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The Middle-Class Family and the Economy:

The new economy which has changed working conditions in industry has also transformed family life. With both spouses working very long hours and still having to take care of children, it has made the nuclear family less viable. The editorial explores some of these aspects including the reappearance of the joint family in a transformed avatar.
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Reader’s reaction to translations of Borges’ The Library of Babel and the translator’s response
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Home > Contents > Article: Sukalyan Chanda
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Towards Swaraj: The Ideals of Democracy and Self-reliance at Rabindranath Tagore's Ashram.
Sukalyan Chanda
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Arun  KolatkarRabindranath Tagore’s writings on education foreground a radical critique of the ways in which conventional education helps produce normative subjectivities. Tagore (1861 -1941) was particularly concerned with how such processes functioned within the colonial cultural context of which he was a part. In the first section of this essay I argue that his writings on education offer us a heavily nuanced understanding of the workings of power in modern societies and, particularly, in the colonial space. In these writings the theme of education functions as a convenient trope by which he engages with issues such as domination and resistance. In the section that follows I examine how he experimented with an education that placed emphasis on freedom of the mind. In 1901 he founded a school in a place that had come to be known as Santiniketan –‘the Abode of Peace’. Significantly, he found a model for his school in the ancient Indian institution of the ashram or hermitage. 1 I argue that his conception of his ashram embodied an attempt to imagine a community that could reject illiberal relations and structures of authority. Indeed, Tagore once remarked that he hoped to establish ‘real swaraj’ at his ashram in Santiniketan. 2 By his conception of his ashram he sought to imagine a space where his ideas of self-reliance and democracy could be translated into praxis. Clearly, this ideal was grounded in his engagement with the social and political aspirations of a subject race struggling to attain self-rule. As imagined by Tagore, the community of his ashram was a synecdochic version of the India of his imagination. Within the discourse of anti-colonial resistance education and community functioned as a space where ideas of an ideal India were imaginatively put into practice.

Tagore’s distinctive conception of education drew upon his childhood memories of being in a school. His autobiographical accounts of that experience recall, in particular, a profound sense of being un-free. In ‘My School’, an essay published in 1917, he uses an interesting analogy to describe how he was subjected to a pedagogic process whose imperatives clashed with his ‘nature’.3 He writes that, ‘like the shoes of a mandarin woman’, the school ‘pinched and bruised’ his mind continuously.4 At the school Tagore personally experienced the tyranny of the teacher. In My Reminiscences (1917) he recalls how he responded to this experience. Through imagined re-enactments of the typical actions of the teacher he sought to overcome the deep sense of powerlessness, induced by the experience of being a pupil: I had started a class of my own in a corner of our verandah. The wooden bars of the railing were my pupils, and I would act the schoolmaster, cane in hand, seated on a chair in front of them…None of that poor dumb class remains to bear witness how tremendously I tyrannised over them…Without effort I had assimilated all the impatience, short temper, partiality and injustice displayed by my teachers …. 5

Keen to attain freedom from the constraints imposed by the school, Rabi ‘rebelled’ against conventional education.6 At the age of fourteen he gave up formal schooling and initiated a rigorous process of teaching himself.7 In his memoirs he fondly recalls ‘that early freedom, won with willfulness’.8

From the late nineteenth century onwards the educational system established in India by colonial rule increasingly became an object of intense criticism. One of the complaints frequently voiced against it was that it was unable to produce subjects capable of intellectual autonomy. ‘Shikshar Herpher’ (1892), Tagore’s first major essay on education, offered a critique of how the use of English as the vehicle for education caused negation of freedom.9 He argues that the arduous task of trying to acquire knowledge through a foreign tongue hinders assimilation of that knowledge. Recipients of such education are rendered dependent on rote-learning and incapable of independent thinking. They learn only to memorize, to copy and to serve others.

