The untold story of Tagore’s muse

Though I have written several articles, novel reviews and blog posts, I couldn’t muster up my courage to bring a poetic flavor in my writings which Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore possessed in his great writing works. What was that great influence in Rabindranath Tagore’s writings that inspired him to come out with great stories like Choker Bali, Kabuli Wala, Nastanirh (The broken nest) and Geetanjali the great masterpiece which made him a great icon in world of literature?
It is said that Kadambari Devi, his sister-in-law was his greatest inspiration behind his stories and poetries. Tagore’s emotional relationship with his sister-in-law Kadambari Devi was shrouded in mystery, a tragic emotional bonding that was never accepted by society. Kadambari Devi was wife of Jyotindranath Tagore, the elder brother of Rabindranath. She was married to Jyotindranath at age of 9 on 5th July 1868.


At those times, child marriage was prevalent in Hindu tradition. Tagore’s family in those times was an upper class, aristocratic family of educated people. Rabindranath Tagore’s mother had already passed away during his childhood and thus his eyes always looked for an affectionate companionship which he found in Kadambari. The little Kadambari became a playmate, friend and a trusted companion in whom little ‘Rabi’ (Rabindranath’s nick name was Rabi) poured out his feelings. This companionship of Rabindranath and Kadambari blossomed into a strong friendship as they grew into youngsters.

History says that Tagore’s writings were heavily influenced by Kadambari Devi, especially the protagonist – Charulata from the short story ‘The broken nest’ was modeled on Kadambari Devi. The story ‘The broken nest’ had Charulata falling in love with her husband’s brother. Like Charulata, even Kadambari was a lonely woman in family of Tagore who was overshadowed by the aristocratic women in her family. Kadambari’s husband was passionate about theatre, paintings, music and actively participated in social causes. His business ventures, hobbies and social activities left him any time for his wife Kadambari. So this lonely lady confided her ideas and feelings to the young Rabindranath who was heading to become a great author of Bengali literature and a prominent personality in coming times.

Tagore’s bonding to his sister-in-law was not hidden from his family. This bonding of Tagore with his sister-in-law was not acceptable to the family members. Unexpectedly, situations took a worse turn for Kadambari and Tagore was married to Bhabatarini Devi on 9th Dec 1883. Kadambari was always against the marriage of Rabindranath and never supported the idea of him getting separated from her. Fate was against Kadambari as she had lost her great companion, playmate and friend to someone.

“Separation is painful than death” – Quote


On 19th April 1884, after 4 months of Rabindranath’s marriage, Kadambari Devi committed suicide. According to historical sources, Kadambari Devi had lost all hope in her life as she had lost her great support, her companion – Rabindranath.
There are some relationships in world which doesn’t need any identity. All you need is an affectionate heart to feel that emotion. Love stories are never complete and memorable if they don’t have a sad ending. Rabindranath had lost his muse, his inspiration forever. Post the demise of Kadambari Devi, Rabindranath went into depression and it took him several years to come out of this tragic separation.

Kadambari Devi went on to live forever in Tagore’s ideas, his memories and his stories – Choker Bali and Nastanirh (The Broke Nest). In world of writing, you cannot bring the depth and reality to your stories if you don’t have pain in your heart. In every artist’s heart, there is a muse who inspires him to paint, write poems and create inspiring stories. I had seen an episode of Broken Nest on Television and the curiosity to explore Tagore’s writings led me to know about the untold story of Kadambari Devi the enigmatic muse of Rabindranath.

In movies – Kadambari Devi’s life was made into a major motion picture in Bengali titled ‘Kadambari’ which featured actress Konkana Sen Sharma playing the title role.

It was great privilege writing on Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and the painful story behind his writings. If you have all loved someone in your life, then you will definitely connect with this story.

These are some sources from web which helped me to write this story

Prashant Badiger


3 Replies to “The untold story of Tagore’s muse”

  1. Wow!! what an inspiration in Rabindranath Tagore’s life. I never knew about this side. Thanks for sharing this loverly article 🙂
    Keep writing..

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