Images of Rabindranath Tagore


he Jorasanko days were probably the time when Rabindranath Tagore began to be portrayed as an icon rather than a person. Looking at innumerable photographs of this visionary I realized there were many types of photographs and depictions of him through paintings and caricatures. We see that some photographs show specific moods or are terribly self-conscious and as most of them are taken by eminent photographers, they are works that go far beyond the subject himself. All of these however are true portrayals of different aspects of his personality. Seeing so many of these representations, I began to notice that few photographers show Rabrindranath Tagore’s human side, the person beyond the renowned personality. Often the poet’s persona is predominant, concealing the human being, the inner personality. In some of the depictions one feels he chose to project himself in this manner, at others, one feels that even if he wanted to reveal the inner being, his strong persona overshadowed the inner being.

Amidst all these images, there are three that deserve particular mention, a drawing by Asit Kumar Haldar, the poet’s pen and ink drawing over his own photograph and the third a photograph of Rabindranath taken from behind, by Sambhu Saha.

When I was trying to discover the poet as a person and not as an icon, I reread ‘Chinno Potraboli’, looking again at the photographs, seeking the person behind the representation. As a result I was able to arrive at a clear image of Rabindranath himself and not just the famous poet. In his own self portraits, one feels he was seeking to represent his inner soul. Maybe the different representations of himself were the beginning of his journey to depict the me, while trying to overcome the sense of the sense of the self.

Rabindranth’s self – portraits illustrate the shifts in portraits paintings in India. They also depict the images of global India.

Samit Das
New Delhi -2013
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