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Monday, October 8, 2012

Rabindranath Tagore’s Descendants

Rabindranath Tagore’s Descendants

During the course of our two most recent conference calls, we had some discussions, among various other issues, about Rabindranath’s children and his grandchildren.  I have gathered some basic information on this topic, and for everyone’s ease of reference I furnish my findings below.  Please note that this is by no means a scholarly article on the subject, but rather a compilation of some straightforward facts.

Rabindranath Tagore’s Birth and His Death

Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta (Kolkata) in the ancestral home of the Tagores at 6 Dwarkanath Tagore Lane, Jorasanko on Tuesday, 7 May 1861 between 2.30 and 3.00 a.m.; corresponding to Monday, 25 Boishaakh 1268 Bengali Era.

Tagore was brought to Kolkata from Santiniketan for Medical treatment on 25 July 1941, and he remained in Kolkata for the last two weeks of his life.  He dictated his last poem on 30 July 1941, and died at the age of 80 Years 3 Months in the family house at Jorasanko in Kolkata on Thursday, 7 August 1941, shortly after 12.00 noon; corresponding to Thursday, 22 Sraabon 1348 Bengali Era.


Rabindranath Tagore’s Wedding and His Wife’s Subsequent Death

Rabindranath was married at the age of 22 years 7 months, and his wife Bhabatarini Debi was about ten years of age at the time of their wedding; which took place in the ancestral house of the Tagore family at Jorasanko (not in the bride’s home) on 9 December 1883.  Rabindranath’s father, his second brother Satyendranath Tagore and eldest sister Saudamini Debi were not present at the wedding.  Saudamini Debi's husband Saradaprasad Gangopadhyay died on Rabindranath's wedding day.  

Bhabatarini Debi was born in the year 1873 at Fultala, a village in the district of Jessore, in East Bengal (present day Bangladesh).  Her father, Benimadhab Raychaudhuri, was a minor employee on the Tagore Estates.  The name Bhabatarini was considered an old fashioned one by the members of the Tagore family, and consequently, her name was changed to Mrinalini Debi, which was suggested by Rabindranath’s eldest brother Dwijendranath Tagore (1840 – 1926).

Mrinalini Debi fell ill in the year 1902 while she was residing at Santiniketan.  She was later brought to Calcutta for medical treatment but, the doctors could not diagnose her illness.  Rathindranath Tagore later speculated that his mother had appendicitis.  She remained unwell for three months, and eventually died on 23 November 1902 at the age of about 29 Years.  Rabindranath was 41 years 6 months of age when his wife Mrinalini Debi died.  After his wife's demise, Rabindranath never remarried.


Rabindranath Tagore’s Children

Rabindranath Tagore and Mrinalini Debi had five children - three daughters and two sons - and they were: Madhurilata Debi (Bela), Rathindranath Tagore (Rathi), Renuka Debi (Rani), Mira Debi (Atasi) and Samindranath Tagore (Sami). Three of Rabindranath's children died by the time he was 57 years old but, he did not adopt any other children.

Madhurilata Debi (Bela)

Rabindranath’s first child Madhurilata, who was his eldest daughter, was born on 25 October 1886.  She was also known as Bela.  Rabindranath sometimes mentioned her name as ‘Beli’ in his letters to his family members.

Madhurilata was married at the age of fifteen to Saratchandra Chakraborty (the third son of the poet Biharilal Chakraborty) in July(?), 1901.  Madhurilata’s husband was a lawyer.

Madhurilata died of tuberculosis at her husband’s house in Calcutta on 16 May 1918 at the age of 31 years 6 months.  She did not have any children.


Rathindranath Tagore (Rathi)

Rabindranath’s second child Rathindranath Tagore, who was his eldest son, was born on 27 November 1888.  Rathindranath was married on 27 January 1910 to Pratima Debi.  Pratima Debi was born in the year 1893.  At the time of their marriage, Rathindranath was 21 years 2 months of age and Pratima Debi was about 17 years of age.  

Pratima Debi was Gaganendranath and Abanindranath Tagore’s niece. (Her mother Binayini Debi was their sister).  Before her marriage to Rathindranath, Pratima Debi had been married to Nilanath Mukhopadhyay but, was widowed later.  Rathindranath and Pratima Debi’s marriage was the first instance of a widow marriage in the Tagore family.  

