Ravindra Nath Tagore
The youngest of thirteen surviving children, Tagore was born in the Jorasanko mansion in Calcutta (now Kolkata) of parents Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905) and Sarada Devi (1830–1875).? Tagore family patriarchs were the Brahmo founding fathers of the Adi Dharm faith. He was mostly raised by servants, as his mother had died in his early childhood; his father travelled extensively. Tagore largely declined classroom schooling, preferring to roam the mansion or nearby idylls: Bolpur, Panihati, and others. Upon his upanayan initiation at age eleven, Tagore left Calcutta on 14 February 1873 to tour India with his father for several months. They visited his father’s Santiniketan estate and stopped in Amritsar before reaching the Himalayan hill station of Dalhousie. There, young “Rabi” read biographies and was home-educated in history, astronomy, modern science, and Sanskrit, and examined the poetry of Kalidasa. He completed major works in 1877, one a long poem of the Maithili style pioneered by Vidyapati.
Published pseudonymously, experts accepted them as the lost works of Bhanusi? ha, a newly discovered? 17th-century Vai?? ava poet. He wrote “Bhikharini” (1877; “The Beggar Woman”—the Bengali language’s first short story) and Sandhya Sangit (1882)—including the famous poem “Nirjharer Swapnabhanga” (“The Rousing of the Waterfall”). A prospective barrister, Tagore enrolled at a public school in Brighton, East Sussex, England in 1878.
He read law at University College London, but left school to explore Shakespeare and more: Religio Medici, Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra; he returned degreeless to Bengal in 1880. On 9 December 1883 he married Mrinalini Devi (born Bhabatarini, 1873–1902); they had five children, two of whom died before reaching adulthood. In 1890, Tagore began managing his family’s vast estates in Shilaidaha, a region now in Bangladesh; he was joined by his wife and children in 1898. In 1890, Tagore released his Manasi poems, among his best-known work. As “Zamindar Babu”, Tagore criss-crossed the holdings while living out of the family’s luxurious barge, the Padma, to collect (mostly token) rents and bless villagers, who held feasts in his honour. These years—1891–1895: Tagore’s Sadhana period, after one of Tagore’s magazines—were his most fecund. During this period, more than half the stories of the three-volume and eighty-four-story Galpaguchchha were written. With irony and gravity, they depicted a wide range of Bengali lifestyles, particularly village life.