Libmonster ID: IN-1215
Author(s) of the publication: M. S. KALANDAROVA


KeywordsTagoreSoviet Unionexhibition"Letters about Russia"

"On August 7, 1941, a man died in Calcutta. His mortal remains were set on fire, but no flame can consume the legacy he left behind. It is a legacy of words and music, poetry, ideas and ideals; it excites us now and will continue to excite us in the days to come." So wrote the talented Indian film director, Oscar winner (1991) Satyajit Ray winner (1913) Rabindranath Tagore, whose anniversary the world community will celebrate in May 2011.

In connection with the anniversary celebrations, the Indian Government has organized a National Committee to hold special events. Already in 2010, on the poet's birthday on May 9, the Reserve Bank of India issued two commemorative coins in denominations of 5 and 15 rupees*, and the British Royal Mail-stamps with the image of R. Tagore.

In May 2010, from Khowrah railway station (Kolkata), a festive train set off on a journey around the subcontinent - "exhibition on wheels ""Sanskriti Express", in which each car has its own name and its own exposition, telling about the life and creative path of the poet. Here you can find a photo exhibition, books published at different times by the poet, his paintings, as well as art products of folk craftsmen from the Shantiniketan School of Art, the favorite brainchild of R. R. Tolkien. Tagore. On May 8, 2011, the train will return to Kolkata, where the main festive events will unfold. "We should use this opportunity to inspire interest in his life and works," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the first meeting of the National Committee to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Rabindranath Tagore.

Russia has another reason to remember the poet. This year is-

* $ 1 equals approximately 45 ind. in rupees (editor's note).

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It is the 80th anniversary of his arrival in the Soviet Union.


R. Tagore was loved and known in pre-revolutionary Russia. His poetry was repeatedly translated and reprinted, and Russian symbolists actively promoted it. In 1917, several translations of the famous collection of Gitanjali ("Sacrificial Songs") were published simultaneously, including under the editorship of Ivan Bunin. For this collection of poetry, Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The collection was published in London in March 1913 and was reprinted by November of the same year, when the poet received this award.

The popularity of Tagore in Russia can be judged from the memoirs of Nicholas Roerich: "Gitanjali was a complete revelation. The poems were read at evenings and in private conversations. It was that precious mutual understanding that nothing can achieve except genuine talent. How they immediately fell in love with Tagore! It seemed that the most diverse people, the most irreconcilable psychologists were united by the poet's call"2 .( Thanks to English translations, new translations of the poet's works into Russian appeared. Tagore was translated by Boris Pasternak in the 1950s and 60s, and Anna Akhmatova in the mid - 60s.)

In 1926, the Soviet government decided to publish the collected works of Tagore. Tagore's poems and reviews of his works appear in the magazines Krasnaya Niva, Narodnoye Prosveshchenie, Thirty Days, Ogonyok, and others.

Tagore is compared to the great Russian classic Leo Tolstoy, although the poet himself strongly rejected such parallels. From the memoirs of the famous orientalist A. A. Guber: "He began to argue in detail, I would say, with some irritation, that for some reason everyone draws some analogies between him and Tolstoy. Meanwhile, although he always respected Tolstoy and loved him as a writer, he was never a Tolstoyite. He never shared its theoretical philosophical positions. He explained it in detail and in a very interesting way. " 3

A. V. Lunacharsky in his article "Indian Tolstoy" expressed the attitude of the Soviet creative intelligentsia to the poet's literary activity: "Tagore's works are so full of colors, subtle spiritual experiences and truly generous ideas that they now constitute one of the treasures of universal culture." 4


Tagore repeatedly made attempts to come to Soviet Russia. It was difficult to implement this idea at that time. By the end of 1917, all ties between Russia and British India were severed. In 1924, during Tagore's stay in China, at the initiative of the poet, he organized a meeting with the Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR L. M. Karakhan, at which he expressed a desire to visit the Country of the Soviets. In 1925, Tagore, along with other famous scientists from Asia and Africa, was invited to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Tagore accepted the invitation, but was unable to attend due to illness.5

In September 1926, during a trip to Europe, the poet met with prominent representatives of the Soviet state. In Stockholm, he met with the Permanent Representative of the Soviet Union A. Ya. Arosev. "You can't imagine how much I have longed to get to your country, which I love because of its literature. And now that your people are completely new, completely different from what they were before, as my friends have told me, I am even more eager to go there. I want to get to know your music, your theater, your dances, and your literature."6, " he said at the meeting.

