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Confluence of Minds – Tagore, Bose & Mahalanobis

2 April, 2021 11:12:34
Confluence of Minds – Tagore, Bose & Mahalanobis

Jagadish Chandra Bose and Rabindranath Tagore were contemporaries, being just two and half years apart in age and they were indeed very good friends. However, Mahalanobis was more than 32 years younger than Tagore. By the time he went to Cambridge for the Mathematical Tripos Course, Tagore had already established himself as a great poet, about to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Yet, there was a confluence of these three brilliant minds.

Mahalanobis was attracted by the poet’s universalism. Though he, along with Sukumar Roy, initially met with resistance in getting Tagore inducted into the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, he persisted with a logical chronicle on ‘Keno Rabindranath ke Chai?’

Both J.C. Bose and Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis were professional scientists. While Bose was one of the most respected botanist and physicist of the world, Mahalanobis was a famed statistician. It is a matter of curiosity, that Tagore who was not trained as a scientist, moved towards these two individuals who were vastly different from him. Most people who were close to Tagore were either followers or writers, popularly known as ‘Rabindriks.’The exception perhaps was another great physicist Satyendra Nath Bose. The reason seems easy to grasp. Tagore, being a colossal creator of ideas himself, was closely and inevitably drawn to other creative minds, albeit in distinctive fields. 

 

There was another confluence in that they all came from well-to-do Brahmo families. None had to struggle to make both ends meet and all had been further enriched by their liberal, emancipated environments, which were imbued with culture, music and intellectual discourses. Not having to worry about money enabled them to be fiercely independent individuals who chartered their own paths in life, undeterred by distractions. There is one difference however, Tagore never worked for anybody else. Bose did, briefly, when he taught in Presidency College and Mahalanobis worked very closely with the Government of India. 

Both J.C. Bose and Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis were professional scientists. While Bose was one of the most respected botanist and physicist of the world, Mahalanobis was a famed statistician. It is a matter of curiosity, that Tagore who was not trained as a scientist, moved towards these two individuals who were vastly different from him.

Mahalanobis was attracted by the poet’s universalism. Though he, along with Sukumar Roy, initially met with resistance in getting Tagore inducted into the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, he persisted with a logical chronicle on ‘Keno Rabindranath ke Chai?’

Tagore was present during his marriage to Nirmal Kumari, more famously known as Rani, at his maternal uncle Nilratan Sircar’s home in 1923, marked by the absence of her own father, legendary professor Heramba Chandra Maitra. Mahalanobis’s close association with Tagore started when he came to Santiniketan in 1910 and later became one of the 10 founding members of Ashramik Sangha. Later, Mahalanobis became Secretary of Visva Bharati. He not only drafted the constitution of Visva Bharati but remained its secretary until 1931 when Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) was born.    

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