As the world celebrates Rabindranath Tagore’s birth anniversary on May 7, not many are aware of his first love which scripted a silent love story but met an unfortunate end with a suicide of Kadambari Devi, Rabindranath’s elder brother Jyotindranath’s wife, who died after 4 months of his marriage.
Rabindranath Tagore, a writer, poet and painter was born in a rich upper-caste well-educated Pirali Brahmin family in Jorasanko mansion who rose to fame with his writings and paintings too.
As the world knows about his writings, dramas and poems, not many are aware of his first love which scripted a silent love story but met an unfortunate end with a suicide of Kadambari Devi, Rabindranath’s elder brother Jyotindranath’s wife, who died after 4 months of his marriage.
Kadambari Devi was nine when she entered as a bride in Rabindranath’s family when he was seven. Being Rabindranath’s childhood companion, they both grew up together.
After demise of Rabindranath’s mother, their friendship was more like a motherly affection which transformed into a romantic relationship and progressed via three stages; firstly-as his childhood princess, secondly-as a mother and thirdly- when two of them fell in love with poetry together.
Kadambari Devi was known as the woman who looked after Rabindranath in his early life and was a part of his success in his later life. Tagore called her ‘Hecate’, which is a Greek goddess associated with the moon.
Like Ravindranath, his elder brother Jyotindranath had multiple skills as he was good at painting, editing, and music. He looked after his family business and started his own venture which brought in a heavy loss and soon he opted out of it. Being an open-minded person, he helped Kadambari Devi to study and also taught her horse-riding. With his busy schedule, could hardly spare much time for his wife. Hence, she felt lonely and starved for companionship.
In 1883, when Tagore turned 22, he tied the know with Bhabatarini Devi, 11-year-old girl and renamed her Mrinalini.
Kadambari Devi never wanted Tagore to get married so she secretly tried to stop the marriage but remained unsuccessful.
On April 19, 1884, Kadambari Devi committed suicide by consuming opium, exactly 4 months and 10 days after Tagore’s marriage.
Tagore was shaken by her sudden death. It is said that he dedicated many of his poems to her.
In a meeting with Nandalal Bose, Rabindranath confessed that many paintings of his with woman’s face were created keeping Kadambari’s face in mind. In fact, this confession was made when Tagore was 70 years old.