RabindranathTagore –the first Bangalee & Asian Nobel Literature laureate

Aziz Haq By Aziz Haq, 1st Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3toxzn8i/
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In this short essay the writer gives his assessment of Bangalee poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first Asian to win Nobel Prize for literature. A great literary genius, Tagore, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913.

RabindranathTagore –the first Bangalee & Asian Nobel Literature laureate

Poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was born in 1861in the then Bengal province of the British India, has remained to this day the brightest luminary in the firmament of Bangla literature. It was he and a couple of other poets and writers, including poet Kazi Nazrul Islam and Michael Madhusudan Datta, who together elevated the stature of the Bangla literature to constitute a component of the world’s literary treasure. And by winning the Nobel Prize in 1913, Rabindranath Tagore attracted the attention of the entire world to the extraordinary literary wealth of Bengal.

Rabindranath Tagore is a light house for the Tagore lovers. As a light house guides a ship by night to keep to a safe course, so do Tagore’s teachings and philosophy, as expressed through his timeless works, steer one through both adversity and prosperity. Bangladesh and India are the principal co-sharers and proud cherishers of the great and huge creative legacy of Tagore. Both countries have had joint celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of this great poet last year (2011). As a Bangalee poet who wrote in his mother language Bangla, Rabindranath Tagore is as much a poet of Bangladesh as he is of India. He was born and also lived all his life in the then huge province of Bengal in India of the British Raj –the Bengal which now stands divided to constitute on the one hand almost the entire territory of sovereign Bangladesh and on the other the Paschim Banga or West Bengal state of the present-day India. Tagore had occasionally visited and stayed on their estate in East Bengal which is now a part of the territory of Bangladesh. He lived there in their house at Shilaidaha located on the great river Padma and often spent several days in a row in his boathouse on the river. These were the places where the great poet came in intimate communion with the common man and nature that engendered the inspiration that was behind the composition of many of his great works. The cultural psyches of the two nations, Bangladesh and India, find an elaborate reflection in Tagore’s works. Conversely, Tagore’s moral and aesthetic thoughts and his philosophy about life and the world have contributed immensely in moulding the psyches of these two peoples.

With his prolific and versatile poetic and literary genius, Tagore had made his conspicuous presence felt in every branch of the Bangla literature. He was simultaneously a poet, philosopher, artist, playwright, essayist, songwriter (composer), short story writer, novelist and educator. So, in terms of variety, volume and quality of works, it is difficult to find Tagore’s parallel in the world.
Although Tagore wrote successfully in all literary genres, he was primarily a poet. The first Asian to win Nobel Prize in literature, Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize principally on an assessment of his poetic genius that found an expression through the lyrics in his book Gitanjali (literally meaning Song Offerings), which could be compared to the tip of an iceberg, when you see it against the entire volume of his literary works. Two sovereign countries (Bangladesh and India) picked their respective national anthems from Tagore songs, which is something unique in the world. Possibly, there has been no other poet in the world whose songs have been chosen by more than one country as their national anthems. His extraordinary works have made Tagore a cultural icon for the entire humanity.

A humanitarian, social and religious reformer, Tagore’s works, especially his poems and songs, are morally edifying and aesthetically elevating. Knowledge of the language Bangla is almost a sine qua non for a deep and full appreciation of Tagore songs and poetry based on a thorough grasp of the beauty of their words and melodies, which remain untranslatable. The words, the message and the music in a Tagore song combine together to forge an enchantment that holds the listener spellbound. Tagore songs have the power to transport the listener to a serene world of unblemished pleasure and exquisite beauty.

So prodigious is the scope of the works of this great literary genius that it seems to comprehend every possible human emotion and feeling as well as their nuances. His literature expresses Tagore’s deep empathetic understanding of human mind and he upholds universal humanitarian values. He aspired to see the entire humanity bound together with bonds of love, compassion and sympathy. Even 150 years after his birth and 70 years after his passing away in 1941, Tagore dominates the literary and cultural landscapes of Bangladesh and India.


Bangalee Poet, Bangla Literature, Bangla Poetry, Rabindranath Tagore

Meet the author

author avatar Aziz Haq
A civil servant by profession, I endeavour to express through my writings how I view life.
Human sufferings, the transient nature of life and profound love for the world are my dominant themes.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
2nd Apr 2012 (#)

What a tribute to a great soul and a true literary giant! We always need love, compassion and sympathy; even more so now. Thanks for the share, Aziz - siva

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author avatar Aziz Haq
2nd Apr 2012 (#)

Thanks for your kind appreciation, Siva.

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