The Tagore family in Bengal has an impressive list of women who had possessed that rare mix of great beauty and brains. In this article we will discuss about Kadambari Devi who many regard as the Indian Nobel Laureate's muse. Kadambari was Rabindranath Tagore's sister-in-law and was about the same age of the poet.
Kadambari Devi entered the Tagore household as a child bride of Jyotirindranath Tagore , who was the fifth son of Maharshi Debendranath Tagore (she was bare ly 9 years old at that time) and was around thirteen years younger than her husband. Due to this huge age gap between the two, she got very close to the poet and they were in fact play mates in their childhood. Jyotirindranath was a very busy business man and a workaholic who had very little time for his wife and was often travelling away from home for work.
Kadambari was an educated lady of her times and it was her husband who had not only arranged for her education but also taught her horse-riding, something which was un-heard of during those days like most of the Tagore men.
There had been several controversies about the relationship Rabindranath shared with his sister-in-law. She was his fiercest critic and was the inspiration for many of his literary works. Tagore found in her a good friend, his philosopher and guide. In fact, Rabindranath dedicated 4 books to her before her death and two more books after her death.
Over the years, Kadambari had become extremely possessive about Tagore, a trait, most women possess and develop for someone they love and care for deeply. After barely a few months of Rabindranath getting married to Mrinalini Devi, Kadambari Devi committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. While many speculated that she was too possessive and could never come into terms with Tagore's marriage, the real cause for her suicide remains a mystery till date and there are other opinions which say that her husband ignored her too much and since she was extremely sensitive and did not have any child of her own, there was a void in her life which might have caused her to take her life so suddenly at such a young age and under such mysterious circumstances.
Tagore was very young when his own mother died. In fact he was barely 14 when he lost his mother. In his own words, at that time Kadambari who was around 16 years old assumed the role of a surrogate mother for him and never let him feel the loss of his own mother. In one of Tagore's famous classic "Nashtaneer", he portrayed Kadambari as "Charu" who was the central character of the story. Kadambari on the other hand would often find peace and solace in her young brother-in-law's lyrics, music and compositions.
After her tragic death, she came alive in Tagore's poems as a friend, mother and sister-in-law. In fact it took many years for Tagore to get over her death and her demise always left a void in his life. She played different roles over a period of time for Rabindranath Tagore. As discussed earlier, not only was she a motherly figure upon his mother Sharada's death, she had always been the closest friend on whom Tagore could confide in and a sister-in-law he could seek solace in, which eventually translated into his writings that won him innumerable awards and honors.
About Author / Additional Info:
The author resides in Kolkata, West Bengal India. While she is not working or spending time with her 11 year old daughter, she loves reading, writing, travelling and listening to music.