Today is kabipranam i,e. Rabidranath Tagore's birth aniversary. Firstly, I would like to share a poem from tagore's nobel-prize winning work Gitanjali...
"I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy." - Tagore
Life of my life, I shall ever try to keep my body pure, knowing that thy living touch is upon all my limbs.
I shall ever try to keep all untruths out from my thoughts, knowing that thou art that truth which has kindled the light of reason in my mind.
I shall ever try to drive all evils away from my heart and keep my love in flower, knowing that thou hast thy seat in the inmost shrine of my heart. And it shall be my endeavour to reveal thee in my actions, knowing it is thy power gives me strength to act.
In 1912,he then went back to England. Now a man of 51, his was accompanied by his son. On the way over to England he began translating, for the very first time, his selections of poems, called Gitanjali, into English.
Tagore's had a friend in England, who was a famous artist he had met in India, Rothenstein. Rothenstein learned of the translation of poems, and wished to see it. Reluctantly,and after with much persuasion, Tagore let him have the translations. Rothenstein could not believe his eyes. The poems were incredible. He called his friend, W.B. Yeats, and finally talked Yeats into looking at the work of poetry.
The rest, as they say, is history. Yeats was amazed. He later wrote the introduction to Gitanjali when it was published in September 1912 London. Thereafter, both the poetry and the man were an instant sensation, first in London literary circles, and soon thereafter in the entire world. His spiritual presence was unbelievable . His words evoked great beauty and respect. Nobody had ever read anything like it. A glimpse of the sacred mysticism and sentimental beauty of Indian culture were revealed to the West for the first time. Less than a year later, in 1913, Rabindranath received the Nobel Prize for literature. He was the first non-westerner to be so honored. Overnight he was famous and began world lecture tours promoting inter-cultural harmony and understanding. In 1915 he was knighted by the British King George V. When not traveling he remained at his family home outside of Calcutta, where he remained very active as a literary, spiritual and social-political force.
In 1919, following the Amritsar massacre of 400 Indian demonstrators by British troops, Sir Tagore renounced his Knighthood.
Tagore was not only a creative genius, he was a great man and friend to many. For instance, he was also a good friend from childhood to the great Indian Physicist, Bose. He was educated and quite knowledgeable of Western culture, especially Western poetry and Science. This made him a remarkable person, one of the first of our planet to combine East and West, and ancient and modern knowledge. Tagore had a good grasp of modern - post-Newtonian - physics, and was well able to hold his own in a debate with Einstein in 1930 on the newly emerging principles of quantum mechanics and chaos.
His meetings and tape recorded conversations with his contemporaries such Albert Einstein and H.G.Wells, stand as cultural landmarks, and show the brilliance of this great man. Although Tagore is a superb representative of his country - India - the man who wrote its national anthem - his life and works go far beyond his country. He is truly a man of the whole Earth, a product of the best of both traditional Indian, and modern Western cultures.
Gitanjali is an eternal masterpiece, i have read my copy so many times. Every few years i have to buy a new copy , cause it gets worn out.
You can download Gitanjali in e-Book format from:http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/Poetry/Gitanjali.html
Bibliography:Text of tagore's Biography i have presented was adapted from http://www.schoolofwisdom.com/tagore.html