Typically, his writings on the conventional pedagogic process include a critique of what he describes as ‘discipline’.10 He argues that the discipline ‘that we force upon the children in school’ demands exclusion of whatever is not regarded as useful.11 Typical of the adult mind, it ‘Kills the sensitivity of the child mind, the mind which is … eager to receive first-hand knowledge from Mother Nature’.12 Having lost its freedom and its ability to learn on its own, the child becomes passively receptive. Tagore recounts his own experience at school– ‘we had to sit inert…while lessons were pelted at us…’13 Here, as elsewhere, the school is recognized to be the site of a process of disciplining whereby the child is subjected to dominant modes of thinking and behavior. In the essay ‘Movement in Education’ Tagore discusses how the school seeks to discipline and contain the body of the child.14 It is in the school, he emphasizes, that the child is trained to restrict its bodily movements. The school is recognized to be an institution that, through a systematic regulation of freedom, helps produce normative subjects. In the essay ‘The Schoolmaster’ (1924) he argues that it seeks to manufacture individuals who can neatly fit into a pre-existing set of social categories such as the soldier, the merchant and the clerk.15 Tagore protests against this process of normalization by arguing that children ‘must be trained, not to be soldiers, not to be clerks in a bank, not to be merchants, but to be the makers of their own world and their own destiny’ .16

Through the use of various tropes he persistently draws our attention to the interconnections between the processes education involves and the structures of power that shape those processes. For Tagore, the school functioned in a way that was, in many ways, analogous to the ways in which the prison and other prison-like institutions functioned. In ‘Shiksha Samasya’ (The Problem of Education, 1906) he writes that the residential school belongs to the same category that includes the barrack, the lunatic asylum, the hospital and the prison.17 A metaphor that figures prominently in Tagore’s critique of the school is that of the machine or the factory. In ‘Shiksha Samasya’, for instance, he writes that ‘the school, as we understand it, is a machine used for imparting education.’ 18 Significantly, he used this metaphor also to define the nation. For Tagore, the nation was, like the machine, an impersonal system governed by determinate materialistic purposes and devoid of all human emotions and values. In his famous lectures on nationalism it is defined as the ‘national machinery of commerce and politics’ .19 He believed that the colonial state also functioned like a machine:

This abstract being, the Nation, is ruling India…The governors need not know our language, need not come into personal touch with us except as officials; they can aid or hinder our aspirations from a disdainful distance…20

Similarly, to him, the pedagogic process of the school was a mechanical one. In ‘Shiksha Samasya’ he argues that in the school the teacher functions not as a living human being but as a lifeless machine.21 The absence of a personal relationship between the teacher and the individual pupil makes the pedagogic process homologous to mechanical processes of mass production.

Tagore locates the coercive power of the educational institution particularly in the figure of the teacher. The teacher and the pupil occupy determinate positions within a rigid hierarchy, based on a notion of absolute difference. What separates them from one another is the teacher’s sense of superiority- ‘Most teachers do not know that in order to teach boys they have to be boys. Unfortunately schoolmasters are obsessed with the consciousness of their dignity as grown-up persons and as learned men…’ .22 In the school the relationship between the teacher and the student is a relationship of unequal power. In an essay published in 1936, he points out that since those they deal with are not their equals, it becomes easy for the teachers to be intolerant .23 He argues, elsewhere, that most of them are motivated by a perverse desire for power – ‘…teachers who pride themselves on being disciplinarians are really born tyrants…’24 He proceeds to protest against the ‘choice of the schoolmaster’s profession by people who ought to have for their vocation that of (the) executioner or prison-warder…’ 25

