Rabindranath Tagore was the son of the Great Sage (Maharishi) Devendranath Tagore, a well-known Hindu philosopher and religious reformer active in the Brahmo Samaj sect (Society of Brahma or Society of God). His father tried to eradicate Hindu idolatry and casteism, eventually drifting toward Christianity. His grandfather was a friend of the Bengali social and cultural reformer Rammohan Roy. Rabindranath was born to a Bengali landed family and had no regular schooling or academic grounding. He was fifteen when he started writing lyrics, in the tradition of Hindu devotional poetry and of the Bengali Vaishnava singers in particular. The Jesuit fathers of St. Xavier's College (Calcutta) also contributed to shaping his mysticism. He early visited England, where he imbibed (although he was not a voracious or systematic reader) the English Romantic poets and Shakespeare. He was involved for a brief time in the nationalist struggle, but soon retired to Shantiketan and nearby Sriniketan, where he founded an ashram for retirement and meditation. These two places became the center for a new experiment in living in which the East-West dichotomy was to be transmuted into harmony, as well as for the foundation of Visvabharati University. The award of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 gave Tagore wider international fame, and he grew into an itinerant and unofficial ambassador of the new and independent India. As the years passed, his identity merged with that of the Upanishadic “rishis, ” seeing the way and showing it to others.
Tagore's art highlights the rich and versatile heritage of the so-called Bengali Renaissance, a cultural movement that started in the first quarter of the nineteenth century and received its primary impulse from Rammohan Roy's letter