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Girindranath, the lesser-known Tagore who was creatively crazy! – GetBengal story

12 June, 2024 17:13:38
Girindranath, the lesser-known Tagore who was creatively crazy! – GetBengal story

Jorasanko Thakurbari, the ancestral home of the Tagore family, has been renowned for its intellectual richness, with stalwarts in every field, be it literature, art, music, and more, living behind its walls. It is believed that Rabindranath Tagore’s family produced some of the best intellectual minds who went on to become world-famous. But hidden behind the fame of these larger-than-life personalities are many lesser-known Tagores too, some never discussed, yet their stories are as fascinating as their relatives, who are household names.

One such person was Girindranath Tagore, who was the uncle of Rabindranth Tagore and his father, Debendranath Tagore’s brother. Considered the 'black sheep' of the family, the Tagore family did not speak of him much. Because of his original religious affiliations as a Pirali Brahmin, Girindranath remained adamant and refused to accept the Brahma religion like his brother Debendranath. Hence, when their father, Prince Dwarakanath Tagore, died, a huge furor rose in the Tagore household over how to perform his Shraddha ceremony or last rites. By then, Debendranath had embraced the Brahma religion and decided to go ahead as per their diktat, but Girindranath, among the other brothers, wanted to perform it as per Hindu rituals. He even continued performing the Lakshi Janardhan worship that was part of the Tagore household deity. Surprisingly, despite Girindranath having accepted the Brahma religion, he refused to follow the rules laid down by the religious texts. Rather, he stuck to his Hindu ways. He performed his father’s Shraddha using the family’s Shalagram Shila, and hence, Debendranath Tagore writes in his memoir that when he heard Girindranath was doing the rites as per his ways, he left even before his brother arrived.

Later, Girindranath Tagore’s wife, Jogomaya Devi, who was also a staunch Hindu, started staying in the Baithak khana house and took charge of worshipping the Lakshi Janardhan deity. 

Girindranath was also known to love living in luxury. His grandson Abanindranath Tagore once told Rani Chanda about his Dadamoshai’s luxurious habits. He often went on boat rides on the Ganges with his friends to play cards. While playing, he would throw cards deliberately in the Ganges and spoil the game of cards. He took pleasure in the act and laughed when his friends expressed their irritation. He would call poets like Ishwar Gupta on his boat to write and recite poems impromptu. 

He also wrote plays and loved to stage them during Durga Puja. One such play was ‘Babu Bilash.’ While staging this play, he himself designed the costumes and made his cousins and relatives play the different roles. For one of the roles he pulled his cousin’s hair and made it into a beard. It is said that since then, the men of Thakurbari have started keeping beards, including Debendranath Tagore. He also wrote several Brahma Sangeets. Though he loved to live a life of luxury, Girindranath did not have great business acumen. He took the helm of his father's Dwarakanath’s Car & Company, which was by then in deep debt, he failed to run the company efficiently or restore its lost glory. But despite the family’s depleting wealth, unlike Debendranath Tagore, he could not give up any luxury in his life. 

Remaining in the shadows of the better-known Tagores, Girindranath died at the age of 34 and left behind four children and his wife. He lived a life of his own choice, and very few people ever talk about this crazy man who could not match the fame of his siblings but maintained a space of his own. 

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