Tagore was aware that within the colonial space such a relationship between the teacher and the pupil acquired a new significance. There it tended to resemble the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. Here, let me allude to ‘Indian Students and Western Teachers’ ,26 an essay published in 1916. The essay was his response to a specific incident that had taken place at Calcutta’s Presidency College. For making provocative remarks a British professor named E.F. Oaten had been beaten up by a group of Bengali students that included Subhas Chandra Bose.27 As the title of the essay indicates, the focus, here, is particularly on the relationship between Western teachers and Indian students. Tagore writes that the students ‘will act with respect, if they themselves get their due respect from the teachers’ .28 But those who abuse them, ‘in their pride of greater knowledge or of special or racial position’ ‘will never receive homage from them’ .29 What is particularly significant is Tagore’s overt legitimization of resistance against colonial domination-

… if the student’s own race or religion is insulted by the teacher, if the students know that for themselves there is no chance of justice, … then they are bound to break out in impatience; and, indeed, it would be a thousand pities if they did not.30

Tagore’s discussion, here, of the relationship between the Western teachers and the Indian students can be read as an oblique commentary on the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized.

In The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories Partha Chatterjee points out that during the last decades of the nineteenth century colonial India saw the emergence of certain institutional arrangements that sought to consolidate colonial rule through objectification and normalization of the colonized.31 Chatterjee writes that during this period ‘not only was the law codified and the bureaucracy rationalized, but a whole apparatus of specialized technical services was instituted in order to scientifically survey, classify, and enumerate … (the) properties of the natural environment and … (the) characteristics of the people’.32

In other words, colonial power in India began to use the strategies and techniques of control that we now associate with what Michel Foucault has identified as modern disciplinarian power, a regime of power that is not overtly repressive but productive. Foucault traced a historical shift from a pre-modern power that centred on the right to kill to a form of power that functioned by administering life. This power relies less on the violence of the law than on a range of regulatory mechanisms. A whole range of modern institutions including the school administer individuals by moulding them according to a norm. Through mechanisms such as surveillance and classification this modern regime of power produces the desires and actions it intends to regulate.33 I have already tried to argue that many of Tagore’s writings on education explore and critique some of the processes whereby this modern regime of power functions. It is important to recognize that they also speak of a form a power that is more overtly coercive.

It is important to recognize that there existed important differences between how the modern regime of power functioned in the West and how colonial power functioned in India. Colonial rule tried to justify itself through the claim that it aimed to equip the colonized people - morally and culturally – for self-governance. Yet, the discourse produced by the colonizer also included voices that countered this idea by claiming that India’s racial and cultural inferiority made it unfit for liberal governance. So, as Chatterjee points out:

 …The more the logic of a modern regime of power pushed the processes of government in the direction of a rationalization of administration and the normalization of the objects of its rule, the more insistently did the issue of race come up to emphasize the specifically colonial character of British dominance in India.34

In other words, colonial power affirmed the possibility and desirability of self-governance and at the same time tried to defer that possibility persistently through its illiberal mode of functioning and through the claim that, for the colonized race, it was yet unachievable.35 It is possible to draw parallels between the workings of colonial power and the functioning of the system of education it had established in India. Forms of knowledge disseminated through that system ‘did posit a subject capable of making knowledge his own’.36 Nevertheless, it functioned in a way that hindered realization of the goal. It was within this historical context that Rabindranath Tagore made an effort to establish an alternative educational institution and an alternative community.

Central to Tagore’s conception of his ashram was the idea of freedom. He remarked that he aimed ‘to found a school where the children might be free in spite of the school’.37 At his ashram in Santiniketan he attempted to evolve a mode of education that rejected mere bookish learning in order to enable the pupils to learn to think independently. In ‘Ashramer Rup O Bikash’ he writes that the children of his ashram should be eager to explore and examine their world on their own.38 The ashram was intended to be a space where resistance against conformity could acquire a new legitimacy. In a letter written to historian Jadunath Sarkar (1870 -1958) in 1922 Tagore wrote –‘…the majority of the students here do not accept my views on nationalism and on many other issues. I do not object to such differences of opinion. I respect them.’39 Clearly, the type of subjectivity that Tagore tried to posit and produce through his ashram represented a radical departure from the norms of behavior that colonial rule, allegedly, aimed to establish.

