5th January, 2022 Mains

Rabindranath Tagore

  • Son of Debendranath Tagore (leader of the Brahmo Samaj); Rabindranath Tagore was a poet, writer, music composer, and painter.
  • He was known by his pen name Bhanu Singha Thakur.
  • He is referred to as ‘Gurudev’, ‘Kabiguru’, and ‘Vishwakavi’.


Literature & Art

  • He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art.
  • In 1913, Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel
  • He wrote the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh.


  • Tagore despised rote classroom schooling. His vision led to the establishment of a unique educational institution - Visva- Bharati University.
  • Santiniketan Ashram established by Devendranath Tagore, was later expanded by Rabindranath Tagore.
  • The educational complex invented its own syllabus —that kept students abreast of political, social and environmental changes in the country.

Social Reform

  • He used his literature to mobilize people towards political and social reform.
  • Through his works, he protested against Brahmanical social order, Caste System, narrow sectarianism, untouchability and animal sacrifice.


  • In 1921, Tagore and agricultural economist Leonard Elmhirst set up the "Institute for Rural Reconstruction", later renamed
  • He emphasized on expansion of small-scale cottage industries in the villages. The aim was to supply fresh blood to the rural economy depending on local resources.

Freedom Struggle

Partition of Bengal (Swadeshi Movement)

  • Tagore wrote the song Banglar Mati Banglar Jol (Soil of Bengal, Water of Bengal) to unite the Bengali population.
  • He started the Rakhi Utsav where people from Hindu and Muslim communities tied colorful threads on each other's wrists.
  • He urged the masses to seek self-reliance and unite themselves against oppression.

Protest against Jallianwala Bagh Massacre

  • He was awarded a knighthood by King George V in 1915, but Tagore renounced it after the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

His vision of Nationalism

  • He skeptically scrutinized the construction of the nation on narrow parochial lines.
  • Tagore opined that the term nationalism was derived from the term nation-state. And it was nothing but the embodiment of Western ideas of capitalism and mechanization.
  • He believed that these ideals were intrinsically against the Indian tradition of self-autonomy, pluralism and religious tolerance
  • Fundamental to his belief was that nationalism could not rise above humanity.