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Jane AustenThe Best of Saki

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Rabindranath Tagore



One needs no introduction to the poet, novelist, dramatist, painter, musician and mystic philosopher Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The fourteenth child of Debendranath Tagore, he was born in May 1861. From an early age he took over the reigns of the huge ancestral fortune he inherited, and looked after its management. He was sent to England to study law, but returned as he found it uninteresting.

Being in constant touch with rural life, Tagore felt nearer to the dry plains, rivers and mountains of Bengal. He was inspired a lot by nature and humanity. His poems depict a profound feeling of nearness to the spirit. Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature for Gitanjali in 1913. He was knighted in 1915, but due to the barbaric act of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he renounced the knighthood. He founded the Visva Bharati University at Santiniketan, for a holistic approach towards education.

A renaissance icon, Tagore left behind a huge legacy of work. These run into twenty-nine volumes. He died in Calcutta in August 1941.

"The progress of our soul is like a perfect poem. It has an infinite idea which once realised makes all movements full of meaning and joy. But if we detach its movements from that ultimate idea, if we do not see the infinite rest and only see the infinite motion, then existence appears to us a monstrous evil, impetuously rushing towards an unending aimlessness."

Gitanjali, Tagore's Nobel winning masterpiece was first published in 1912. These immensely touching verses were written in Bengali in 1910, after he lost his father, wife, second daughter and youngest son. Later he translated these verses when he set sail for England a third time. He showed the translations to his friend William Rothenstein after much persuasion. Rothenstein subsequently showed it to William Butler Yeats, who went on to write the Introduction for the book.
Renowned for its lyrical beauty and spiritual poignancy, Gitanjali is a classic in its own right, which won Tagore the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.



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