A Page Out of a Radical’s Life
Sayantani Jafa
"APNI TUMI RO ILE DURE":SANGA NISSHANGATA AND RATHINDRANATH by Nilanjan Bandopadhyay Dey's Publishing, 2012, 342 pp., 350
May 2012, volume 36, No 5

This is an interesting and pioneering addition to the corpus of literature which exists on the family history of the Tagores. Its relevance lies in treating a theme which may be considered taboo to many Bengalis, that of the life of Rathindranath, the only surviving son of Rabindranath, and Rathindranath’s extra-marital friendship with Meera Chattopadhyay, wife of Nirmal Chandra Chattopadhyay, a Professor of Eng-lish at Visva Bharati in the 1940s and 1950s. The Tagore family has largely been portrayed in hagiographical light for a long time. As one of the leading progenitors of reform and renaissance in 19th century Bengal, its wealthy and enlightened members were renowned for their contribution to art, literature, social change and religious reform in the Brahmo Samajist movement. In a sense this was a glittering array of tremendously talented and creative individuals who were polymaths in every sense of the term; Satyendranath, Gaganendranath, Abanindranath, Dwijendranath Tagore and of course, the poet himself, a Nobel Laureate and a literary figure who overshadowed all his contemporaries with the sheer breadth of his genius.

In this Hall of Fame, his son Rathi as he was affectionately called, has always remained an enigma. A trained agricultural scientist from Illinois, a multitalented individual in his own right, he was the Chancellor of Visva Bharati after his father’s demise in 1941. Prior to this, his closeness with his father was undoubted, as he and his wife Pratima Debi, accompanied him on most of his foreign tours and were part of his innermost circle of confidantes and advisers.

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