5 Must-Read Works of India’s First Nobel Laureate!
Here’s for you to know Rabindranath Tagore’s 5 must-reads and a few of his lesser-known facts on his 159th birthday!
Today, as I hold my pen and begin writing about Rabindranath Tagore, I genuinely want you to know (now more than ever) more about India’s first Nobel Laureate. This my friends, is to commemorate the legendary and unforgettable genius on his 159th birthday!
Our first Nobel Laureate was a prolific writer whose works ranged from poetry to songs to plays and short stories. He believed in universal humanity and his compassion for living for the benefit of others can be observed in his works! He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.
But wait, do you realise it’s a cultural celebration around the world?
Yes, he has a strong readership-base around the globe and this blog makes an effort to bring up his must-reads and facts (I bet) you didn’t know!
To begin with, Tagore established a university of his own, where he wanted humanity to be studied somewhere beyond the limits of nations and based on practical activities. His distaste towards the formal method of education was such that he only attended college for a single day later in life (I know by now you’re a fan of him already)!
Before we move on to a few of Tagore’s must-reads, want to know another lesser-known fact about him?
He, ladies and gentlemen, is the only known person to have written the national anthems for two different countries: Jana Gana Mana, the national anthem for India and Amar Sonar Bangla, the national anthem for Bangladesh. According to some historians, however, the Sri Lankan national anthem too was based on a Bengali song originally written by him.
So, are you ready to delve into his must-read works, my literary giants?
#1. Gora is a novel set in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in the 1880s during the British Raj. Reading it will let you observe a panoramic vision of Tagore with various themes like friendship, motherhood, love, caste discrimination, woman-emancipation, the play of destiny, nation and nationalism, religion, spirituality, and time and space.
It’s a journey in search of identity at individual and national levels. Well, on the outside you’ll notice it’s just another novel about the oppression Indians faced, but going deeper, it’s all the more about the inner conflict of a man as he strives to distinguish between right and wrong. Go for it if you have a nationalist or/and feminist within you!
#2. The Wife’s Letter is my personal suggestion! Letters are perhaps known to be the most intimate tool of self-expression, but with Tagore, they are as much a part of literary legacy. Written in an epistolary form, ‘The Wife’s Letter’ is about the plight of women, represented by the signatory of the ‘explosive’ letter.
The narrative exposes the anger against a system that allows women to be neglected, abused and abandoned. Tagore has interrogated the system of arranged marriages and the entrapment and enslavement of women as wives. Beautifully capturing the voice of a woman, exposing the abused and negative side of them, Tagore pours out a woman’s expectations and her place in the society, thus redefining the concept of selfhood!
Rabindranath himself said that this short story was his first attempt in writing a pro-woman text!
#3. Where the mind is without fear is one of my favourite poems by Tagore. An expression with a poet’s reflective spirit, this poem will fill your heart with visions of new and awakened India. In the form of a prayer to god and with heavy musings of freedom throughout, this poem is worth your time!
#4. Chokher Bali or ‘A grain of sand’ is another feather in his crown with a story which revolves around an extra-marital affair and depicts passion, desires, relationships and honesty in all its complexities. It also deals with the differences amongst the educated and the uneducated. Read it if you want to observe the complexities of a relationship from the comfort of your couch!
If you’re looking for something realistic and want to explore forbidden emotions, this novel will bring your fantasies to life!
#5. Ghare baire or The Home and the World is a 1916 novel which brings forward the battle Tagore had with himself, between the ideas of Western culture and the revolution against the Western culture.
What will catch your interest is its relevance even today! Emphasizing on the significance of humanity, the novel talks of love and friendship as parts of the organic whole.
If you want to feel the depth in Tagore’s writing, you cannot afford to miss this!
It is well known that Tagore is obsessed with the idea of inner freedom because he himself was forced to read in a confinement in his childhood. So, most of his characters strive for inner peace and want to be at pace with nature!
Let me know what’s your favourite read by Tagore!
Want to read about another legend? Here’s where you can.
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Originally published at https://www.fuzia.com.