Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), sobriquet Gurudev, was a Bengali poet, philosopher, artist, playwright, composer and novelist. India's first Nobel laureate, Tagore won the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature. 'Rakta Karabi' or Red Oleanders is one of the more than sixty plays, dance dramas and dramatic sketches by Tagore. The play, written in 1923-24, was begun during a visit to Shillong, Assam, and inspired by the image of a red oleander plant crushed by pieces of discarded iron that Tagore had come across while walking. A short time later, an oleander branch with a single red flower protruded through the debris, as if, he noted, "created from the blood of its cruelly pierced breast." It has been suggested that the play's title might appropriately be translated as Blood-Red Oleanders to indicate the beautiful but toxic nature of the flower and its association with beauty and death in the play.
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