Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
- He was a Bengali polymath who worked as a poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter.
- One of the most remarkable institutions established by Tagore – Visva Bharati University (1921)
- He wrote the song ‘Banglar Mati Banglar Jol’ to unite the Bengali 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).
- For Hindu-Muslim unity, he started the Rakhi festival.
- He renounced the Knighthood in protest of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (1919).
- 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
- He 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’.
- He 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.
- In 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.