Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who is this man?

It’s not Jesus. It’s not Zeus. It’s not even Buffalo Bill Cody on his baptismal day.

Give up?

Why, it’s none other than Rabindrath Tagore (1861 – 1941), the Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. A Pirali Brahmin from Kolkata (Calcutta), he was the author of Gitanjali and became the first non-European Nobel laureate by earning the 1913 Prize in Literature. Also, as we learned in yesterday’s post, he was the first person to apply the honorific Mahatma (“Great Soul” in Sanskrit) to Mohandas K. Ghandhi.

According to Wikipedia, “In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; his seemingly mesmeric personality, flowing hair, and other-worldly dress earned him a prophet-like reputation in the West. His elegant prose and magical poetry remain largely unknown outside Bengal.”

And “As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy endures also in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.”

And “He composed two national anthems: the Republic of India’s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla.”

You can read all about him (there’s lots more) here.

Here is Jana Gana Mana (4:21) and here is Amar Shonar Bangla (4:22).

Blogging is so broadening.

I tried very hard to find Roseanne Roseannadanna and her uncle, Rabbi Hosanna Roseannadanna, singing Jana Gana Mana but, alas, such a video was nowhere to be found on YouTube.



Jewels said...

I feel more enlightened already. Are you sure it's not Buffalo Bill? The resemblance is strikingly similar.

Elizabeth said...

He is one of my very favourite indian poets and I've referred to him often on my blog. He suffered much to attain the wisdom he did - which is always the case. x

rhymeswithplague said...

Jewels, I'm almost certain it's not Buffalo Bill.

Elizabeth, Indian literature is a gaping hole in my vast storehouse of knowledge. I do have one good friend from India whom I met about 10 years ago. He came here to enroll in college, stayed, married, and raised two sons. He has the very un-Indian-sounding name of John Cornelius. Unfortunately for my vast storehouse of knowledge, John's interests lie in computers and electronics, not the literature of his homeland.

Punk Chopsticks said...

Wow. Like wow. i feel so bad for not knowing him. The enlightenment is, well, enlightening.

Theanne said...

Extremely interesting man! Thanks for sharing about him!

Roseannadana have such a sense of humor Mr. "rhymeswithplague"!!!!

Katherine said...

A gaping hole over here too. Thanks for the shovel-ful. I'm sure there's plenty more!

Elizabeth said...

An interesting thing. Katherine mentions Nicholas Roerich on her blog post today. Although Roerich did not gain the Nobel prize, he was a fellow nominee with Rabindrath Tagore and the two remained great friends. Tagore was 'deeply excited' by Roerich's art. The picture that Katherine features, 'Compassion' was completed just after the signing of Roerich's Pact at the White House which dealt with the protection and preservation of artistic and cultural treasures.

Rabindrath Tagore, amongst others,was there at the signing and supported him in the initiative.

Rita Angus' artist of 'Mountain Cass', one of several she did of the small town where she wanted to 'express thejoy of living', may not have met Roerich, although he became an ambassador for UNESCO later in his life and travelled extensively, but art critics labelled him the 'master of mountains', so circulating within the art world, she would very definately be au fait with his paintings and style.

Angus was a pacifist and almost certainly her travels took her to Indian Ashrams (Roerich went to live in India and died there)so she may well have also encountered Rabindrath Tagore. x

rhymeswithplague said...

Elizabteth, I guess it's true what they say at Disney World: "It's a small world, after all!"

It was true back then, and it still is!