Sub title: An Interpretation
Author: Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
"‘Can the icon that the multitude created escape the hunger of the eternal dust?’ . . . Rabindranath Tagore wrote thus in 1939, two years before his death. This intellectual biography of Tagore, perhaps the first of its kind, portrays him as a man who was deeply skeptical, self-critical, tormented by conflicts in his ‘inner life’, aware of the historical significance of his times and continually interacted with adversaries and friends across the world; someone who built on the heritage of the nineteenth century renaissance in India and became one of the makers of the modern Indian mind. Young Rabi rebelled against ‘Western’ schooling, suffered from chronic loneliness in childhood and after, and imbibed the cultural and literary climate in his privileged family; he also engaged as a cultural leader with the Swadeshi movement on Bengal’s partition in 1905, founded the school in Santiniketan and renounced his knighthood after Jallianwala Bagh. Through his eighty-one years, Tagore swung between public life and seclusion of a poet. Over time, he would reinvent his creative self. His life was, however, not bereft of contradictions. His patriotism and love for Bengal and India flowed alongside his belief in a transnational humanist universalism, the ‘religion of man’ for the future of civilization. Rabindranath Tagore: an Interpretation situates the iconic figure in the history of his tumultuous times—of an India in the throes of the national struggle for independence and of a world moving from Victorian stability to the turmoil of World War II. Coinciding with his 150th birth anniversary, it illuminates Tagore’s extraordinary contributions: as a poet and writer, nationalist and ideologue, educationist and philosopher, composer and painter. "