In Berlin, A. V. Lunacharsky personally presents Tagore with an invitation to visit the USSR. The country is actively preparing for the welcome of the long-awaited guest at all levels. A special commission headed by A. V. Lunacharsky was created. By order of the People's Commissar G. V. Chicherin, all Soviet missions were obliged to provide all possible assistance to the poet's trip. The Soviet scientific community was also involved in the process of preparing a meeting with the writer. Academician S. F. Oldenburg wrote: "And when we meet a great Hindu poet, we will meet a man who has said in Bengali words what we all understand and feel." 7

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Tagore arrived in the Soviet Union on September 11, 1930.

A small delegation accompanying the poet, consisting of his nephew Showman Dronath Tagore, secretaries E. Ariam and O. Chokroborty, an English doctor G. Timbers and the daughter of his friend Albert Einstein, Margarita, was placed in the National Hotel. According to the memoirs of A. A. Guber, the poet "occupied a large room, but only from one room with an alcove, hideously furnished with remnants of pre-revolutionary hotel furniture and dubious decorations on the windowsills and fireplace, which were scattered objects of some old marble writing device with bronze ornaments. An ashtray, a pen holder, or a paperweight would look extremely ridiculous on some bookcase or fireplace. " 8


The cultural program compiled by VOX (All-Union Society for Cultural Relations) was standard: meetings with artists, teachers and students of Moscow universities, visits to theaters.

"The only purpose of my trip to Russia was to get acquainted with the methods of spreading education and its results. I had very little time,"Tagore wrote. No matter what audience Tagore spoke to, he always emphasized what he was doing on this trip: "I'm not a politician. My only goal in life is enlightenment. " 10

On September 14, 1930, Tagore visited the first pioneer commune named after Alice Kingina, a home for orphaned children. "As I entered the house, I saw a group of boys and girls lined up in two rows along the stairs in solemn silence to greet me. When they came into the room, they sat around me like I was part of their squad,"Tagore recalled. The children told him about their life, their studies, and then showed him the "live newspaper" - what we now call a literary and musical montage. It was the first time Tagore had seen such a performance. "Zhivaya Gazeta" resembles a theatrical performance. Dancing with flags in their hands, children sing about what results the country will eventually achieve. It's worth a look. I think when I get home, I'll start by trying to put a live newspaper in Shantiniketan, " Tagore wrote.

Tagore then sang Jana gana mana 13, which later became the national anthem of the independent Republic of India, in Bengali. The poet was moved by the reception. In the pioneer review book, he wrote: "I will always remember the wonderful evening I spent with these pioneers. I learned a lot from them that will be very useful to my people in India, for which I am grateful to them. I wholeheartedly sympathize with these young builders of the destiny of their people and wish them success.

Tagore was struck by the scale of cultural construction in the Land of the Soviets. "If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would never have been able to believe that in just ten years they not only lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of the darkness of ignorance and humiliation, not only taught them to read and write, but also taught them a sense of human dignity," Tagore wrote in his letters. "We should come here specifically to study the formulation of education." 15

Tagore was struck by the fact that a people who had made a revolution, survived a terrible famine and a bloody civil war, actively visited art galleries and theaters. For the poet, this was extremely important, art was the basis of his education system in Shantiniketan.

He writes enthusiastically about the Tretyakov Gallery: "There is a famous collection of paintings in Moscow called the Tretyakov Gallery. In one year, from 1928 to 1929, it was visited by about three hundred thousand people. The building cannot accommodate all comers, so on the eve of the weekend, people sign up in line "16. The poet was impressed by the crowded Moscow theaters:" In former times, theaters were accessible only to the royal family and the nobility. Today they are filled to overflowing with those who only recently walked around in dirty rags, barefoot, starved to death, lived in eternal fear of God, cajoling the priests in every possible way, caring for the salvation of their souls, and infinitely humiliated themselves by lying in the dust at the feet of the masters. " 17


Tagore started drawing at the age of 67. He admitted that

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He "fell for the charm of lines" when he discovered that his pen was drawing patterns as it moved across the page. For the last 12 years of his life, he devoted his creative energy to painting and drawing, leaving behind more than two thousand works. Tagore used a wide variety of techniques, drawing with colored crayons and pastels, and in the last years of his life was also engaged in engraving. Tagore rarely worked with a brush and neglected the palette. His favorite tools were a piece of paint-soaked cloth, a fountain pen quill, a wand, a knife, or even just a thumb.

In September 1930, the Museum of New Western Art opened an exhibition of Tagore's works, organized by the All-Russian Society for Cultural Relations. More than 200 watercolour drawings of the poet were presented to Soviet citizens.

