Kolkata: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday launched ‘Bichitra’, a digital collection of the works of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The project boasts 147,520 pages of manuscripts and 91,637 pages of materials from printed texts, which is also the largest database in the world of original texts by a single author.

Speaking at the occasion, Mukherjee lauded the efforts of the team in creating this database in a short time. “During our student days, no such tools were available. It was very difficult or rather impossible to go through the manuscripts of Tagore’s works. I am hopeful that this website will be of great use to researchers and Tagore enthusiasts all over the world,” the president said.

Created by Jadavpur University’s School of Cultural Texts and Records and funded by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Visvabharati University and Harvard University, under the guidance of Sukanta Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus, and other eminent teachers of the university, 35 scholars from the departments of English, Bengali, comparative literature, Sanskrit and computer science worked in laboratories set up for project, to complete the work in two years.

“Bichitra is not a definitive version of Tagore’s work. The poet kept visiting a work from time to time, changing it, adding to it. The vastness and the changefulness of the variorum come close to reflecting the vastness and changefulness of Tagore’s mind. It is a living work. There are many English manuscripts that Tagore had gifted to William Rothenstein. These are preserved at Harvard University. Images of these manuscripts have also been provided just as those that are preserved at Rabindra Bhavan in Santiniketan,” said Chaudhuri.

“The project was possible because of the scholarship, hard work and technological innovation,” said Chaudhuri. “We developed software that extracts the text from a manuscript. The manuscripts as well as the extracted text will be on display,” he added.

Almost all of Tagore’s works have found place in the variorum. The site also offers the most extensive bibliography on Tagore.