Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Related educational readings
 The educational theory of...
 Practical aspects of Tagore’s...
 Discussion and conclusion
 Biographical sketch

Title: Tagore: his educational theory and practice and its impact on Indian education /
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098123/00001
 Material Information
Title: Tagore: his educational theory and practice and its impact on Indian education /
Physical Description: ix, 153 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Jalan, Radha Vinod, 1946-
Publication Date: 1976
Copyright Date: 1976
Subject: Foundations of Education thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Foundations of Education -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 128-151.
Statement of Responsibility: by Radha Vinod Jalan.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
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Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000175197
oclc - 03024076
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page i-a
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Related educational readings
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
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        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
    The educational theory of Tagore
        Page 31
        Page 32
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        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    Practical aspects of Tagore’s theory
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
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        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
    Discussion and conclusion
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
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        Page 111
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        Page 151
        Page 152
    Biographical sketch
        Page 153
        Page 154
Full Text







I 1282 08852 768 111(111(


The completion of this study would not have been

possible without the help and support of a number of in-

dividuals. The writer wishes to express her sincere

appreciation to her chairman, Dr. Hal G. Lewis, for his

interesting and understanding guidance through all phases

of this study until its completion. The assistance of the

other members of her committee was invaluable, and

appreciation is expressed to Dr. Austin B. Creel and Dr.

Vynce A. Hines. Appreciation is also expressed to Mrs.

Voncile Sanders for her expert typing of the final copy.

The writer is grateful to her husband Vinod, and our

daughter, for their sacrifice, devotion, and inspiration.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . .

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . .


I INTRODUCTION . . . . . .


Tagore's Selected Writings on
Education . . . . . .
Some Significant Works on Tagore .
Notes . . . . . . .


Background for Tagore's Theory .

Characteristics of Indian
Education During Tagore's
Time . . . . . .
Tagore's Childhood Ex-
periences Regarding
Education . . . .
Aims of Education . . .

Summary . . . . . .
Ideal Education . . . .
Summary . . . . . .
Congruency Between Education
and Society . . . . . .
Notes . . . . . . .







Origin and Development of
the Institution . . . .. 60
Main Divisions of the
Institution . . . . .. 67

Patha-Bhavana (The School). 68
Siksha-Bhavana. . . .. 70
Vidya-Bhavana . . . .. 71
Centre of Advanced Study
in Philosophy. . . .. 72
Rabindra-Bhavana (College
of Tagore Studies and
Research) . . . . 73
Vinaya Bhavana (College of
Education) . . . .. 73
Kala Bhavana (College of Fine
Arts & Crafts) ..... .75
Sangeet Bhavana (College of
Music and Dance) . . .. 76
Lok Siksha Samsad (People's
Education Council) . 78
Sriniketan. . . . .. 81
Siksha-Satra. . . . .. 86
Siksha-Charcha Bhavana. . 88

Organization of Daily
Activities. . . . . ... 90
Organization of Curriculum . 96
Notes. . . . . . . .. 105


Impact on Indian Education
Basic Education and Tagore 107
Criticisms. . . . .. 116

Suggestions for Further Research. 120
Contribution to Indian
Education . . . . ... 121
Summary. . . . . . .. 124



BIBLIOGRAPHY............... ..... 128

GLOSSARY. . . . . . . . . ... ... 152

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ..... . . . ... . 153

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor .of Philosophy



Radha Vinod Jalan

August 1976

Chairman: Hal G. Lewis
Major Department: Foundations of Education

This study was undertaken to determine the nature of

Tagore's educational theory and practice and its impact on

Indian education. Material for the research was collected

during a trip to Visva-Bharati, India and the writer's

knowledge of Bengali was useful in obtaining significant

data from Tagore's voluminous untranslated writings on

education. During the course of study a review of Tagore's

writings on education and others on Tagore was presented.

A discussion of the major educational problems that existed

in the British period in India, added to the early educa-

tional experiences of Tagore is presented to give a com-

plate background for the basis of Tagore's theory. The

core of Tagore's educational theory puts greater emphasis

on the complete harmonious development of individual per-

sonality. He believed that education should help an

individual to attain complete manhood, so that all his

powers may be developed to the fullest extent for his own

individual perfection as well as the perfection of the human

society in which he was born. He believed that education

was not merely a means for the growth and fullness of the

individual, but it was also concerned with the whole

physical and social milieu in which his lifewas lived. He

wanted the boys and girls to be fearless, free and open-

minded, self-reliant, full of the spirit of inquiry and self-

critical, with their roots deep in the soil of India but

reaching out to the world in understanding, neighborliness,

cooperation and material and spiritual progress. Tagore's

concept of ideal education covered the description of ideal

atmosphere, institution, teacher, and method. Actually

Tagore's success lies in the fact that he did not try to

control directly the ideas, feelings, and values of his

children but imaginatively designed an environment and a

program of activities and experiences which evoked the

desired responses. He also believed that the education of

a country acquires shape and substance only against the

entire background and it is important that there is a

strong relationship between education and society.

Tagore's educational theory was put into practice in


his school at Santiniketan, which started with only five

students on the roll. A history of the origin and develop-

ment of the institution reveals that from such a small

start the school has grown to a University, Visva-Bharati,

with different departments in humanities, science, art,

music, education, Chinese studies, advanced studies in

philosophy and village welfare. In 1922, the Department of

Village Welfare at Santiniketan was further developed to

include extended work on rural reconstruction, village

education, craft-training, agricultural research and train-

ing and was named Sriniketan. Tagore's practical aspect of

education also includes a description of organization of

daily activities in which freedom, games and sports, art,

and entertainments at night are emphasized. Tagore's

organization of curriculum was not narrowed down to only

textbook learning, but it provided a fullness of experience

for children from multiple sources. He interpreted the

curriculum not in terms of certain subjects to be learned

but in terms of certain activities to be undertaken.

Tagore's impact on education in India has not been well

recognized and through discussion it was found that educa-

tional work of Tagore deserves more scrutiny. It needs to

be recognized and evaluated by educationists around the


world. His impact on education has been felt more but it

has not been articulated by researchers, or educationists.

Present writing open avenues for further research on

Tagore as an educationist by making further suggestions

and presenting an extensive bibliography on Tagore's

writings on education.



Rabindranath Tagore, recipient of the Nobel Prize for

Literature in 1913, is internationally known as a great poet.

He was born on May 7, 1861, in Calcutta, Bengal, at a time

when the first uncritical admiration for the West had worn off

and there was a more balanced appraisal for it. Simultaneously,

there was increased knowledge of and regard for the values of

the East. His grandfather, Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, was a

friend of the great Indian religious reformer, Raja Rammohan

Roy, and was among the first Indians to travel to Europe. His

father, Maharsi (great saint) Devendranath, was a deep student

of Indian and Islamic mysticism. From his earliest days,

Rabindranath grew up in a house where all the surging tides

of the Indian Renaissance were flowing around his daily life.

In Bengal, this Renaissance found expression in three great

movements, religious, literary and national and all these

three movements found their votaries in the Tagore family.

Rabindranath's eldest brother, Dwijendranath, was a philosopher

and writer, and a second brother, Satyendranath, was the first

Indian to enter the Civil Service. Another brother,

Abanindranath, was a lover of music and drama and he used to

compose tunes in new styles. His nephews, Abanindranath and

Gaganendranath, were two great artists of Bengal. Not only

the boys, but also his sister, Swarnakumari, became a very

well known writer in later days. In an atmosphere like this

Tagore himself started writing poems at the age of eight and

at the age of thirteen his poems were published in a Bengali

monthly magazine, Bharati, under the name of Bhanusimha.

Rabindranath's poetic career kept on flourishing in later

years. His book Gitanjali (offering of songs) brought him

the Nobel Prize and international fame. Actually his fame as

a poet has so much eclipsed his great contributions in litera-

ture, education and other aspects of life that the latter have

rarely received the attention and appreciation that they

really deserve. His writings which are available in English

versions do not fully represent his original work in Bengali.

To a large extent, this was one of the reasons that, in his

lifetime, Tagore's reputation in the Western world declined.

English translations of his writings failed to give a complete

picture of Tagore as an educator and social reconstructor.

It seems worthwhile to explore other areas of Tagore's work

and give them due attention.

Although Tagore's literary versatility as poet, dramatist,

short-story writer, essayist, and novelist has received wide

attention in his home country, his educational theory and

practice have been neglected for the most part. Tagore did

not have any academic degree in education, but he was a great

educator of his time. He not only advocated changes in educa-

tion but practiced them in his school at Santiniketan. The

school started in 1901 under the name Brahmacharyasram,

was later changed to Brahmavidyalaya and finally to simply

the Santiniketan School. Later the school was expanded and in

1921 Visva-Bharati, the International University, was formally

inaugurated. In 1922, rural welfare department of Visva-

Bharati was formally opened at Surul with the name of Srini-

ketan. Like the other departments of Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan

grew slowly from small beginnings to a great centre of rural

reconstruction and village education. Actually, Tagore was the

first in India to think out for himself and put into practice

principles of education which have now become commonplace in

educational theory if not yet in practice. At present, when

India is trying to find appropriate educational direction for

its development, Tagore's educational work deserves scrutiny.

The main purpose of this study is to determine the nature

of Tagore's educational theory and its practice in his

institute. It is also intended to estimate the impact of his

program on Indian education. Tagore's thoughts on education

are not formulated in any systematic treatises. His educa-

tional writings constitute a voluminous literature, mostly

scattered in independent essays, speeches and letters, only

a small number of which have been collected in books and

educational journals. The rest are either available in the

pages of old magazines and periodicals or are lying in

obscurity. To construct a coherent and unified pattern out

of this mass of diffuse material is no easy task. Moreover,

Tagore's treatment of his theory has been generally so impre-

cise and so diffused with poetic abstractions and fine emo-

tions that to work out an objective rationale of educational

philosophy from it all is a great challenge. The procedure

employed in this research is analytical. The research is

based upon an extensive study of Tagore's writings and lec-

tures, both in Bengali and English languages. Available

brochures, reports and publications on Tagore's educational

theory and his institutions are also carefully examined.

The study deals with different aspects of the educational

philosophy of Tagore. Chapter II consists of a description

of educational readings on Tagore and a description of

selected works from Tagore's voluminous writing on education,

showing a gradual development in his thinking. Chapter III

will discuss the educational theory of Tagore. To understand

his theory correctly, it is necessary to know the educational

system in India at that time and the childhood experiences of

Tagore as a student which greatly influenced the idea of the

unique school of Santiniketan. His theory has been cate-

gorized under the titles, Aims of Education, Ideal Education,

and Congruency Between Educational and Social Life. Chapter IV

will show how Tagore tried to put his theory into practice in

his institution. In this context, a study has been made of

the organization and division of his institution into different

departments and curricula. Chapter V will be the concluding

chapter showing Tagore's impact on Indian education and at this

stage a comparison will be made between Gandhi's Basic

Education and Tagore's system. This will be followed by an

extensive bibliography of educational writings of Tagore, and

others on Tagore as an educator. This bibliography itself

will meet a need in educational literature.

