Debendranath Tagore

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Debendranath Tagore
দেবেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর
Debendranath Tagore.jpg
Portrait of Debendranath Tagore
Born(1817-05-15)15 May 1817
Calcutta, Bengal, Bengal Presidency [1]
Died 19 January 1905(1905-01-19) (aged 87)
Calcutta, Bengal, British India
Nationality British Indian
Occupation Religious reformer
Movement Bengal Renaissance
Children Dwijendranath Tagore, Satyendranath Tagore, Hemendranath Tagore, Jyotirindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore, Birendranath Tagore, Somendranath Tagore, Punyendranath Tagore, Budhendranath Tagore, Soudamini Tagore, Sukumari Tagore, Saratkumari Tagore, Swarnakumari Tagore and Barnakumari Tagore.

Debendranath Tagore (Bengali : দেবেন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর, Debendronath Ţhakur) (15 May 1817 – 19 January 1905) was a Hindu philosopher and religious reformer, active in the Brahmo Samaj ("Society of Brahman," also translated as "Society of God"), which aimed to reform the Hindu religion and way of life. He was one of the founders in 1848 of the Brahmo religion, which today is synonymous with Brahmoism.

Bengali language

Bengali, also known by its endonym Bangla, is an Indo-Aryan language primarily spoken by the Bengalis in South Asia. It is the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi.

Brahmo Samaj is the societal component of Brahmoism, which began as a monotheistic reformist movement of the Hindu religion that appeared during the Bengal Renaissance. It is practised today mainly as the Adi Dharm after its eclipse in Bengal consequent to the exit of the Tattwabodini Sabha from its ranks in 1839. After the publication of Hemendranath Tagore's Brahmo Anusthan in 1860 which formally divorced Brahmoism from Hinduism, the first Brahmo Samaj was founded in 1861 at Lahore by Pandit Nobin Chandra Roy.


A Bengali, he was born in Shilaidaha. His father was the industrialist Dwarkanath Tagore.


Shilaidaha Kuthibadi is a place in Kumarkhali Upazila of Kushtia District in Bangladesh. The place is famous for Kuthi Bari; a country house made by Dwarkanath Tagore. Rabindranath Tagore lived a part of life here and created some of his memorable poems while living here. The geographic location of this place is 23°55'11.48"N, 89°13'12.11"E.

Dwarkanath Tagore Indian businessman

Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846), one of the first Indian industrialists and entrepreneurs, was the founder of the Jorasanko branch of the Tagore family, and is notable for making substantial contributions to the Bengal Renaissance.

Debendranath was a deeply religious man. His movement, the Brahmo Samaj, was formed in 1843 by merging his Tattwabodhini Sabha with the Brahmo Sabha, ten years after the death of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, founder of the Brahmo Sabha. The Brahmo Sabha had fallen away from its original aims and practices,[ citation needed ] as stated in its Trust deed of Brahmo Sabha. However, Tagore aimed to revive the importance of this deed.

The modern religious philosophy of Brahmoism is based in part on the foundations of reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy's humanitarian philosophy, as exemplified by the Trust Deed of Brahmo Sabha, known to Brahmos as the 1830 Brahmo Trust Deed.

Although Debendranath was deeply spiritual, he managed to continue to maintain his worldly affairs – he did not renounce his material possessions, as some Hindu traditions prescribed, but instead continued to enjoy them in a spirit of detachment. His considerable material property included estates spread over several districts of Bengal; most famously, the Santiniketan estate near Bolpur in the Birbhum district, a later acquisition, where his eldest son Dwijendranath Tagore set up his school.

Bolpur City in West Bengal, India

Bolpur is a city and a municipality in Birbhum district in the state of West Bengal, India. It is the headquarters of the Bolpur subdivision. It is 145 km north of Kolkata and is best known for its proximity to Visva Bharati, the university set up by the Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore. Given its proximity to Santiniketan and Sriniketan, it is one of the seats of culture and education in West Bengal.

Dwijendranath Tagore Indian poet, song composer, philosopher, mathematician

Dwijendranath Tagore was an Indian poet, song composer, philosopher, mathematician, and a pioneer in Bengali shorthand and musical notations.

Debendranath was a master of the Upanishads and played no small role in the education and cultivation of the faculties of his sons.