"People often ask me about the meaning of my paintings," the poet wrote, " and I remain as silent as these paintings. They express, but don't explain. Behind their external form there are no ideas that can be analyzed or described in words; and if this form has any independent value, then they remain alive, otherwise they are doomed to death and oblivion, even if they contain a certain amount of scientific truth or ethical self-justification. " 18.

Tagore's work as an artist bears a vivid imprint of individuality. Exhibitions of his works have been organized since 1930.

"An exhibition of my paintings was arranged in Moscow," R. Tagore wrote. - I don't have to say that the paintings are unusual... still, there are endless crowds of people. In a few days, the exhibition was visited by five thousand people. " 19

The exhibition of the artist's paintings was a great success among Muscovites. Soviet artists presented Tagore with a marble Tolstoy mask, which is kept in a museum in Shantiniketan. In 1930, Tagore, in addition to Russia, visited Germany, France, and the United States, where he also exhibited his paintings for the first time.

In 2010, an anniversary exhibition of Tagore's works was launched in Paris under the auspices of UNESCO, dedicated to the 80th anniversary of his first exhibition in the country. Subsequently, she will travel to other European countries. In the United States, a descendant of Tagore, Sundaram Tagore, who owns an art gallery in Chelsea, also exhibits paintings by his famous relative in the jubilee year. Today, Tagore's paintings are very expensive. At the prestigious Sotheby's auction in London in June 2010, 12 of Tagore's paintings sold for $2.37 million.20


Tagore's visit ended on September 24, 1930 with a solemn concert in the Column Hall of the House of Unions, which was attended by about two thousand people. The best singers and dance ensembles of Russia took part in it. From the stage of the Pillared Hall, the author performed poems in Bengali.

His impressions of the trip to the Soviet Union Tagore reflected in the journalistic articles that made up the collection "Letters about Russia". These letters were written to relatives and friends during the trip and published in Bengali in the magazine Probashi 21. In 1934, the English translation of "Letters about Russia" was banned. The reason was Tagore's criticism of the policy of the British administration regarding the elimination of illiteracy in India, which he compared to the policy of the young Soviet state in the field of education distribution. The English translation of "Letters about Russia" was published only after India gained independence.

The same fate awaited them in Russia. The first translation of Letters about Russia into Russian was made in 195622

Of the 15 letters prepared for publication, "Letter No. 13" and "Conclusion", in which Tagore spoke negatively about certain aspects of Soviet life, were not included. In the distant 30s, Tagore predicted the political processes that took place in our country at the end of the XX century. Thus, discussing the inevitable collapse of Bolshevism, Tagore wrote: "It is possible that in this century Bolshevism is a cure, but medical treatment cannot be permanent; the day when the regime established by the doctor is lifted will be a holiday for the patient." He also foresaw the fate of socialism in the USSR: "...what they finally built in a short time with the help of cruelty cannot be relied on, since this structure is not capable of carrying the burden of eternity,"Tagore reasoned.

Tagore spoke sharply about the lack of freedom in the Soviet Union. In an interview with the Izvestia newspaper, he said:: "I have to ask you: by inciting rage, class hatred and vindictiveness towards those you consider enemies in the minds of the citizens you are raising, do you think that this is good for your ideals? Freedom of thought enables us to grasp the truth; fear kills it... Together with

page 54

I hope to all mankind that you will not bring to life an evil spirit of violence, the cruelty of which will no longer be curbed ... " 24


Tagore's arrival was covered not only by the Soviet media. Thus, the Madras Hindu Illustrated Weekly wrote in 1930: "Tagore went to Russia in order to get information from primary sources about the situation in this country. Perhaps nothing was so deliberately denigrated as the political and social experiments of Bolshevik Russia. A flood of letters rushed to the poet in order to prevent his visit to the capital of the Soviets. However, these letters caused the poet only a condescending smile. Tagore's impressions of Russia are now known all over the world. He expressed his admiration for the remarkable work on the reconstruction of society, which was going on at a rapid pace in Russia. " 25

Similar reviews have appeared on the pages of other Indian newspapers. It should be noted that Tagore refrained from making any comments prior to his arrival in the Soviet Union. On the way to Russia, in Berlin, in one of his interviews, he said: "Until I see with my own eyes, I can't say anything about Soviet Russia. I don't want to talk about it in an interview. Interviews are a dangerous trap, which every thoughtless statement not only catches, but also distorts. " 26 When he arrived in New York, he gave several interviews to major American newspapers. The sensational headlines "Tagore is a friend of the Russians", "Russia and India", "Indian is a friend of the Russians" appeared on the pages of the New York Herald Tribune, The New York Times and other publications. The popular American magazine Literary Digest called Tagore one of the most ardent propagandists of Russia.

