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Rathindranath Thakur (anglicised as Rathindranath Tagore, 27 November 1888 – 3 June 1961) was an Indian educationist and agronomist. He served as the first vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati University, which was founded by his father, Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore's tenure at the university was marred by allegations of financial impropriety and an extra-marital affair.

Rathindranath Tagore
Rathindranath Tagore
Rathindranath Tagore
Rathindranath Thakur

(1888-11-27)27 November 1888
Died3 June 1961(1961-06-03) (aged 72)
Mitali, Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh, India
NationalityBritish Indian (1888–1947)
Indian (1947–1961)
Alma materIllinois State University
Spouse(s)Pratima Devi
Partner(s)Mira Chattopadhyay
ChildrenNandini (adopted)
Jayabrato Chattopadhyay (foster)
Parent(s)Rabindranath Tagore (father)
Mrinalini Devi (mother)

Early life and educationEdit

Rathindranath Tagore (second from left) with his father (centre), wife Pratima (second from right), and two sisters, in 1909

Rathindranath Tagore was born on 27 November 1888 to Rabindranath Tagore and Mrinalini Devi at Jorasanko Thakur Bari in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India.[1]

He was one of the first five students at the Brahmacharya asrama at Shantiniketan.[2] After completing their schooling, he and a classmate, Santosh Chandra Majumdar, were sent to Japan in 1906. From there, they moved to the United States and graduated in agricultural science from Illinois State University in 1909.[1][2][3][4]

Return to India and marriageEdit

Tagore returned to India in around 1910, at the request of his father to help in the running of the family zamindari at Shilaidaha. Over the following months, Rabindranath introduced him to village life while he taught his father what he had learnt at university.[1] Tagore would later recall that, "the father-son relationship had never been so close as they were in 1910".[1]

Tagore developed multiple agricultural tracts in Shilaidaha. He built a soil testing laboratory, imported plant-seeds, borrowed tractors and customized the farming equipment to the requirements of the area.[1]

On 27 January 1910, Tagore married Pratima, a widowed niece who was five years his junior; it was the first instance of widow remarriage in the Tagore family.[1] From his private letters, it can be inferred that Tagore was quite happy during this period.[1]


A few months after his marriage, at his father's request, Tagore left Pratima at Shilaidaha and moved to Shantiniketan to help in the development of Visva-Bharati University.[1] Undated letters exchanged between Tagore and Pratima show that the distance created a rift between the couple and that they grew apart from one another.[1] In 1922, they adopted a daughter, Nandini.[1] Pratima accompanied her husband and father-in-law in their visits to many distant places, including England and Europe.[5]

After his return from education abroad, Tagore spent about four decades at Satiniketan, serving Visva Bharati. At different times he was teacher, karma saciva, Santiniketan saciva and in-chage of Sriniketan. He made an enormous contribution to developing the Rabindranath Tagore memorial and archives.[6] In Visva Bharati, Tagore was initially a faculty-member and subsequently its chairman. In later years, especially after the death of Rabindranath in 1941, Tagore found the job to be unfulfilling. In a letter to the wife of Arthur S. Abramson Tagore called it a moral burden that was thrust upon him.[1]

In 1951, Tagore became the first upacharya (vice-chancellor) of Visva-Bharati after it was selected to be a central university.[1] Reportedly, Tagore disliked the change as it added what he regarded as unnecessary bureaucracy.[1] When allegations of financial irregularities were subsequently leveled against him, he was reluctant to even attend the court hearings. This irked the acharya (chancellor) of the university, Jawaharlal Nehru, who was also the Prime Minister of India.[1][7] Eventually, the allegations could not be proven in the court of law.[1]

Extramarital affairEdit

During his tenure, Tagore developed a romantic relationship with Mira, who was thirty-one years younger and married to another professor, Nirmalchandra Chattapodhyay.[1] Around the period, the relationship between Rathindranath and Pratima became so strained that although they stayed in the same house at Santiniketan they hardly met with one another.[8]

Tagore continued the affair despite criticism from his family and the residents of Shantiniketan.[7][8] When Nehru asked Tagore to "remove" Nirmalchandra and Mira from Shantiniketan, he felt insulted and, instead, resigned citing "ill-health". He left the premises on 22 August 1953, calling it the day of his freedom from the folds of Visva-Bharati.[1]


After his resignation from Visva-Bharati, Tagore planned to move to Dehradun. He wrote to Nirmalchandra demanding that Mira be "handed-over" to him; Nirmalchandra obliged and Mira and her son 2-year old Jayabrato accompanied Tagore to Dehradun.[1] Before leaving, Tagore wrote to Pratima, "I am not going secretly. I have informed everyone that Mira is with me."[1] Pratima replied that she "would be happy, if he remained happy".[1]

In Dehradun, Tagore built a house called "Mitali" on Rajpur Road. It was designed as a replica of his original house at Shantiniketan.[1][9] In an undated letter to Mira, Tagore expressed the wish to spend his remaining days in peace with her and said that "Miru" was the only one who mattered to him. They stayed together in Dehradun for eight years until Tagore's death.[9] Throughout this period, Tagore continued to exchange letters with Pratima and was often visited by Nirmalchandra.[1][8] On 3 June 1961, Tagore died at his own house. His last rights were performed by Nirmalchandra and ten-year old Jayabrato. [1]


In 2013, Visva-Bharati University set up a museum in the memory of Tagore. Guha-Ghar, which was built by Tagore and served as his residence at Shantiniketan, houses the museum.[4][10]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "কবিপুত্র" [Kabiputra] (in Bengali). Anandabazar Patrika. 18 February 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Rathindranath Tagore". Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Santoshchandra Majumdar". Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Museum for 'unsung' Tagore son". The Telegraph. 1 April 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Pratima Devi (1893-1969)". Visva-Bharati. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Rathindranath Tagore (1888-1961)". Visva Bharati. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b "আপনি তুমি রইলে দূরে" [You yourself stayed away]. Kali O Kalom. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "আনন্দবাজার পত্রিকা - রবিবাসরীয় প্রবন্ধ". Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  9. ^ a b "What's love got to do with it?". The Telegraph. 4 December 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  10. ^ "Museum and book in memory of Rathindranath Tagore, son of Rabindranath Tagore". Jagran Josh, 1 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  11. ^ a b "রথীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর আর হারিয়ে যাওয়া বই" [Rathindranath Tagore and lost books] (in Bengali). Bongo Dorshon. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2019.