Such an effort to decolonize the mind required a radical transformation of the relationship between the teacher and the pupil. In ‘Indian Students and Western Teachers’ he argues that one of the qualities that the teacher must possess is the ability to forgive.40 He points out that only those ‘who have a natural feeling of respect even for the young’ can be effective teachers.41 One significant aspect of Tagore’s understanding of this relationship was the emphasis on a sense of kinship. He claimed that affinities between the teacher and the pupil were crucial to any meaningful pedagogic interaction between the them – ‘The true teacher is the one in whom the primal child responds readily to the call of children… If the children do not recognize him as one of their own species, … they would never be able to hold out the hand of friendship to him’.42 By insisting on the need for such affinities he, here, rejects that perception of difference which is the basis of the illiberal relations of power prevailing in conventional educational institutions.

Significantly, in various writings Tagore’s radical re-definition of the function of the teacher evoked the ancient Indian idea of the guru. For him, the guru and his modern counterpart, the shikshaka represented two distinct categories, grounded in two alternative systems of education, represented respectively by the ashram and the school. While the former was rooted in India’s past, the latter, in his view, belonged unmistakably to the present.43 As noted earlier, Tagore was aware that the conventional relationship between the teacher and the pupil rested on the power-relations endemic to modern societies. By his conception of the guru he sought to imagine an alternative, spiritual relationship. In a letter to Kunjalal Ghosh, a teacher at his ashram, he declares, emphatically, that one of the main objectives of his institution is to establish the spiritual bond between the guru and the pupil.44 A relationship of power can exist only between independent entities that are entirely separate from one another. In ‘Ashramer Rup O Bikash’ Tagore suggests that in the tapovanas or forest hermitages of ancient India the spiritual enterprise of the guru was not separate from that of his pupil. There the guru and the pupil united through their participation in the spiritual experience of ‘tapasya’.45 Moreover, he argues in ‘My School’ that in spiritual experiences ‘gaining and giving are the same thing.’46 Such erasure of the distinction between giving and gaining, between the giver and the receiver is crucial to the imagining of a community that is devoid of hierarchies. Tagore insists that his institution ‘must be an ashram…where the young and the old, the teacher and the student, sit at the same table to partake of their daily food and the food of their eternal life’ .47

The effort to translate this ideal into reality encountered many difficulties. Finding those who could really become gurus was not an easy task. Tagore spoke of the problem in that letter written to the scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858 -1937) where he first announced his plans for a school.48 Efforts to find appropriate teachers for his ashram often caused disappointment. Those who did seem to fit into the role of the guru conceptualized by Tagore included, most prominently, Satischandra Ray (1882-1904) – an idealist who died young and was fondly remembered by Tagore.

It is, however, important to remember that Tagore re-defined not only the role of the teacher but also that of the pupil. In Santiniketan he wished to establish a community, based on the principles of democracy. In ‘My School’ he described how it functioned – ‘…it is not a school which is imposed upon the boys by autocratic authorities…In the school administration they have their place, and in the matter of punishment we mostly rely on their own court of justice’.49 In ‘Shiksha Samasya’, Tagore had invoked, albeit briefly, the ideal of self-rule. At one point in this essay he proposes that a student, if he commits an offence, should punish himself in accordance with the ancient Indian ideal of ‘prayashchitto’or penance.50 Evidently, to accept such a punishment is to transfer the moral authority to punish from external authorities to oneself. In other words, such an act amounts to an assertion of autonomy.

In Santiniketan the students were allowed to govern themselves. They practiced self-rule through the Asrama Sanmilani of which each student was a member. During its sessions, held twice a month, students engaged in debates and took decisions regarding issues like health, literary and cultural activities and charity. Together they elected the members of a Karya Nirbahaka Samiti or Working Committee. Whereas the task of the Sanmilani was to take decisions and to create rules, it was the Karya Nirbahaka Samiti that sought to implement them. If any student committed an offence, he was tried and punished by a Bichar Sabha or Court that consisted of the Secretary and the Captains elected by the students.51 Clearly in such a community teachers and students become collaborators and the relationship between them moves beyond binary distinctions like giver/receiver and superior/inferior.

