Sunday, May 8, 2011


New Delhi (AFP) - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the festivities for the poet who won the Nobel in 1913 and who is revered by the world’s 250 million Bengali speakers in India and neighbouring Bangladesh.  The events, planned over one year, aim to stir new interest among a wider audience in the Bengali writer’s novels, music, plays, poems and paintings, the government said.  “A number of commemoration events have (also) been planned abroad, particularly in countries with which Tagore had some association,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a function in New Delhi.  Tagore, who established an open-air university in India’s West Bengal state, also penned the national anthems of both Bangladesh and India. He produced some 50 volumes of poetry including his acclaimed Gitanjali (Song Offerings).  Singh, addressing diplomats and fans from India and Bangladesh, announced an award in the name of the poet.

“A jury headed by the prime minister will select each year a citizen of the world of outstanding public eminence who in his or her life and work epitomizes the high universal ideals that Tagore stood for,” Singh said.  The Prime Minister also announced India’s culture ministry has begun the digitalization of Tagore’s rare paintings and original manuscripts and books.  Tagore, known as the “Bard of the East,” set up Vishwa Bharati in 1921 in the picturesque town of Shantiniketan near Kolkata from the prize money he received from the Nobel Foundation.  The prime minister thanked his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, for jointly hosting the year-long celebrations.

India began celebrations on Saturday to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of iconic poet and playwright Rabindranath Tagore, the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for literature.  There is a need for a critical analysis of the works of Rabindranath Tagore to understand the relevance of his ideologies, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today.  No doubt, Tagore was a nice poet from the materialistic point of view, but not from the spiritualistic one.  Vaishnavas prefer to read Vyasadeva’s poetry, such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is far superior, even from the literary point of view. 

Gopala Krsna: How do you feel about Rabindranath Tagore, the poet?
Prabhupada: ... God consciousness is on the spiritual platform. ... Generally people are in bodily concept of life.  Therefore body means the senses.  They want to satisfy the senses.  And then mental platform, they are satisfying the mind by philosphical speculation or some poetry.  So, Rabindranath Tagore, he belongs to the mental platform.  So one has to transcend the bodily platform, mental platform, intellectual platform and come to the simple spiritual platform. ... So Rabindranath Tagore belonged to the mental platform - a little bit higher than persons who are on the bodily platform.  But perfection of life comes when one comes to the spiritual platform.  That we are giving directly, Krsna.  Immediately.  That is the difference between Rabindranath Tagore and our activities.

Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda :
Lectures & Classes - 710728BS.NY
Sri Brahma-samhita, Lecture - New York, July 28, 1971
The Complete Works of HDG ACBSP

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