Material for this research was collected through various

sources. In addition to professional books and articles in

periodicals dealing with Tagore's educational philosophy and

activities found in the University of Florida library and the

Library of Congress, others were obtained from the Indian Consulate

of New York, the Indian Embassy Research Department in Wash-

ington, D. C. and the Indian Information Service, Washington,

D. C. Some of the valuable material that could not be located

in this country was collected during a trip to Santiniketan

and Calcutta. The publisher at Visva-Bharati kindly made it

possible to obtain copies of some of these documents for the

research. On the recommendation of Himangshu Mukherjee,

professor at Vinaya-Bhavana, the researcher spent considerable

time in reading some articles in copies of old newspapers and

magazines at Rabindra-Sadana, Santiniketan, and thus got very

relevant materials for the work. These will be found in the


It is important to mention that since a large part of

Tagore's educational writings are in Bengali and wherever

something is quoted from these the translations are made by

the researcher. Also, for the references only Bengali era is

given for them. Bengali era is 593 years behind Christian




Tagore's educational writings constitute a voluminous

literature, mostly scattered in independent essays, speeches

and letters, only a small number of which have been collected

in books and journals. The rest either are available in

pages of old magazines and periodicals or lying in obscurity.

This has deterred many educational researchers from working on

Tagore. Also, a majority of Tagore's educational writings

have been in Bengali, and have not yet been translated into

English. This automatically narrows down the numbers of workers,

especially in the West. Besides, Tagore's literary genius has

almost overpowered his work on education so much that even many

of his biographers (Kriplani, 1962; Thompson, 1961) do not seem

to be doing justice to his contributions to education. In

such a situation, it seems important to locate, identify and

analyze some of the valuable writings of Tagore in educational

philosophy, theory and his experiments in education.

Tagore's Selected Writings
on Education

Siksar Herpher (1299 B.S.) is Tagore's very first

writing which enunciates explicitly some of his fundamental

educational thoughts although in earlier articles and essays

his political and social consciousness could be observed in

spite of the fact that at the time of its publication he was

only 31 years of age. It is likely that these early ex-

periences were forming the background for Tagore's educational

career. The article Siksar Herpher eloquently pleads for a

system of education conducted in congenial surroundings and

in a manner surcharged with the spirit of joy. It argues that

the ultimate aim of education should be the all round develop-

ment of an individual for harmonious adjustment to reality.

It advocated the value and need of the mother tongue in pro-

viding all the necessary educational nourishment of the child.

Prabhatkumar Mukhopadhyay, Tagore's biographer, has noted that

"it was the first really comprehensive and competent criticism

of the educational system of the country at that time" (1353-

1363 B.S. V.I., p. 271).

Tagore's first educational writing attracted wide attention

in Bengal and for some time Tagore kept on writing about the

subject in editorial columns of Sadhana under the general

title Prasanga Katha (Relevant talks). He was firm on his

stand for the place of the mother tongue in education, but

nevertheless he insisted that English may be taught as a

language, and that from early years, in wise doses, and in

the proper sequence, only as a supplement to the mother tongue.

With the advent of the twentieth century Tagore's idea

of the all-round regeneration of the country through national

self-determination, individual efforts and sacrifice were being

expressed more powerfully through his writings and actions.

He was a great believer in the value of education as the most

fundamental prerequisite of the progress of a nation and he

joined the National Council of Education which aimed at bring-

ing reforms in education. But Tagore's conception of true

national education was fundamentally different from the

official policy of the National Education Council. He heartily

welcomed the desire for self-determination in education which

had inspired the movement but he strongly deplored the idea of

launching the western type of political agitation which

appealed for favors to the ruling power, especially when they

were foreigners. He appealed to his countrymen to approach

national problems in an objective and rational manner and to

turn attention and energy to the prime object of national

reconstruction with the village as the center.2 Ultimately,
reconstruction with the village as the center. Ultimately,

he withdrew himself from active participation in the national

movement in both the political and educational spheres and

retired to Santiniketan by the end of 1905 to pursue his own

goal. Tagore's writings of this period reveal his thinking on

this pattern.

In 1905, in his address to the students, "Chatrader Prati

Sambhasan,"3 Tagore advocated a realistic education acquired

through independent efforts. In the article "Purvaprasner

Anubritti,"4 he argued, "it is necessary to remember that if

we place education in the hands of the government, they will

attempt through that education to fulfill their own interests

and not ours. They will so arrange that a farmer may remain

only a farmer in his village; they will not bother to make him

a true citizen of India. We can impart education according to

our desire only if we take education in our hands. It is

absurd both to beg and to order" (Rabindra Rachanavali,V.XII,

p. 516).

A much firmer ground for Tagore's educational philosophy

is found in the article, "Siksa-Samasya"5 (June, 1906)--The

Problem of Education. Though not stating it directly, Tagore

clearly indicates here for the first time his fundamental point

of difference with the National Council of Education in his

repeated statement that no truly national system of education

in India could be based on any imitation of a foreign model.

According to him, true national education is one which is or-

ganically linked with the life of a nation and which is a natural

process through the accumulated endeavors and the cherished

ideals and traditions of the people of the land. In this

article, he gives an elaborate and critical exposition of what

he regarded as the most important features of a national educa-

tional system. He emphasized that the primary condition of

true education should be residence at the home of the teacher

and a life of discipline (brahmacharya) during the entire

period of studentship. He maintained that brahmacharya alone

should not be regarded as sufficient for a full education, but

it should be reinforced by the wholesome influences of cosmic

nature. He also believed that such an institution should be

run on the ideal pattern of simplicity. This essay presents a

fairly definite and comprehensive exposition of Tagore's own

constructive plan for a truly national system of education,

which shaped his educational activity for some years to come.

After the preliminary excitement of the movement had

entirely subsided, Tagore started devoting thought and activity

towards fulfillment of his own evolving ideology. First

important writing in this direction is "Tapovan"6 (Jan, 1910)--

Forest. In this article for the first time Tagore introduced

a new idea of the education of feeling (bodher sadhana) and

he distinguished it from the education of the senses and the

education of the intellect. This education of feeling con-

sists of the realization of man's bond of union with the

universe through the spirit, through the soul, through the

deeper intuition of feeling. Through her national system of

education India should endeavor to discover and attain the

characteristic truth of her civilization pursued through the

centuries by her prophets, thinkers and saints and "that truth

is not mainly commercialism, imperialism or nationalism; that

truth is universalism" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 100). The

highly significant point here is that while Tagore is still

talking in terms of nationalism and swearing by the ideals of

Ancient India, he is interpreting the highest of these ideals

in terms of internationalism.

A letter entitled "Siksavidhi"7--The Method of Education--

is devoted to the problem of the philosophy of educational

method in some of the fundamental aspects as well as in the

context of the existing socio-political and educational con-

ditions in India. The stereotyped and mechanical educational

atmosphere of India was obstructing the originality or initia-

tive of children and he said that education can be imparted

only by a teacher and never by a method. "Man can learn only

from a man. Just as a water tank can be filled only with water

and fire can be kindled only with fire, life can be inspired

only with life. . .The mere pill of a method instead shall

bring us no salvation" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 128).

In "Strisiksa"8 (August, 1915)--The Education of Woman,

shedding some light on the philosophy of curriculum, Tagore

writes, "Whatever is worth knowing is knowledge. It should be

known equally by men and women, not for the sake of practical

utility but for the sake of knowing" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 138).

He makes it clear that knowledge is above the limitation

of mere utility. He rejects the common notion that in learning

some common subjects with men, women would lose their femi-

ninity. Later in the article, he makes his point clear.

"Knowledge has two departments: one, pure knowledge; the other,

utilitarian knowledge. In the field of pure knowledge, there

is no distinction between men and women; distinction exists

in the sphere of practical utility; women should acquire pure

knowledge for becoming a mature human being, and utilitarian

knowledge for becoming true women" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 139).

Thus, on the basis of pure knowledge there should not be any

distinction between men and women but a distinction does

exist in the sphere of practical or utilitarian knowledge. It

is utilitarian knowledge which should help an individual to be

successful in that sphere of life to which he or she truly

and naturally belongs. In his institution Tagore gave an

equal place to the education of girls and women and had built

a hostel for girls. This was considered a very radical step

in Indian society at that time.

It is not until 1916 that we find something relevant to

education written by Tagore in English. The major writing

of this year is "My School" (1916). It is one of the lectures

delivered by Tagore in America. It is the first and perhaps

the most comprehensive writing by Tagore on his school at

Santiniketan. In the article, we find all the previous

theories or ideas of Tagore restated and reinterpreted. He

also discussed some new concepts regarding his school. "I

know what it was to which this school owes its origin. It

was not any new theory of education, but the memory of my

school day" (Tagore, 1917c, p. 138). This is perhaps the

first categorical statement by Tagore that his educational

venture had its genesis in his painful childhood memories.

He also clearly denied here that in founding his school he

was actuated by any set educational theory and "the growth of

this school, was the growth of my life and not that of a mere

carrying out of any doctrine" (Tagore, 1917c, p. 161).

Finally, he pointed out, that any outward description of such

a school, as his, would be inadequate, for it is the atmos-

phere prevailing there that is really important and it is

by that that the institution should be judged.

Tagore's philosophy of nature is the subject of "The

Schoolmaster" (June, 1924) which was a lecture delivered in

Japan. Tagore based his arguments on the fundamental assump-

tion that nature's own purpose is to give the child its full-

ness of growth, and that in imposing our own purpose of giv-

ing it some special direction we are distrusting nature's

purpose. Thus, it is only through freedom that man can attain

his fullness of growth. He postulated three kinds of freedom,

freedom of mind, freedom of heart and freedom of will. Free-

dom of mind is opposed to the adult's system of concentration

of mind and a child can grow fully only when he is given free-

dom to express himself, to explore the world on his own.

Actually, due to this philosophy Tagore never used any coercion

or punishment against the naughty boys in his school. He

interpreted freedom of heart as unrestricted human relation-

ship. In the school, he feels, teachers should substitute

for the mother in providing freedom of love to the children

through their understanding, sympathy and free companionship.

Finally, freedom of will or the free activity of soul con-

sists in creating one's own world. The way to bring this

ideal into effect, is to invite the pupils to participate in

the building up of the school and in its development (Tagore,

Oct., 1924b).

