Dr Kalyan Kundu
BRLSI 9th May 2016
Notes by William Gaskell
Yesterday was Rabindranath’s 155th birthday. He was from an aristocratic and progressive family in Bengal, the 14th child of an incredibly gifted and creative household which including many leading members of their fields. At 17 he came to England in 1878 to study law but left with no professional qualification and no English wife! He had been tutored at home until that time.
In 1915 Tagore was knighted by King George V but five years later he renounced his award in response to the British treatment of Indians, killings in Haryana and Punjab.
Rabinosangeth is Tagore’s gift to his people, his poetry and music – he failed to make an impact with Western audiences.
He was a champion of feminism and social justice. He propagated his views through art, poetry and plays – notably The Postman play was also performed in Germany and Czechoslovakia and in the Jewish ghetto in Poland. He also composed the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh. Eventually, he set up a school called Shantaniketum.
He did not support nationalism and favoured the idea of shared humanity between East and West. In 1921 he founded a university named Visva-Bharati University in Calcutta promoting a philosophy in the pursuit of truth.
In 1928 he was appointed manager of his father’s estates in East engal and Orissa. This exposed him to the poverty of some of the peasants and villagers who worked for the estate.
Tagore sent son with one of his students to Illinois to study agriculture. He set up pioneering schemes of self-help called srinikatum to promote modern techniques in agriculture and industry.
He connected with the best minds and intellects in his visits to thirty six countries around the world and was friends with Bertrand Russell.
He died in 1941aand left a heritage to the world that is yet to be rediscovered in the West. Tagore Centre established in London for this purpose.
Rudolph Steiner set up schools in Europe influenced by Tagore and his Shantaniketum schooling system.
Tagore noticed British police system is far more brutal in the colonies.