Biography of Rabindranath Tagore – The Poet, Writer, Painter & Philosopher


Rabindranath Tagore, also known as Gurudev, had many forms of expression. He was a poet, writer, painter, composer, philosopher, and social reformer. Most Cherished amongst Rabindranath Tagore’s achievements is that he has written the National Anthems of not one but two nations. India and Bangladesh are so blessed that Rabindranath Tagore has penned down their National Anthem.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore had multifarious talents. From his adolescent days, Rabindranath Tagore was inclined towards literature and writing. Rabindranath Tagore wrote his first collection of poems when he was 16 years old. Due to this, he has a vast legacy of poems, short stories, songs, paintings, novels, and institutions.

Rabindranath Tagore was a strong activist of the Bengal Renaissance. He introduced conversational Bengali in writing and hence made even intense poems and thoughts palatable for common masses. 

Full NameRabindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Thakur
Pen NameBhanu Singha Thakur (Bhonita)
Also Known asGurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi
Date of Birth7th May 1861
Age80 years
Death7th August 1941
HometownKolkata (West Bengal, India)
EducationRabindranath Tagore completed his schooling from St. Xavier’s School. Then he went to University of London in Bridgton, England. But returned early as he did not have interest in the same. 

Short Biography of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) on 7th May 1861 to Debendranath Tagore (father) and Sarada Devi. He was their 14th and youngest surviving child. Sarada Devi died an untimely death. As a result, Rabindranath’s servants and siblings had a major role in his upbringing. 


The Tagore family contributed greatly to the Bengal Renaissance. Debendranath Tagore, Rabindranath’s father, was a religious reformer and a leader of Brahmo Samaj. His eldest sibling, Dwijendranath was a poet & philosopher. His sister Swarnakumari was a novelist. 

Jyotirindranath, another brother of Rabindranath Tagore, was a musician, composer, and playwright. One of his brothers, Satyendranath was the first Indian to be appointed in civil service, which was formerly all European. 

Rabindranath Tagore’s Family – Snapshot

Father’s nameDebendranath Tagore
Mother’s nameSarada Devi
SiblingsRabindranath Tagore had 13 siblings. He is the 14th and youngest child of his parents
Wife’s nameMrinalini Devi Raichaudhuri
Children’s namesRabindranath Tagore had 2 sons and 3 daughters:
Rathindranath TagoreShamindranath TagoreRenuka DeviMeera DeviMadhurilata Devi

Rabindranath Tagore got married to Mrinalini Devi in 1883. They had 5 children. Out of these 2 died in childhood. Rabindranath Tagore’s wife, unfortunately, left for her heavenly abode in 1902. Rabindranath Tagore had a lot of grief due to this, which is also reflected in his writings, especially Gitanjali!


A major part of Rabindranath Tagore’s education was done at home as he did not find classroom schooling interesting. Rabindranath’s brother, Hemendranath Tagore, who was a strict disciplinarian, was responsible for the education of his siblings. Hemendranath trained Rabindranath Tagore in swimming, trekking, judo, and wrestling. 

He also trained Rabindranath in drawing, history, literature, anatomy, geography, literature, Sanskrit, mathematics, and English. Rabindranath Tagore was not happy with the state of education and hence preferred more practical-oriented training. He also later opined that education must spark curiosity.

Rabindranath Tagore completed his schooling at St. Xavier’s School. After which he went to study law at the University of London in Bridgton, England, in 1877. His father wanted him to be a barrister. But, he left it midway and studied literature. Some of his readings included Irish, Scottish folklore, plays of Shakespeare, etc. 

Rabindranath came back to India in 1880, without completing the degree. Rabindranath Tagore continued to write stories and poems all while he was in London. After returning to India, he started publishing these. He got recognition not only in Bengal but across India. 

Rabindranath Tagore – The Poet, Writer, Painter & Philosopher

Rabindranath Tagore’s inspiration was multi-faceted. Even in India, it was not limited to Bengali literature or texts. He had exposure to Sanskrit literature, texts (biographies, etc from Himachal Pradesh) and he was very influenced by Sikhism. He found Gurbani extremely melodious. All this was due to the fact that he was traveling across India along with his father from his adolescent days. Later, when he went to London for further studies, he got exposure to western literature and read writers like William Shakespeare. 