The next significant educational writing of Tagore is

"Alochana" (July, 1925)--A Discourse, in which a special

reference is made to the conduct of the institute's inmates

in minute practical details. In his code of manners, Tagore

emphasizes the importance of suitable greetings with different

persons on different occasions, of the excellent tradition of

hospitality of the asram, of punctuality, of clean and proper

dress according to occasions, and of the maintenance of general

cleanliness of the hostel rooms, furniture and personal effects

as well as of the surroundings, as a sign of good manners and

self-respect. Emphasizing the need of the cultivation of

sociability among the pupils of the institution, he suggested

that the different student hostels should invite one another

to social and cultural functions organized by them. He also

points out that physical education is inseparable from mental

education. He refers to his idea about "the peripatetic" or

mobile school, that is, teaching and learning while walking.

He believes that this not only facilitates learning many

things through direct observation but it keeps our awakened

mental faculties constantly alert and receptive through contact

with ever varying scenes and objects.

In a speech entitled "Dharabahi"10 (Dec. 23, 1934)--In

Continuous Flow, Tagore introduced a point of very great

importance and mentions it is true that he based the institu-

tion initially on the ideal of simplicity of the ancient

Tapovans, which still largely possesses validity in modern

life but he realizes that it is not the whole truth. "It is

not entirely true that a simple mode of life within a narrow

compass is the highest ideal. . .Rather, that activity has

to be respected which ultimately retains its vitality in spite

of all the errors that it may commit in the course of its

onward progress along a rough and wide path. What is more

absurd than the desire and the effort to preserve permanently

the simplicity of childhood" (Tagore, 1370 B.S., p. 136). It

also indicates that Tagore would not be entirely unhappy over

the later expansion of the original asram school into manifold

activities through various departments, which he interprets

here as a natural culmination of the inner spirit of the


The book Russia-r-Chithi (May, 1931)--Letters from

Russia, possesses considerable value as a forceful exposition

of some of the most fundamental aspects of Tagore's socio-

political philosophy and the objects that impressed Tagore

from educational points of view. Russian experiments

interested him more because to some extent they could have

been used for Indian situations, too. He said that the

Russian revolution is significant because it is the symbol

of the awakening of the oppressed and the have-nots throughout

the world. Tagore expressed pleasant surprise and belief

that the masses in Russia had attained self-respect and an

acute sense of responsibility about the future progress of

the country. He was trying to achieve these goals in

Sriniketan, and tried to draw the attention of political

leaders towards this problem but it was to no avail. Russia

had the same evils as India but education was the only force

that brought progress there. It was education that raised

the level of the intelligence of the entire nation. Tagore

found close similarities in his and Russian educational aims,

and experiments. Russians also aimed at fullness of life.

Their educational philosophy included dynamic living and close

association with life as the main qualities of education.

Another thing that impressed Tagore was the importance attached

to all forms of art in education and public life. But Tagore

did not praise the system blindly. He criticized their

uniform pattern of educational product, sacrificing individual

needs and interests for the collectives. Also, Tagore was

wholly against the principle of dictatorship prevailing in

the Soviet state. He believed that with good cooperation

both individuality and general welfare can be achieved.

Even in the case of Russia, Tagore seems to be hopeful be-

cause "they have developed their intellectual vitality.

Therein lies their road to redemption" (Tagore, 1970, p. 84).

Some Significant Works
on Tagore

Considering the amount of writing that Tagore has pro-

vided and his experiments, in education, the number of signifi-

cant research or scholarly analysis of his work have been

numerous. Many of the available writings are as articles in

different journals but they really donot represent his work.

One of the oldest writing is Santiniketan by William Pearson

(1916). Pearson was one of the earliest workers at Santini-

ketan from England. He came to visit Santiniketan at the end

of 1912 and in April 1914 he came finally to stay there and

work with Rabindranath. He learned Bengali very soon there

and this helped him in communicating to children in the school

as well as to the tribal communities around Santiniketan. His

book is the first direct account of the activities at the

school. The introduction of the book is written by Rabin-

dranath where once again he mentioned the origin of the school

and the atmosphere in his school. The book was written during

Pearson's trip to Japan and he mentioned in the book that

though he was outside the asram at the time he kept on think-

ing about it all the time (Pearson, 1965, p. 10). Among the

things which he described about schools are student committees,

magazines, open classrooms, excursions, intimacy between stu-

dents and teachers, sports, and daily routine. There Were

about 20 teachers and staff for 150 students. There was no

headmaster, the school was under the management of an

executive committee elected by the teachers themselves, and

one of its members was elected each year as the executive

head. He was entrusted with the practical management of the

institution. In each subject one of the teachers was elected

as director of studies and he with the other teachers in the

same subject discussed the books and methods to be adopted.

However, each teacher enjoyed perfect freedom to work out his

own methods in the way he thought best. If Tagore was present

at Santiniketan he would preside at the meetings and even taught

classes (Pearson, 1965, pp. 20-21). Though Bengali was the

medium of education, English was taught as a second language.

Pearson also commented about the students' love for young

children and their attitude towards service to others.

Pearson's book is more of a description of the school than

a critical analysis. Santiniketan school was still very

young at that time and the newness of the experiment plus

Tagore's international reputation attracted many foreigners

to its campus.

Another book on the similar pattern is Amader Santiniketan

by Sudhiranjan Das (1962). Mr. Das was a student at Santi-

niketan school from which he was graduated. Once when he was

home on vacation, he fell sick and afterwards his parents

decided to enroll him in a school in Calcutta. He stayed in

this school for a year, but by the end he was restless. After

some time with all his courage he mentioned in the home that

he would like to go back toSantiniketan, and this time he

stayed there until his graduation (Das, 1369 B.S., p. 58).

The book is a memoir from a student talking about teachers,

students, other staff members, and life-styles of a student in

the school. He mentioned that initially the school was sus-

pected of being a center of underground activities by the

government and the government had issued a circular that

none of its employees or anybody who was looking for any help

from the government should send their children to this school.

Due to this some who wanted to send their children to this

school could not do so (Das, 1369 B.S., p. 12).

Das's family knew Tagore's family well and one of his

aunts recommended to his father that if he was sent to

Raviuncle's school both his body and mind would benefit

(Das, 1369 B.S., p. 14), and his father liked the idea. With

the approval of his admission he got a copy of the rules and

regulations of the school. In detail, there was a list of

what clothing and other materials he should bring with him,

but the most exciting thing for him in the list was to bring

a small tool box with some tools in it.

Mr. Das' account is valuable for it gives a good

account of the school from a student's point of view. It

reflects on life style, which was full of freedom, fun and

festivals. During the presentation of plays Tagore himself

would direct and sometimes even would do the make-up for

students. He also used to teach his songs to students even

before they were published. Life of a student was full of

activities, and there was very little forced studying until

the year of graduation.

The next book in the discussion is Rabindranath Taqore:

India's Schoolmaster by J. J. Cornelius (1930), which was

presented to the fac,'lty of Columbia University as a doctoral

dissertation. This was the first scholarly study of Tagore's

educational work. After discussing the British educational

policy, the writer in detail described the different aspects

of Visva-Bharati's curriculum, Tagore's theory regarding

education and the daily schedule of the institution. It has

also mentioned different requirements for different levels

of studies. The writer feels that "Rabindranath has given to

India an experimental school based on a synthesis of the

ideals of ancient Indian education and of modern Western edu-

cation. It is an Indianized educational institution for the

formation and growth of social solidarity, on which alone the

true progress of India depends. The institution spells

freedom--freedom of mind, freedom of will, and above all,

freedom of sympathy"(Cornelius, 1930, p. 162). The writer

is full of praise for Tagore's unique contribution to the

world and hopes that "just as Rabindranath's sympathetic

response to the cry of the childhood suffering from a system

of education which is crushing its body and soul, has given

to India the Shantiniketan school, so also the cry of suffer-

ing humanity from the world-wide disaster brought about by

the great war and the mentality which led to it, has caused

Tagore to bring to India his gift of Visva-Bharati or the

International University. Here man is to grow in the knowl-

edge that his own interests are bound up intimately with those

of other human beings, and also that wealth can never satisfy

the innermost cravings of the human soul" (Cornelius, 1930,

p. 193). The whole book is a nice analytical representa-

tion of.Tagore's work but since the study was performed in

1928, just six years after the inauguration of Visva-

Bharati, it is an incomplete study.

Himangshu Bhusan Mukherjee's Education for Fulness

(1962) is a scholarly presentation of the subject. Dr.

Mukherjee is at present a professor at Visva-Bharati in

Vinaya-Bhavana. His work is valuable in a study of Tagore

because it covers in detail different aspects of Tagore's

theory. The book is divided into four parts: The Pre-

Santiniketan Period, The Santiniketan Period, The Visva-

Bharati Period, and Review and Estimates. The Pre-

Santiniketan Period deals with Tagore's background and his

educational writings from 1892-1898. The Santiniketan

Period describes the growth and development of Santiniketan

and educational writings of the period, that is, from 1901

to 1918. The Visva-Bharati Period starts at 1918 and ends

at 1941, with Tagore's death. Again in this period major

emphasis is on educational writings of Tagore and growth

and development of Visva-Bharati. The last section has

some essays regarding Tagore's theory of education. The

book is mainly a detailed study of Tagore's educational

writings. The major drawback of the book seems to be that

it is very repetitive and at times boring. The writer

is so full of respect for Tagore that it irritates a

general reader. Even with such a detailed study, a cri-

tical outlook is lacking. The writer has not mentioned

his viewpoints regarding some major issues, such as why

Tagore's approach did not catch on, and what its impact on

Indian education was. The most discouraging part of the

book is its bibliography. Incomplete information in bibliog-

raphy is really a frustrating part for a .researcher, who

is trying to locate these materials.

Another book is Educational Ideas and Ideals of Gandhi

and Taqore by R. S. Mani (1964). It was originally written

for a Ph.D. dissertation to the University of Madras,

India. Basically in descriptive style the writer has pre-

sented the educational background, educational philosophies,

and experiments of two famous educationists of India--

Gandhi and Tagore. In the book one section discusses

Gandhi, another is about Tagore and part three is a com-

parative study of educational ideas and ideals of Gandhi

and Tagore. In the appendix, a chapter titled "Has Basic

Education Caught on" is added which reviews the concept of

basic education critically and the writer feels, "What

was probably the error in the basic scheme, was that of

building the whole curriculum around a single craft,

usually spinning and weaving in deference to Mahatma

Gandhi's ideas" (Mani, 1964, p. 318). The book does not

have any bibliography and for any reference the reader has

to go through pages of text until one could locate it.

Again, one of the major problems is that the book is very

repetitive and nonimpressive. Even after discussing two

such philosophies we do not find any suggestion by the

writer as to which one of them is or what could be a

solution for the educational problems of India.

