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Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom

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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Three graves from another time..

As you enter the Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, you encounter an impressive Bengali 'Chhatri'. It is the grave of Raja Rammohun Roy.

Educational reformer, religious reformer and the man who abolished the 'suttee' system of burning widows on their husbands funeral pyres.

He was also the last Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zaffar's ambassador to Britain. The plaque on the tomb says it all.

The grave was built by one of the richest men of those times, Dwarkanath Tagore. It was designed by William Prinsep, a name that many would remember on the banks of the Hoogly in Calcutta. 

Its not so grand at the next graveyard, the Kensal Green Cemetery in London. Entering the cemetery, if you walk straight down, you will encounter an unassuming grave. It is the grave of Dwarkanath Tagore, grandfather of the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize - Rabindranath Tagore. 

The Kensal Green Cemetery on Harrow Road, London

Dwarkanath was a businessman of some acumen. What is business was is, perhaps, best left unsaid (Rabindranath destroyed his papers). But he was rich. Rich enough to go to London to negotiate with Queen Victoria to buy out half the business rights of the East India Company and take over all trading in eastern India. But it was not to be, he died of a heart attack in London. 

Dwarkanath Tagore's grave


He would never know that his grandson would be India's national poet and one of the greatest poets of our times. 

But his grandson's story takes us to yet another grave. 

Far away, in Buenos Aires, Argentina is an incredible graveyard called the La Recoleta. It is a city of the dead. 

La Recoleta in Buenos Aires

If you walk straight into the graveyard for quite a distance, you will come to the grave of Victoria O'Campo.

Tagore met Victoria on a trip to Argentina and brought her to Shantiniketan in Bengal. That story is well documented, so I need not recount it here. 

Victoria O'Campo's grave

Well, that ends my story of graves. I feel fortunate to have touched the stone that surrounds the remains of Rammohun Roy, Dwarkanath Tagore and Victoria O'Campo.


Blogger Ravjibhai said...

Dear Dr Mitra,

Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece.


Ravji Pindoria

July 8, 2013 at 4:47 AM  
Blogger Debra @ Life in a 320 square foot home said...

Yes, thank you for the history lesson!

I loved your piece on TED Talk. My 15 year old son is begging me to find the 'School in the Cloud' for him! We subscribe to the principals you outline........if only he did not need a 'diploma' to say he has been educated! Oh well, until everyone catches up with us.......

July 8, 2013 at 6:11 AM  
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August 29, 2013 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Jake C said...


Cool stuff! I love the concept of teaching history through graves. Maybe someone should make a big question about that....

... How can we teach about all of history using gravestones?



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