It is important to note that during this period similar attempts were being made, in various parts of the world, to establish democratic collectivities. Not surprisingly, Tagore was familiar with some of these experiments. The concept of education put forward by the educational thinker Paul Geheeb (1870 -1961), for instance, emphasized the importance of principles like democracy and collaboration. The schools he founded in Germany and Switzerland functioned democratically.52 Tagore in fact visited the Odenwald School, the institution Geheeb had founded in 1911. In the Odenwald School the principle of democracy was put into practice mainly through the workings of the school assembly. It served as the forum where all members of the community could participate in debates on how the institution functioned and could take decisions through consensus. Headed by a student selected through elections held twice every year, the school assembly created the rules that all had to follow. Every member of the community had the right to vote.

The affinities that existed among these institutions need not be explained in terms of whether or not they influenced each other. Such an explanation may tend to ignore the processes whereby a complex interplay of larger historical realities shaped their conceptual bases. It is important to recognize that they emerged within historical contexts that were similar to one another. In Tagore’s school the ideal of self-rule was put into practice for the first time in or around 1905.53 That this shift to democracy took place during the politically turbulent years that saw the swadeshi movement is a fact that draws our attention to the links between that shift and the political context within which it occurred. Tagore’s ashram embodied a critique of the structures of power established in India by colonial rule. Likewise, Geheeb’s schools emerged during a phase of European history that faced the threat of Fascism.

Here, however, a question seems to arise: Can we make a distinction between Western modalities of democracy and the way in which Tagore used that principle? The answer lies in comprehending how he combined that principle with values that, he believed, were essentially Indian. A proponent of what he described as ‘co-operative self-determination’ ,54 Tagore sought to establish in Santiniketan a distinctive mode of communitarian living, based on the principle of collaboration. Curiously, for him, the tapovana, as imagined by ancient Sanskrit literature, represented a pre-modern prototype of such a community. In ‘Ashramer Rup O Bikash’ he argues that in the tapovana a series of impersonal and collaborative activities produced the relational bonds that united its inmates.55 He argues that through various co-operative activities inhabitants of the tapovana daily participated in the process of its creation.56 He thus ascribes to them a creative freedom that was, in his view, both a sign of and a key to self-reliance. It is the absence of this ability that, he points out, characterizes his race now. He writes – “One who creates his own domain is truly the master of himself. In our country boys … are deprived, from their early years, of this manly creative freedom. Hence, like a lump of clay, we are too ready to be shaped by the strong hands of others into whatever form they may prescribe.”57

Tagore’s conception of his ashram can be best understood in terms of his understanding of the idea of samaj or community. Two of his essays, written during the years preceding the swadeshi movement, need to be mentioned. In ‘Bharatbarshyia Samaj’ (1901) he points out that in India what serves as the locus of unity is not the nation but samaj which is also the repository of moral and religious values - of dharma.58 In ‘Swadeshi Samaj’ (1904), another essay, written a few years later, Tagore further explained his understanding of what he called samaj.59 Here, samaj is defined as a web of relational bonds of sociality. As such, it is, he argues, an expression of an ethos, typical of the Indian civilization and of the cultures of the East. He writes that Bharatbarsha has always tried to establish ties of kinship among human beings.60 Tagore, here, defines samaj partly by positioning it against aspects of modern Western culture. He argues that in the West individuals are not duty-bound to support each other. It is the state which takes care of them.61 In contrast, what holds the samaj together in India is, in his view, an ethic of sharing. Here, the people are tied to each other through bonds of social duty.62 Tagore’s main argument, here, is that samaj in India has never been dependent on the state and that it has always been able to satisfy its own needs autonomously. But he proceeds to complain that it is increasingly becoming dependent on the state. Whereas in Britain the state has its basis in the consent of the people, the sarkar in India is totally extrinsic to its samaj. Hence, by becoming dependent on it samaj is losing its autonomy.63 Since Tagore is aware that the ties of heart that samaj consists of may, in reality, remain limited to each individual village, he calls for the emergence of a ‘swadeshi samaj’, a self-reliant national collectivity.64

