ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Rabindranath - A Liberal Humanist Fallen among Bigoted Bhadraloks

The 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore this year is an occasion for reviewing the poet's estimation of his Bengali audience and the latter's attitude towards him. The relationship can be situated within the wider framework of an unstable structure (the Bengali bhadralok society in this case) and a multifaceted agency (the individual Rabindranath who inhabited that society), and the complementary role of the two in responding to and affecting on each other. Over a span of almost a century, Rabindranath played a twin role - one, as a creative artist, and the other, what we today define as a "public intellectual". During this period, he was pulled apart by bhadralok denigrators and hagiographers, and the reactions ranged from scorn to deification. This history of the contradictory reconstruction of Rabindranath's image by the Bengali bhadralok society reflects the social conflicts, intellectual debates and political pulls and pressures that had churned up and transformed that society during the last century - traversing great historical events like the anti-colonial national movement in India and the two world wars.

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