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  • Writer's pictureJayanta Mohapatra

The enduring light of Rabindranath Tagore

Friends, esteemed colleagues,

We gather today to celebrate the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, a towering figure in Indian and global literature. Tagore wasn’t just a writer; he was a poet, novelist, composer, philosopher, and educator who redefined Bengali literature and culture.

Born in 1861, Tagore emerged from a rich artistic background. His work reflected the confluence of the Brahmo Samaj reform movement, Bengali literary revival, and the burgeoning Indian independence movement. Nature was a constant muse, its beauty weaving through his poems and stories.

Tagore’s masterpiece, Gitanjali (Song Offerings), became an international sensation. The English translation, characterized by its lyrical simplicity and profound spirituality, earned him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 – the first non-European to receive this prestigious honor.

Tagore’s vision extended beyond words. He established Shantiniketan, an experimental school that emphasized creativity and harmony with nature. His composed Rabindra Sangeet, songs that captured the essence of Bengali culture, are still sung with affection across India and Bangladesh. Even our national anthems, Jana Gana Mana of India and Amar Sonar Bangla of Bangladesh, bear his indelible mark.

Tagore was a vocal critic of colonialism. He famously renounced his knighthood in protest against the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He championed the ideals of universal humanity, advocating for cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

Today, in a world often divided, Tagore’s message of unity in diversity resonates more than ever. He reminds us of the importance of breaking down barriers, embracing the beauty in all cultures, and finding the divine within the natural world.

Let us continue to be inspired by Rabindranath Tagore, a man who used his art to bridge cultures, advocate for freedom, and illuminate the path to a more beautiful, harmonious world.

Thank you.

This speech was given by Puspashree Mohapatra on the Jayanti of Rabindranath Tagore on 7th May at Fortune School Soro.

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