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Rabindranath Tagore


Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) also known by his sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi, was a polymath, poet, musician, and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse" of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal".

As a humanist, universalist, internationalist, and ardent anti-nationalist, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy also endures in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University. Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla. The Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work.

Rabindra Nath Tagore Contribution in Indian freedom Movement

The sheer range and versatility of his novels, poems, plays, songs and paintings are perhaps a result of the vitality of this age, and are definitely instruments through which he articulated his opinions regarding the upheaval that enveloped India from the late nineteenth century onwards. Much of Tagore’s writing deals with the problems of national belonging. Gora (Fair- Skinned, 1910), written in the early years of anti-colonialism, examines these through its British protagonist, Gora, an orphan who is raised in a Hindu family, only to discover his true identity as an adult. But while nationalism remained an issue Tagore returned to throughout his life, his own involvement in the nationalist movement in India fluctuated, largely because of the ideological differences he had with its leaders. While Tagore was, without a doubt, patriotic, his notion of “freedom” was not simply political release from the British. He was against violent method of struggle.
Tagore was particularly critical of two:
  • The Swadeshi Movement
  • The rise of revolutionary nationalism.

Tagore’s novel, Ghare Baire (The Home and the World, 1916) is particularly poignant in its depiction of Muslim traders, harassed into giving into the demands of the public to burn their stocks of British goods in a highly spectacularised, ritualistic manner. He understands that anti-colonialism cannot merely take the form of rejecting everything British, but rather, should be aimed at synthesising all that is good in western societies with that of the East. Tagore protests the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, Punjab (April 1919), and renounces the knighthood that had been conferred on him in 1915.

He argues, much as Tagore was to in his speeches and lectures, most significantly in his collection, Nationalism (1917) that “freedom” is not just political freedom from the British, but rather the ability to be honest and truthful with oneself, without which self-rule loses all meaning. These ideas, of course, were later to become the corner stone of the philosophy of another nationalist leader, Mahatma Gandhi. Tagore withdrew from the forefront of the nationalist movement after an eighteen years old, Khudiram Bose, killed a woman and child by accident, in a botched attempt to assassinate the magistrate of Muzzafarpur, a town in the Indian state of Bihar. Rabindranath Tagore was primarily an educationist rather than a political thinker. He put emphasis on ‘naturalism’ for framing educational model. In education, freedom is the basic guiding force for inculcating interest within a student who will derive inspiration from nature to pursue any branch of knowledge he likes.

The establishment of Shantiniketan fulfilled the desired goal of Tagore in the educational front.

Unity of West and East

Tagore’s education marked a novel blending of the ideas of the East and West. The spiritualism of Indian philosophy and progressive outlook of the western people were blended together to give rise to an educational philosophy which marked its distinction in comparison to other educationists of India.
Natural growth in natural circumstance Tagore envisaged that nature is the best teacher to the pupil. Nature will provide the student with necessary situation to earn knowledge. No pressure should be exerted upon the student to learn anything. Nature will shape his behaviour and character.
Goodbye to book-centered education For the first time in the arena of education, Tagore established a new mile-stone. With boldness and firmness, he rejected a book-centered education for students. To him it is not just to confine the mind of boys and girls to text-books only. It will kill the natural instincts of a student and make him bookish. It will kill his creative skill. So, students should be freed from the-book-centered education and should be given a broader avenue for learning.

Frreedom to learner

Tagore had championed the cause of freedom. The same he wanted to implement in the field of education. With that object he had opened Shantiniketan, Sri Niketan and Brahmachari Ashram. Accordingly, he gave free choice to students to develop their interest in any field they like. To him, education should be after the heart of a man. He explained freedom in three-categorized ways i.e.
  • freedom of heart
  • freedom of intellect
  • freedom of will.
Teaching – Practical and Real According to Tagore, teaching should be practical and real but not artificial and theoretical. As a naturalist out and out, Tagore laid emphasis on the practicality of education. That will definitely increase the creative skill within a learner. That creativity will bring perfection in the learning process and the student will be a master in his own field but not a slave to mere theoretical knowledge which one delves deep.
Place of fine arts (dance, drama, music, poetry etc.) Tagore attached great importance to the fine arts in his educational curriculum. To him, game, dance, music, drama, painting etc. should form a part of educational process. Students should take active part in these finer aspects of human life for these are very essential to enrich soul.
Education for rural reconstruction Tagore was aware about the rural poverty of our country. So, he wanted to eradicate it through education. The practical training imparted in different crafts to the students will make them skilled artisans in their field. They can remove the poverty of the rural bulk by applying their education helping thereby in the process of rural reconstruction.