Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath. As a poet, novelist, musician, and playwright, he reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As author of Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”,in 1913 being the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore was perhaps the most important literary figure of Bengali literature. He was a mesmerising representative of the Indian culture whose influence and popularity internationally perhaps could only be compared to that of Gandhi, whom Tagore named ‘Mahatma’ out of his deep admiration for him.
A Pirali Brahminfrom Kolkata, Tagore was already writing poems at age eight. At age sixteen, he published his first substantial poetry under the pseudonym Bhanushingho (“Sun Lion”) and wrote his first short stories and dramas in 1877. Tagore denounced the British Raj and supported independence. His efforts endure in his vast canon and in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.
Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to political and personal topics. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and contemplation. Tagore was perhaps the only litterateur who penned anthems of two countries: Bangladesh and India: Amar Shonar Bangla and Jana Gana Mana.
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