Happy Rabindranath Tagore Day!

Rabindranath Tagore died 75 years ago today, and to celebrate, he is trending on Indian twitter!  So I thought I would throw up a quick post of all the things he means to me.

I know Tagore had a huge influence on modern India in a whole variety of ways, and that he was a brilliant artist, and that Satyajit Ray revered him, all of that (if you want all the standard details of his life, check out his wikipedia entry).  But if you want the funky things he means to me, check out the following.

Wrote the Indian National Anthem:


Gave up his knighthood after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre:


Sang “Vande Mataram” in 1896 during a session of the Indian National Congress, helping to popularize the hymn;


And, is the great-great uncle of Sharmila Tagore, whose first role on film was playing one of his character’s in a film by Ray, which means in some ways Rabindranath is the reason we got to enjoy this fabulous song sequence a few years later:

(That baby is so freaking cute!)

And, even more years later, we got to enjoy this song sequence:


And then, just to bring it all together, your great-great-great nephew’s future wife was in a movie in which the National Anthem you wrote was used:

6 thoughts on “Happy Rabindranath Tagore Day!

    • There were a lot of interesting things in his wiki page that I didn’t have a good way to cover. Rumor has it, he also ghost-wrote the Sri Lankan national anthem. I don’t know, but I would assume he is the only person to have written 3 separate national anthems!


      • I doubt that about the Sri Lankan anthem, mainly because of the language. He basically wrote a lot of poems/songs, but all in Bengali, and some in English (though I think his English works are mostly translations of his Bengali work). So, he wrote a song about India (before Independence) because he was commissioned to do so, and it was for a meeting of the Indian National Congress. He happened to write another song some time, about Bengal, which was later adopted as the national anthem after Bangladesh came into being (which was much, much after Tagore’s death).


        • From what I can find, one of Tagore’s favorite students “wrote” the anthem and submitted it to the anthem committee and did all that, but it is unclear if Tagore gave him the tune and message (on his request, since he was from Sri Lanka) and he translated it and popularized it in Sri Lanka, or if the guy just studied with Tagore and then went home and completely separately wrote the national anthem. Really, it looks like it depends on whether you are reading a source from Bengal or from Sri Lanka 🙂


          • Tagore died in 1941. India got independence in 1947, and Sri Lanka in 1948, while Bangladesh came into existence in 1971. All of these events (and the adoption of their respective national anthems) happened long after Tagore died. So I doubt very much that Tagore had any direct influence on the Sri Lankan national anthem. Now, if the person who wrote it had once studied with Tagore, got inspired by his ideas and/or his style of writing, and tried to implement that in his own work, that still doesn’t mean that Tagore wrote (or ghost wrote) the Sri Lankan anthem.


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