“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
Rabindranath Tagore, from The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore: Poems Vol. 1 (1994)
Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was a Bengali poet, musician, and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He is sometimes referred to as “the Bard of Bengal”. Tagore reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The youngest of thirteen children, Tagore was born in Calcutta, India, during the time of British governance. His family was very wealthy, and at the forefront of the Bengal renaissance, living in the famous Jorasanko mansion were they hosted parties. Tagore was raised mostly by servants; his mother had died in his early childhood and his father traveled widely. Tagore loathed formal education and avoided classroom schooling. He learned drawing, anatomy, geography and history, literature, mathematics, Sanskrit, and English—his least favorite subject. Tagore modernized Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His writings spoke to topics political and personal and he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs. In 1913 he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. With the money he received, Tagore founded Visva-Bharati University in 1921, which grew to become one of India’s most renowned places of higher learning, cementing an enduring legacy.