Eight Indian luminaries from the fields of art, literature and culture were honoured with the first “Tagore Literature Awards-2009” at a function here on Monday. The awards were given away by Kim Yoon-ok, the First Lady of the Republic of Korea.

Describing Rabindranath Tagore as a phenomenon impossible to comprehend, noted Tagore scholar Pabitra Sarkar said most of the world knew him as a poet. Apart from more than 3,000 poems excluding his songs, Gurudev Tagore wrote 14 novels, 190 short stories and 30 plays, he said.

“Tagore also wrote more than 300 articles on topics on diverse topics such as education, politics, aesthetics and literature and set up a school to provide an alternative to colonial education introduced by the British in India. He eventually started a university in Santiniketan,” he said.

Pointing out that Tagore’s works for the uplift of the rural poor was well known of which his institution was a living testimonial, Prof. Sarkar said: “Tagore taught in his school, produced and acted in his plays. He created a new diction of dancing in Bengal in which he himself trained his students. These are facts and rather dry facts. All these facts do not tell us why he is so great to us, still very relevant to not only a Bengali or Indian but to the whole world.”

Stating that the Nobel laureate produced literature that united people and gave expression to joy and hope, Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Y. W. Lee said Tagore created a bond with Korea with his work “Lamp of the East’. “He described our country as a lamp bearer that illuminated the East. Through his writings and poems, he touched the hearts of Koreans at a time when they were passing through great difficulties. As a poet, playwright, philosopher and artist, he is as revered in Korea as he is in India.”

Instituted by Samsung Electronics and the Sahitya Akademi, the awards were presented to Alok Sarkar for poetry “Apapabhumi” (Bengali); Brajendra Kumar Brahma for essays “Raithai Hala” (Bodo); Bhagwandas Patel for the “Mari Lokyatra” (Gujarati); Rajee Seth for short-stories “Ghame-Hayat Ne Mara” (Hindi); Naseem Shafai for poetry “Na Thsay Na Akas” (Kashmiri); Chandrasekhar Kambar for the novel “Shikara Soorya” (Kannada); Jaswant Singh Kanwal for his autobiography “Punya Daa Chanan” (Punjabi) and Kovela Suprasannacharya for essays “Antharangam” (Telugu).

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