Clearly, in these essays, samaj is a utopian construct. Tagore’s fictional works reveal a more realistic perspective that recognizes samaj to be a highly fragmented body. They critically engage with the divisions and conflicts prevailing in real communities. It is however important to understand that through his conception of a swadeshi samaj Tagore sought to imagine an indigenous alternative to the Western nation. The imagining of it can be understood as an attempt, on the part of the colonized, to challenge the political and cultural hegemony of the West. Through the imaginative construction of it Tagore sought to conceptualize a space where the colonized race could still be autonomous. Significantly, the ethical justification of the empire, that is, the claim that it is beneficial to the colonized, could also be rendered invalid by the idea of a self-reliant swadeshi samaj.

Tagore again invoked the doctrine of self-reliance in a number of essays which he wrote during the 1920s. Written during the turbulent years dominated by Gandhian politics, they focused on the concept of swaraj. In these essays he seeks to challenge what he argues is the dominant political construction of swaraj, the view that it is a political and economic phenomenon. Even as he acknowledges the importance of political or economic changes, he, nevertheless, argues in ‘The Call of Truth’ (1921) that the real foundation of swaraj must be in the mind.65 He proceeds to argue that ‘only those will be able to get and keep swaraj in the material world who have realized the dignity of self-reliance and self-mastery in the spiritual world, whom no temptation, no delusion, can induce to surrender the dignity of intellect into the keeping of others’.66 Tagore emphasizes the need to get rid of the ‘slave mentality’ that, he argues, ‘is at the root of all the poverty and insult’ that India has been subjected to.67

As conceptualized by Tagore, the struggle for swaraj was a constructive process and not a negative programme based on a politics of conflict. Significantly, in the essay ‘Striving for Swaraj’ (1925) swaraj is defined as ‘our right to create our own country’ .68 Here, let me allude to Tagore’s views on the idea of swadesh or homeland. In the essay ‘The Call of truth’ he writes –

The idea that our country is ours, merely because we are born in it, can only be held by those who are fastened… upon the outside world. …That only can be a man’s true country, which he can help to create by his wisdom and will, his love and his actions.69

According to Tagore, one’s true swadesh cannot be a fixed location, definable in terms of the fact of being born in it. Rather, one must create his or her swadesh.

Now, let me return to the essay ‘Striving for Swaraj’. Significantly, it does not valorize a large conceptual category like that of an all-encompassing swadeshi samaj. Rather, the author insists on the need for ‘small centers’ – ‘…in different places over the country small centers should be established in which expression is given to the responsibility of the country for achieving its own swaraj - that is to say, its own welfare as a whole…’70 For Tagore, as for Gandhi, swaraj involved decentralization of power. Within this conceptual scheme each village needed to become self-sufficient. In ‘Striving for Swaraj’ Tagore writes that a village where ‘people come together to earn for themselves their food, their health, their education, to gain for themselves the joy of so doing’71 can lead the whole country to swaraj. Tagore however was aware that relations of power were shaped not only by the state but also by social institutions such as religion, caste, class and gender. Hence, like Gandhi, he argued that the struggle for swaraj needed to include a fight against the divisions and conflicts created by those institutions.

