(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
Rabindranath Tagore FRAS ( Bengali: [robind̪ro nat̪ʰ ʈʰakur]), also written Ravīndranātha Thākura (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali polymath who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of Gitanjali and its “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse”,he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his “elegant prose and magical poetry” remain largely unknown outside Bengal.Sometimes referred to as “the Bard of Bengal”,Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of the modern Indian subcontinent.
Okakura (Japanese) and Rabindranath
On 16th April 1902, Rabindranath wrote to Jagadish Chandra Bose that Nivedita had introduced him to a Japanese scholar, Okakura Kakuzo. He had thus gained a friend. He came of a renowned family, namely Samurai. From his very child he had deep interest in art and culture.As a member of Imperial Art Commission of Japan, he visited Europe and America in 1886. He was made Pricipal in New Art School in Tokyo when he came back from his tour. Due to some presure to follow the European style in that school, he resigned and founded a new Institution, ‘Hall of Fine Arts’ (Bijitsu-in) in 1897, with some of his students. He had enormous influence as a member of the Head of Imperial Archeological Commission. Okakura met Miss Maclaud, one of the follower of Swami Vevekananda, who published the famous book of Okakura, namely Ideals of the East. The main subject of this book was to expand the influence of India in describing Eastern Culture to the whole world.
Many important persons of Japan were eager to bring Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu Monk, to Japan since he fostered the prestige of Asia in Europe and America. As a token conveyance fare he sent Rs. 300 for bringing Swamiji to Japan in June 1901. But it was not possible for him to go due tohis broken health and the immediate responsibilities of the Math. Along with the young devotee, Harisun and Miss Maclaud, Okakura after a long tour of different places came to see Swami Vivekananda at Belur Math on 6 January 1902. Okakura was introduced to Nivedita some time in March 1902.
Mrs. Oli Bul arranged a party at American Consulate in honour of Okakura. In this party, at the initiative of Nivedita, Surendranath Thakur got acquianted with Okakura and became his follower. After a long time, in August 1936, Surendranath described this incident in journal, The Viswabharati Quarterly. But due to political reason he suppressed many facts there. As a result, the story of Rabindranath and Okakura remained unpublished. This incident was unearthed by Abanindranath subsequently.
Rabindranath invited Okakura to Shantiniketan and he also accepted the invitation. The friendship between Rabindranath and Okakura was deep and lasting. At the request of Srish Chandra Majumdar, Rabindranath acquisitioned a piece of land in Bodhgaya for Okakura and met him in Boston, USA, in 1913. He stayed in Okakura’s house when he went to Japan. Rabindranath offered flowers to the memory of Okakura in Japan.