Digambari Devi (nee Roy Chowdhury); Rabindranath’s grandmother

Digambari Devi, Rabindranath’s paternal grandmother, was a very religious woman who found it difficult to follow her husband Dwarkanath’s reformist approaches and disdained his anglophilia.


Digambari Devi (then 9 years old) was married to Dwarkanath Tagore on 7 February 1811. Together, they had one daughter and five sons (the ones who survived infancy are Debendranath, 1817-1905, Girindranath, 1820-54, Bhupendranath 1826-39, Nagendranath 1829-58).

Digambari and her husband had very little in common. It alienated her extremely when he began to have close relations with the Europeans, even dined with them (including meat and alcohol), and when he began to furnish his luxurious house with Western furniture. She asked a Brahmin pundit, whether respecting her husbands’ ways was more important than upholding her family’s traditions and religion.

He advised her that they were both her duties. They finally came to the conclusion that she did not have to live together with him. Digambari and the other women, who lived at Jorosanko, expelled Dwarkanath from the family house after he returned from a journey to Europe and refused to undergo a purification ritual.[1]

Digambari died young, in January 1839 – two days after the death of her thirteen-year-old son Bhupendranth.


Bibliographical Notes

Kling, Blair B. 1976. Partner in Empire: Dwarkanath Tagore and the Age of Enterprise in Eastern India. University of California Press, p. 183.