The Upanishads, a part of the Vedas, are ancient Sanskrit texts that contain some of the central philosophical concepts and ideas of Hinduism, some of which are shared with religious traditions like Buddhism and Jainism. Among the most important literature in the history of Indian religions and culture, the Upanishads played an important role in the development of spiritual ideas in ancient India, marking a transition from Vedic ritualism to new ideas and institutions. Of all Vedic literature, the Upanishads alone are widely known, and their central ideas are at the spiritual core of Hindus.

Thakur Bari (House of Tagores)

Debendranath Tagore was born to the Tagore family in Jorasanko, popularly known as Jorasanko Thakur Bari in North-western Kolkata, which was later converted into a campus of the Rabindra Bharati University. The Tagore family, with over three hundred years of history, [2] has been one of the leading families of Calcutta, and is regarded as a key influence during the Bengal Renaissance. [2] The family has produced several persons who have contributed substantially in the fields of business, social and religious reformation, literature, art and music. [2] [3]

The Tagore family, with over three hundred years of history, has been one of the leading families of Calcutta, India, and is regarded as a key influence during the Bengal Renaissance. The family has produced several persons who have contributed substantially in the fields of business, social and religious reformation, literature, art and music.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari

Jorasanko Thakur Bari (Bengali: House of the Thakurs in Jorasanko, north of Kolkata, West Bengal, India, is the ancestral home of the Tagore family. It is currently located on the Rabindra Bharati University campus at 6/4 Dwarakanath Tagore Lane Jorasanko, Kolkata 700007. It is the house in which the poet and first non-European Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore was born. It is also the place where he spent most of his childhood and died on 7 August 1941.

Kolkata Capital city of West Bengal, India

Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River approximately 75 kilometres (47 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. The city is widely regarded as the "cultural capital" of India, and is also nicknamed the "City of Joy". According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the seventh most populous city; the city had a population of 4.5 million, while the suburb population brought the total to 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. Recent estimates of Kolkata Metropolitan Area's economy have ranged from $60 to $150 billion making it third most-productive metropolitan area in India, after Mumbai and Delhi.


Debendranath married Sarada Devi (died 1875) and they together had 15 children. [4] They included:

Dwijendranath (1840–1926) was an accomplished scholar, poet and music composer. He initiated shorthand and musical notations in Bengali. He wrote extensively and translated Kalidasa's Meghdoot into Bengali.

Satyendranath (1842–1923) was the first Indian to join the Indian Civil Service. At the same time he was a scholar.

Hemendranath (1844–1884) was the scientist and organiser of the family. He was a spiritual seer and Yogi and he was responsible for development of modern Brahmoism which is now the Adi Dharm religion. He was a "doer" of his Tagore generation and worthy successor to his grandfather Dwarkanath and father. He sided with his "conservative" siblings Dwijendranath and Birendranath in the family disputes against "modern" Satyendranath, Jyotindranath and Rabindranath.

Jyotirindranath (1849–1925) was a scholar, artist, music composer and theatre personality.

Rabindranath (1861–1941) was his youngest son. A Nobel laureate in Literature, his poems have been adopted as national anthems of India and Bangladesh. Rabindranath founded the Vishwabharathi University in the Shantiniketan Estate acquired by his father.

His other sons were Birendranath (1845–1915), Punyendranath, Budhendranath and Somendranath.

His daughters were Soudamini, Sukumari, Saratkumari, Swarnakumari (1855–1932) and Barnakumari. Soudamini was one of the first students of Bethune School and a gifted writer. Swarnakumari was a gifted writer, editor, song-composer and social worker. All of them were famous for their beauty and education. His part in creating the legacy of Thakurbari – the House of Tagore – in the cultural heritage of Bengal, centred in Kolkata, was not negligible. It was largely through the influence of the Tagore family, following that of the writer Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, that Bengal took a leading role on the cultural front as well as on the nationalistic one, in the Renaissance in India during the nineteenth century.


As son of Dwarkanath Tagore, a close friend of Ram Mohan Roy, Debendranath came early into the influence of Brahmoism through the Brahmo Sabha, a reformist movement in Hinduism formulating as Adi Dharma (Original Dharma) what it considered as the original pristine principles of Hinduism corrupted over time.

Upasana Griha, Prayer Hall, built by Debendranath Tagore in 1863, Santiniketan. Santiniketan Prayer Hall.jpg
Upasana Griha, Prayer Hall, built by Debendranath Tagore in 1863, Santiniketan.

