11 March 1840|
Calcutta, Bengal, British India
|Died||26 January 1926
Santiniketan, Bengal, British India
Dwijendranath Tagore (Bengali: দ্বিজেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) (11 March 1840 – 19 January 1926) was an Indian poet, song composer, philosopher, mathematician, and a pioneer in Bengali shorthand and musical notations.
The eldest son of Debendranath Tagore and grandson of Dwarkanath Tagore of the Jorasanko branch of the Tagore family, he was mainly educated at home, but later studied for some time in St. Paul's school and Hindu College of Calcutta (now Kolkata). He was always close to his next brother Satyendranath (1842–1923), but the two brothers differed considerably. While Dwijendranath was comfortable with traditions in society, Satyendranath enjoyed breaking down conservative rules and developing a modern society. A simple person he spent his time in cultivating poetry, acquiring knowledge and conducting various experiments. His wife died at a considerably young age and he remained a widower the rest of his life.
His first contribution to Bengali literature was the Bengali translation of Kalidasa's classical Sanskrit work Meghaduta in 1860, before Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), his younger brother and Nobel-prize winning poet, was born. Dwijendranath was only twenty years old at that time. It was the first time that the great Sanskrit poetic work was translated into Bengali. He had used two different Bengali rhythmic styles for the translation.
His second great work of poetry was Swapnaprayan, published in 1875. Even when it was written Rabindranath was an adolescent. This poem describes the travels of a young man to different places. He had displayed a remarkable control over the use of different rhythmic styles in the book. The book is of historic value and was a trend-setter.
Michael Madhusudan Dutta was at the height of his success, when Dwijendranath started writing poetry. On return to Calcutta from Madras (now Chennai) in 1856, Michael Madhusudan worked with marvellous devotion for six years until he sailed for Europe, producing such plays and poems as Tilottama (1859), Padmavati (1860), Meghnadbadh Kavya (1861), Vrajangana (1861), Krishnakumari (1861), Virangana (1862), and so on, each scintillating with a new grace that raised 'Bengali literature to the highest pinnacle of glory' through brilliant successors such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore. It was an age when Michael Madhusudan influenced all Bengali poets but Dwijendranath was free from any such impact. On the other hand, Michael Madhusudan had hailed Dwijendranath as a poet of the future in whose honour he could dip his hat in respect.
Dwijendranath was a highly talented poet but a disorganised person. Rabindranath said that so many pages of Swapnaprayan used to float around the Jorasanko Thakur Bari that if it could be collected and published it would have been a valuable volume.
Dwijendranath was 'a true philosopher.' He consorted with the learned of the National Society and the Biddvajjan-Samagam, both of which he helped to found. He delved deep into the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita.
His philosophical work, Tattwabidya ("Knowledge of Principles"), published in three volumes between 1866 and 1868, was a pioneering effort in Bengali. Never before had such a work been published in that language. In 1896, he published Adwaita Mater Samalochana (Criticism of Adwaita philosophy) and in 1899, Aryadharma O Boudhya Dharmer Ghat-Protighat (a book on the conflicts of Aryan religion [Hinduism] and Buddhism).
He edited Tattwabodhini Patrika for 25 years from 1884 and was founder of Hitabadi. He was keen on extending Tattwabodhini Patrika but his younger brother Jyotirindranath Tagore (1849–1925) proposed a new magazine, Bharati. Although he was editor, it was effectively run by his younger brother.
His contribution in the field of Bengali literature was acknowledged with his being elected president of Bangiya Sahitya Parishad from 1897 to 1900. He presided over the 1914 session of the Bangiya Sahitya Sammelan.
As a Zamindar absentee landlord in 1873 he advocated drastic action for "the restoration of order and tranquility" against peasants participating in the Pabna disturbances, which was severely curtailing his income.
Dwijendranath was always busy with experiments of various types. He was a pioneer in the field of Bengali shorthand and even coded it in the form of poetry. He pioneered the use of notations (swaralipi) for Bengali music. The only other person who could claim credit for it was Keshetra Mohan Goswami, assistant to Raja Shourindramohan Tagore. In 1913, he wrote a book Boxometry about construction of boxes. He was adept in folding paper into different shapes.
