Jyotirindranath Tagore born on May 4, 1849 was a playwright, a musician, an editor and a painter. Endowed with an outstanding talent, he had the rare capability of spotting talent in others. He played a major role in the flowering of the talents in his younger brother, the first Asian Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore. The grandson of Dwarkanath Tagore and the fifth son of Debendranath Tagore, Jyotirindranath was born in the Tagore Family of Jorasanko, in Calcutta (now Kolkata).
When viewed against the exceptionally brilliant achievements of his younger brother, Rabindranath Tagore, he loses much of his shine. However, having been born in the same family and being twelve years his senior, Jyotirindranath assisted in the development of his younger brother with examples, encouragement and companionship.
Jyotirindranath was attracted towards the theatre from his student days. He formed a home theatre group and staged dramas. One of his cousins Ganendranath established the Jorasanko Natyasala in 1865. The first play to be staged was Krishnakumari by Michael Madhusudan Dutta. Jyotirindranath acted in the role of Ahalyadevi, a brave queen. His early success developed in him a determination to be one of greatest playwrights in his age.
Jyotirndranath had lessons in music early in life from Bishnupada Chakravarty. He was an expert in playing the piano, vioin, harmonium and sitar.
The resonance of music in the Jorasanko Thakur Bari environment was a gift of Jyotirindranath. His companion in the cultivation of literature and music was Akshay Chandra Chaudhari. Later, when Rabindranath crossed the threshold of childhood and grew a little, he joined them. The system they followed was that Jyotirindranath composed a tune on the piano. Akshay and Rabindranath tried their best to incorporate the tunes into word-pattern. Twenty songs of Rabindranath’s dance drama Mayar Khela were based on tunes composed by Jyotirndranath.
He was attracted towards drawing and sketching. He sketched the portraits of many persons in the family. Of Rabindranath there are numerous sketches in different styles. He drew the sketches of plain folk around him, including the employees of his shipping firm. Around 2,000 sketches of his are preserved in the Rabindra Bharti University museum. Some of his sketches were published in Bharati in 1912. William Rothenstein happened to see them and evinced interest in them. He wanted to see more of his sketches. When Rabindranath proceeded for his third visit to England the same year, he carried a bunch of sketches prepared by Jyotirindranath. Rothenstein was highly impressed and with his assistance the book Twenty-five collotypes from the original Drawings of Jyotirindranath Tagore was published in England.
He took last breath on March 4, 1925 in his house named Santidham on Morabadi Hill in Ranchi.