Bishwa Nath Singh
May 7, 2011 is going to be the one hundred fiftieth Birth Anniversary of the first Noble Laureate of Non-Europian countries and founder of the world wide one of the best acclaimed Vishwa Bharati University at Shantineketan in Bolpur District of West Bengal in India who was widely acclaimed as a great poet, eminent writer, an excellent teach...er, a great musician, a widely traveled person and well-reputed singer besides being an accredited Painter. He was none else than Gurudev Dr. Ravindra Nath Tagore who lived and died for welfare of our country in between May 7,1861 to August 7,1941.Let us join to pay our homage to him and inculcate his teachings in our life to make it blissful!
(Photo of Gurudev Ravindranath Tagore)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
The Picture reminds of Gurudev being in Berlin in 1930. Gurudev Dr.Ravindranath Tagore was born in Kolkata in India on May 7, 1861 into an affluent wealthy Hindu family. After a brief stay in England (1878) to attempt to study law, he ret...urned to India, and instead pursued a career as a writer, playwright, songwriter, poet, philosopher and educator. During the first fifty years of his life he achieved some success in the Calcutta area of India where he was born and raised with his many stories, songs and plays. On December 9, 1883 he had wedded Mrinalini Devi ( who was born at Bhabatarini and lived 1873–1902); they had five children, two of whom died before reaching adulthood His short stories were published monthly in a friend’s magazine and he even played the lead role in a few of the public performances of his plays. Otherwise, he was little known outside of the Calcutta area, and not known at all outside of India that suddenly changed in 1912. He then returned to England for the first time since his failed attempt at law school as a teenager. Now a man of fifty one, he was accompanied by his son. On the way over to England he began translating, for the first time, his latest selections of poems, Gitanjali, into English. Almost all of his work prior to that time had been written in his native tongue of Bengali. He decided to do this just to have something to do, with no expectation at all that his first time translation efforts would be any good. He made the handwritten translations in a little notebook he carried around with him and worked on during the long sea voyage from India. Upon arrival, his son left his father’s brief case with this notebook in the London subway. Fortunately, an honest person turned in the briefcase and it was recovered the next day. Tagore‘s one friend in England, a famous artist he had met in India, Rothenstein, learned of the translation, and asked to see it. Reluctantly, with much persuasion, Tagore let him have the notebook. The painter could not believe his eyes. The poems were incredible. He called his friend, W.B. Yeats, and finally talked Yeats into looking at the hand scrawled notebook.The rest, as they say, is history. Yeats was enthralled. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 in a limited edition by the India Society in London. Thereafter, both the poetry and the man were an instant sensation, first in London literary circles, and soon thereafter in the entire world. His spiritual presence was awesome. His words evoked great beauty. Nobody had ever read anything like it. A glimpse of the mysticism and sentimental beauty of Indian culture were revealed to the West for the first time. Less than a year later, in 1913,he received the Nobel Prize for literature. He was the first non-westerner to be so honored. Overnight he was famous and began world lecture tours promoting inter-cultural harmony and understanding. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V. When not traveling he remained at his family home outside of Calcutta, where he remained very active as a literary, spiritual and social-political force. In 1919, following the Amritsar massacre of four hundred Indian demonstrators by British troops, Sir Tagore renounced his Knighthood. Although being a good friend of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, most of the time he had stayed out of politics. He was opposed to nationalism and militarism as a matter of principle, and instead promoted spiritual values and the creation of a new world culture founded in multi-culturalism, diversity and tolerance. In between 1878 and 1932, he had visited more than thirty countries on five continents, many of these trips were crucial in familiarizing non-Indian audiences with his works and spreading his political ideas His last travels abroad, including visits to Persia and Iraq in 1932 and Sri Lanka in 1933, only sharpened his opinions regarding human divisions and nationalism.He served as a spiritual and creative beacon to his countrymen, and indeed, the whole world. He used the funds from his writing and lecturing to expand upon the school he had founded in 1901 now known as Visva Bharati . The alternative to the poor system of education imposed by the British combined the best of traditional Hindu education with Western ideals. His multi-cultural educational efforts were an inspiration to many, including his friend, Count Hermann Keyserling of Estonia. Count Keyserling founded his own school in 1920 patterned upon Tagore‘s school, and the ancient universities which existed in Northern India under Buddhist rule over two thousand years ago under the name School of Wisdom. He had led the opening program of the School of Wisdom in 1920, and participated in several of its programs thereafter.His creative output speaks a lot about this renaissance man. The variety, quality and quantity are unbelievable. As a writer, he primarily worked in Bengali, but after his success with Gitanjali, he translated many of his other works into English. He wrote over one thousand poems; eight volumes of short stories; almost two dozen plays and play-lets; eight novels; and many books and essays on philosophy, religion, education and social topics. Aside from words and drama, his other great love was music, Bengali style. He composed more than two thousand songs, both the music and lyrics. Two of them became the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. In 1929 he even began painting. Many of his paintings can be found in museums today, especially in India, where he is considered the greatest literary figure of India of all times. He was not only a creative genius; he was a great man and friend to many. For instance, he was also a good friend from childhood to the great Indian Physicist, Bose. He was educated and quite knowledgeable of Western culture, especially Western poetry and Science. This made him a remarkable person, one of the first of our planet to combine East and West, and ancient and modern knowledge. He had a good grasp of modern – post-Newtonian – physics, and was well able to hold his own in a debate with Einstein in 1930 on the newly emerging principles of quantum mechanics and chaos. His meetings and tape recorded conversations with his contemporaries such Albert Einstein and H.G. Wells, stand as cultural landmarks, and show the brilliance of this great man. Although he is a superb representative of his country – India – the man who wrote its national anthem – his life and works go far beyond his country. He is truly a man of the whole Earth, a product of the best of both traditional Indian, and modern Western cultures. The School of Wisdom is proud to have him as part of its heritage. He exemplifies the ideals important to us of Goodness, Meaningful Work, and World Culture. His last five years were marked by chronic pain and two long periods of illness. These began when he had lost consciousness in late 1937; he remained comatose and near death for an extended period. This was followed three years later, in late 1940, by a similar spell, from which he never recovered. The poetry he wrote during these years is among his finest, and is distinctive for its preoccupation with death.After extended suffering, he had passed away on August 7, 1941 in an upstairs room of the Jorasanko mansion in which he was raised at the age of eighty years. His death anniversary is mourned across the Bengali-speaking world. The last person to see him alive was Amiya Kumar Sen, brother of Sukumar Sen, the first Chief Election Commissioner of India. He had dictated his last poem to Amiya Kumar Sen, who wrote it down. Later on, Amiya Kumar Sen had donated the resulting draft to the Museum in Kolkata.Let us join to pay our humble obeisance to the lotus feet of Gurudev and seek his bliss for well-being of all living-being of this universe!
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Anil Kumar :
MeRa NaMaN GuRuDeV ke AseeM GyaaN ko
O Aaj bhi RaaH DikhaaTi hai,
GyaaN ki JyoTi JaGaaTi Hai.