Rabindranath Tagore


1861

7 May: RT born in Calcutta into a wealthy and prominent family. His father was Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, a religious reformer and scholar. His mother, Sarada Devi, died when Tagore was very young - he realized that she would never come back was when her body was carried through a gate to a place where it was burned. Tagore's grandfather had established a huge financial empire for himself. He helped a number of public projects, such as Calcutta Medical College.

1869

RT starts to compose poems.

1878

RT's first book, a collection of poems, appears; it is published by Tagore's friend who wanted to surprise him.

Goes to England for college. Studies law at University College, London, but leaves after a year.

1883

Marries Mrinalini Devi Raichaudhuri.

1890

Mansi, a collection of Tagore's poems, is published

1890

Settles at Shilaidaha in Kushthia (now in Bangladesh).

1893-1900

Writes seven volumes of poetry, all in Bengali.

1901

Founds school outside Calcutta, Visva-Bharati, which was dedicated to emerging Western and Indian philosophy and education. It becomes a university in 1921.

1902-1907

RT's wife, father, daughter Renuka and son Samindra die.

1905

Bengal is partitioned. Indians viewed the partition as an attempt by the British to disrupt the growing national movement in Bengal and divide the Hindus and Muslims of the region. The partition outraged Bengalis. Not only had the government failed to consult Indian public opinion, but the action appeared to reflect the British resolve to divide and rule. Widespread agitation ensued in the streets and in the press, and the Congress advocated boycotting British products.

1910

WritesGitanjali in Bengali.

1911

Writes "Jana Gana Mana," which later becomes Bangladesh's National Anthem

1912

Gitanjali published in English. He misplaces the manuscript in the London Underground but it miraculously turns up in the lost and found section.

1913

Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1915

Knighted by King George.

1916-1918

The first Satyagraha Movements, inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, begin in Bihar and Gujarat.

Satyagraha, a term coined by Gandhi, can be loosely translated as "insistence on truth" (satya "truth"; agraha "insistence" or "holding firmly to") or "holding onto truth" or "truth force." It is a particular form of nonviolent resistance or civil resistance. The essence of the Satyagraha Movement is to fight against injustice, offering resistance without any hatred or injury to the opponent, in order to instill in him a sense of justice and win his heart without hurting him.

The forms of Satyagraha:

  1. Non-cooperation:
    Strikes, boycotts, resignations from different offices, rejection of honorary degrees etc.
  2. Civil disobedience:
    The most powerful and extreme form of Satyagraha. The most popular ones are non-payment of taxes, disobedience to the state authority in its day-to-day activities, violation of laws and ordinances of the state. This is all done without the use of force.
  3. Fasting:
    Think hunger strikes. The extreme form of fasting is fasting until death. It garners international attention, but is a drastic maneuver. This has been called the “sharpest weapon in the arsenal of the disarmed.”
  4. Constructive programs:
    According to Gandhi, a civil disobedience movement is like to be powerless without the proper adoption and implementation of constructive programs taken at a particular point of time. This is the positive aspect of Satyagraha.
  5. 1919

    RT renounces his knighthood following the Jallianwala massacre incident.

    On April 13, 1919, in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, British Indian Army soldiers started shooting an unarmed gathering of men, women and children who had assembled to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations—both a religious and cultural festival for the Punjabis. According to official British Raj sources, 379 people were killed. According to other sources, there were over 1,000 deaths, with more than 2,000 wounded, and Civil Surgeon Dr. Smith said that there were 1,526 casualties.

    1929

    Takes up painting.

    1930

    12 March: The Salt March begins.

    Also known as the Dandi March and the Salt Satyagraha, this was an act of nonviolent civil disobedience initiated by Gandhi to produce salt from seawater, as was the practice of the local populace until British officials introduced taxation on salt production, deemed their sea-salt reclamation activities illegal, and then repeatedly used force to stop it. The 24-day march was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly, and it gained worldwide attention, which gave impetus to the Indian independence movement and started the nationwide Civil Disobedience Movement.

    1939

    RT asks Gandhiji to lift the ban on Subhash Chandra Bose and have his cooperation cordially invited in the "supreme interest of national unity."

    1941

    7 August: RT dies in Calcutta, India.

     

     

    I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.