Rabindranath Tagore’s achievements can be attributed to the great legacy of his family and his multi-dimensional exposure. In addition, also to the fact that he never stopped learning and doing new things. He started painting in his late 60s and had a collection of more than 2300 paintings, sketches, and doodles. 

Rabindranath Tagore’s Poems

Rabindranath Tagore once said that out of all his literary expressions, poetry is closest to his heart. He was 70 years old at that point. So, out of all Rabindranath Tagore’s achievements, poetry was the one he cherished the most. He said he can most certainly say that he is a poet!

Rabindranath Tagore’s Poems have a philosophical bent and showcase the state of the nation, politics, and his life at the time they were written. 

Rabindranath Tagore wrote Gitanjali when he was experiencing profound grief after the death of his wife and 2 children. Gitanjali is a collection of poems that talk about the devotion and the omnipresence of God. It was later translated into English with an introduction by famous poet W. B. Yeats. 

This Rabindranath Tagore poem was admired across the globe. Rabindranath Tagore also won a Nobel Prize in Literature for this work in 1913. In fact, he was the first non-European to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Following this, many of Rabindranath Tagore’s poems were translated into English. 

Some of the appreciated Rabindranath Tagore Poems are:

  • Manasi
  • Sonar Tori
  • Balaka
  • Bhanusimha

Rabindranath Tagore’s Paintings

Rabindranath Tagore started painting at a later stage in his life. It was due to Rabindranath Tagore’s perennial quest to learn that he tried his hand at painting. He was of the opinion that one should try to master the skill that comes to them with the most difficulty. Rabindranath Tagore was probably partially color blind (mainly with red/green color) due to which his paintings had a unique color character. 

Rabindranath Tagore’s paintings were also exhibited in Paris and across Europe. But, eventually, he stopped painting because he was not satisfied with them.

Autobiography of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore, in fact, had an exceptional life in terms of grief, talent, learning, development of art, and giving inspiration. His love for writing was evident in the fact that he was 8 years old when he wrote his first poem. Many people are of the opinion that many of his works can be considered as the Autobiography of Rabindranath Tagore as they provide a window to his life and state of mind. 

Moreover, the exceptional life that he has had, cannot be summed up into one autobiography. In fact, Rabindranath Tagore wrote two autobiographies. One was written in his middle age and the other in 1941, the same year that his soul left the world, but he is alive in his poems, stories, and songs.

Achievement of Rabindranath Tagore

Although, no words or any amount of text can do justice to the stature of Rabindranath Tagore. A few of his achievements are given below:

  • Nobel Prize: Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He won the prize for his excellent collection of poems, Gitanjali, which resonated with people around the world. 
  • Knighthood: In 1915, Rabindranath Tagore was awarded Knighthood by King George V. This was after he won the Nobel Prize. But in 1919, he renounced the honor as he was perturbed with the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre as many of his fellow Indians lost their lives. 
  • Visva-Bharati: Visva-Bharati was founded by Rabindranath Tagore and it was located at Shantiniketan in West Bengal. It literally means communion of the world with India. Before independence it was a college, after independence it became a full-fledged central research university. The university is a live view of the vision Rabindranath Tagore has for education. Classes are conducted in open space, classrooms are made of mud walls and have thatched roofs etc. 
  • Rabindra Sangeet: Rabindra Sangeet is a collection of songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore. These are an amalgamation of Hindustani classical, Carnatic music, folk music of Bengal, and Western tunes. He absorbed these styles during his travels to other states within India and nations outside. This is unique to Rabindranath Tagore. 


When was the Indian National Anthem first sung?

The Indian National Anthem was first sung on 26th December 1911, during a convention of the Indian National Congress. 

Who has given the title of ‘Mahatma’ to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?

Rabindranath Tagore had given the title of Mahatma to Gandhiji. 

Which was the last work of Rabindranath Tagore?

Shesh Lekha was the last poem of Rabindranath Tagore. 

Is it true that there were attempts to assassinate Rabindranath Tagore?

There are some reports that during his second visit to San Fransisco in 1916, there were attempts of assassination on Rabindranath Tagore. But there is no confirmation on this. 

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