One important book in understanding Tagore's educational

philosophy is Taqore's Educational Philosophy and Experiment

by Sunilchandra Sarkar (1961). The writer was a teacher

at Santiniketan for twenty years after Tagore's death and

had seen how some of the teachers and students of Santi-

niketan, of.different generations have reflected different

aspects of Tagore's ideals in their personality. He

mentions that "acutely conscious though he has always

been of all the lack and deficiency that appeared from

time to time, of the many grievous trials and troubles

that come to thwart or deflect the educational experiment

or to observe its chief purpose, he has also always had

the satisfaction of seeing the Tagore element, the

resilient truth of his contribution, emerge again and

again" (Sarkar, 1961, Preface). The book discusses in

detail Tagore's educational philosophy in comparison with

some Western and Indian philosophers like Dewey, Froebel,

Gandhi, Aurobindo, and Vivekanda. The writer has also

presented a report of his work which he prepared 20 years

ago and compared it with current situations. He did

notice some changes in the curriculum but found that the

basic spirit is still there.

All these studies and some others lack a critical

approach. Most of the writers are so full of respect

toward Tagore that they are hesitant in pointing out his

weaknesses. Again, since most of these people are asso-

ciated with Santiniketan, it is difficult to find an

impartial objective study among them. The present study

will try to overcome the weaknesses cited so far and will

be a significant contribution in the research of Tagore as an

educationist. It was not Tagore's school atmosphere or his

personality which has encouraged the research but it was

his ideas regarding education which impressed us most.

The discussion of Tagore's theory and his experiment will

be presented on an analytical basis and Tagore's impact

on Indian education will be reviewed critically. The


extensive bibliography of present work has used the style

recommended by the American Psychological Association and

this style would make the bibliography more useful for any

future researcher.


1Tagore, R. N. "Siksar Herpher." The article was
originally published in Bengali monthly magazine Sadhana.
Later it was included in the book Siksa. An English
translation of the article is available by the title
"Topsy-Turvy Education," in the magazine The Visva-Bharati
Quarterly, Nov. 1946-Jan. 1947.

2Various articles related to the theme can be found
in the Bengali monthly magazine Vangadarsan during July 1904
to Sept. 1905. Some of them are: "Swadeshi Samaj"
(July 1904), its sequel (Sept. 1904), "Saphaltar Sadupay"
(March 1905), and"Avastha 0 Vyavastha" (Sept. 1905).

3The address was delivered to a gathering of students.
It was published in Vangadarsan, Vaisakh 1312 B.S. Later
it was reprinted in the book Siksa, 1351 B.S. edition.

originally published in Bengali monthly magazine
Bhandar, Jaistha, 1312 B.S., reprinted in the book Rabindra
Rachanavali, v. XII.

originally published in Bhandar, Jaistha, 1313 B.S.
reprinted in Siksa.

6Originally published in Bengali monthly magazine
Pravasi, Magh 1316 B.S., reprinted in the book Siksa.

7A letter written to Dhirendra Mohan Sen in Sept.
1912 from Chalford, England. It was published in Pravasi,
Asvin 1319 B.S. and was reprinted in the book Siksa.

8Originally published in Bengali monthly magazine
Sabui Patra, Bhadra-Asvin 1322 B.S. Later it was re-
printed in the book Siksa.


Originally published in Bengali monthly magazine
Santiniketan, Sravan, 1332 B.S. It was reprinted in
1342 B.S. edition of the book Siksa.

100riginally published in Bengali monthly magazine
Pravasi, Phalgun 1341 B.S. It was reprinted in the book
Visva-Bharati 1370 B.S.



Background for Taqore's Theory

Characteristics of Indian
Education During Taqore's Time

In order to understand the educational theory of Tagore,

it is essential to review briefly the history of the exist-

ing educational system of India. Indian and Western educa-

tors, education commissioner's reports, British rulers'

statements, etc., provide the material for the subject. The

East India Company and later the British government were

interested in introducing Western education primarily as a

means of training a sufficient number of Indians in English

to make the task of administration easier. Instead of basing

secondary and higher education on a well-planned and compre-

hensive system of elementary and secondary education, it made

elementary and secondary education subsidiary and subservient

to higher education. The prevailing system of education was

book centered. Even in the case of young children, it was

more an exercise of the memory than a development of in-

tellect, emotions, and character. It often drew the child

away from his social and cultural milieu and encouraged in

him a distaste, if not contempt, for manual labor. The result

was that the child trained in this educational pattern tended

to become dependent upon a particular type of employment

especially clerical. Apart from its failure as preparation

for life, the system was not satisfactory even from a purely

educational point of view. Instead of aiming at the balanced

development of personality, it tended to place an undue

emphasis on the memory. The will and imagination were neg-

lected and, of the different aspects of the intellect, a

greater emphasis was placed on memory than on reasoning and

judgement. The result was that the child acquired information

but did not gain the assistance needed to become an intel-

lectual mature human being (Kabir, 1955).

It was in 1834 that Lord Macaulay came to India to act

as a president of the General Committee in the government of

India Officials' Board. In 1835, Macaulay's minutes on

education articulated the educational policy of the British

Government. He wrote: "We do not at present aim at giving

education directly to the lower classes of the people of this

country. We aim at raising up an educated class who will be

hereafter, as we hope, the means of diffusing among their

countrymen some portions of the knowledge we have imparted to

them" (Stark, 1916, p. 55). In explaining the objects of

teaching English he wrote: "We must at present do our best

to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the

millions whom we govern: a class of persons, Indian in blood

and colour but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and

in intellect" (Edwards, 1968).

Thus, the policy pursued by the British Government gave

a decided turn to Indian education. It had far-reaching

consequences, and the effect was not confined to education

alone, but extended to the moral, religious and political

fields. This system created two distinct strata in the

society--English knowing people and non-English knowing people

who made up the mass of the Indian population and who were

looked down upon by the former.

The educational pattern which was started by the British,

was continued in India for a long time. During that period

the program of studies for elementary school was not related

to the needs and surroundings of the pupils. This was

particularly so in the case of rural elementary schools. It

has been clearly expressed in the following press communique

issued by the Government of Madras on June 26, 1937: "There

is little or no training in the powers of observation, hardly

any practical work. . .The teaching usually tends to

divorce the pupil from village life and hereditary occupa-

tions rather than help to train better villagers" (Yearbook,

1940, pp. 424-40).

"The Report of the Secondary Education Commission"

mentioned that in the new high schools the standard of

achievement in literary subjects was, from the very beginning,

high, but little or no progress was made in training the

pupils in the practical aspects of science (1953). Certain

specific problems grew out of the system of secondary educa-

tion in vogue during the years 1854-1882: The mother tongue

was neglected as a medium of instruction; nothing was done to

train teachers for the secondary schools; and the courses of

study became too academic and unrelated to life mainly because

there was no provision for vocational, technical courses.

An Indian government report in 1918 describes the fruits of

this earlier policy: "From the economic point of view India

has been handicapped by the want of professional and technical

instruction; her colleges turn out numbers of young men

qualified for governmental clerkships while the real interests

of the country require, for example, doctors and engineers

in excess of the existing supply" (p. 150). Further, the

system of education failed to promote a sense of citizenship

and social efficiency in the student. "The exclusive

development of the intelligence and the neglect of the

emotions has over-stimulated the self-regarding instincts and

has largely destroyed the feelings of social and National

Dharma, of duty to society and to the nation; hence, the

decay of public spirit, of social service, of responsibility

and of sacrifice for the common weal, which characterized the

good 'citizen' as distinguished from the good 'man'" (Besant,

1925, pp. 17-18). There had been a great waste and ineffec-

tiveness throughout the whole educational system. It was more

pronounced in the case of the girls than boys. It was stated

by a leading missionary-educator in India that in the year

1900 only three girls out of every hundred of school age were

enrolled in any school in comparison to one boy out of every

five of school age enrolled (Zellner, 1951, p. viii).

Thus, by the time Tagore was born, the indigenous system

of education had been considerably eclipsed by the new type

of English schools. English had attained the first place in

order of precedence and importance among the subjects of

study, gradually driving the study of the vernaculars into

the shade. Elementary mass education had come to be neglected

whereas higher education at the secondary schools or the

universities for the upper class received encouragement

(Mukherji, 1966, p. 6). The shadow of illiteracy had, thus,

gradually deepened and spread wider in the country, and an

ever-widening gulf was created between the fortunate upper

classes and the vast masses of the people. Education had

come to be valued mainly because of the economic and social

advantages it brought. Even university education had acquired

the same mercenary significance. The English medium of in-

struction and examination encouraged thoughtless cramming of

ill-digested subject-matter and joyful free pursuit of

knowledge largely went by default.

Tagore's Childhood
Experiences Regarding

Even during his early years when he insisted on accom-

panying his brothers, Tagore was made aware of the hard

reality of school life. "You are crying to go to school now,"

said one brother, "you will soon cry much more to stay at

home" (Sykes, 1943, p. 11). And soon Rabindranath found out

school was another prison, much more dreary than home and he

named it his "Andamans," when he looked back on those days.

"The rooms were cruelly dismal with their walls on guard like

policemen. The house was more like a pigeon-holed box than

a human habitation. No decoration, no pictures, not a touch

of colour, not an attempt to attract the boyish heart. The

fact that likes and dislikes form a large part of the child's

mind was completely ignored. Naturally our whole being was

depressed as we stepped through its doorway into the narrow

quadrangle--and playing truant became chronic with us"

(Tagore, 1917b pp. 60-61). Hard benches and dull prison-like

walls of schools used to confine children from 10 to 4.

When a child could not repeat his lesson, he was punished

severely. "The master," says Rabindranath, "looked like a

cane incarnate." The textbooks of English that were common

at that time and persisted for more than half a century

thereafter, made matters worse still. The books without any

illustrations and with the ugly looking words, spelled with

divided syllables and'accent marks like raised bayonets'

completed the dreariness of the whole pursuit" (Tagore,

1917b, p. 43).

Not only the school environment or books but the teachers

were similarly bad. Reminiscing about one of the incidents

of his childhood, when Tagore (1917b)used to act like a

teacher in front of wooden benches of the house, he explains,

"I have since realized how much easier it is to acquire the

manner than the matter. Without an effort had I assimilated

all the impatience, the short temper, the partiality and

the injustice displayed by my teachers to the exclusion of

the rest of their teaching. My only consolation is that I

had not the power of venting these barbarities on any sentient

creature. Nevertheless, the difference between my wooden

pupils and those of the Seminary did not prevent my psychology

from being identical with that of its school masters" (p. 31).

During his talks to Victoria Ocampo about schooling,

Rabindranath mentioned the disparity of school systems of his

childhood days. "How distasteful so much of my own education

was when I first went to a school near my home in Calcutta.

I had no background at all. I was asked to accept masses of

information for which I was not in the least ready. Nature

has methods of its own in these matters, but my school-

masters had theirs which were quite different. In the fight

between us, we children suffered excruciating pain "(Tagore,

1963-1964, p. 276). To be successful in this type of

schooling was the desired goal of Indian society at that time.

