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Monday, December 19, 2011

First Page Mondays: My Life In My Words: Rabindranath Tagore by Uma Das Gupta

As part of the First Page Mondays at The Book Worm, here's the first page from the book 'My Life In My Words: Rabindranath Tagore' by Uma Das Gupta.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was born in the city of Calcutta, the capital of British India, in a Brahmin family. But an early contact with Muslims sent them down to the caste of ‘Pirali’ Brahmins. Professionally, they were revenue collectors for the English East India Company. There was a split in the family in the 1760s from which one member of the family moved to north Calcutta and built a house in Jorasanko. This was Nilmoni, Rabindranath's great-great grandfather. In Nilmoni's time, the family owned two zamindaris in East Bengal and Orissa. Their wealth was greatly enhanced when Rabindranath's grandfather, Dwarkanath (1794-1846), established a new agency house called Carr, Tagore and Company with his British trading partners. The success of this business enabled Dwarkanath to purchase two more zamindaris. His wealth and his philanthropy earned him the title of 'Prince' among his countrymen. His eldest son Debendranath (1817-1905) was Rabindranath's father. Debendranath abandoned his father's lifestyle and became a spiritual leader. He adopted Ram Mohan Roy's Brahmo Dharma in 1843 and broke with the Hindu tradition of idol worship. But he did not break with Hinduism, arguing forcefully that Brahmo Dharma was an integral part of Hinduism. He wrote learned essays on the ancient scriptures and their scientific interpretation in the Tattwabodhini Patrika. The family thus found themselves drawn into the heated debates of those times on religion and politics. This was the air young Rabindranath breathed in his Jorasanko family house.'

- Debolina Raja Gupta