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Timeline of Rabindranath Tagore

1st January 1861

Timeline of Rabindranath Tagore

This timeline of Rabindranath Tagore is a work in progress. The content has been written by Christine Kupfer (2015), unless otherwise mentioned. This timeline is divided into three categories: context and events in the family, biographical events and Tagore’s works.  In the absence of a particular date for a given event the timeline entry simply expresses 1st January to indicate the year.

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Birth of Rabindranath Tagore

7th May 1861

Birth of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was the youngest of thirteen surviving children. He was born in the Jorasanko mansion in Calcutta, India to parents Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905) and Sarada Devi (1830–1875).  

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Rabindranath’s Schooling

1st January 1868

Rabindranath’s Schooling

Rabindranath Tagore is first taught at home. He starts going to school when he is seven years old. He first goes to the Oriental Seminary and shortly after to Normal School. At home he is tutored rigorously in languages, gymnastics, wrestling, classical music, drawing etc. In 1871/1872, Rabindranath Tagore is enrolled in a new school called Bengal Academy, yet he begins to play truant.

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He Writes First Verses

1st January 1869

He Writes First Verses

Rabindranath Tagore writes his first verses, inspired by a Bengali translation of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s ‘Paul et Virginie’.

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Upanayan

1st January 1872

Upanayan

Rabindranath Tagore’s Upanayan (Brahminical sacred thread ceremony and initiation into Gayatri prayers). Upanayana (Sanskrit: उपनयन upanayana-) Janai or janeau (Sanskrit: जनै, जनेऊ is one of the traditional saṃskāras (rites of passage) that marked the acceptance of a student by a guru (teacher or tutor) and an individual’s entrance to a school in Hinduism.

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Journey With His Father: First Visit to Santiniketan and to the Himalayas

1st January 1873

Journey With His Father: First Visit to Santiniketan and to the Himalayas

In 1873 Rabindranath and his father went on a journey. They visited Santiniketan, Amristar, and finally, in mid-April, Dalhousie hill station. Tagore read biographies on the way and his father tutored him in Sanskrit, history, and study of the Upanishads and the poetry of Kalidasa. They stayed for several months in Dalhousie and adopted a strict daily regime. His father also gave him lessons in Sanskrit, English and astronomy.

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Last School: St Xavier’s

1st January 1874

Last School: St Xavier’s

1874 – 1876: Tagore is admitted to his last school, St Xavier’s School, which he attends only for a few months. The school record confirms that he attends school only irregularly. He formally drops out in 1876.  

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First Published Poem: ‘Abhilasha’ (Desire)

1st January 1874

First Published Poem: ‘Abhilasha’ (Desire)

Tagore’s first poem, entitled Abhilasha (Desire), is published anonymously in the journal “Tattvabodhini Patrika.” Tattwabodhini Patrika (Bengali: তত্ত্ববোধিনী পত্রিকা) [Tattwabodhini (“truth-searching”) Patrika (“newspaper”)] was established by Maharshi Devendranath Tagore on 16 August 1843, as a journal of the Tattwabodhini Sabha, and continued publication until 1883. It was published from Kolkata, India

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Rabindranath Tagore Recites Patriotic Poem at a Hindu Fair

1st January 1875

Rabindranath Tagore Recites Patriotic Poem at a Hindu Fair

Utsava‘ is the Sanskrit word for Hindu festivals, it refers to “religious practices. Todumal or Todumal or Todumal is derived from the Sanskrit word, Utsava. The Sanskrit word Utsava comes from the word “ut” meaning “removal” and “sava” which means “worldly sorrows” or “grief”.

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Rabindranath’s mother dies

1st January 1875

Rabindranath’s mother dies

Death of Sarada Devi, Rabindranath Tagore’s mother.

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Secret Society

1st January 1876

Secret Society

Rabindranath Tagore joins a short-lived Secret Society, supposed to have been modelled after Mazzini’s Carbonari. The Carbonari (lit. ’charcoal makers’) was an informal network of secret revolutionary societies active in Italy from about 1800 to 1831.  Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal basis, they lacked a clear immediate political agenda. Members of the Carbonari, and those influenced by them, took part in important events in the…

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Verses Published as Bhanu Singha

1st January 1877

Verses Published as Bhanu Singha

Tagore mentioned Bhanusingha Thakur in several of his writings, describing him as an “ancient Vaishnav saint”. But he would express his inability to share more details about him — which he once sarcastically blamed on the “absence of documented Indian history”, an issue that he felt strongly about.

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Ahmedabad and Bombay

1st January 1877

Ahmedabad and Bombay

In 1877 and 1878 Rabindranath Tagore spends eighteen months in Ahmedabad and Bombay, where he studies English and lives as ward of his elder brother Satyendranath.

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First acting role

1st January 1877

First acting role

In 1877 Rabindranath Tagore acts on stage for the first time. He plays the principal role of a comedy written by his brother Jyotirindranath. He plays Valmiki in Valmii Pratibha. The show is performed privately at their home. Rabindranath Tagore as actor (the photo is from 1880 not 1877).  Image credit: Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

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First Literary Criticism

1st January 1877

First Literary Criticism

Rabindranath Tagore receives his first literary criticism on a book of Bengali poems, entitled ‘Bhuban Mohini Pratibha”, which is published in Jnanankur.

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