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How Rabindranath Tagore reshaped Indian philosophy and literature

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This April, the OUP Philosophy team honours Rabindranath Tagore as its Philosopher of the Month. Tagore (1861-1941) was a highly prolific Indian poet, philosopher, writer, and educator who wrote novels, essays, plays, and poetic works in colloquial Bengali. He was a key figure of the Bengal Renaissance, a cultural nationalist movement in the city. Born in Calcutta in 1861 into a distinguished, intellectual and artistic family that played an important part in the economic and social activities of Bengal, he was the son of Debendranath Tagore, an important Hindu religious leader and a mystic.Tagore pioneered the use of colloquial Bengali instead of archaic literary idiom for verses in his first poetic collection Manasi (1890), in a philosophical and symbolic play Chitra (1895), and the lyric collection, Sonar Tari (1895). By the turn of the 20th century, at the age of 40, he had become a household name. In 1913, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his English version of his celebrated poetic collection, Gitanjali, which is a free verse recreation of his Bengal poems modelled on medieval Indian devotional lyrics.Tagore also helped to shape the development of Indian philosophy in the early 20th century. His philosophical works have religious and ethical themes. His best-known philosophical writing is The Religion of Man, based on the Hibbert Lectures he delivered at Manchester College, Oxford, in May, 1930, which contains his reflections on the spirit of religion and explores the themes of spirituality, God, the divine experience, and humanity. His body of literary works also expresses universal humanism, in particular his sympathy for the lives of women and the poor people of Bengali. His view about nature was also closely aligned with the philosophical aspects of the Hindu tradition in which nature is seen as a manifestation of the divine. His verse about the natural world expresses a sense of wonder and a human longing to be with the divine. Apart from. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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