This year marks the 160th birthday of Rabindranath Tagore, known as the “Bard of Bengal.” According to the Bengali year, he was born in the year 1268, and according to the Gregorian calendar, he was born in 1861 AD Tagore is widely known for being the author of the Indian national anthem and Gitanjali, which made him the first non-European writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1913).
The scholar Tagore left his mark on all walks of life. From romanticism to culture, politics, nationalism, there is hardly a subject under heaven that he has not touched. One aspect that is rarely discussed is its association with sport. Digging deeper, it can be found that Tagore was the person responsible for carrying the Judo India.
In his autobiographical work ‘Chelebela’, Tagore recalls his childhood experiences of taking wrestling lessons with a wrestler, whom he describes as ‘Kana Palowan’ in the text. Similarly, the young man learned gymnastics under the guidance of a gymnastics instructor and was therefore convinced that the usefulness of physical exercises as an inseparable part of education
It is no wonder that Tagore, a great admirer of traditional Japanese culture, was a fervent admirer of Jiu-jitsu. What evokes the amazement of many is the effort of the famous writer to transplant it in his native land. He had invited judo instructors to his school, Shantiniketan. The history of the introduction of jiu-jitsu in Shantiniketan dates back to 1902, the year that marks a historic meeting of two minds, Tagore and Tenshin in Calcutta. Tenshin Okakura (1862-1913), the eminent writer and art critic from Japan, was the founder of the renowned “Nihon Bijutsuin” art school. He came to Calcutta in 1902. In addition, he had sent two of his disciples, Shaokin Katsuta and AraiKampo, to join Shantiniketan as art teachers. Tagore had also asked Okakura to send a Jiu-jitsu master to his school. Responding to his invitation came Jinnotsuke Sano.
In 1934, Subimal Ray, Satyajit Ray’s youngest uncle, decided that he really had to learn judo and took his nephew with him to meet the great sensei Shinzo Takagaki, who came to Shantiniketan at the invitation of Rabindranath Tagore.
Tagore visited Japan numerous times, and the Kodokan, the world headquarters for judo, in Tokyo in 1929, and his interest in judo was possibly an extension of his love for Japanese culture.
Jinnutsuke Sano stayed in Shantiniketan from 1905-1908, during this period of time he had taught Jiu-jiutsu to students.
It is interesting to note that, for Tagore and his generation, Jiu-jitsu became an icon of Japanese nationalism and this nationalist impulse allied to the Japan’s victory over Russia in the 1904-1905 war played an important role in promoting the Japanese martial art in India.
The also philosopher, musician and playwright repeatedly reminded the Calcutta Municipal Corporation and its then mayors, including Subash Chandra Bose, to help him popularize the martial art among young people, which contributed decisively to this martial art reaching the popularity of Judo in this beautiful and enigmatic country
SOURCE: The Bridge