Dwijendranath Tagore (1840–1926), brother of Rabindranath

Dwijendranath Tagore was a philosopher and a prolific writer, a translator, a poet, a mathematician and music composer. He initiated shorthand and musical notations in Bengali. Dwijendranath was the eldest son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi. He was mainly educated at home. When he was twenty, he translated Kalidasa’s Meghdoot into Bengali in 1860. In 1875, he published the poetry volume Swapnaprayan.

Dwijendranath Tagore
Dwijendranath Tagore

Dwijendranath studied ancient Indian philosophy and sociology and was deeply influenced by the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita. His philosophical work comprises Tattwabidya (“Knowledge of Principles”, 3 vol., 1866-1868); Adwaita Mater Samalochana (Criticism of Adwaita philosophy; 1896); and Aryadharma O Boudhya Dharmer Ghat-Protighat (On the Conflicts between Aryan religion [Hinduism] and Buddhism, 1899).

Dwijendranath was editor of the journals Tattwabodhini Patrika, Hitabadi, and Bharati. He was also a distinguished member of the Bangiya Sahitya Parisad in 1894 and was its president from 1897-1900. Between 1866 and 1871, he was secretary of the Adi Brahmo Samaj and used to serve as acharya (minister) for upasanas (Brahmo prayers).

For many years, Dwijendranath was secretary of the Hindu Mela and composed patriotic and devotional songs (Brahmasangeet) for it. Furthermore, Dwijendranath initiated shorthand and musical notations (swaralipi) for Bengali music, was a gifted painter, did research into geometry and mathematics and published papers and wrote a book on these topics.

After his father died in 1905, Dwijendranath moved to Santiniketan, where he continued to write and was famous for his closeness to nature and his humour. Rabindranath, Mahatma Gandhi and C.F.Andrews addressed him with borodada, which is a reverential way of saying “eldest brother”. Mahatma Gandhi (in Desai 1970) compared him with the late Debendranath and said that they both led “practically the life of a sannyasi.” Dwijendranath died in Santiniketan on 1 January 1926.


Bibliographical Notes

  • Banerjee, Hironmoy & Biplab K. Majumdar 1995. The Tagores of Jorasanko. New Dehli, Gyan Publ. House.
  • Deb, Chitra, “Jorasanko and the Thakur Family,” in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press.
  • Desai, Mahadev H, Narahari D. Parīkha, and Candulāla B. Dalāla. Day-to-day with Gandhi: Secretary’s Diary. Varanasi: Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan, 1970.