Rabindranath Tagore, a name very close to our hearts, evokes a feeling of pride, awe and inspiration and continues to arouse our curiosity to know more about this multi-faceted personality. Biographers have either tried to analysis his work in the light of his life or in the perspective of his contemporary time. This book chronicles the Poet's contributions in the context of the period to which he belonged, bringing into light those incidents, anecdotes and issues which have often been overlooked but which nonetheless are significant as they enable us to understand Tagore better. His role as a son, brother husband, father; his accomplishments as a poet, philosopher, writer, painter, choreographer, actor; his relations with his family, friend, contemporary writers and poets, as well as predecessors; his correspondences with the political leaders of his time within the nation as well as abroad; and above all, his interpretations about life, revealing his quest for love, faith and devotion and his deep-rooted anguish, his unfulfilled dreams and expectations as projected in the broad sweep of this lucid narration reveal two facets to the Poet a man of extraordinary abilities yet a man having ordinary expectations , who could thereby understand the joys and sorrows of the common man keeping aside his own gains and losses. And it is for this reason that Tagore remains dear to all people cutting across boundaries, generations, caste, creed or sect.
Born (3 December 1934) at Barisal town, Nityapriya Ghosh came to Calcutta with his family in 1947. He studied in Hindu School, Presidency College and Calcutta University. After a stint as a college lecturer in English and a brief tenure in the Government of India's central civil service, he was a corporate publicity and public relations executive, retiring from service in 1992. Working as an assistant editor in 1966-1967 with Samar Sen, the editor of Now, he wrote a monograph on him, for Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, in 1990. He contributed to The Statesman, Calcutta, as its weekly television columnist for ten years. A book reviewer for newspapers and magazines, he has co-edited a book of documents on the Partition of Bengal, 1905. He has written three books of essays in Bengali on popular literature. A prolific writer, he has also written and edited several books on Rabindranath Tagore; Dakgharer Harkara, Ranur Chithi Kabir Sneha, The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Vol. 4 (edited), Mukher Katha Lekhar Bhashay, Vol. 1-4 (edited) and In the Company of a Great Man being a few of them.
In June 1901, Rabindranath Tagore wrote a poem and published it in Bangadarsan, a magazine he was editing at that time. Later in 1914, he included it in his book of verse, Utsarga. The poem has been familiar to biographers of Tagore and often quoted. It begins with the words: 'Bahir haite dekho na eman kare' and concludes with' Kabire pabe na tahar jibancharite'. The Poet pleaded to his readers not to look at him from outside and that one would not find him in the facts of his life. In the long poem, he elaborated on the subject. He specified where the Poet could not be found and where he could be; not in the personal joys and sorrows of the Poet, but in the life of people whom the Poet sought to understand, in the smells, sounds and sights of Nature that shaped their lives, days and nights, in the songs he composed to give a form to the dreams which, however, eluded him.
Rabindranath wrote the poem when he was forty and had published eighteen volumes of poems and songs, fourteen musical and prose plays, two novels, four books of short stories and six books of essays and letters. This work was slender compared with the productions of his next forty years. But his views on biography remained unchanged. He himself made no effort to state the events of his life in his two autobiographical books or in his several essays when he was requested to write about himself. In a characteristic letter to Nirmalkumari Mahalanobis, wife of famous Indian statistician Prasanta Mahalanobis and the Poet's close associate, he mentioned that he himself could never furnish the facts of his life for which one would have to go to Prasanta, the repository of the facts. Prasanta, however, was too busy a man to write the biography of the Poet. In the initial stages, he did, of course, assist E.J. Thompson in providing basic facts and influences on the life of the Poet.
Major biographers of Tagore, mentioned in the Bibliography section of this book, had broadly two approaches. One, analysis of Tagore's works in the light of his life; the other, a chronicle of his time. The present work belongs more to the second category than the first. In the broad sweep of their narration, the biographers of the second type tended to pass by incidents, anecdotes and issues which are no less interesting and significant. This biography seeks to fill some gaps.
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