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XAVIER’S TRIBUTE TO GURUDEB
FATHER FELIX RAJ, SJ
Rabindranath Tagore, the youngest son of Maharishi
Debendranath Tagore, a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, was born on
May 7 1861. The year 2011 marked the 150th birth anniversary
of Rabindranath Tagore. The UNESCO had declared 2011 as the
year of Tagore. Tagore received the Nobel Prize in
literature in 1913 for "Gitanjali".
Tagore was admitted to St. Xavier’s School, Kolkata at
the age of 14. He was uncomfortable with formal schooling
and so left the school after a short while. His short period
at Xavier’s left a deep impression on him.
The person who seems to have had the greatest impact on
young Tagore was a Jesuit Father, Alfonso de Penaranda, a
Spanish Jesuit. Tagore himself has acknowledged this, “ I
cannot speak for other boys, but I felt in him the presence
of a great soul, and even today the recollection of it seems
to give me a passport to enter into silent seclusion of the
temple of God”.
Thirty-six years later, at the age of fifty, he wrote in
his autobiography, “ a sacred memory of St. Xavier’s remains
un-faded in my mind – the memory of its teachers”. In 1927,
when he was 66, he agreed to a request to serve as patron
and vice-president of the St. Xavier’s Alumni Association,
and even autographed his photo “with tears in his eyes”.
He also presented to St. Xavier’s a white marble bust of
Jesus Christ which is still preserved in the principal’s
office. It is believed that Tagore’s faith in God, his
understanding and relation to God as Father and his deep
respect for Jesus Christ were all influenced by what he
imbibed at St. Xavier’s.
As a mark of respect to Gurudeb Rabindranath Tagore, an
alumnus, St. Xavier’s College has started an Honours course
in Bangla from July 2012. To
usher in the course, St. Xavier’s staged a Bengali drama
based on Maheswetadevi’s ‘Ajir’ on August 4th and 5th. The
honourable Minister for Higher Education, Bratya Basu was
be the Chief Guest on the occasion. The drama was
directed by Prof. Ashis Siddhanta of the Chemistry