The relationship between Rabindranath Tagore (1861—1941) and Swami Vivekananda (1863—1902) might be a subject of scholarly studies. In the youth Swami Vivekananda (then known as Narendrath Datta) was fond of Rabindra Sangeet (songs written by Rabindranath Tagore). In the book Sanget Kalpataru (published 1887, Swami Vivekananda (as Narendranath Datta) was a co-editor of this book), twelve Rabindra Sangeets were included. Tagore himself taught Narendra notations of two of his songs.
After more or less 12 years, when Vivekananda had become a world famous religious speaker, on 28 January 1899, both Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda were invited in an evening tea-party. Though Tagore and Vivekananda met each other many times before, in this evening tea-party they completely ignored one another.[Source] (Bengali)
Swami Vivekananda reportedly asked Sister Nivedita not to befriend with the members of Tagore family and told, “Remember, Tagore family has poisoned the culture of Bengal with Sringara Rasa (Bengali: ওই পরিবার বাংলাদেশকে শৃঙ্গার রসের বন্যায় বিষাক্ত করছে।)[Source] (Bengali)
But wait, here we can not conclude anything about the relationship between Tagore and Vivekananda. Though Tagore ignored Vivekananda in the tea party, later, years after Vivekananda’s death he gave Vivekananda a big certificate. He suggested Vivekananda to read Vivekananda to know about India—”‘If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him, there is everything positive and nothing negative.”[Source]
Anyway, as said, the subject — relationship between Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda should be a subject of scholars’ examinations and studies. In this page, we’ll limit our work in making a collection of Rabindranath Tagore‘s quotes, comments and opinions on Swami Vivekananda.
Rabindranath Tagore wrote—
- If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative. (Romain Rolland, in a letter written to Swami Ashokananda informed that Rabindranath Tagore once told him these words.
- In recent times in India, it was Vivekananda alone who preached a great message which is not tied to any do’s don’ts. Addressing one and all in the nation, he said: In every one of you there is Brahman (Bengali: ব্রহ্ম); the God in the poor desires you to serve Him. This message has roused the heart of the youths in a most pervasive way. That is why this message has borne fruit in the service of the nation in diverse ways and in diverse forms of sacrifice. This message has, at one and the same time, imparted dignity and respect to man along with energy and power. The strength that this message has imparted to man is not confined to a particular point; nor is it limited to repetitions of some physical movements. It has, indeed, invested life with a wonderful dynamism in various spheres. There at the source of the adventurous activities of today’s youth of Bengal is the message of Vivekananda— which calls the soul of man, not his fingers.
- Some time ago Vivekananda said that there was the power of Brahman in every man, that Narayana (God) wanted to have our service through the poor. This is what I call real gospel. This gospel showed of infinite from man’s tiny egocentric self beyond the limits of all selfishness. This was no sermon relating to a particular ritual, nor was it a narrow injunction to be imposed upon one’s external life. This naturally contained in it protest against untouchability— not because that would make for political freedom, but because that would do away with the humiliation of man— a curse which in fact puts to shame the self of us all.
Vivekananda’s gospel marked the awakening of man in his fullness and that is why it inspired our youth to the diverse course of liberation through work and sacrifice. (see image below)[Source]
Tagore’s comments in his own handwriting.