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The Lost Tagore

December 6, 2011 5 comments

After nearly 60 years of Congress propaganda, are Indian writers beginning to write realistic biographies?

RABINDRANATH TAGORE — A Pictorial Biography: Nityapriya Ghosh; Niyogi Books, D-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-1, New Delhi-110020. Rs.1500.  Image source and courtesy - thehindu.com  |  Click for source image

RABINDRANATH TAGORE — A Pictorial Biography: Nityapriya Ghosh; Niyogi Books, D-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-1, New Delhi-110020. Rs.1500. Image source and courtesy - thehindu.com | Click for source image

Tagore, like most writers, comes across as a man who was extremely sensitive to criticism — to the extent of refusing to forgive the critic. Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, the novelist who happened to ridicule Tagore’s story Yogayog , was shown no sympathy by the poet when his book Pather Dabi was proscribed by the British in 1927. Instead of extending moral support to his fellow-writer, Tagore wrote to Saratchandra saying that he should not expect mercy at the hands of the government, if he had written a seditious novel.

Even Subhas Chandra Bose found himself at the receiving end of Tagore’s unforgiving nature on occasions more than one. In 1928, a dispute arose in the City College of Calcutta after seven Hindu students were penalised for conducting Saraswati Puja in the hostel. They were accused of defying the hostel superintendent’s fiat that idol worship was not allowed in a Brahmo institution. When Bose took up the cause of the Hindu students, Tagore, an ardent Brahmo Samajist, did not take it kindly.

Shortly thereafter, when Bose wrote to Tagore from jail requesting an introductory letter to some eminent people in Europe — where he planned to go for medical treatment — the poet obliged him with just two bland sentences: “My friend Subhas Chandra Bose is going for his treatment. I earnestly hope my friends will be kind to him and help him.” And Bose tore up the letter. (via The Hindu : FEATURES / BOOK REVIEW : A human being rather than a flawless god).

‘Secular’ Saints

In post-Independence India, Congress propaganda painted Indian leadership in glorious style. All Congress leaders at the forefront of anti-British actions were elevated to sainthood – albeit secular saints.

One such leader was Rabindranath Tagore. To most of India Tagore is propaganda shell today. Based on this review, we may start getting to know the real people.

Is the tide changing?

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