One can now have access to the entire oeuvre of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore online, in both Bengali and English.
"Bichitra" (meaning variety) will provide a full electronic archive of Tagore's works in manuscript and print, with all significant versions and revisions of each work. It is offered as a tribute to Tagore and a contribution to his own idea of universal dissemination as as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of the bard.
It has been developed by the universities of Jadavpur and Visva-Bharati, the university that he founded at Santiniketan, West Bengal. The effort had the support of the Union government. The website, launched by President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday, is the largest database of original texts by a single author.
Bichitra includes digital images of all available manuscripts of Tagore as also important print versions. It runs into 47,520 pages of manuscripts and 91,637 pages of printed books and journals, said Jadavpur University vice chancellor Souvik Bhattacharyya.
Altogether, 35 scholars in the fields of English, Bengali, comparative literature, Sanskrit and computer science toiled for two years to complete the project.
Eminent academic Sukanta Chaudhuri said Tagore often revisited his works. "He would make some changes, some additions, some deletions. The project would enable the viewers to gain access to the full operation of Tagore's creative process in shaping a work."
The database offers a unique four-window interface, allowing the viewer to compare all texts together, display any two of them, in turn, and show all the variants in highlighted and colour-coded forms.
Various software programmes have been specially developed for "Bichitra", which would benefit general readers, scholars and other professionals working on any of the countless facets of Tagore's works.
The website has been developed by the School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University, in association with Rabindra-Bhavana, Visva-Bharati, with support from the central government's ministry of culture.
The 1861-born Tagore holds the unique distinction of having authored the national anthems of two sovereign nations - India and Bangladesh. The bard's rich, diverse and vast literary output is virtually unmatched in the world. He was also a painter and composer par excellence.
In 1913, Tagore became the first Asian Nobel laureate and the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for literature.