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  • RavindraNath Tagore

    Travels

    Between 1878 and 1932, Tagore set foot in more than thirty countries on five continents. In 1912, he took a sheaf of his translated works to England, where they gained attention from missionary and Gandhi prot?g? Charles F. Andrews, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Robert Bridges, Ernest Rhys, Thomas Sturge Moore, and others. Yeats wrote the preface to the English translation of Gitanjali, Andrews joined Tagore at Santiniketan. In November 1912 Tagore began touring the United States and the United Kingdom, staying in Butterton, Staffordshire with Andrewss clergymen friends. From May 1916 until April 1917, he lectured in Japan and the United States. He denounced nationalism. His essay Nationalism in India was scorned and praised, it was admired by Romain Rolland and other pacifists.Shortly after returning home the 63 year old Tagore accepted an invitation from the Peruvian government. He travelled to Mexico. Each government pledged US$100,000 to his school to commemorate the visits. A week after his 6 November 1924 arrival in Buenos Aires, an ill Tagore shifted to the Villa Miralrio at the behest of Victoria Ocampo. He left for home in January 1925. In May 1926 Tagore reached Naples, the next day he met Mussolini in Rome. Their warm rapport ended when Tagore pronounced upon Il Duces fascist finesse. He had earlier enthused

    without any doubt he is a great personality. There is such a massive vigour in that head that it reminds one of Michael Angelos chisel. A fire bath of fascism was to have educed the immortal soul of Italy clothed in quenchless light.On 14 July 1927 Tagore and two companions began a four month tour of Southeast Asia. They visited Bali, Java, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Penang, Siam, and Singapore. The resultant travelogues compose Jatri (1929). In early 1930 he left Bengal for a nearly year long tour of Europe and the United States. Upon returning to Britainand as his paintings exhibited in Paris and Londonhe lodged at a Birmingham Quaker settlement. He wrote his Oxford Hibbert Lectures? and spoke at the annual London Quaker meet. There, addressing relations between the British and the Indiansa topic he would tackle repeatedly over the next two yearsTagore spoke of a dark chasm of aloofness. He visited Aga Khan III, stayed at Dartington Hall, toured Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany from June to mid September 1930, then went on into the Soviet Union. In April 1932 Tagore, intrigued by the Persian mystic Hafez, was hosted by Reza Shah Pahlavi. In his other travels, Tagore interacted with Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann, H.G. Wells and Romain Rolland. Visits to Persia and Iraq (in 1932) and Sri Lanka (in 1933) composed Tagores final foreign tour, and his dislike of communalism and nationalism only deepened. Vice President of India M. Hamid Ansari has said that Rabindranath Tagore heralded the cultural rapprochement between communities, societies and nations much before it became the liberal norm of conduct. Tagore was a man ahead of his time. He wrote in 1932, while on a visit to Iran, that each country of Asia will solve its own historical problems according to its strength, nature and needs, but the lamp they will each carry on their path to progress will converge to illuminate the common ray of knowledge. His ideas on culture, gender, poverty, education, freedom, and a resurgent Asia remain relevant today.


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