Mira Devi (also called Atasi), Rabindranath’s daughter, was born on 12 January 1894. On 6 June 1907, when Mira was thirteen years, she was married to Nagendranath Ganguli (Gangopadhyay). They had a son called Nitindranath (Nitu) (1912- 32), who was Tagore’s only grandson, and a daughter named Nandita, born in 1916.
Rabindranath first had had high expectations of Mira’s husband and sent him to the US with his son Rathindranath to study agricultural sciences, yet it soon became clear that Rabindranath’s first impression of him was mistaken.
“Gangulee turned out to be the worst choice of the three husbands… he embodied nearly everything that Rabindranath struggled against in his educated male contemporaries in Bengal: he was spoilt, spendthrift, undisciplined, cynical incapable of understanding villagers, addicted to things western (including alcohol) and, to cap it all, foul-tempered.”
After much conflict, Mira and Nagendranath finally separated in the 1920s. She asked Rabindranath for advice and he did not ask her to return to her husband. Instead, he blamed himself for having had her married so young. In a letter published by Das Gupta he writes:
“How can I be so cruel to Mira when it was I who had dealt the first blow in her life my marrying her off without thinking carefully enough about it? … There is a barbarity about Nagen which Mira has come to dread. … Her life is already destroyed, now it is for me to protect her and make her as happy as possible. I must bear as much pain for it as I can because I am responsible for her misery.”
In 1932, Mira’s son Nitu died, being only twenty-one. Mira Devi died at Santiniketan in 1969 at the age of 75.
Dutta, Krishna & Andrew Robinson. Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995, p. 147-8.
Das Gupta, Uma. My Life in My Words. New Delhi: Penguin Viking, 2006, p. 132.