May 7 finds a special significance globally and annually as it marks the birth anniversary of the exceptional literary icon, Rabindranath Tagore. Widely celebrated as Rabindra Jayanti, this day is also popularly addressed as Ponchishe Boishakh, since it falls on the 25th day of the Bengali month Boishakh.
He was born to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi in the year 1861 in Jorasanko Thakurbari, Kolkata. According to the Bengali calendar, Tagore was born in 1268. He was the youngest of the 14 children. This year marks the Bard of Bengal’s 160th birth anniversary.
He is lovingly and respectfully called as Gurudev, Kabiguru and Biswakabi. Hailing from the illustrious ‘Thakur’ family, Tagore was heavily exposed to the world of theatre, recitals (Bengali and Western), classical music and literary discussions. He was a proponent of humanism and universalism.
Revered across the world for his remarkable contribution to the field of literature, music and art, Tagore was a legendary figure and a huge cultural icon. A supremely talented man, Tagore donned many hats –poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer, educationist, linguist, and painter.
He had his first publication by the age of 16 years under the pseudonym Bhanusimha; and started writing since he was all of 8 years. He never went through formal schooling as a child as he detested it. The incredibly gifted ‘world poet’ emerged as a phenomenal litterateur and left an indelible mark in the literary canon.
He was the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for his collection of selected poetry titled, Gitanjali in 1913. The Nobel laureate was an exponent of Bengali Renaissance.
Tagore’s wide range of knowledge, and profound understanding of life mesmerized everyone. The dance form Rabindra Nritya is named after him. Tagore revolutionised the dimensions of Bengali art and literature, spun a modern appeal to it, lent it a rhythmic, optimistic, and lyrical nature. His works were magical and elegant.
To capture the immensity of this man’s work would be akin to trying to contain the ocean in a glass bottle. Over 2,230 songs were composed by him. They are called Rabindra Sangeet. He wrote Sahaj Path, a Bengali language learning book.
His works such as Ghare Baire, Chokher Bali, Jogajog, Gora, and Manihara are still relevant in modern times. Many renowned filmmakers continue to make films by adapting his novels and short stories. He was a deeply spiritual man.
This was the man who composed the Indian national anthem, Jana Gana Mana. The credit for composing Amar Sonar Bangla, Bangladesh’s national anthem, also goes to him.