But even earlier, deeply affected in childhood by the death of his grandmother to whom he was greatly attached, Debendranath was drawn to religion and began contemplating the meaning and nature of life. He commenced a deep study of religious literature, particularly the Upanishads. In 1839, with tutelage from Pandit Ram Chandra Vidyabageesh, a leader of the Brahmo Sabha, he formed his own active Tattwabodhini Sabha (Truthseekers' Association) to spread his new experiences and knowledge.

In 1843, Debendranath started the Tattwabodhini Patrika as mouthpiece of the Tattwabodhini Sabha. In the same year, he revived the Brahma Sabha, fallen in vigour and following since the death of Ram Mohan Roy in 1833. The Brahmo Sabha was formally absorbed into the Tattwabodhini Sabha and renamed as Calcutta Brahma Samaj. The day Pous 7 of the Bengali calendar is commemorated as the foundation day of the Samaj. The Patrika became the organ of the Samaj and continued publication till 1883.

In 1848, Debendranath codified the Adi Dharma Doctrine as Brahmo Dharma Beej (Seed of the Brahmo Dharma). In 1850, he published a book titled Brahmo Dharma enshrining the fundamental principles. These principles emphasise monotheism, rationality and reject scriptural infallibility, the necessity of mediation between man and God, caste distinctions and idolatry.

With the influence of Brahmoism under Debendranath spreading far and wide throughout India, he gathered reputation as a person of particular spiritual accomplishment and came to be known as Maharshi. His spiritual stature was confirmed by Sri Ramakrishna, the great Hindu sage of the 19th century who paid Debendranath a visit.{cn|date=October 2015} Mentioned in the Gospel of Ramakrishna - Abridged version from Page 347 to 350} Debendranath's roles in the Bengal renaissance and the reform and rejuvenation of Hindu religion are considerable.

Influence and Views on the Brahmo Samaj

In 1843, Debendranath Tagore became the leading force of the Brahmo Sabha, which he renamed to Brahmo Samaj. Debendranath wished to changed the goal of Brahmoism to act as a vehicle for theological and social renewal. In opposition to the founder of the Brahmo Movement under Rammohun Roy who expressed Unitarinism and Universalism, Debenranath wished to assert the cultural and theological primacy of Vedantic Hinduism. This change is likely due to increasing pressures from Christian propaganda [5]


Sivanath Sastri has paid glowing tributes to Debendranath Tagore in History of the Brahmo Samaj:

Maharshi Debendranath Tagore was one of the greatest religious geniuses this country ever produced. He was truly a successor of the great rishis of old. His nature was essentially spiritual. ... He was a devout follower of the Upanishadic rishis, but was no pantheist on that account. Debendranath in spite of his real sainthood never put on the grab or habits of sadhu or saint. His piety was natural, habitual and modest. He hated or shunned all display of saintliness...

He was a true and living embodiment of that teaching of the Gita where it is said: “A truly wise man is never buffeted by his trials and tribulations, does not covet pleasure, and is free from attachment, fear and anger; the same is a muni.” Maharshi Debendranath was a true muni in that respect. He calmly bore all; even the greatest griefs of life. After having done his duty, he quietly rested, regardless of consequences.
Though personally not much in favour of the idea of female emancipation, he was one of the first men in Bengal to open the door of higher education to women. Valuing conscience in himself, he valued it in all about him. Religious life was growth to him; not an intellectual assent but a spiritual influence that pervaded and permeated life; consequently, he had not much sympathy with merely reformatory proceedings.
From the west he took only two ideas: first, the idea of fidelity to God; secondly the idea of public worship; in all other things he was oriental. His idea was to plant the Samaj in India, as the Hindu mode of realising universal theism, leaving the other races to realise that universal faith according to their traditional methods.




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Tagore is the name of a prominent Bengali family of intellectuals, writers and artists, generally known as the Tagore family.

Below is a timeline of Adi Dharm or Adi Brahmo Samaj.


  1. Chaudhuri, Narayan (2010) [1973]. Maharshi Debendranath Tagore. Makers of Indian Literature (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. p. 11. ISBN   978-81-260-3010-1.
  2. 1 2 3 Deb, Chitra, pp 64–65.
  3. "The Tagores and Society". Rabindra Baharati University. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
  4. Hanes III, W. Travis (1993). "On the Origins of the Indian National Congress: A Case Study of Cross-Cultural Synthesis". Journal of World History. 4: 78.