Why the First Love of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare ?

Posted onbySushil Rudra

Why the First love of Rabindranath was a nightmare? /image:kalpatarurudra.org

Table of Contents: Why the First Love of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare ?


Gurudev Rabindranath is one of the prolific and versatile author and poet not only in Asia, but throughout the world too. We call him as ” Viswakabi “or World-Poet. He was a lover of nature and humanity. So he was a great humanist. But we don’t know his personal life too much. Here I’m going to discuss about: Why the First Love Of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare?

Rabindranath Thakur had a strong and beautiful physique. He brought up in an aristocratic and well-to-do family of Jorasanko.

He was not interested in traditional education. He attended very less time in school than to study in home.

Kadambaridevi, his sister- in- law, (wife of his elder brother, Jotirindranath Thakur who was also a great artist,) was a companion to Tagore in his boyhood.

She was 2/3 years older than Rabindranath. He loved to stay in the natural surroundings. What he gathered from the nature, depicted all these feelings in poetry.

Today I will discuss here about his personal life and his first love to a lady in his youth. Probably it was his first love as a girl friend who was not a Bengali. She was a Maharastrian. We know that the poet last love was with a foreign lady, Victoria Occumpo.

Love Of World Genius:Why the First Love of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare ?

Like common people, the genius of this world has had love affairs. And Rabindranath was not aloof from it.

During his long tenure as a fabulous writer and activists, he came close to various women. He lost his wife, Mrinalini in immature time when he was only middle of forty’s. So he was alone.

However, some others great geniuses of the World were also addicted to love. Although it is their personal matter, but its repurcation has been shadowed in their creativities.

Love is not exclusively for common people:Why the First Love of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare ?

Love is also a inner characteristics of human beings. Hence, we see that many great geniuses are involved in romantic love affair.

So it’s not a matter of wonder if any great man be involved in love affair. There are so many such love story in the history of mankind.

Love Story Of Mopanssa: Why the First Love of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare ?

He was the great short story writer of the world, or Flabeyer who became famous writing ” Mother Boverie” – they have the same story of love affair like Rabindranath. ‘Mai’, the mother of Mopanssa, was the lover of Flabeyer.

On the other side, Mopanssa, the disciple of Flabeyer, used to spend day after day in red light area.

Love Story Of Balzac & Russo: Why the First Love of Rabindranath Was A Nightmare ?

Balzac is one of the eminent writer and novelist. He used to change lady lovers like dress changing. Even these ladies were married. In this regard, he was a Bohemian, never contented in a fixed lady.

Another world distinguished man, Russo who had been attracted by the beautiful ladies and used to spend time with them. His writing ” Social Contract” became famous and he got worldwide fame.

But his life was somewhat strange and restless. He lived with a lady like a husband-wife under the roof of a home who was a daughter of his maid Servent. And they had four children.

All that great men involved with their lovers before and after they got familiar. Tagore’s love life was not like them. He was not Bohemian like them. His first love was with Anna to whom he named “Nalini” being requested by her.

Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindrabath was thoughtful about his younger son’s education. His second son, Satendranath was then an IAS officer ( first ICS in India) and working as a Magistrate in Ammedabad.

Being learnt about his brother’s education, he advised to his father to send Rabindranath in England to study Barrister. Devendranath agreed.

So the preparation started and Satendra Nath brought Rabindranath to his service place where he stayed in a old Palace to teach him modern culture and English speaking.

After a few days, Satendra Nath sent him to his friend’s house in Bombay( Now Mumbai). His friend, Dr. Pandurangak Turkhad was a modern man who introduced Parthana Samaj. It was like Brahma Samaj.

Both were refined sect of Hindu religion. Like Devendranath, he was also a reformist of Maharashtrian society. Here young Rabindranath came near to his first lover, Annapurna or Anna.

Rabindranath Tagore was so impressed with her love that he couldn’t forget her. He wrote a poem by imagining her love.

Oh! Nalini open your eyes
Is sleep still to abandon its ply
See standing at your door
The rising sun’s first score
Hearing my morning song
See all around the shroud of sleep has gone.”

—the English translation of an excerpt from Tagore’s poemProbhati.

Fondly referred to as “Gurudev” or “Viswakabi” or‘Kobiguru’, poet laureate and versatile genius Rabindranath Tagore lives on through his timeless literary work.

But for many, his enduring legacy is nowhere better expressed than in his original songs and poems, of which there are over 2500 and over 4000 respectively.