He was secretary of the Adi Brahmo Samaj from 1866 to 1871 and used to serve as acharya or minister for upasanas or Brahmo prayers. He had accompanied his father Debendranath to Dhaka when Dhaka Brahmo Samaj was in its formative years under the leadership of Braja Sundar Mitra.
Closely associated with Hindu Mela, he was its secretary and composed patriotic songs for it. Composing songs came naturally to him. One of his devotional songs, karo tanr nam gaan, jato din rahe dehe pran (sing his praise as long as there is life in the body) has been sung with the prayers on 7th of Poush for many years. He wrote many other devotional songs broadly classified as Brahmasangeet, sung with prayers of Brahmo Samaj. One popular patriotic song he composed for the Hindu Mela was: 'malin mukhachandrama Bharat tomari' (pale is your face, o India).
Dwijendranath spent the last twenty years of his life at Santiniketan, in one-ness with nature, still learning and writing. He wrote humorous four-line rhymes on people in Santiniketan, which were published in Santinketan Patrika. His sense of humour was a talking point for many years. His friendship with sparrows, squirrels and crows became legends in Santiniketan.
He followed the advice of the Upanishads – After acquiring knowledge remain a child at heart. There was no limit to his acquisition of knowledge but his main field of study was philosophy. He read his papers at the majlis or gathering of learned men, including Rabindranath. Whenever he was stuck with some intellectual problem, there were learned persons such as Bidhusekhar Sastri and Kshiti Mohan Sen to help him out.
Rabindranath used to call him borodada (reverential way of saying eldest brother). Right from the time Mahatma Gandhi and C.F.Andrews first visited Santiniketan, on their return from South Africa, both used to have the highest regard for Dwijendranath and used to address him as borodada. While forwarding a letter written by Dwijendranath to a newspaper for publication, Mahatma Gandhi wrote, "You know Dwijendranath. He is the eldest brother of Sri Rabindranath Tagore and is leading, like his father the late Devendranath Tagore, practically the life of a sannyasi."
In Bengali: Bhratrbhab (1863), Tattvabidya (1866–68), Sonar Kathi Rupar Kathi (1885), Sonay Sohaga (1885), Aryami ebang Sahebiana (1890), Samajik Roger Kaviraji Chikitsa (1891), Advaitamater Samalochana (1896), Brahmajnan O Brahmasadhana (1900), Banger Rangabhumi (1907), Haramanir Anvesan (1908), Gitapather Bhumika (1915), and Prabandhamala (1920).
In English: Boxometry (1913), Ontology (1871), and a book on geometry.
He published innumerable writings in different magazines such as Jnanankur, Pratibimva, Tattwabodhini Patrika, Bharati, Sadhana, new look Bangadarshan, Manasi, Sahitya Parishad Patrika, Santiniketan, Budhbar, Shreyasi, Prabasi, Sabujpatra, and Suprabhat.
Dwijendranath had five sons – Dipendranath, Arunendranath, Nitindranath, Sudhindranath and Kripendra. Amongst his sons, Sudhindranath (1869–1929) was a talented author. He wrote poems, novels and short stories. He introduced a new literary magazine, Sadhana in 1891 and was its first editor. Later, Rabindranath edited it and subsequently it was merged with Bharati.
Amongst his grandsons, Dinendranath (1882–1935), son of Dipendranath, had exceptional talent for music. He could remember the tune of any song he heard once. Rabindranath used to compose tunes for the songs he wrote but found it difficult to remember and codify them. The task was largely done by Dinendranath. He used to listen to the song and then develop its notations (swaralipi). Rabindranath used to call him the storekeeper of his songs.
Another grandson of his, Soumendranath Tagore (1910–1974), son of Sudhindranath, was a great orator. His was a name to reckon with in the cultural arena in the 1960s and '70s. He was associated with the communist movement from his younger days.
Dwijendranath is an ancestor of the film actress Sharmila Tagore. One of Dwijendranath's granddaughters, Latika, is the maternal grandmother of Sharmila Tagore.
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