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Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a genius with a multi-faceted personality. He was a poet, novelist, dramatist, musician, short-story writer, teacher, painter, educationist, philosopher, social and religious reformer and a humanist. His literary life extended over sixty years during which he composed over one thousand poems, nearly two dozen plays and play-lets, eight novels, eight volumes of short stories, more than four thousand songs, and a mass of prose on literary, social, religious, political and other topics. His compositions have come to be known as Rabindra Sangeet.
Rabindranath Tagore played a significant role in bringing about a new awakening in India in the latter half of the 19th century. His life and creative work provided the then Indian society with a purpose, direction and a programme. The impact of his personality transcended his native Bengal and came to be felt not only in other parts of India but also abroad. In 1901 he founded his school, the Shantiniketan, at Bolpur as a protest against the existing bad system of education. The school was a great success and eventually gave birth to the Viswabharati. In 1912 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, the first to any Asian, for his work Gitanjali. In 1915, Tagore was knighted by the British Empire. Being an ardent patriot, he renounced his knighthood in 1919 as a protest against the Jalianwala Bagh tragedy. Tagore has the unique distinction of being the only poet to have two of his songs -- Jana Gana Mana and Amar Sonar Bangla -- adopted as the national anthems of two countries -- India and Bangladesh respectively. Rabindranath Tagore died in Calcutta on 7 Aug 1941.