Dwarkanath Tagore (1794-1864); Rabindranath’s grandfather by Christine Kupfer

Dwarkanath Tagore, Rabindranath’s grandfather, was the founder of Jorosanko and extremely successful and increasingly wealthy through his entrepreneurial endeavours with Great Britain. He contributed substantially to the Bengal Renaissance.

Dwarkanath Tagore  Image credit: Ministry of Culture, Government of India
Dwarkanath Tagore Image credit: Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Dwarkanath Tagore, a descendent of Rarheya Brahmins, founded the Jorosanko branch of the Tagore family. He had inherited zamindari estates from his uncle and adopted father Ramlochan and left school when he was sixteen to apprentice himself under Robert Cutlar Fergusson, a renowned barrister.

As zamindar, he was efficient and successful but merciless. [1] Between 1822 and 1834, he additionally worked for the British East India Company which opened doors to pioneering entrepreneurial endeavors in banking, insurance and shipping.

He became the first Indian bank director in 1828 and founded the Union Bank in 1929. The trade and shipment of tea, jute, opium and coal of the British-Indian company “Carr, Tagore and Company,” which he co-founded, made him extremely rich. Because of his wealth, he was also referred to as “Prince Dwarkanath” or as the “Indian Croesus.”[2]

Dwarkanath Tagore  Image credit: Ministry of Culture, Government of India
Dwarkanath Tagore
Image credit: Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Dwarkanath was a close friend of Rammohun Roy. They worked together on several projects and Dwarkanath helped Rammohau Roy found the Brahmo Sabha, the society that would later become Brahmo Samaj. After Rammohun left for England, Dwarkanath was the pradhanacharya or principal of the Brahmo Sabha.

Dwarkanath had one daughter and five sons with his wife Digambaridevi.

Dwarkanath died in London on 1 August 1846. His body was buried at Kensal Green Cemetry without religious observances, while his heart was sent to Calcutta to be cremented according to Brahmo rites.

Rabindranath Tagore hardly ever referred to his grandfather in his writings. Dwarkanath’s descendants seem to have been ambiguous about the ways in which Dwarkanath had acquired the wealth their family house was built on. According to Kling (1976), Rabindranath seems to have burned most of his grandfather’s records and notes.

 

Bibliographical Notes

 

  1. Kling, Blair B. Partner in Empire: Dwarkanath Tagore and the Age of Enterprise in Eastern India. University of California Press, 1976, p.32.
  2. Kripalani, Krishna (1981). Dwarkanath Tagore, a Forgotten Pioneer: A Life. New Delhi, India: National Book Trust, India.

 

 

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