Evidently, Tagore intended his own ashram to be a ‘small center’ where self-reliance and collective cooperation were to be cultivated. In his writings and lectures he urged the students and teachers of his institution, including those from other countries, to actively participate in its formation. In ‘The Centre of Indian Culture’ (1919) he defines what he calls Visva-Bharati as an institution that ‘must not only instruct, but live; not only think, but produce’ .72 Such an institution, he insists, should sustain itself through its own agricultural and industrial ventures, ‘carried out on the cooperative principle, which will unite the teachers and students in a living and active bond…’73 Here, he alludes to his plans for the work of rural reconstruction in Sriniketan by arguing that this institution should function through economic co-operation with the surrounding village communities.74

It is therefore possible to argue that Tagore’s ashram embodied his conception of a community that could reject the forms and structures of power endemic in the cultural context within which it emerged. As imagined by Tagore, his ashram challenged various paradigms of power through a radical transformation of the relations between the teacher and the pupil and through an emphasis on principles such as self-reliance and democracy. Significantly, the distinctive way of thinking and being that Tagore wished to establish through his institution was intended to be based on values derived from India’s cultural heritage. He effectively appropriated the Western idea of democracy by incorporating it within his concept of a community that was grounded in his understanding of traditional indigenous institutions and ideals such as the tapovana and the samaj.
Phalanx SpacerPhalanx Spacer Notes/references:
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In his writings Tagore spelt the word also as ashrama and asrama. I have chosen the variant that is most commonly used in English. Since it is now a part of the vocabulary of the English language, I have chosen not to italicize it.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My Ideals with Regard to the Sreebhavana’ [1934], in The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore [Hereafter, EWRT], vol. 3, ed. Sisir Kumar Das (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1996), p. 805.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My School’ [1917], in EWRT, vol. 2, ed. Sisir Kumar Das (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1996), p. 390.

Ibid., p. 390.

Rabindranath Tagore, My Reminiscences, trans. Surendranath Tagore (New Delhi: Rupa, 2008), pp. 28 – 29.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My School’ [1925], in EWRT , vol. 4, ed. Nityapriya Ghosh (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 2007), p.  519.

Krishna Kripalani, Tagore: A Life (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1986), p. 25.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My School’, in EWRT, vol. 4, p. 519.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Shikshar Herpher,’ in Rabindra Rachanabali [Hereafter, RR], vol. 6 (Calcutta: Visva-Bharati, 1988), pp. 565 - 72. The essay was first published in Sadhana in 1892. The title of the essay has been translated as “The Vicissitudes of Education”.

See Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My School,’ in EWRT, vol. 4, pp. 518 - 23. Also see Tagore, ‘The Schoolmaster’ [1924], in EWRT, vol. 3, pp. 504 - 09.

Rabindranath Tagore, “My School,” in EWRT, vol. 4, p. 520.

Ibid., p. 518.

Ibid., pp. 518 - 519.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Movement in Education,’ in EWRT, vol. 4, pp. 629 – 34. First published in 1956.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Schoolmaster,’ p. 509.

Ibid., p. 509.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Shiksha Samasya’ [1906], in RR, vol. 6, p. 578.

Ibid., p.577. Translation mine.

Rabindrath Tagore, ‘Nationalism in the West,’ in EWRT, vol. 2, p. 420. The lectures on nationalism were first published in 1917.

Ibid., pp. 422 –23.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Shiksha Samasya,’ p. 583.

Rabindranath Tagore, “The Schoolmaster,” p. 507.

Rabindranath Thakur, Ashramer Rup O Bikash [The Form and Growth of the Ashram, 1941], in RR, vol. 14 (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1989), p. 226. Ashramer Rup O Bikash includes three essays. The first of these was published as ‘Ashramer Shiksha’ (The Education of the Ashram)in 1936. <

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Schoolmaster,’ p. 508.

Ibid., p. 509.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Indian Students and Western Teachers’ [1916], in EWRT, vol. 4, pp. 263 –73.

See Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson, Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-minded Man (London: Tauris Parke Paperbacks, 2009), p. 198

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Indian Students and Western Teachers,’ p. 266.

Ibid., pp. 265-66.

