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Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

GS Paper 1


Syllabus: Modern Indian History from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues


Source: PIB

 Context: The 162nd birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was celebrated across the globe on May 7.

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
AboutHe was a Bengali polymath who worked as a poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter.
PhilosophiesHe propagated ideas of humanism, idealism, nationalism and internationalism.


One of the most remarkable institutions established by Tagore – Visva Bharati University (1921) – ushered in a new era of Indian nationalism (incorporating all the best aspects of Western culture into the best of Indian culture).

ContributionsAs a freedom fighter:

 For him, true freedom means the ability to be truthful and honest with oneself otherwise autonomy loses all of its worth.

He viewed British rule as a symptom of the overall “sickness” of the social “disease” of the public.

 He wrote the song ‘Banglar Mati Banglar Jol’ (Soil of Bengal, Water of Bengal) to unite the Bengali population after the Bengal partition in 1905.

He actively participated in the Swadeshi movement (1905). Being shocked when it broke into communal violence, he withdrew from the movement.

 He wrote the ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ (adopted as the national anthem of Bangladesh later) and ‘Jana Gana Mana’ (adopted as the national anthem of independent India later) which helped ignite a feeling of nationalism amongst people.

For Hindu-Muslim unity, he started the Rakhi festival.

He renounced the Knighthood in protest of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (1919).

As a social reformer:

 He constantly questioned the importance of caste in India’s discourse.

In his poem – ‘The Sacred Touch’ (in the Harijan) and drama – ‘Chandalika’, he shunned untouchability as being inhumane.

His works – Chokher Bali (on themes like widowhood, patriarchy and child marriage), Maanbhajan, and Aparichita (shunning the practice of dowry) – touched upon almost all the social evils of that time.

WorksHe published his first poems at the age of 16 under the pen name ‘Bhanusimha’.

His notable works include Gitanjali, Ghare-Baire, Gora, Manasi, Balaka, and Sonar Tori. He is also remembered for his song ‘Ekla Chalo Re’.

For all his contributions he is widely known as ‘Kavi guru’.

Tagore vs GandhiHe was a good friend of Mahatma Gandhi and is said to have given him the title of Mahatma.

However, both disagreed on key issues at times.

For example, Tagore sharply criticised Gandhi, after he blamed the prevalence of untouchability for the massive earthquake in Bihar.

Tagore renounced British imperialism, yet he did not fully support or agree with Gandhi and his Non-cooperation movement.

AwardsIn 1913 he became the first non-European to have won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novel ‘Geetanjali’.

Knighthood was given to him by Lord Hardinge in 1915.

Relevance todayTagore’s ideas on nationalism, humanism, internationalism and divinity stay as alive and relevant.


Insta Links:

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore


Prelims Links: (UPSC 2021)

With reference to Madanapalle of Andhra Pradesh, which one of the following statements is correct?

  1. Pingali Venkayya designed the tricolour Indian National Flag here.
  2. Pattabhi Sitaramaiah led the Quit India Movement of the Andhra region from here.
  3. Rabindranath Tagore translated the National Anthem from Bengali to English here.
  4. Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott set up the headquarters of the Theosophical Society first here.


Ans: 3