Rabindranath realized in his early youth that not being able

to keep up with school routine and curriculum had depreciated

his value in the eyes of the society. He recalls his eldest

sister saying, "We had all hoped that Rabi would grow up to

be a man, but he has disappointed us the worst." Still he

could not make up his mind, "to be tied to the eternal grind

of the school mill which, divorced as it was from all life

and beauty, seemed such a hideously cruel combination of

hospital and gaol" (Tagore, 1917b, p. 108).

Thus, Tagore's reminiscences along with other historical

accounts show that educational reform was a hard challenging

road on which Tagore had decided to work. His aims of educa-

tion, and his discussion of ideal education, are inwardly

related to his memories. They formed the foundation of his

famous school at Santiniketan, where Tagore tried to overcome

these weaknesses of the school system in applying his philoso-

phy of education.

Aims of Education

Tagore, not being an educationist in the strict academic

sense, did not talk about the aim of education in a well

formulated logical way. His statements scattered in his

writings do give some idea about his philosophy. In Laksys

O'Siksa, Aims & Education, a letter written in August, 1912,

Tagore makes it clear that the aims and ideals in the life of

a nation should first be clearly apprehended and formulated

before its educational system is determined for "What we want

to be and what we want to learn are inseparably connected

together" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 131). A survey of Tagore's

educational writings makes it clear that in some places he

has clearly mentioned the aims but in other places they have

to be inferred from contexts. It also becomes clear that

though he never talked about them in a unified way, they have

an integral unity. Tagore had developed a well integrated

view of life and of the role of education in it and his object

in establishing a group of institutions was to find a worthy

educational medium for the expression and implementation of

his ideas. These were not just a collection of attractive

and high-sounding views on various unconnected problems of

life, but represented an attempt to see life steadily and

see it whole and interpret the relationship between its

various fascinating and complex aspects. The aims of educa-

tion prescribed by him did not emerge from a world outside

but emerged from his experience, practice and experiments.

Here for the clarity of subject it is planned to present

his broad, all-inclusive, comprehensive aim first and then

his minor aims will follow.

According to Tagore the broad inclusive aim of education

is the development of all the potential faculties of an

individual leading to an all-round, harmonious development of

his personality. This broad aim was the product of his

philosophy towards life, that is of total acceptance of life.

This is the reason that he mentioned, "The highest education

is that which makes our life in harmony with all existences"

(Tagore, 1917c, p. 142). Harmony with all existences can

be achieved only when all the faculties of an individual have

been developed to the highest pitch of perfection. "Man's

education," he categorically affirms, "aims at keeping alive

to the last moment of life that infinite aspiration which is

necessary for developing into full manhood. To attain full

manhood is the ultimate end of education; everything else

is subordinate to it" (Tagore, 1326 B.Sa). Early childhood

experiences of school life made him believe that the educa-

tional system of that time was not concerned with the growth

of children, it was rather preparing children for a society

of clerks. Since that time Tagore had been aware of this

discrepancy and tried to build an institution where children

would have more freedom to explore and learn by themselves

in the open learning environment of nature. In his very

first educational writing, 'Siksar Herpher,' he advocated a

free, joyous, spontaneous life of impulses for young children

in the twofold field of nature and imagination so that it may

serve to make their body alert and develop them in all

respects (Tagore, 1351 B.S.). In another article, 'Siksa

Samasya,' he mentioned the "laying of the foundation of human

personality as a whole 'to be the aim of education'" (Tagore,

1351 B.S., p. 51).

Thus all other aims prescribed by Tagore at different

places mainly emphasize the aim of complete personality

growth. He believed that all faculties of human beings,

intellectual, physical, moral, aesthetic should be nurtured,

cultivated in a good educational system. He emphasized the

cultivation of intellect in order to counterbalance emotional

immaturity and instability where it exists, and he appreciated

the contribution that western science can make to the progress

of India. He strongly believed that if reason, with its

uncompromising dedication to truth is not reinstated on its

lonely pedestal, rejecting superstition and the undue cult

of the supernatural in every field, neither education nor the

general intellectual life of the people will be released from

its fetters. However, this intellectual cultivation, power

of reasoning cannot be gained through mere book reading.

He was aware that "since childhood, instead of putting all

the burden on the memory, the power of thinking, and the

power of imagination should also be given opportunities for

free exercise" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 12). He not only

condemned the bookish learning but always stressed the

importance of the ability to learn directly from Nature and

Life. This learning cannot be receptive, a person should be

able to use what he learns through different sources. "We

pass from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to youth,

carrying a load of number of mere words and phrases" (Tagore,

1351 B.S., p. 13). "True education," he pointed out,

"consists of knowing the use of any useful material that has

been collected, to know its real nature and to build along

with life a real shelter for life" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 12).

Not only was Tagore concerned with the education of the

intellect, but also he was duly conscious of the education of

the body. In fact, he attached so much importance to the

healthy physical development of children in early years that

he eloquently advocated their free, spontaneous movements and

play in joyous natural surroundings, even at the expense of

studies, if necessary. "Even if they learnt nothing," he says,

they would have had ample time for play, climbing trees,

diving into ponds, plucking and tearing flowers, perpetrating

thousand and one mischiefs on Mother Nature, they would have

obtained the nourishment of the body, happiness of mind, and

the satisfaction of the natural impulses of childhood"

(Tagore, 1351 B.S., pp. 9-10).

Tagore has given religion a place of high importance in


education, but for him it did not involve the formal teaching

of any religious dogma. True religiousness, he believed, is

as natural as respiration; it is as much a vital part of our

being as breathing. Religious training for him is a spirit,

an inspiration, pervading every aspect of human life, affirm-

ing its relationship with the highest of values and giving man

a sense of kinship with the Real. If education fails to

cultivate the quality of human understanding and strengthen

the sense of human unity, then that education is considered

superficial and misguided. Similarly, Tagore emphasized the

importance of discipline in a moral life and he suggested

that real discipline means protection of raw, natural impulses

from unhealthy excitement and growth in undesirable directions.

Tagore's moral and spiritual aims of education were varied

in nature. He advocated the power of self-determination,

the ideal of peace and tranquility, liberation of self from

all kinds of slavery, and his educational institutions pro-

vided opportunity for it. He said, "The character of good

education is that it does not overpower man; it emancipates

him" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 62).

Tagore believed in social aims of education too.

Sociability and human fellow-feeling was considered as an

indispensable equipment of a truly educated person. He

regretted that people were living in an artificial world of

books and not in the real world of living men and women.

"We have become learned, but have ceased to be human" (Tagore,

1351 B.S., p. 71). "Pursuit of knowledge," he said, "should

be supplemented by living and loving contact. For the

fundamental purpose of education is not merely to enrich

ourselves through the fullness of knowledge, but also to

establish the bond of love and friendship between man and

man." So long as we do not come down to the level of the

common man and feel a bond of kinship with the poor and the

lowly and the lost, he insisted, our education will be sadly

incomplete. This idea of fellow-feeling was not limited to

one's own countrymen but spread the message of inter-

nationalism in Tagore's writing.

This social aim gets expression in Tagore's message

for the education of the feeling or 'Bodher Sadhana' as he

puts it. He felt sorry that education of sympathy was

not only systematically ignored in schools, but was severely

repressed, because we may become powerful by knowledge, but

we attain fullness by sympathy. The highest education is

that which does not merely give us information but makes

our life in harmony with all existence (Tagore, 1917c, p. 142).


From the discussion it is clear that Tagore aimed at

a perfection in education which is not only that of body or

mind, but also that of soul. "For us to maintain our self-

respect which we owe to ourselves and to our Creator, we

must make the purpose of our education. .the fullest growth

and freedom of soul" (Tagore, 1917c pp. 157-158). For the

attainment of this aim, he emphasized on intellectual,

physical, moral and social development of an individual.

Ideal Education

At various places in his writings, Rabindranath has

mentioned his concept of ideal education. His references

to ideal education cover the description of ideal atmos-

phere, institution, teacher, and method. In his famous

article, 'My School,' he wrote, "Living ideals can never be

set into a clockwork arrangement giving accurate account of

its every second" (Tagore, 1917c p. 178). Due to this

reasoning it is difficult to explain his concept of ideal

education in a purely academic way. While discussing

Tagore's educational ideals, Alex Aronson noted that the

perfect education given to the child should, therefore, be

like the perfect poem: self contained, unified, and controlled

by the ever-recurring rhythm of natural growth from childhood

to manhood,--while the perfect teacher would indeed resemble

the poet insofar as he gives shape, in complete freedom from

convention, to the mind of the young by creating images of

beauty and significance out of the raw material of experience

and by interpreting nature in its manifold aspects to those

that are unsophisticated and, therefore, still impressionable

enough to absorb its meaning and adjust themselves to the

message (Aronson, 1962, p. 385).

For Tagore it was not the formal method of teaching

which was the most important part of an ideal education, but

it was the atmosphere which surrounded the educational pattern.

He believed that it is absolutely necessary for children's

mental health and development that they must not have mere

schools for their lessons, but a world whose guiding spirit

is personal love. It must be an ashram where men have

gathered for the highest end of life, in the peace of nature,

where life is not merely meditative, but fully awake in its

activities (Tagore, 1911, pp. 178-179). It is due to this

that any description of such a school would be inadequate.

It is not some place which can be described in terms of

fixed rules and regulations or curriculum. Here children

are living in the atmosphere of culture and school is not

imposed on them by autocratic authorities. Education is no

longer instruction, it is a process of inspiration and joyous

but slow absorption, and in his school Tagore "tried to create

an atmosphere. .giving it the principal place in our pro-

gramme of teaching" (Tagore, 1946, p. 13).

Similarly, an ideal institution, in his view, should

provide children with the first important lesson of "improvisa-

tion" and with "constant occasions to explore one's capacity

through surprises of achievement." There is no place for

constant imposition of ready-made ideas and knowledge. "I must

make it plain that this means a lesson not in simple life, but

in a creative life. For life may grow complex, and yet if

there is a living personality in its center, it will have the

unity of creation, it will carry its own weight in perfect

grace, and will not be a mere addition to the number of

facts that only goes to swell a crowd" (Tagore, 1931b, p.

179). The more man acts and makes actual what was latent in

him, the nearer does he bring the distant yet-to-be. In

that actualization, man is ever making himself more and yet

more distinct, and seeing himself clearly under ever new

aspects in the midst of his varied activities. Analyzing this

particular concept of Tagore's philosophy, V. S. Naravane

in his book talked about Tagore's ethics and mentioned that

Tagore has advocated a creative middle path between activism

and asceticism, between God intoxication and work-intoxica-

tion, between the outer and the inner, between doing and

arriving. This middle path is the path of self-realization

or Sadhana and this part has been emphasized most in Tagore's

ideal institution (Naravane, 1965, p. 131).

