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Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

Topics Covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Tagore- early life, important works and contributions to India’s freedom struggle.

Context: National Gallery of Modern Art will organise the Virtual Tour titled “Gurudev – Journey of the Maestro through his visual vocabulary” from 7th May 2020 to commemorate the 159th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. 

About Rabindranath Tagore:

Early life:

  • Popularly known as ‘Gurudev’, he was born in an affluent Family.
  • Tagore was primarily known as a writer, poet, playwright, philosopher and aesthetician, music composer and choreographer, founder of a unique educational institution – Visva- Bharati and a painter.
  • Tagore began writing poetry at the tender age of eight years old and at 16 years of age,Tagore released his first collection of poems under the pen name ‘Bhanusimha’.
  • He had spoken at the World Parliament for Religions in the years 1929 and 1937.


  • He wrote the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh.
  • He left his imprint on art and played a role in transforming its practices and ushering into modernism.
  • Between 1928 and 1940, Rabindranath painted more than 2000 images. He never gave any title to his paintings.
  • Expressionism in European art and the primitive art of ancient cultures inspired him.


In 1913, he became the first Indian to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel ‘Geetanjali’.

Role in the freedom struggle:

  • He denounced British imperialism, yet he did not fully support or agree with Gandhi and his Non-cooperation Movement.
  • He viewed British rule as a symptom of the overall “sickness” of the social “disease” of the public.
  • In his writings, he also voiced his support of Indian nationalists.
  • Rabindranath Tagore wrote the song Banglar Mati Banglar Jol (Soil of Bengal, Water of Bengal) to unite the Bengali population after Bengal partition in 1905.
  • He also wrote the famed ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’which helped ignite a feeling of nationalism amongst people.
  • He started the Rakhi Utsavwhere people from Hindu and Muslim communities tied colourful threads on each other’s wrists.
  • Tagore rejected violence from the British as well and renounced the knighthood that had been given to him by Lord Hardinge in 1915 in protest of the violent Amritsar massacre in which the British killed at least 1526 unarmed Indian citizens.
  • The cornerstone of Tagore’s beliefs and work is the idea that anti-colonialism cannot simply be achieved by rejecting all things British, but should consist of incorporating all the best aspects of western culture into the best of Indian culture.

What freedom meant for Tagore?

“Freedom” does not simply mean political freedom from the British; True freedom means the ability to be truthful and honest with oneself otherwise autonomy loses all of its worth.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Essence in Tagore’s paintings.
  2. When and why he renounced his knighthood?
  3. His contributions to literature?
  4. About Vishwabharati University.
  5. Tagore award.

Mains Link:

Explain how Rabindranath Tagore catalyzed the progress of Indian national movement in innumerable ways.

Sources: pib.