The present book (Rabindra Memorial Prize Winner, 1982), is a full length biography of the poet Rabindranath Tagore's grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore who, along with Raja Rammohun Roy, laid the foundation of modern India, more than a century before India became a free national. It brings back to life a great and dynamic pioneer, a versatile and myraid-minded personality who has been largely forgotten. The book presents an authentic and livery story of a significant era and of one of its most remarkable and colourful makers. 


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In the summer of 1959, a Rockefeller grant enabled me to visit England, the USA and some countries in Europe, to meet writers in different languages. During my tour I was invited by the Oxford University Press (OUP), London, and the Grove Press, New York, to write a full length biography of Rabindranath Tagore which they proposed to publish in collaboration.



The AUTHOR'S sincere thanks are due to the National Book Trust without whose initiative, persistent pressure and whole-hearted coorperation this book could not have seen the light of day; to the British Council, London, for their advice and assistance during his researches in London in 1976; to the Director, Deputy Director and their colleagues in the India Office Library; to the Librarian, Public Library, Edinburgh, and the Archivist of the city Council,..



KCM: Kisori Chand Mittra: Memoir of Dwarkanath Tagore.
KKD: Kalyan Kumar Dasgupta: His notes to the Bengali edition of KCM's Memoir.
KNT: Kshitindranath Thakur: Dwarkanath Thakurer Jivani.

As Legends Go


The Tagores, like other high castes of Bengal, trace their genealogy to an interesting, though not very credible, legend. Myth is the mother of history everywhere, but perhaps more so in India than elsewhere. The mother in India is still very much alive.

From Legend To History


The story of early Bengal and the ancestry of Tagores-the two are interlinked-as related so far has drawn mainly on the myths and legends current in that respect. Myths and legends need not be dismissed as wholly irrelevant and meaningless, simply because they cannot be historically verified.

Birth And Early Years


Dwarkanath was born in 1974, the second son and fourth child of Nilmani's second son Rammani and his first wife Menaka. About the same time, Menaka's sister Alakasundari, married to Nilamni's eldest son Ramlochan, bore a daughter who, as stated earlier, died in infancy.

Dwarkanath And Rammohun


But the most remarkable thing about this ambitious restless and rising young man was that money-making, however exciting, did not absorb all his interest. The more he admired the British, the more he wondered why his own country and people, whose potential was no less abundant than that of Britain and her natives, should be so steeped in poverty and ignorance.

Dwarkanath As Zamindar And As Company Servant


What sort of Zamindar was Dwarkanath? As far as one may judge from the records available, he was no better and no worse than the majority of landlords of that period. He was, however, more efficient than most. In the words of Blair Kling who seems to have made a careful study of the records: 'As a zamindar Dwarkanath was mercilessly efficient and businesslike, but not generous.



Whatever else Dwarkanath was-and he was many things-he was first and foremost an entrepreneur. What he took in hand he made of it an enterprise. In that respect he may be said to have been creative. He was daring and unafraid of risks in exploring new fields.

Dwarkanath in Public Life


What was Dwarkanath like as a human being, as a man among men? What did he look like? He was without doubt good-looking, as the Tagores generally were, and they took care to marry good looks rather than dowry, except when fate played a trick, as in the case of the most glamorous of them all, the poet Rabindranath who married neither beauty nor fortune.

First Voyage


Dwarkanath had for some time been contemplating a visit to Europe and Britain. According to a letter he wrote after arrival in London, the visit had been 'the object of my twenty years' contemplation'.

Home Coming


The Homecoming was no doubt joyous and an occasion for festivity by his numerous friends and admirers. But there were storms ahead. 'You will be amused when I tell you,' wrote James Hume to a friend in England, that Dwarkanath Tagore, the lion of two countries, the favourite guest of Royalty, has been,-what do you think?-disgraced! Expelled (by) his family, repudiated by kith and kin!-and why?

Second Voyage


The Bentinck left town this morning with about eighty passengers,' reported Bengal Hurkaru of Saturday evening, March 8, 1845. Among the eighty were Dwarkanath and party.

Interlude in Paris


Nobin Chunder wrote in a letter of 20 November, 1845, 'I hear the King of the French enquired after my uncle in Paris (and so) he will be obliged to go there for a short time at least.'

Last Days


On 18 March 1846, Dwarkanath was back in London after a three months' hectic sojourn in Paris during which he must have burnt his candle at both ends. But such was the exuberance of his vitality-though not unfortunately of the stamina of health-that there was little visible indication of fatigue or lassitude or anxiety for some time after his return.



It took some weeks before the news of Dwarkanath's death reached Calcutta. Debendranath was on a boat cruise on the Ganga with his wife Sarada  and three sons, Dwijendra, Satyendra and Hemendra. The boat was caught in a terrible gale and was with difficulty moved ashore and the passengers safely landed.

Dwarkanath's Portraits


Dwarkanath's love for getting portraits painted is well known. Kissori Chand Mittra has referred to the portrait he got painted of the well-known Calcutta barrister Robert Cultar Fergusson to whom he owed his early legal training.



I. Introductory
During his lifetime, at any rate during the last twentyfive years of life, Dwarkanath Tagore was the most talked-of and written-about Indian of his time, both in India and abroad. And yet hardly any authentic documentary material relating to his eventful life and manifold activities has survived. This anomaly lends credence to the otherwise seemingly incredible allegation of Dwarkanath's great grandson and biographer, Kshitindranath Tagore, that his uncle, poet Rabindranath Tagore, had deliberately had all documents and papers destroyed.




More Details about Dwarkanath Tagore A Forgotten Pioneer

General Information  
Author(s)Krishna Kripalani
PublisherNational Book Trust
Edition4th Edition
Publish YearApril 2014