Ideal education can be imparted only through ideal

teachers. For Tagore it was difficult to understand "why

should masters always expect boys to be so exact? 'Don't

guess,' says the master. But why not? Guessing is one of

nature's methods of helping us to learn, especially when we

are young, and we teachers try to kill it. I say to my

pupils, "Can't you guess? And then I give them three or

four chances. But the very efficient teachers tell me this

is sin" (Tagore, 1963-1964, p. 278). According to him the

greater part of our learning in the schools has been wasted

because, for most of our teachers, their subjects are like

dead specimens of once-living things with which they have a

learned acquaintance, but no communication of life and love.

"The teacher who merely repeats bookish knowledge mechanically

can never teach anything and can never inspire, and without

proper inspiration independent creative faculties can never

develop"2 (pp. 266-267).

Thus, true education, he asserts, develops the power

of self-reliance, the ability to do without materials and

the machine. It is essential to realize that the value of

one's pair of legs which cost nothing is far greater than

that of the machine which costs much. Tagore explains,

once when India was rich in culture, it didn't fear about

material wealth of other countries and was not ashamed of her

situation because her aim was inner growth and education at

that time tried to achieve that. It is true that to some

extent practical knowledge is necessary so that both spiritual

and practical knowledge can make a full man, but at present

in education culture, inner growth is lacking and even the

practical knowledge is limited to certain skills. In absence

of culture, today's educated is almost like a lame man who

by riding on a bike feels that there is nothing to worry about

his leg. Only when his bike is broken that he realizes he is

helpless. The man who praises possession of materials only

does not know how poor he is. This does not mean that bikes

do not have any value, but two living legs have more value

than that. The education which strengthens the living legs

is real education, the education which increases man's

dependence on materials is only an instrument of stupidity

(Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 224).

The ideal of the Ashram education, for which he stood

was education for life at its fullest. His ideal was to train

young men and women in freedom and strength, in courage and

service. According to him, books make the mind lazy. The child

should be exposed to an atmosphere of creativity and learning,

to a world of experiences. "For the first twelve years we

must educate the child's mind along the line of its own

natural tendencies and instincts and only then, at twelve

years old, introduce the books" (Tagore, 1946, p. 13). He

believed in the increased ability of reasoning, rationalizing

because "in educational organization our reasoning faculties

have to be nourished in order to allow our mind its freedom in

the world of truth, our imagination for the world which belongs

to art, and our sympathy for the world of human relationships"

(Tagore, 1946, p. 13). Ideal education should be peripatetic,

because the best of all education is to come, to know our

fellow beings intimately. .what is better for boys than to

travel, to record facts as they travel, to collect objects

for their private museums and thereby to teach themselves.

This will enhance their power of thinking and they will be

able to store useful facts in their minds easily. "A boy

with that kind of training can enter the world of books

fully equipped" (Tagore, 1963-1964, p. 277). For this

kind of training Tagore never believed in compulsion, but

tried to give the best side of human nature a chance to show

itself. Everything in the school he left to the initiative

of the pupils, though they were always in close touch with

their elders. He wrote, "We have to keep in mind the fact

that love and action are the only intermediaries through which

perfect knowledge can be obtained, for the object of knowl-

edge is not pedantry, but wisdom. The primary object of an

institution should not be merely to educate one's limbs and

mind to be in efficient readiness for all emergencies, but to

be in perfect tune, in the sympathy of response between life

and world, to find the balance of their harmony which is

wisdom" (Tagore, 1931b, p. 178).


Tagore's concept of ideal education included the

discussion of ideal education, ideal atmosphere, institu-

tion, teacher and method. For him all these are

interrelated and one cannot obtain ideal education unless

other factors are available. His concept of ideal educa-

tion is in traditions with the ideals of Hindu education,

in which the main idea was to bring to the humblest man

the highest products of human mind and heart. It did

not aim at literacy but it aimed at character formation, and

for this kind of ideal education undoubtedly, essential

elements are atmosphere, institution, teacher and method.

Congruency Between Education
and Society

Tagore has stressed the strong relationship of education

and society throughout his writings. In Siksar Herpher, he

wrote, "Education, in order to be living and dynamic, should

be broad based on and organically linked with the life of

the community" (Tagore, 1351, B.S., p. 15). For him education

did not mean the ability to read and write, it was more like

a transmission of culture. The process of educating meant a

knowledge of the past heritage, involvement in living dynamic

present and construction of future. It is a continuous,

on-going process and that is one of the reasons he believed

that "the education of a country acquires shape and substance

only against the entire background, otherwise, it remains

vague and incomplete" (Tagore, 1351 B.S., p. 234).

During his trip to Russia, in 1930, Tagore was very

much impressed by the educational development of that country

and letters written to several friends during that period

shed a light on his social philosophy of education. He felt

that all the suffering which was standing like a rock on

the bosom of India was based only on the want of education.

Russia had the same evils as India but one force alone has

helped their progress, and that is their education" (Tagore,

1970). The Russians started their experiment on the primary

assumption that no reforms would be lasting unless the human

material was improved, which led them to concentrate on

educational objectives with so much vigor and thoroughness.

It is education, he asserts, that infused faith, courage, and

enthusiasm into the masses. It is education again that raised

the level of the intelligence of the entire nation, stirred

their curiosity, emancipated them from age-old prejudices and

made them receptive to new impulses towards the path of

progress (Tagore, 1970).

Regarding India he believed that along with education,

economic uplift is necessary. Since economic life covers

the whole width of the fundamental basis of society because

its necessities are the simplest and the most universal, he

suggested that educational institutions, in order to obtain

their fullness of truth, must have close associations with

this economic life. .our university must not only instruct,

but live; not only think, but produce" (Tagore, 1922a p. 191).

It is essential that a center of learning is not only the

center of intellectual life but also a center of country's

economic life. "Its very existence should depend upon the

success of its industrial activities carried out on the co-

operative principle, which will unite the teachers and

students and villagers of the neighbourhood in a living and

active bond of necessity" (Tagore, 1922a, pp. 92-103).

Tagore started the school in Sriniketan to put his

theory into practice and the objectives set for the Department

of Rural Reconstruction and Village Economics give a good in-

sight into his theory. Some of the objectives of this

department are:

1. To take the problems of the village and field
to the classroom for study and discussion and
to the experimental farm for solution.

2. To carry the knowledge and experience gained in
the classroom and experimental farm to the
villages, in the endeavour to improve their sani-
tation and health, develop their resources and
credit; help them to sell their produce and buy
-their requirements to the best advantage; teach
them better methods of growing crops and vegeta-
bles and keeping livestock; encourage them to
learn and practice arts and crafts and bring
home to them the benefits of associated life,
mutual aid and common endeavour.

3. To work out practically an all-round system of
elementary education in the villages based on
the Boy Scout ideal and training with the object
of developing ideas of citizenship and public
duty such as may appeal to the villagers and
be within their means and capacity.

4. To train the students to a due sense of their
own intrinsic worth, physical and moral and
in particular to teach them to do with their
own hands everything which a village house-
holder or cultivator does or should do for a
living, if possible, more efficiently.

5. To put the student in the way of acquiring
practical experience in cultivation, poultry
and beekeeping, dairying, and animal husbandry;
carpentry and smithing, weaving, and tannery;
in practical sanitation work and in the art
and spirit of cooperation.

6. To give students elementary instruction in
the sciences connected with this practical
work, to train them to think and observe
accurately and to express and record the
knowledge acquired by them for their own
benefit and that of their fellowmen.
(Tagore, 1922b).

Tagore tried not only to relate economy and education

but he believed in the influence of society on children and

thus education, because all problems of social reform are

interconnected and no educational experiment can succeed

unless the vicious circle that connects society and educa-

tion will be broken once for ail and be replaced by a

virtuous one. "We cannot underrate the great influence

exercised on the child's mind by the values that prevail

in the society in which he is born and brought up. If these

values be perverted, no sort or amount of formal education

can save the child from their disruptive effect. For these

values affect the mind as subtly and surely as the physical

climate acts on the body. Good education of children is not

possible unless good ideals govern the society. Methods of

education may be modern and scientific, but they will only

chain and debase the mind more effectively if the purposes

they serve are ignoble. Educationists, therefore, must remain

more or less helpless in an age where collective greed is

glorified as patriotism and inhuman butchery is made the

measure of heroism" (Tagore, 1938).

Similarly, an ideal education is bound to fail if the

children brought up in an ideal environment are unable to

readjust themselves to the actually existing social and

economic patterns of contemporary society and due to that

Tagore found it necessary to have a complete program of

education including art, as well as manual labor or craft-

manship. Stating at the outset that the prosperity of a

country depends on the proper education of the common people,

Tagore postulates the aim of such education as follows:

"Their education will have to be so devised from the beginning

that they may understand clearly what is meant by public

welfare and may also be practically equipped in all respects

for earning their livelihood" (Rabindra Racanavali 1939,

p. 522).

The complete discussion of Tagore's theory and its

background reveals that it was a challenging road on which

Tagore had decided to work. His magnificent genius, his

incomparably sensitive and catholic mind, and the best

features of India's noble cultural heritage, have all combined

to lend to his own conception a richness and profundity

a range, depth, and fullness that serves to make it a unique

contribution to educational philosophy in this direction.

His greatness is realized more when it is remembered that

these thoughts were developed and largely translated into

practice under conditions when educational theory in the

country was mostly confined to technical problems of organi-

zation and administration and educational practice constituted

a vast unrelieved stretch of a dreary desert sand of dead

routine and lifeless formalism. Tagore's theory of educa-

tion was radically different from the prevailing one and he

sought to emancipate it from its decadent formalism and

tragic frustration. He reoriented the educational theory

with a new purposefulness vitality and freedom. His ex-

periments in the school guided the path for regeneration in

the field of education.


1The report of the Collector of Bellary, addressed to
the president of the Board of Revenue, Fort St. George,
mentioned, "The greater part of the middling and lower classes
of the people are now unable to defray the expenses incident
upon the education of their offspring. Of the 533 institu-
tions for education now existing in this District, I am
ashamed to say not one now derives any support from the State.
Considerable alienations of revenue, which formerly did
honor to the State, by upholding and encouraging learning,
have deteriorated under our rule into the means of supporting
ignorance." It was published in Mr. A. D. Campbell's Letter,
dated 17 Aug. 1823, Vide Minutes of Evidences, etc., Vol. 1,
pp. 603-4.

2This is quoted from the article "Bhartiya Visva-
Vidyalayer Adarsh" which was reprinted in 1342 B.S. edition
of Siksa only.