Tagore spoke objectively about the economic and cultural achievements of the Soviet Union. He was able to identify a lot of positive phenomena in the new state, but at the same time, he did not escape the shortcomings that did not fit into his socio-political positions and worldview. "After a trip to Russia, I am heading to America today," he wrote in one of his letters. - But the memory of Russia still dominates my whole being. The fact is that other countries I visited did not excite my imagination so much. Their business energy is divided into different areas of activity, be it politics, hospitals, schools or museums. And here... common aspirations united everything. Such a deep unity of souls is impossible in countries where property and energy are separated by personal interests."27.


Until the end of his life, Tagore was interested in Soviet Russia. On May 8, 1941, speaking on Indian radio, he once again talks about the success achieved by the Soviet Country in the field of education: "In the Soviet Union, I saw genuine efforts being made to combine the interests of various nationalities living on its territory. Colossal funds are spent here on educating the people"28. Since the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, he has been following news from the Soviet Union. If the message turned out to be bad, then before he finished reading the newspaper, he threw it away. Half an hour before the operation, Tagore asked his friend: "Tell me, what have you heard about Russia?" When the friend replied that things were getting better at the front, his face lit up and he exclaimed, " Oh, how could it be otherwise? This is how it should be. There should have been an improvement. They can achieve this. Only they will achieve this!"Tagore believed that the Soviet Union was the only real force capable of destroying fascism.

On May 7, 1941, Rabindranath Tagore turned 80 years old. Three months later, on August 7, the poet died.

1 Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) was an Indian film director, born in Calcutta. He studied painting in Shantiniketan and was influenced by Tagore in shaping Ray's worldview. The Academy Award was awarded to him for his outstanding contribution to the development of cinematography and for services to the Academy in 1991.


3 Meeting with the Indian guest / / Ogonyok, 2005, N 1, p. 5.

Lunacharsky A.V. 4 Indian Tolstoy / / Krasnaya niva, 1923, No. 1, p. 29.

Malkevich B. A. 5 To the stay of Rabindranath Tagore in the Soviet Union (based on the materials of the Archive of the USSR Academy of Sciences) // Vestnik istorii mirovoi kul'tury, 1960, No. 1, pp. 92 - 103.

Arosev A. 6 Narration of a meeting with Tagore / / Thirty days, 1926, N 11, p. 89.

Oldenburg S. F. 7 Rabindranath Tagore / / Ogonyok, 1926, No. 51, p. 6.

8 Meeting with an Indian guest...

Tagore R. 9 Letters about Russia. Collected works: in 8 volumes (1955-1957). Vol.8. Moscow, 1957, p. 212.

10 Tagore's speech at a meeting with students and teachers of Moscow universities // Soviet Archives, 1984, No. 5, p. 64.

Tagore R. 11 Decree. soch., vol. 8, p. 199.

12 Ibid., p. 203.

13 When friendship began / / Koster, 1958, N 6, p. 2.

Filatov A. 14 Visiting Tagore // In Defense of Peace, 1960, N 7, pp. 77-79.

Tagore R. 15 Decree. soch., vol. 8, pp. 220-221.

16 Ibid., p. 208.

17 Ibid., p. 204.

Tagore Rabindranath. 18 My pictures. - The Calcutta municipal gazette. Tagore memorial special supplement. 3d edition Kolkata, 2002, p. 179.

Tagore R. 19 Decree. soch., vol. 8, p. 204.


Novikova V. A. 21 Tagore's trip to the Soviet Union // Scientific notes of the Leningrad Order of Lenin State University named after A. A. Zhdanov N 279. Faculty of Oriental Studies. Series of Oriental Studies. Issue 9. Leningrad, Leningradskogo universiteta Publ., 1960, p. 10.

22 For more details, see: Kashin V. P. Rabindranath Tagore in Russia. - In: To India of the Spirit... Collection of articles dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Rostislav Borisovich Rybakov, Moscow, Vostochnaya Literatura Publishing Company of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2008, pp. 190-200.

23 Cit. by: Kashin V. P. Edict. soch., pp. 198-199.

24 Cit. by: Sen A. Tagore and His India // Foreign Literature, 2009, No. 11, p. 247.

25 Cit. by: Novikova V. A. Edict. soch., p. 9.

26 Rabindranath Tagore-a friend of the Soviet Union, Moscow, 1961, p. 18.

Tagore R. 27 Decree. soch., vol. 8, p. 206.

28 Ibid., pp. 32-33.

Mahalanobis P. 29 Rabindranath Tagore and modern India / / Rabindranath Tagore: To the centenary of his birth, 1861-1961. Moscow, 1961, p. 64.


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