Rabindranath Tagore was a man with many talents. He was famously known as ‘Gurudev’ (Master Teacher), ‘Kabiguru’ (Master Poet) and ‘Bishwakabi’ (World Poet). He was a Novelist, a Philosopher, an Educationist and a Painter. He had early success as a writer in Bengal and is well known worldwide for his novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, and thousands of songs. Among his prose, short stories are highly regarded. He initiated his career in short stories in 1877, when he was only six years old with Bikharini (The Beggar Women). In his stories he portrayed mostly the life of poor and common people in India and this collection of short stories can be found in his three volumes “Galpaguchchha”.
Let’s find out some of the epic short stories from Tagore’s Galpaguchchha:
KABULIWALA (THE FRUITSELLER FROM KABUL)
It is the story of an Afghani merchant from Kabul who comes to Calcutta every year to sell dry fruits and while living there he befriends a five year old girl called Mini who reminds him of his daughter in Kabul. It was first published in 1892. This is very emotional and sensitive story which portrayed a father’s deep love for his daughter. This story is adapted many times as a Bengali and Hindi movie in 1957 and 1961 respectively and also as a part of television series named “Stories by Rabindranath Tagore”.
It is set in 19th century India, during the British Raj and reflects the social, political and religious scene in Bengal. It was first published in 1910. This is the story of two Hindu Bengali friends – Gora and Binoy, and two Bramhin Bengali sisters – Sucharita and Lalita. Gora (Gourmohan) is the central character in the story who represents the undying spirit of struggle for freedom from the British. The story revolves around how people were subjected to the demands of the society and what consequences they had to face on violating such demands. This story not only reflects the complex social life in colonial India but also a brilliant story of conflicts and self discovery.
ATITHI (THE RUNAWAY)
It is the story of a boy Tarapada who is restless, runs away from home frequently and has great zeal to learn and explore the world. It was first published in 1895. This story is gently engaging and will definitely indulge you. This was made into a film of the same name by famous director Tapan Sinha and is also adapted as a part of television series named “Stories by Rabindranath Tagore” in Epic Channel.
KSHUDITA PASHAN (THE HUNGRY STONES)
Tagore developed the idea of The Hungry Stones when he was 17 years old. It is a story of a Tax Collector posted in a remote area under Nijam Rule who despite being warned about supernatural events in the nearby marble palace is drawn towards it and refused to return to the terms of real life. It was first published in August, 1895. Its main underlying theme is the contrast between reality and fantasy.
GHARE BAIRE (THE HOME AND THE WORLD)
Ghare Baire is set in early 20th century in India.This story demonstrates conflict between the ideas of Western culture and revolution against the Western culture which Tagore had with himself. These two ideas are portrayed in two of the main characters, Nikhil, a rational man who opposes violence, and Sandip, who will let nothing stand in his way from reaching his goals. It was first published in 1916. This story portrays nationalism, clash between tradition and modernism, importance of religion, role of women and love and union. It was first adapted as a film under the direction of Satyajit Ray in 1984 which was also released at the Cannes Film Festival in France and was also nominated for the Golden Palm award, one of the highest awards received at the Cannes Film Festival.