There are poets, and some more poets and some more. But there is none equal to the stature of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore’s poetry is viewed as spiritual and mercurial. His seemingly mesmeric personality, flowing hair, and other-worldly dress earned him a prophet-like reputation in the West. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of modern India. His writings were much ahead of his time and put India’s literature in focus. The author of national anthems of two nations, his legacy still lives up to his mesmerising and brilliant eloquence. Here are some of the best by the Gurudev.
The best ever by India’s most popular author, “Gitanjali,” or Song Offerings, is a collection of poems translated by the author from the original Bengali. The word Gitanjali is composed from “git”, which means song, and “anjali” which means offering, and thus meaning “an offering of songs”. This collection won the Nobel prize for Tagore in 1913. This volume includes the original introduction by William Butler Yeats that accompanied the 1911 English language version. “Gitanjali” is a collection of over 100 inspirational poems by India’s greatest poet.
The Home and the World
Set on a Bengali noble’s estate in 1908, this is both a love story and a novel of political awakening. The central character, Bimala, is torn between the duties owed to her husband, Nikhil, and the demands made on her by the radical leader, Sandip. Her attempts to resolve the irreconcilable pressures of the home and world reflect the conflict in India itself, and the tragic outcome foreshadows the unrest that accompanied Partition in 1947. This edition includes an introduction by Indian author Anita Desai.
First published as a serial, a novel on love, family and sexuality in Bengal society, Chokher Bali has all the ingredients necessary to make a gripping drama – love and hate, loyalty and deceit, downfall and redemption. And it does not disappoint. Nearly every character starts off black or white, but in the end all that are left are shades of grey. There are times when the book tests the modern reader’s willingness to suspend disbelief, but they are neither frequent nor are they inconceivable in the period the book is set.