Origin and Development of
the Institution

Tagore's educational theory was put into practice in

his school at Santiniketan. A short history of the insti-

tute will reveal how it grew to its present size as a

natural, continual growth of Tagore's desire to seek full-

ness in education. The whole institution was not planned

at the outset but as Tagore felt the necessity to add new

divisions, it kept on growing, and even after his death

other administrators tried to do the same, by keeping the

central goal of the university alive.

In December 1901, an experimental school known as

Brahmacharyashram was started by Rabindranath with only five

students on the roll. About the origin of the school, he

wrote in The Teacher, "The solitary enjoyment of the in-

finite in meditation no longer satisfied me, and the text

which I used for my silent worship lost its inspiration

without my knowing it. I am sure, I vaguely felt that my

need was spiritual self-realization in the life of Man

through some disinterested service. This was the time when

I founded an educational institution for our children in

Bengal. It has a special character of its own which is

still struggling to find its fulfillment, for it is a living

temple that I have attempted to build for my divinity. In

such a place education necessarily becomes the preparation

for a complete life of man which can only become possible

by living that life through knowledge and service, enjoy-

ment and creative work" (Tagore, 19311 pp. 165-166). Thus,

the founding of the school was part of the education in

fullness. Beginning with his own unhappy memory of school,

which he described as a blend of hospital and gaol, he con-

centrated on children and emphasized creativity, the need

for atmosphere and natural surroundings. The aim was

neither ascetic nor revivalistic but integrative. He re-

ceived blessings from very few of his friends, relatives

and countrymen, most of whom derided his project as an out-

come of his poetic fancy, as "something outrageously new

being the product of daring experience" (Tagore, 1917c p. 137).

Nevertheless, he succeeded in gathering around him a band

of selfless workers and the management of the school was

carried on along simple democratic lines through a committee

almost entirely elected by the staff. Education was entirely

free. The curriculum included English, Bengali, Sanskrit,

Arithmetic, History, Geography, and Science. All work like

housekeeping, gardening, except cooking, had to be done by

the pupils themselves. Life was simple, regular and austere

and was inspired by the ideals of hospitality, self-help and

respect for the elders. Rathindranath, Tagore's son and one

of the oldest students reminisced, "It would now sound as

exaggeration, but it is none the less quite true that we

felt some joy in that easy and austere life devoid of any

material luxury" (Thakur, 1349 B.S., p. 270). During the

first four years of the life of the institution, management

changed hands a number of times, each time with little

success of a lasting character. Notwithstanding these

administrative shortcomings, the school did enjoy some

spells of happy and fruitful activities. Free life in open

nature and intimate contact with its various beauties and

phenomena were most happy as well as profitable experiences

for the young children. The recreational hours in the

evenings spent in story-telling, watching the stars, singing,

and performing plays, some of them composed by the pupils

themselves, passed delightfully.

The number of students in the school continued

to increase. By 1916 it was about 150 (Pearson, 1916, p. 30).

This increase in student population necessitated immediate

extension of school buildings and expansion of grounds and

facilities. In 1908 the girls' section was added. Although

according to syllabus prescribed textbooks had to be studied

at the Matriculation classes, stereotyped textbooks were dis-

carded and copious upgraded general reading was encouraged.

Thorough attention was paid to the health of the students.

Games and gardening were compulsory. Though the school

unfairly enough enjoyed the unenviable reputation of being

an exile for problem children, corporal punishment was pro-

hibited on principle and very seldom actually resorted to.

Tagore has always recognized the necessity for a close

association between a country's education and the economic

life of its people. He bought a big house with about 25

acres of land at Surul in October 1912 for the establishment

of a village uplift center and agricultural research and it

was known as Rural Reconstruction Department of Sriniketan.

Thus he succeeded in bringing the students and workers of

Santiniketan into close touch with the daily life of the

common people through the activities of the centre.

After his tour of Japan and America in December 1918,

the poet began expounding the ideas which had been in his

mind of creating an institution which would be a true center

for all the different cultures of the East. He thought of

Santiniketan as a place, where the ideals of life and wisdom

contributed to the world by the different countries of Asia

would be cultivated; where the wealth of ancient learning

might be brought into living contact with modern influences.

The name Visva-Bharati came into existence at this time and

its motto--Yatra Visvam Bhavatyekanidam, where the world

makes its home in a single nest--was chosen.

From 1919, arrangements were made for providing courses

of higher studies in Buddhist literature, Vedic and Classical

Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and later on the studies in Tibetan,

Chinese, Jain, Zoroastrian and Islamic. Rabindranath had

already introduced the teaching of art and music, and now, Kala

Bhavan (School of Art and Music) was established at Visva-


The idea of establishing a center of learning where not

only the East but the whole world would meet in cultural

communion took a more definite shape during his tour of

foreign countries immediately after World War I. When he

returned to India in 1921 he had before him a three-fold


To concentrate at Santiniketan, within
the Asrama Vidyalaya, the different

cultures of the East, especially those that
had originated in India or found shelter
in it.

To lay at Sriniketan the foundation of
a happy, contented and humane life in
the village; and finally,

Through Visva-Bharati as a whole, to seek
to establish a living relationship between
the East and the West, to promote inter-
racial amity and inter-cultural understanding
and fulfill the highest mission of the
present age--the unification of mankind.
(Visva-Bharati, 1961, p. 42)

The formal inauguration of the Visva-Bharati took

place in December 1921, at a meeting presided over by

Brajendranath Seal. Since then Santiniketan has been the

seat of Visva-Bharati--an international university, seeking

to develop a basis on which the cultures of the East and

the West may meet in common fellowship (Visva-Bharati, 1961,

p. 42). Soon a constitution was drafted for the newly

formed Visva-Bharati and it was adopted in May 1922.

According to it, all activities of Santiniketan and

Sriniketan were taken over by Visva-Bharati, and the main

school became the Purva-Vibhaga which was later on changed

into Patha-Bhavana; the institute for higher studies--the

Uttara-Vibhaga was later on split up into two departments,

Vidya Bhavan, which concerned itself mainly with research

work and studies of different eastern cultures, and

Siksha-Bhavan, imparting collegiate education up to the

graduation level. The music and art sections were separated

in 1934 and the music section became the Sangeet Bhavana,

while the art section retained its old name, Kala Bhavana.

In the late thirties, two more departments, Cheena-Bhavana

and Hindi Bhavana were established with endowments for

Chinese and Hindi studies.

After the death of Rabindranath in 1941, Rabindra-

Bhavana was established in July 1942, as a Research Academy

and Memorial Museum. In 1948, another department, Vinaya-

Bhavana, was established under the basic education training

scheme. In May 1951, four years after the independence of

India, Visva-Bharati was declared to be an institution of

national importance and was incorporated as a unitary teach-

ing and residential university by Act XXIX of 1951 of the

Indian Parliament. During the course of the debate on the

bill the government with a view to allaying apprehensions

in the public mind, gave assurance that it was their earnest

desire that the institution should not lose the uniqueness

of its character. Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed the first

Acharya (Chancellor) and Rathindranath Tagore, Ravindranath's

son, the first Upacharya (Vice-Chancellor) of the University.

Main Divisions of the Institution

Previous discussion indicates that once the constitu-

tion was formed, various activities of the school were

categorized under different sections of Visva-Bharati.

Though as the institution kept on growing these sections have

been changing to provide more room for new expanded curricu-

lum. Patha-Bhavana (Patha-Bhavana, 1939) gives a description

of various departments in 1939. According to it, Visva-

Bharati comprised Pathabhavana (school), Sikshabhavana

(college), Vidyabhavana (School of Research and Indology),

Cheena Bhavana (School of Sino-Indian Buddhist Studies),

Kala Bhavana (School of Fine Arts), Sangeet Bhavana

(School of Indian Music and Dancing), and Sriniketan

(Institute of Rural Reconstruction and Handicrafts), with

general and special libraries attached to the departments.

One of the many advantages available to students is that a

student by joining any one of the educational departments

is allowed the benefit of attending courses in any other

department, if he or she shows marked aptitude for such

courses, without having to pay any extra fees. The present

discussion of different divisions of Visva-Bharati will give

a detailed account of courses and opportunities offered at

the institute. Tagore tried to present a wider choice of

subject matter and activities to his students and by doing so

he intended to present an integrated education--education as

an expression of intellectual abilities, aesthetic abilities

and most of all an education which was related to life also.

Visva-Bharati maintains the following departments

which are all co-educational and residential.

Patha-Bhavana (The School)

Formerly known as Brahmacharyasram, this is the nucleus

around which Visva-Bharati has grown. The school places

emphasis not so much on mere acquisition of knowledge as

on a full and harmonic development of the child. Close

personal contact with the teacher, the influence of nature

and environment, the atmosphere of freedom and joy, the

practical training given in cooperation and self-government,

the effort made to develop the self-expressive side of the

child-mind through social, literary, and artistic activities,

supervision of physical activities and organization of

excursions--are some of the special features of the school.

Patha-Bhavana which used to train students up to the

matriculation standard of Calcutta University along with

the Adya Certificate Examination of the Visva-Bharati now

prepares students for the Higher School Certificate Course,

which is an 11-year school course (Visva-Bharati, 1973,

p. 12).

There is a variety of subjects offered in Patha-

Bhavana. Among them, Bengali, English, Sanskrit/Mathematics,

Social Studies and General Science are compulsory. Elec-

tive subjects include: (a) Humanities--Bengali/Sanskrit/

Hindi/Oriya, History, Civics and Economics, Ethics and

Psychology, Vocal music, Instrumental music, Dancing, Draw-

ing, Painting and Modelling, Home Science, Geography,

Mathematics; (b) Science--Physics, Chemistry, Biology,

Mathematics, Geography. The medium of instruction in Patha-

Bhavana is Bengali, though special arrangements are made for

non-Bengali students at a minimal extra-charge. The minimum

age limit for admission is 6 years and the upper age limit

is 12 years. Physical training and games are compulsory

for all students. In the case of students in classes IX,

X, and XI, the maintenance of at least 75 per cent of

attendance in physical training and games classes is a

requirement for admission to the Higher School Certificate



This particular division of Visva-Bharati has gone

through several changes over the years. Before the incor-

poration of the Visva-Bharati as a University, it used to

provide collegiate education up to the graduation level.

Although it was not affiliated with the Calcutta University,

students of Siksha-Bhavana were allowed to appear at

examinations conducted by that University as private candi-

dates by special arrangement. It also provided for a Visva-

Bharati diploma, Madhya and Antya diplomas, which were

equivalent to the intermediate and graduate degrees of

chartered universities. According to "Visva-Bharati and

Its Institutions" (Visva-Bharati, 1961, p. 47), it was a

college of undergraduate and graduate studies which provided

(1) instruction for three year B.Sc. (Honors) course in

Mathematics with Physics and Chemistry as subsidiary sub-

jects; (2) instruction for three year B.A. (Honors) course

in Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit, English, History,

Ancient Indian History and Culture, Economics and Philosophy;

(3) two year certificate course followed by one year diploma

course in Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese,

Tibetan, French, German, and English; (4) one year preparatory

course in Arts subjects leading to a three year degree

course for such students who have successfully completed a

ten year school course.

