Sarada Devi was Rabindranath’s mother. She had altogether fifteen children with her husband Debendranath Tagore. When Rabindranath was born, his eldest sister Saudamini looked after the baby, because his mother was ailing.
“If Sarada Devi had little time or inclination to look after her youngest-born, it is not surprising. Her motherliness had been taxed to the utmost and she had perhaps little surplus left to spare. But the hunger for a mother’s affection, never appeased in childhood, was to survive in the son as a recurring longing for feminine affection and care.
Its haunting echoes can be heard in the exquisite child-poems he wrote in the peak of his manhood, some of which were later published in English translation as The Crescent Moon. In some of his short stories and novels the mother’s love has been delineated with such wealth of tenderness as to make one wonder whether the author was not partially satisfying his own unappeased hunger.”
On 10 March 1875, Sarada Devi passed away. Rabindranath was less than fourteen at the time.
Although this was his first encounter with death, and the family will have deeply mourned at the loss, Rabindranath did not feel terror when he learned of her death and when he saw her. Only when she was carried away to the cremation, “did a storm of grief pass through me at the thought that mother would never return by this door and take her accustomed place in the affairs of her household,” as Rabindranath writes in My Reminiscences.
Kripalani, Krishna. Rabindranath Tagore: A Biography. New York: Grove Press, 1962, p. 28.
Tagore, Rabindranath. My Reminiscences. New York: The Macmillan Co, 1917.