Rathindranath and Pratima Debi did not have any children.  However, they adopted a daughter called Nandini, who was born in the year 1922.  Sometime after Tagore’s death, Rathindranath and Pratima debi separated.  

Rathindranath was the Vice Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University from 14 May 1951 till 22 August 1953.  He died in Dehradun on 3 June 1961 at the age of 72 years 6 months.  Pratima Debi died in the year 1969 when she was about 76 years old.


Renuka Debi (Rani)  

Rabindranath’s third child Renuka, who was his second daughter, was born on 23 January 1891.  She was also known as Rani.  She was married to Satyendranath Bhattacharya in August(?) 1901, about one and a half months after her elder sister Madhurilata got married.  At the time of her wedding, Renuka was about 10 years 6 months of age.  She died of tuberculosis in mid-September 1903 when she was about 12 years 7 months of age.  Renuka did not have any children.

Mira Debi (Atasi)

Rabindranath’s fourth child Mira Debi, who was his third and youngest daughter, was born on 12 January 1894.  She was also called Atasi.  Mira Debi was married on 6 June 1907 at the age of 13 years 4 months to Nagendranath Gangopadhyay.  They separated in the 1920s.  Mira Debi died at Santiniketan in the year 1969 at the age of about 75.

Mira Debi and Nagendranath had two children – a son named Nitindranath (Nitu) and a daughter named Nandita (Buri).


Samindranath Tagore (Sami)

Rabindranath’s fifth child Samindranath, who was his second and youngest son, was born on12 December 1896.  He was also called Sami.  Less than six months after Mira Debi’s wedding, while Samindranath was visiting a friend at Munger in the state of Bihar, he suddenly died of cholera on 23 November 1907, the day his mother Mrinalini Debi died five years before.  At the time of his death, Samindranath was 10 years 11 months of age.


Rabindranath Tagore’s grandchildren

Rabindranath had three grandchildren – one grandson and two granddaughters – and they were Nitindranath, Nandita and Nandini.

Nitindranath Tagore (Gangopadhyay) [Nitu]

Mira debi’s only son, and Rabindranath’s only grandson, Nitindranath was born in the year 1912.  He was also called Nitu.  While he had been residing in Germany for higher studies, he died of tuberculosis on 7 August 1932 at the age of 20.  Nitindranath was not married.  At the time of Nitindra’s death Rabindranath was 71 years of age.

Nandita Kripalani (Buri)

Mira Debi’s only daughter Nandita was born in 1916.  She was also known as Buri.  She was married to Krishna Kripalani (1907 – 1992).  They did not have any children.  Nandita died in 1967 at the age of 51.

Nandini Tagore

Rathindranath and Pratima Debi’s adopted daughter Nandini was born in 1922.  She was married on 30 January 1939. (I do not have any more information about her).

Conclusion

From the information presented above we see that only two of Rabindranath Tagore’s children – his son Rathindranath and daughter Mira Debi – and two of his granddaughters, Nandita (Mira Debi’s daughter) and Nandini (Rathindranath’s adopted daughter), outlived him, and it is sad to note that no direct descendant of Rabindranath is alive any more.

NB:

1. If anyone has any more information about Rathindranath’s adopted daughter Nandini, for example, to whom did she get married, whether she is still alive, if not then when did she die, did she have any children, and what were their names etc.; then please enlighten us all.

2. If anyone notices any factual errors in this article, please provide the correct information, mentioning the sources.  Please do not ignore any mistakes.

3. I could not find the exact dates of some of the events, and in such cases I have indicated only the years when those incidents happened.  If anyone knows the exact dates, please share those information with everyone.



Reference  

The Visva-Bharati Quarterly Vol. VII, Parts I & II, May – Oct. 1941 – Tagore Birthday Number Edited by K. R. Kripalani

Rabindranath Tagore : A Centenary Volume 1861 – 1961 Published by Sahitya Akademi

On the Edges of Time by Rathindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore The Myriad Minded Man by Krishna Dutta & Andrew Robinson

I Won’t Let You Go : Selected Poems of Rabindranath Tagore Translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson

Rabindranath Tagore : Selected Short Stories Translated with an Introduction by William Radice

Atmaghati Rabindranath Vol. II by Nirad Chandra Chaudhuri 

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