Jatindramohan Tagore

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Maharaja Bahadur Sir Jatindramohan Tagore
Jatindramohan Tagore.jpg
Born 16 May 1831
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency
Died 10 January 1908
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India

Maharaja Bahadur Sir Jatindramohan Tagore KCSI (Bengali: যতীন্দ্রমোহন ঠাকুর) (16 May 1831 – 10 January 1908), was a theatre enthusiast, art-lover, and philanthropist.[1]

Early life[edit]

The son of Hara Kumar Tagore (1798 – 1858) and grandson of Gopi Mohan Tagore, he belonged to the Pathuriaghata branch of the Tagore family. Tagore completed his studies at Hindu College, and thereafter, read English and Sanskrit at home.[1] He also received private tuition from Captain D.L. Richardson and others. His father, Hara Kumar Tagore, was also a learned scholar in the Hindu scriptures, Sanskrit and English. He had compiled critically admired books and assisted Radhakanta Deb (1783 – 1867) in compiling Sabdakalpadrum.[2]

From an early age, Tagore displayed exceptional literary taste for composition both in English and in Bengali, having written several dramas and farces. One of these works was the Vidya Sundar Nataka, which when performed at his residence, received critical acclaim.[3]

When Gnanendramohan Tagore, son of his uncle, Prasanna Coomar Tagore, converted to Christianity in 1851 and was deprived of inheritance for that reason, he inherited the vast property of his uncle.[1]

Public Life[edit]

In 1866, Tagore lent help to the ruling administration, donating towards the benefit of famine-stricken farmers in Midnapur. He was Honorary Secretary of the British Indian Association for several years; was elected as its President in 1879; re-elected in 1881. In 1870 he was chosen as a Member of the Legislative Council of Bengal, and reappointed in 1872. In 1871 he received the title of 'Raja Bahadur', and was exempted from attendance in Civil Courts in April of that year. He received the title of Maharaja in 1877, on the occasion of the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India. He was appointed as a Member of the Legislative Council of the Governor-General in February of that year, and in recognition of his assistance towards the Civil Procedure Bill, was reappointed in 1879. In the latter year, he was created a Companion of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India; and appointed for a third time, a Member of the Viceroy's Council in 1881. Created Knight Commander of the Star of India in May 1882; he received the title of Maharaja-Bahadur in January, 1890, and in January of the following year, this title was made hereditary in his family.[3]

Tagore contributed extensively towards the establishment of the Mayo Hospital, resulting in one of the wards being named after him. He also established several scholarships for students of literature, science, culture and history in the names of his father and his uncle, Prasanna Coomar Tagore. He set apart funds for the provision of a gold gold keyur or armlet, to be annually presented to the best student in Sanskrit literature in Calcutta University; and founded a gold medal for the best student who passed an examination after attending the Tagore Law Lectures, annually, and another gold medal for the best student in Physical Science. He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace for the town of Calcutta, Fellow of the University of Calcutta, Trustee of the Indian Museum (of which he was elected President in the year 1882), one of the Governors of the Mayo Hospital, and a Member of the Asiatic Society. He had the honour of being elected the President of the Reception Committee during the visit of Prince Albert Victor in 1889. He was Vice President of the Syndicate of the Calcutta University in 1881, and President of the Faculty of Arts in 1881-82. He presented to the Calcutta University the marble statue of his uncle, the Hon. Prasanna Kumar Tagore, which is placed in the portico of the Senate House. Jointly with his brother, the Raja Sir Sourindro Mohun Tagore, he presented a piece of land to the Municipality of Calcutta for the construction of a Square (to be named after his father), in which at his own expense, he placed a marble bust of his father. He also founded an endowment for the benefit of Hindu widows, of one lakh of rupees, under the name of the "Maharajmata Shib Sundari Debi's Hindu Widows' Fund."

The visit of the eighteenth President of the United States of America, General Ulysses S. Grant to Calcutta specifically significant as it was a momentous event in the United Kingdom-United States of America relations of the late nineteenth century. In the papers of Ulysses S. Grant, recently made public, there is a reference to him being entertained at the Tagore household by Sourindro Mohun and his elder brother, Jatindra Mohun – “On March 14, 1879, USG (Ulysses S. Grant) met Garth at the Bengal High Court and participated in graduation ceremonies at Calcutta University. USG later attended a party given by the influential Tagore family and praised the traditional entertainment.” This entertainment included a number of traditional performances as the The Statesman and Friend of India described the occasion: “The house, grounds, and lakes were illuminated, and the effect was exceedingly beautiful. The entertainment of the evening consisted of Hindu Music, nautches, and other performances which we are sorry to say, completely beggar our descriptive powers. General Grant said it was the best entertainment of an Oriental character that he had ever witnessed.” Similarly, The Indian Mirror reported that: “The Party … were treated to a variety of Hindu Music, consisting of different specimens of songs, performances on the Surbahar, Setar, Jaltaranga, Nyastaranga, Kathakata, Panchali, Rasdhari, Jattra, Bengali Jattra, Nautch, Boat-song (in the lake), and the Nagar-Kirtun, with all the paraphernalia which usually accompany the procession of the Vaisnavas.[4]

His son and heir was the Maharaj Kumar Prodyot Coomar Tagore; and he has had four daughters.[3]

Tagore Castle and the Prasad[edit]

