Sunday, May 8, 2011

Life of Rabindranath Tagore at a glance

Here are milestones from Nobel laureateRabindranath Tagore's life on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary celebrations:

1861, May 7: Rabindranath Tagore is born to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi at Jorasanko House.

1868: He is sent to Oriental Seminary, possibly India's first fully private school. Subsequently admitted to a regular school.

1869: Attempts his first verse after reading a Bengali translation of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's "Paul et Virginie".

1871: Joins Bengal Academy, an Anglo-Indian school.

1873: His 'upanayan' (brahminical initiation) is performed. Writes play "Prithviraj Parajaya" (manuscript lost) and tours India.

1874: Anonymously publishes poem "Abhilasa" (Desire); joins Saint Xavier's School, Kolkata.

1876: Joins the short-lived Secret Society, modelled on Mazzini's Carbonari. His first literary criticism of a book of Bengali poems appears in journal Jnanankur.

1877: On Jan 1, Tagore writes and recites poem on Delhi Durbar arranged by Lord Lytton to proclaim Queen Victoria. Writes his first long story "Bhikharini" (Beggar Maid), first unfinished novel "Karuna" and long poem "Kabikahini".

1878: Studies English in Ahmedabad. Embarks on his first foreign tour - September 1878 to February.

1880: And goes to school at Brighton, England.

1879: Moves to London and joins University College.

1881: Composes his first set of devotional songs. His first musical play " Valmiki Pratibha" is staged at Jorasanko; sails for England April 20; starts writing novel "Bauthakuranir Hat" (The Young Queen's Market).

1882: Writes poem "Nirjharer Svapnabhanga" (The Awakening of the Fountain).

1883: Marries Mrinalini Devi.

1886: Tagore is caught in controversies over social and socio-religious subjects. Composes and sings the inaugural song for the second session of the Indian National Congress.

1888: On March 8, his father Debendranath executes the trust deed of Santiniketan trust. Tagore publishes "Samalochana" -- a collection of essays on literary criticism.

1890: Attacks the anti-India policy of Lord Cross; takes charge of the management of Tagore Estate; sails for England, also visits Italy and France.

1891: Writes first six short stories, the popular "Post Master", and the first of "Chitrangada". Starts Bengali magazine Sadhana along with his nephew. On Dec Dec 22, attends a festival associated with the consecration of the prayer hall at Santiniketan.

1895: Pens short stories beginning with " Kshudita Pashan" (Hungry Stones).

1897: Writes "Baikunther Khata" (The Manuscript of Baikuntha) -- a comedy; plays the role of Kedar in its stage presentation; writes dramatic poem "Sati".

1898: Becomes the editor of Bharati magazine, opposes British policies. Plans to set up a school at Santiniketan.

1899: His family moves to Santiniketan. Assists Sister Nivedita to organise relief for plague victims in Kolkata; delivers his first sermon in the temple at Santiniketan on its anniversary.

1900: Publishes "Katha" (plays and ballads), "Kahini" (story-poems) and the collection of short stories "Galpaguchchha".

1901: On Dec 22, Tagore sets up Santiniketan on the model of ancient forest schools (tapovana) of India and himself teaches there; scripts play "Chirakumar Sabha" (The Bachelors' Club).

1902: Faces severe financial problems in running the school at Santiniketan for which he even sells his personal property. His wife dies Nov 23.

1911: Composes " Jana Gana Mana", which is sung on the 26th session of the Indian National Congress. It goes on to be India's national anthem later.

1912: "Gitanjali-Song Offerings" is published. It wins the Nobel Prize for Literature a year later.
1913: Delivers lectures in Chicago on the "Ideals of Ancient Civilsation" and "The Problem of Evil"; Calcutta University decides to confer a D.Litt degree on him, news reaches Santinikaten about the Nobel prize. The Macmillan & Co, London, publishes a popular edition of "Gitanjali".

1914: Receives the Nobel prize diploma and medal on behalf of the Swedish Academy at a special reception in Kolkata.

1917-1925: Tours the world, takes to painting and attends lectures both in India and abroad.

1940: Condemns Russia's aggression in Finland; is taken seriously ill on Sep 26.

1941, Aug 7: Tagore dies.

(Source: "A Centenary Volume: Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941"; by Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyaya and Kshitis Roy, published by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.)

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