Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore at Einstein’s Berlin home, 1926. Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute.
One was a Bengali polymath and Nobel laureate with white flowing beard and piercing eyes. The other was the world famous scientist, with frizzy hair and unkempt appearance.
When Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein met in New York, it was a media sensation. “They were two celebrities,” artist and scholar Andor Carius said. “It was wisdom from the east meeting philosopher of the west. They were staged together as icons by the media even earlier.”
The pair first met in Berlin in 1926 and several times later in 1930. The first meeting that year, at Einstein’s summer home in the vicinity of Potsdam, resulted in The New York Times headline, “Einstein and Tagore Plumb the Truth.” The piece described Tagore as “the poet with the head of a thinker” and Einstein as “the thinker with the head of a poet.” Their brief meeting in late 1930 in New York, when Einstein was en route to Caltech, bore the photo caption: “A Mathematician and a Mystic meet in Manhattan.”