Unknown facts about Gurudev: Today marks the 160th birth anniversary of India’s pride, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. He was a poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer, painter, and most importantly, an inspiration for generations to come.
1. Rabindranath Tagore was the youngest of thirteen surviving children. He was born in the Jorasanko mansion in Calcutta to Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. Unfortunately, his mother died at an early age and his father travelled widely for work. He was nicknamed Rabi.
2. Interestingly, the Tagore family was at the forefront of the Bengal renaissance. Their family published literary magazines; theatre and recitals of Bengali and Western classical music featured regularly.
3. Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. It was for the beautifully written Gitanjali.
4. The Bard of Bengal’s compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla. Also, the Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work.
5. Tagore had a unique vision for school training which he conceptualized and named the school Visva-Bharati. Tagore employed a brahmacharya system: gurus gave pupils personal guidance—emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Teaching was often done under trees. He staffed the school, contributed his Nobel Prize monies, and his duties as steward-mentor at Santiniketan kept him busy: mornings he taught classes; afternoons and evenings he wrote the students’ textbooks. He fundraised widely for the school in Europe and the United States between 1919 and 1921.
6. Tagore’s Nobel Prize was stolen from the safety vault of the Visva-Bharati University, along with several other of his belongings on March 25, 2004. However, on December 7, 2004, the Swedish Academy decided to present two replicas of Tagore’s Nobel Prize, one made of gold and the other made of bronze, to the Visva-Bharati University. It inspired the fictional film Nobel Chor.