Ganendranath Tagore

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Ganendranath Tagore
Born 1841
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died May 16, 1869
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
Occupation Musician, theatre personality, nationalist
Spouse(s) Swarnakumari Devi

Ganendranath Tagore was a musician and theatre personality, and contributed substantially to nationalist discourse. One of the first students to pass the Entrance Examinations (school leaving or university entrance) of Calcutta University, he was the founder-secretary of Hindu Mela.[1][2]


Dwarkanath Tagore, the founder of Jorasanko branch of the Tagore family had left behind three sons at the time of his death – Debendranath, Girindranath and Nagendranath. Both Girindranath and Nagendranath died quite young. Nagendranath did not leave behind any children.[3] Ganendranath was the eldest son of Girindranth and Jogmaya Devi. His younger brother was Gunendranath. Ganendranath did not leave behind any children. Gunendranath’s children were – Gaganendranath, Samarendranath, Abanindranath, Binayini Devi and Sunayani Devi.[4]

They used to live in what was known as the “Baitakkhana Bari” of Jorasanko Thakur Bari. That portion has since been demolished.[5] He used to be called ‘Mejadada’ (second elder brother) in the joint family, as he was younger to Dwijendranath but older to Satyendranath.[6]

Formative years[edit]

He was a student of Hindu School and when Calcutta University introduced the Entrance examination in 1857, he and Satyendranath Tagore passed out in first division.[1]

Ganendranath was an ardent writer and translated Kalidas’s Vikramorvashiya into Bengali in 1869.[2] He composed devotional songs known as Brahma Sangeet and songs with patriotic fervour.[1] A Brahma Sangeet CD containing songs sung by Subinoy Roy and brought out in 2007 has a composition of his entitled “Gaao Hey Taahaari Naam” (Oh! sing His name) as the title song.[7]

Chitra Deb writes, “More than from any other source, it was from this group (Debendranath Tagore’s children) and their cousins (Ganendranath and Gunendranath) that the rising new currents of Bengali literature and culture drew their strength.”[8]

Jorasanko Natyashala[edit]

Ganendranath had great attraction for the theatre. He established the Jorasanko Natyasala, a private theatre in the household, in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1865 and staged Krishnakumari written by Michael Madhusudan Dutta that year itself. Young Jyotirindranath had the first opportunity to act in it in the role of Ahalyadevi.[6] At first men played women’s roles, but subsequently women of the family also acted before an audience of friends and relatives.[8]

As there were few good plays in Bengali, which could be taken up for staging, Ganendranath announced a prize for writing plays on social themes. Nabanatak written by Ramnarayan Tarkaratna won the first prize. He awarded the playwright Rs. 200 (a princely sum in those days) and promised to bear the cost of printing a thousand copies of the play.[1][9] Sarada Prasad Ganguly, Akshay Mazumder, Jyotirindranath Tagore and others were actors.[10]

Hindu Mela[edit]

Ganendranath founded the Hindu Mela, along with Dwijendranath Tagore, Rajnarayan Basu, and Nabagopal Mitra in 1867. He was founder-secretary of the organisation. It sought to promote patriotism as well as indigenous industry. Speaking at the inaugural session, he said, “This gathering is not for ordinary religious activity, not for attaining happiness in any matter, not for entertainment, it is for the country, the mother land.”[1][6][11] On another occasion he said, “One of the major drawbacks of India is that we are always looking towards the nobility for whatever assistance we require. It is a matter of great shame. Are we not human beings? One of the aims of the mela is to infuse the spirit of self-dependence in the country.”[12]

Ganendranath earned a great reputation for a song which was sung in the Hindu Mela several times: “Lajjay Bharat-jas gaibo ki kore” (How shall I sing in glory of India, because I am buried in shame).[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (Bengali), p. 127, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
  2. ^ a b Alam, Aksadul (2012). "Tagore, Gaganendranath". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  3. ^ Bannerjee, Hiranmay, Thakurbarir Katha, (Bengali), p.52 , Sishu Sahitya Sansad.
  4. ^ Bannerjee, Hiranmay, family chart on p. 225.
  5. ^ Bannerjee, Hiranmay, p. 6.
  6. ^ a b c Bannerjee, Hiranmay, pp. 103-104.
  7. ^ "Gaao Hey Taahaari Naam". Subinoy Roy. Inreco. Archived from the original on 2007-10-09. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  8. ^ a b Deb, Chitra, Jorasanko and the Thakur Family, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, pp. 65-66, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1
  9. ^ Bannerjee, Hiranmay, p. 219.
  10. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Ganesh (2012). "Theatre Stage". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  11. ^ "The Tagores and society". Rabindra Bharati University. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  12. ^ Sastri, Sivanath, Ramtanu Lahiri O Tatkalin Banga Samaj {Bn icon}, 1903/2001, p. 151, New Age Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
  13. ^ Goswami, Karunamaya. "Music". Retrieved 2007-04-24.