Today marks the 80th death anniversary of the great polymath – poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer, and painter – and the Bard of Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore. Also known as Rabi, Gurudev and Biswakabi, Rabindranath Tagore’s work has inspired generations of artists. The subtle genius of his stories and poetry has left an indelible mark on the world. He was the first non-European person to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for his translated work of poetry, ‘Gitanjali: Song Offerings.’ He reshaped Bengali literature and music as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Rabindranath Tagore, son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi, was born on May 7, 1861, in the Jorasanko mansion in Calcutta. He lost his mother at the young age of 14. Tagore enrolled at a public school at Brighton in East Sussex, England, at the age of 17. He also studied law at the University College London. However, he soon left school and started studying literature. He was inspired by English, Irish, and Scottish folk tunes. He returned to India in the year 1880.
Gitanjali, Gora and Ghare-Baire are some of his best-known works. Moreover, two nations chose his compositions as their national anthems: India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla. From mystical romanticism to patriotism, Rabindranath Tagore left no stone unturned in the realm of artistic expression. The combination of his life’s experiences gave us the gift of his poetry, prose, song-writing, and art.
On his 80th birth anniversary, here are some quotes by the Bard of Bengal to remind you of the genius.
“The small wisdom is like water in a glass: clear, transparent, pure. The great wisdom is like the water in the sea: dark, mysterious, impenetrable.”
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
“In art, man reveals himself and not his objects.”
“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.”
“Most people believe the mind to be a mirror, more or less accurately reflecting the world outside them, not realizing on the contrary that the mind is itself the principal element of creation.”
“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”
“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.”
“It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.”