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On A Pilgrimage, 90 Years Ago

He had described, in his letters written from Moscow, his visit to the erstwhile Soviet Union as a ‘Pilgrimage’… Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861 – August 7, 1941) – the Indian Polymath-Poet, Writer, Composer, Philosopher and Painter – had received invitation to visit the Soviet Union no less than five times between 1925 and 1928. Finally, the first non-European, as well as the first lyricist, to win the Nobel Prize in Literature (in 1913) had arrived in Moscow on September 11, 1930… and stayed there till September 25. In those 15 days, Tagore met people from different walks of life in the Russian society: Peasants, Workers, Artists, Writers, Teachers, Students, Cultural Workers, and members of the Indio-Soviet Friendship Association.

The Poet did not hide his excitement about the visit, as he wrote in his ‘Russiyar Chithi’ (‘Letters From Russia’) that he was “overwhelmed to find what they have achieved during these thirteen years after their Revolution“. “The Russians are showing unprecedented heroism. In fighting they are doing the Impossible,” he added. And, how did the Soviet greet the poet? It came out in a magazine, there: “To the Soviet people, Rabindranath Tagore is known as a great writer, a tireless fighter against Colonial Oppression and War, and an ardent advocate of International Unity and Peace.” Tagore was well received by the Russians… During the visit, his paintings were exhibited in different Russian cities. The Indian messianic poet enjoyed famous Russian Ballet at the Balshoi Theatre, and watched ‘Battleship Potemkin‘, a 1925 Soviet silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein, in Moscow. He reportedly asked the farmers how could they implement the Joint Farm Agriculture System.

Tagore in Russia

Tagore received a copy of Leo Tolstoy’s death mask during his visit to the Soviet Union. It is, now, preserved at the Rabindranath Bhavan Museum in Santiniketan, West Bengal, India. Later in 1991, a statue of the Indian poet was installed at the Friendship Park in Moscow. The Science and Culture Department of the Russian Embassy in eastern Indian city of Kolkata recently organised a grand celebration on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of Tagore’s Soviet visit at the Gorky Sadan, the Russian Centre of Science and Culture in Kolkata. The Centre has also published various articles on the poet’s Soviet visit. The Government of Russia has announced that the articles would be uploaded on its official website soon in order to highlight the importance of Tagore’s visit, there…

Tagore’s statue at the Friendship Park

The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has ceased to exist… However, the Indo-Russian friendship still remains!

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