The Poet’s Letter to Lord Chelmsford, the Viceroy, repudiating his Knighthood in protest for Jalianwallahbag mass killing.
The letter was published in The Statesman, June 3, 1919
The enormity of the measures taken by the Government in the Punjab for quelling some local disturbances has, with a rude shock, revealed to our minds the helplessness of our position as British subjects in India. The disproportionate severity of the punishments inflicted upon the unfortunate people and the methods of carrying them out, we are convinced, are without parallel in the history of civilised governments, barring some conspicuous exceptions, recent and remote. Considering that such treatment has been meted out to a population, disarmed and resourceless, by a power which has the most terribly efficient organisation for destruction of human lives, we must strongly assert that it can claim no political expediency, far less moral justification. The accounts of the insults and sufferings by our brothers in Punjab have trickled through the gagged silence, reaching every corner of India, and the universal agony of indignation roused in the hearts of our people has been ignored by our rulers- possibly congratulating themselves for imparting what they imagine as salutary lessons. This callousness has been praised by most of the Anglo-Indian papers, which have in some cases gone to the brutal length of making fun of our sufferings, without receiving the least check from the same authority, relentlessly careful in something every cry of pain of judgment from the organs representing the sufferers. Knowing that our appeals have been in vain and that the passion of vengeance is building the noble vision of statesmanship in out Government, which could so easily afford to be magnanimous, as befitting its physical strength and normal tradition, the very least that I can do for my country is to take all consequences upon myself in giving voice to the protest of the millions of my countrymen, surprised into a dumb anguish of terror. The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in the incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part, wish to stand, shorn, of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings. And these are the reasons which have compelled me to ask Your Excellency, with due reference and regret, to relieve me of my title of knighthood, which I had the honour to accept from His Majesty the King at the hands of your predecessor, for whose nobleness of heart I still entertain great admiration.
6, Dwarakanath Tagore Lane,
May 31, 1919
Rabindranath Tagore—Letter Rejecting Knighthood
1. Give the birth and death year of Rabindranath Tagore.
Answer: Rabindranath was born in 1861 and he died in 1941.
2. What was his position in the family?
Answer: He was the youngest of fourteen children in the family.
3. What is Knighthood?
Answer: A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch or other political leader for service to the monarch or country, especially in a military capacity.
4. When did he receive Knighthood award?
Answer: He received Knighthood in 1915.
5. From whom did he receive his knighthood?
Answer: He received knighthood from the British King George V.
6. When did he reject his knighthood?
Answer: He rejected his knighthood in 1919.
7. Why did he reject his knighthood?
Answer: He rejected his knighthood in protest against the mass killing at Jalianwallabagh, Amritsar in Punjab.
8. When did Amritsar Massacre happen?
Answer: Amritsar Massacre happened in 13th April, 1919.
9. How many people were killed in the massacre?
Answer: About 400 people were killed in the Amritsar massacre.
10. When did Rabindranath write the letter?
Answer: He wrote the letter on 31 May, 1919.
11. To whom did he write the letter?
Answer: He wrote the letter to Lord Chelmsford, viceroy of India.
12. From which address did he write the letter?
Answer: He wrote the letter from 6, Dwarakanath Tagore Lane, Calcutta.
13. Where was the letter published?
Answer: The letter was published in The Statesman on 3 June 1919.
14. What was the degree of punishment for the common people in the colonized India?
Answer: The severity of the punishment was disproportionate.
15. How were the people described in the letter?
Answer: The people were disarmed and resourceless.
16. How does Rabindranath protest against the British?
Answer: By rejecting his knighthood, he protests against the mass killing by the British force in Amritsar, Punjab.
- Questions and answers contributed by: Istiaque Hasan