Tagore Castle in 1907 in Pathuriaghata

The first house, on the land where Tagore Castle now stands on at 26 Prasanna Kumar Tagore Street in Pathuriaghata, was built by Kali Kumar Tagore. It was a simple three-storey structure. Kali Kumar had given the house to his younger brother Prasanna Coomar. Jatindra Mohan Tagore inherited the property from Prasanna Coomar. In 1895, Jatindra Mohan demolished the old building and started construction of a new building. The plan for the building was prepared by Macintosh Burn and Company from England. It had a 100 feet high centre tower, inspired by the Windsor castle, a flag staff, and a clock imported from England. The building had large rooms as in the castles of England. There was an auditorium on the second floor, meant mainly for the staging of plays. In 1954, S.B. House and Land Pvt. Ltd. of Haridas Mundhra took over the building and has altered most of it to beyond recognition. [5]

Jatindramohan Tagore's primary residence was however, the building opposite the Tagore Castle, known fondly as the Prasad (built in 1884). Personalities like Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Girish Ghosh, Sisir Ghosh, Rajendra Lal Mishra, Mahendra Lal Sarkar, Ramesh Dutta, Nabin Sen, Haraprasad Shastri, Amritalal Basu, Dwijendralal Roy, Ashutosh Mukhopadhyay and family members like Gaganendranath, Samarendranath and Abanindranath Tagore frequented the Prasad.[6]

Banga Natyalaya[edit]

Jatindra Mohan Tagore and his brother Shourendra Mohan Tagore, both theatre enthusiasts, started the Banga Natylalay in Pathuriaghata. The plays were reviewed by contemporary newspapers such as Hindu Patriot which flourished under Harish Chandra Mukherjee, and Dwarkanath Vidyabhusan’s Somprakash. The first play to be staged at Banga Natyalaya was Kalidas’ Mālavikāgnimitram in Sanskrit, in July 1859. A year later, a Bengali translation of Pandit Ramnarayan Tarkaratna's play was staged.[7] Even prior to the Banga Natyalaya, plays were staged at their house in Pathuriaghata from time to time. He inspired Michael Madhusudan Dutta to compose Tilottamasambhav Kabya and paid the expenses for the printing it.[1]

Music & Painting[edit]

Jatindramohan was drawn towards music. Under his patronage Kshetramohan Goswami was the first in India to experiment with orchestra or group music. On 3 July 1857, a drama titled Ratnavali was staged at Jatindramohan's house in Belgachia. He assigned Kshetramohun Goswami and Jadunath Pal to form an orchestra imitating those found in European theatres. It was a path-breaking achievement in a country with the tradition of solo music and was an attempt at fusion of western music with Indian traditions.[1][8] Since then, several Bengali musicians began experimenting with European music, often transposing them into staff notation.[1]

India's first Surbahar concert was featured in his court. The famous Gopal Chandra Banerjee, also known as 'Nulo Gopal', the first guru of Sarode maestro Ustad Allauddin Khan resided in his court.[9][10]

He was also one of the influential art patrons of the day, featuring both as a donor and a purchaser of European paintings at Exhibitions.

Other activities[edit]

A man of varied tastes, he donated extensively for public causes. He spent unhesitatingly for the rehabilitation of widows. In 1870, he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of Bengal, and was reappointed in 1872. In February 1877, he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of the Viceroy, being reappointed in 1879.[11]

He was secretary and president of British Indian Association, member of the Viceroy’s council, Education Commission, Calcutta University, and Indian Museum. He had a museum in Tagore Castle.

He wrote extensively in English, Bengali and Sanskrit.[1]

Honours[edit]

He was honoured with the personal title of Raja Bahadur in 1871, which was elevated to Maharaja in January 1877. In January 1890, he was elevated to the title of Maharaja Bahadur, which was made hereditary in January 1891.[11]

Tagore was granted the following coat of arms by the British government:[11]

  • Arms- Azure, the sun in splendour proper, surrounded by a halo of eight points or, all within a bordure argent
  • Crest- On a tortoise or, the figure of Lord Vishnu proper, seated; his head surrounded by a halo of the first
  • Supporters- A Royal Bengal tiger and an Indian elephant, both rampant, or
  • Motto- Bengali: Satyam Balam Kebalam ("Truth the only power")

Legacy[edit]

Jatindra Mohan Avenue, the northern extension of Central Avenue is named in Jatindra Mohan Tagore's honour.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, (Bengali), p. 433, ISBN 81-85626-65-0
  2. ^ Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali, p. 611
  3. ^ a b c Lethbridge, Roper (1893). The Golden Book of India. New York: Macmillan and Co. pp. 527–528. 
  4. ^ Simon, John Y. (2008). The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant: October 1, 1878-September 30, 1880. Washington: Southern Illionois University Press and Ulysses S. Grant Association. p. 107. 
  5. ^ Bandopadhyay, Debashis, Bonedi Kolkatar Gharbari, (Bengali), Second impression 2002, pp. 113-6, Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7756-158-8
  6. ^ Tagore, Pramantha. "Music and the Emerging City". Envisioning the Indian City. 
  7. ^ Mukhopadhyay, Ganesh (2012). "Theatre Stage". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  8. ^ Mitra, Rajyeshwar, Music in Old Calcutta, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, p. 183, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-563696-1
  9. ^ Massey, Reginald (1996). The Music of India. Calcutta: Abhinav Publications. pp. 142–143. ISBN 81-7017-332-9. 
  10. ^ Guha Thakurta, Tapati, Art in Old Calcutta: The Melting Pot of Western Styles, in Calcutta, the Living City, Vol I, P. 148
  11. ^ a b c Lethbridge, Sir Roper, "The Golden Book of India: A Genealogical and Biographical Dictionary, pp, 307-308