Ibid., p. 266.

Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, in The Partha Chatterjee Omnibus (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 19.

Ibid., pp. 19 -20.

See Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (London: Penguin Books, 1991).

Partha Chatterjee, p. 19.

Sanjay Seth, Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), pp. 122 -23.

Ibid., p. 123.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Educational Mission of the Visva-Bharati [1931], in EWRT, vol. 3, p. 626.

Rabindranath Thakur, Ashramer Rup O Bikash, p. 226.

Rabindranath Thakur to Jadunath Sarkar, Santiniketan, 2 June 1922, in Chithipatra (Collected Letters), vol. 15(Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1995), p. 28. Translation mine.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Indian Students and Western Teachers,’ p. 265.

Ibid., p. 265.

Rabindranath Thakur, Ashramer Rup O Bikash, p. 224. My translation is based on a translation done by Kshitis Ray.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Shiksha Samasya,’ pp. 579, 583.

Rabindranath Thakur to Kunjalal Ghosh, 13 November 1902, in Chithipatra, vol. 13 (Kolkata:  Visva-Bharati, 1992),p. 164.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Ashramer Rup O Bikash,” p. 223.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My School’, vol. 2, p. 398.

Ibid., p.403.

Rabindranath Thakur to Jagadish Chandra Bose, August 1901, in Chithipatra, vol. 6 (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1993), p. 36.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘My School,’ vol. 2, p. 402.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Shiksha Samasya,’ p.  582.

For an account of the Ashrama Sanmilani see Prabhat Mukhopadhyay, Santiniketan-Visva-Bharati (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 2000), pp. 54-55; also see Pramatha Nath Bishi, Rabindranath O Santiniketan (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1975), pp. 51-53.

For a discussion of Geheeb’s educational thinking and his institutions see Hans-Ulrich Grunder, ‘Paul Geheeb and the Ecole d’ Humanite in Switzerland,’ European Education 29, no. 1 (1997): pp. 34 – 46.

See Prabhat Mukhopadhyay, p. 48.

Rabindrath Tagore, ‘Striving for Swaraj’ [1925], in The Mahatma and the Poet: Letters and Debates Between Gandhi and Tagore 1915 -1941, comp. and ed. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya (New Delhi: National Book Trust, 1997), p. 120.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Ashramer Rup O Bikash,’ p. 224.

Ibid., p.224.

Ibid., p. 226. My translation is based on the translation done by kshitis Ray.

Rabindrath Thakur, ‘Bharatbarshiya Samaj’ [1901], in RR, vol. 2 (Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 1986), pp.  622-25.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Swadeshi Samaj’ [1904], in RR, vol. 2, pp. 625-41. For a discussion of this essay see Rustom Bharucha, Another Asia: Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 55-62.

Rabindranath Thakur, ‘Swadeshi Samaj,’ p. 631.

Ibid., p. 627.

Ibid., p. 627.

Ibid., p. 628.

Ibid., p. 634.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Call of Truth’ [1921], in The Mahatma and the Poet, p. 82.

Ibid., pp.82-83.

Ibid., p.84.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Striving for Swaraj’ [1925], in The Mahatma and the Poet, pp. 120-21.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Call of Truth,’ p. 71.  

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Striving for Swaraj,’ p. 119.

Ibid., p. 121.

Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The Centre of Indian Culture’ [1919], in EWRT, vol. 2, p. 490.

Ibid., p.490.

Ibid., p. 490. In 1922 Tagore established an Institute of Rural Reconstruction. He named it Sriniketan – ‘ Abode of Well-being’.

Sukalyan Chanda attained a first class degree in both B.A. and M.A. which he did at the Department of English, Visva-Bharati. He is currently pursuing his doctoral research at the Department of English, Jadavpur University. His research is on Rabindranath Tagore’s conception of his ashram. In 2011 he was awarded the Inlaks Research Travel Grant by Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. Several of his writings have been published in academic journals.


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