His songs can melting down our hearts. Sung in living rooms, during festivals, and at the turn of every season,Rabindra Sangeet’s rich repertoire includes some outstanding odes to love.

Anna ( Nalini) told the poet, ” Oh dear Poet, I can survive from the death bed to listen your song if it is sung that moment.

Let’s take an example of his song . “Bhaalobese sokhi, nibhrite jatane Amar naamti rekho tomar moner mondire” — “Do inscribe my name, my darling, with utmost care and affection, in the temple of your soul.”

So it’s not very surprising that the Bengali icon is often also called the ‘poet of romance’. However, few know the story of Tagore’s love for Annapurna Turkhad of Bombay.

As a 17-year-old, the future Nobel laureate had fallen in love with the young Marathi girl he would go on to immortalise in many of his poems.

Interestingly, this little-known romance has been picturized in Hindi by Priyanka Chopra production.

We have told before how and when poet came close to Anna, his first woman he loved.

Here’s the story of Annapurna Turkhad, the girl Tagore fondly called ‘Nalini’ and from whom the movie draws its name.

Annapurna Turkhad: The First Love of Rabindranath

Image: kalpatarurudra.org

She was known as Anna or Annabai, or Annapurna. Belonging to a highly educated family, and being educated in Europe, she was very modern.

As such, her father’s circle of friends were included reformists and eminent citizens from across the country.

Hoping that his younger brother’s English would improve if he stayed with the anglicised Turkhund family.

Satyendranath convinced 17-year-old Tagore to stay with the Turkhud family prior to his first voyage to Britain in 1878 (where he was going to pursue further studies). I think it was to pursue Baristrary.

So, for two months in mid-1878, a teenaged Tagore lived at Atmaram’s household, taking lessons in spoken English from Anna.

About three years elder to Rabindranath, Annapurna had just returned from England and was comfortably conversant with the English language.

Image: A young Rabindranath Tagore: The First Love of Rabindranath


We can assume that a mutual attraction developed between the two during these days. It was a platonic relationship. The biographer of Tagore, Krishna Kripalini vividly described in her book “Tagore—A Life”.

According to this book, as affection bloomed between them, Tagore gave Anna the nickname ‘Nalini’ and wrote several poems inspired by her. However, the youthful love did not transform into a future together. Because their destiny willing otherwise.

Also read: Rabindranath Tagore in depression

After his two-month stay in Bombay ended, Tagore bid adieu to Anna and departed for England on a ship. Two years later, Annapurna married Harold Littledale, the Scottish vice-principal of Baroda High School and College.

Subsequently, the couple left India for England and settled in Edinburgh. It was here that Annapurna died in relative obscurity in 1891 at the young age of 33.

Interestingly, evidence suggests that a marriage between Tagore and Annapurna was considered by Atmaram, but was rejected by Debendranath (Tagore’s father) due to his son’s young age and Annapurna’s being older than his son.

According to the bookThe Myriad Minded Man(written by Krishna Dutta and W. Andrew Robinson), Atmaram and Annapurna travelled to Calcutta in early 1879. They paid a visit to Debendranath at Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the family residence of the Tagores.

What passed between them remains shrouded in mystery. But the authors believe that it is highly likely that it was then that the match was mooted and rejected.

A present-day picture of Jorashanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of the Tagores.


However, the fact that Annapurna continued to use ‘Nalini’ as her literary moniker and named one of her nephews as Rabindranath. It shows that it was not just a momentary flirtation for the two.

Tagore too continued to write both poetry and prose . Absolutely he took the name of Nalini with the most endearing of manners. Read also: Rabindranath Tagore As A Doctor

In fact, Tagore never forgot about Annapurna and would often reminisce about her in his old age. Recalling that ‘Nalini’ had once asked him never to let a beard hide the outline of his face, the Nobel laureate remarked at the age of 80.

By kalpataru

I'm Dr. Sushil Rudra, residing in Durgapur City West Bengal, India . Studied in The University of Calcutta and did M.A , Ph.D . Also another M.A from Sridhar University. Taught in College and University ( RTU) . Love to write, traveling, singing Rabindrasangeet and social work. Have some books authored by me. Vivekananda and Rabibdranath both are my favourite subject. I have written more than 150 articles in my wordpress.com blog( kalpataru.home.blog and now I'm writing in my new " http://www.kalpatarurudra.org blog.

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