and paintings, and songs for which he wrote the music himself.
He received the Nobel Prize in Literature 1913.
From time to time he participated in the Indian nationalist movement, though in his own non-sentimental and visionary way. Gandhi, was his devoted friend. Tagore was knighted by the ruling British Government in 1915, but within a few years he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.