Rabindranath Tagore was born into a distinguished Bengali family in Calcutta in 1861. His father was the Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, a reformer and mystic and his mother was Sharada Devi. Educated at home, Tagore was taught in Bengali, English and Sanskrit. He was influenced by the works of Chandidas, Bidyapati, Jaideva, Hemchandra, and other early Bengali poets, and began writing poetry himself at the age of eight. He was deeply touched by the depth of ancient Indian philosophy and literature as well as the virtuosity of contemporary western radical liberalism. An early example of his prodigious talent centers around a monumental piece known as “Bhanusingher Padabali”. Written in an archaic form of Hindi, dubbed as “Brajabuli”, it was widely believed that Tagore had stumbled upon the hitherto unpublished works of an old master. It was only decades later that “Bhanusinhga” had turned out to be a pseudonym used by Tagore himself. It is very difficult to find an aspect of life that remained untouched by Tagore’s creative hand. Truly called the “Myriad Minded Man” of India, his literary and philosophical impact is felt in all the continents of the globe.
From 1890, Tagore shone as the chief contributor to leading Bengali journals. His first poetic collections Manasi (l890), Chitra (1895) and Sonar Tari (1895) used colloquial Bengali instead of the usual archaic literary form.
In 1901 he founded Shantiniketan near Calcutta. This was designed to provide a blend of traditional ashram and Western education. He began with 5 pupils and 5 teachers (three of whom were Christian). His ideals were simplicity of living and the cultivation of beauty of nature.
In 1912, Tagore visited Britain again and his own English translation of “Gitanjali” was published under Yeats' auspices. A lecture tour of Britain and the USA followed.
In 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Prize and used the prize money to improve his school at Shantiniketan. By 1921, he had added a university to the school complex.
In 1915, he was knighted but repudiated the honour in 1919 after the Jalianwalabagh Massacre in Amritsar, Punjab.
In August 1941, Tagore was moved from Shantiniketan to Calcutta for surgery. In the same year he died in the house in which he was born.