At present Siksha-Bhavana is functioning as the college

of science (Visva-Bharati, 1973, p. 13) and provides

instruction for (1) a three year B.Sc. (Honors) course;

(2) two year M.Sc. course. (Only Honors graduates of Visva-

Bharati and other recognized universities will ordinarily

be admitted to the M.Sc. course, subject to availability

of seats in the respective departments.); (3) two year

research studies leading to the Ph.D. degree in any of the

subjects in which instruction is provided by Siksha-Bhavana.

Subjects taught in Siksha-Bhavana include Mathematics,

Chemistry, Physics, Botany and Zoology.


Along with Siksha-Bhavana, Vidya-Bhavana also went

through several changes. It started with a school of

research and Indology and was converted into a school of

post-graduate studies and research offering a M.A. degree

in Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit, History, Ancient Indian

History and Culture, Economics and Philosophy, and two year

research studies leading to a Ph.D. in any subject in which

instruction is provided.

Vidya-Bhavana, now also known as the College of

Humanities (Visva-Bharati, 1973, p. 13), is of diverse

nature. It offers instruction for:

1. A two year M.A. course in Bengali, English,
Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit, History, Ancient
Indian History and Culture, Economics,
Philosophy, Mathematics and Chinese.

2. (a) Three year B.A. (Honors) course in Bengali,
English, Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit, History
Ancient Indian History and Culture,
Geography, Economics, Philosophy, Com-
parative Religion and Mathematics.

(b) Four year B.A. (Honors) course in Chinese.

3. Three year B.S.W. (Honors) course in Social
Work. This course provides instruction in
Social Work with a foundation in general
education and social services and equips
students for careers in the field of Social
Welfare and Community Development. The
Department of Social Work is located at

4. Two year Certificate Course in Language
followed by a one year Diploma Course in
Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit, Pali, Arabic,
Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, French and

5. One year Certificate Course in Library

6. Two year research studies leading to the
Ph.D. degree in any of the subjects in which
instruction is provided by Vidya-Bhavana.

Centre of Advanced
Study in Philosophy

The Centre.provides instruction for the post-graduate

course in Philosophy and the undergraduate course in

Philosophy and Comparative Religion and also provides

adequate facilities for research both in Indian and Western

Philosophy and Religion. The Centre organizes two All India

Seminars each year besides weekly seminars for research

scholars and teachers. The Centre also invites visiting

professors and scholars from other Indian Universities and

from abroad.

Rabindra-Bhavana (College
of Tagore Studies and Research)

It provides facilities for the study of and research

into the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore and his

manifold contributions to the diverse fields of human en-

deavor. It provides facilities for research studies leading

to the Ph.D. degree in accordance with the Ordinance of the

University governing the same.

Vinaya Bhavana
(College of Education)

The Vinaya-Bhavana started functioning in September

1948. This department concerned itself mainly with the

training of specialist teachers for arts, crafts, and music

for the basic training schools, general teachers for the

training schools under the basic training scheme, and

teachers for primary and secondary schools. Now it provides

instruction for the degrees of B.Ed. and M.Ed.--both courses

being of one year's duration. A special feature of the B.Ed.

course is training in crafts and other practical and creative

activities. In addition to the usual subjects, marked

emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of the course.

While the B.Ed. course is open to B.A./B.Sc. or equivalent

degree holders, preference is given to teachers and to per-

sons with high academic attainments. Only graduates with

degrees in teacher training are eligible for admission to

the M.Ed. course. The College of Education also offers

instruction in education as a subsidiary subject to those

who take up Honors in any subject offered by the Vidya-

Bhavana. It also offers two-year research studies leading

to the Ph.D. degree in Education to candidates who hold the

M.Ed. or M.A. degree in Education.

Through a Department of Extension Services it conducts

in-service courses of various types for teachers of

Secondary Schools in the neighborhood. This department

organizes from time to time seminars and conferences of

teachers, study circles, exhibitions of visual aids,

science fairs, film shows in schools and also runs a

library service for teachers, maintaining contact with the

neighboring schools on demand from them. It also promotes

intensive work for total school improvement in a few

selected schools.

Kala Bhavana (College
of Fine Arts & Crafts)

Education in the academic sense of mere acquisition of

knowledge or information never appealed to the comprehensive

genius of the poet. Education to be real must be of the

whole man, of the emotions and senses as much as of the

intellect. He said, ". .in order to lay before our educa-

tional authorities the petition that they should try and

make it natural for our educated people to reverence art.

Anything else that it may be necessary for me to do I have

already started in my own institution, in spite of many

handicaps" (Tagore, 1947q p. 45). Actually, from the very

beginning Santiniketan gave a large place to art, and now

Kala Bhavana has developed into a well-known Centre of

Indian Art. It maintains a museum, a library of books on

art and allied subjects and an exhibition hall. It provides

instruction for the following courses:

1. Five-year Degree Course in Fine Arts and Crafts
imparting integrated training in painting,

sculpture, graphic art, history of art and
crafts with specialization in any one of the
following--painting, sculpture, graphic art
and history of art. The qualification for the
entrance is a Higher School Certificate or an
equivalent examination.

2. Five-year diploma course in painting, sculpture,
graphic art and crafts.

3. Two-year certificate course in artistic
handicrafts in the following subjects:
embroidery, leather work, weaving, batik and
dyeing Alpana, Bandhani design, ornamental
Fresco, and design. Only women students
(not below 15 years of age) are eligible for

4. One-year post-diploma course for students who
have passed the diploma course in Fine Arts
and Crafts of this University or possess
equivalent qualification. A very small number
of students are admitted on the basis of their
high attainments in the subjects.

Sangeet Bhavana (College
of Music and Dance)

Tagore always gave music and dancing a priority place

in his scheme of education. A large part of man, he

believed, cannot wholly be expressed by the mere language

of words. "Man has not only discovered scientific truths,

he has realized the ineffable. From ancient times the gifts

of such expressions have been rich and profuse., Wherever

man has seen the manifestation of perfection,--in words,

music, lines, colours, and rhythm, in the sweetness of

human relationship, in heroism--there he has attested his

joy with the signature of immortal words. I hope and trust

that our students may not be deprived of these messages. ."

(Tagore, 1947Q p. 45). He, thus, regarded the language of

sounds and movements to be the highest means of self-

expression without which people remain inarticulate.

Sangeet Bhavana offers instruction in Rabindra Sangeet,

classical music (vocal), Manipuri dance, Kathakali dance,

sitar and esraj, and tabla. Students are allowed to take up

to two of the above subjects. There are part-time two-year

certificates, four-year senior certificate course, and four-

year diploma courses offered by the school. In the four-

year senior certificate course even a non-matriculate student

with aptitude can be considered for admission, whereas in

the four-year diploma course matriculation is essential.

Besides, the college does offer a four-year degree course in

music and dance in which matriculation with aptitude is

essential for admission. Subjects taught for this degree


1. General papers: English, Bengali/Hindi,
Aesthetics/Psychology/Rabindra literature.

2. Music papers: Rabindra Sangeet, classical
music (vocal), Manipuri dance, Kathakali dance,
sitar and esraj (any two to be selected).

Sangeet Bhavaraalso offers two-year research studies

leading to the Ph.D. degree in music.

Visva-Bharati also maintains two research departments:

(1) Cheena Bhavana and (2) Hindi Bhavana which organize

teaching and research in Chinese and Hindi respectively.

Hindi Bhavana brings out a quarterly research journal in

Hindi--Visva-Bharati Patrika--and also has a research publi-

cation series--the Halvasiya Granthamala. The Cheena-

Bhavana helps in conducting the B.A. (Honors) and post-

graduate courses in Chinese studies.

Lok Siksha Samsad
(People's Education Council)

The Lok Siksha-Samsad is an examining body formed with

a view of encouraging home study among those who cannot

afford to continue their study in schools or colleges. At

the education conference during the Bengal Education Week

celebrated in February 1936, Tagore made some proposals and

among other observations made therein, he stated, "If

examination centers are started in towns and cities of

different states for those men and women in the country who

are for various reasons deprived of the benefit of school

education, then many will feel encouraged to educate them-

selves at home in their leisure hours. Their education

can be properly directed if their syllabus and textbooks are

clearly prescribed from the lowest to the highest stages.

The degrees that will be awarded through these examinations

will be valuable insofar as they will bring social prestige

and will be useful for earning a livelihood. It can,

therefore, be hoped that all its expenses will easily be

met through the fees received from candidates all over the

country. On this occasion, the field for preparing text-

books will be extended, and the material for mass education

will increase. It will also provide the means of liveli-

hood to numerous authors" (Tagore, 1936, pp. 38-39). He

also added that this desire could not materialize at Visva-

Bharati for want of funds, but once the proposal was turned

down by the education ministry of Bengal, he placed it

before the authorities of Visva-Bharati who undertook to

organize mass education on the lines suggested by him.

Initially there were three examinations, "Adya," "Madhy,"

and "Upadhi," roughly corresponding to the Matriculation,

Intermediate and B.A. standards, respectively. Later,

some more examinations were added, corresponding to pre-

Matriculation standard. The syllabus included Bengali

language, Bengali literature, History, Geography, Arithmetic,

General Knowledge, Elementary Hindi, Hygiene and Science in

different combinations for different standards. Under

Tagore's direction and editorship, Visva-Bharati undertook

the publication of a series of books in Bengali known as

Lok-Siksha-Granthamala, on various subjects of scientific

and general interest, specially written in easy language for

the general public.

From this discussion of different divisions of Visva-

Bharati it can be said that in accordance with Tagore's

thought, Visva-Bharati is growing up in three concentric

circles. The innermost circle is the circle of India. With

the variety of programs offered in the institution he tried

to strengthen the cultural ties of different parts of

India. His curriculum included Manipuri dance from Assam

and Kathakali from Travancore; Rabindra Sangeet, modern

Bengali music; as well as traditional Indian music; beside

Bengali, a variety of languages like Hindi, Oriya, Sanskrit,

Pali. The Art Museum displayed works of artists from all over

the country. The second circle is the circle of Asia.

The department of Chinese studies was established with this

in mind. This department arranged for the study of Chinese

and Tibetan civilization, offered courses on their languages

and provided research facilities too. The third circle

seems to be the world circle which along with Asia includes

the civilizations of the West, of Europe and America.

Studies of different European languages, scientific studies

in the schools, different visiting professors, guests

students from the Western world helped in attaining this

goal. The atmosphere at Visva-Bharati also contributed

to the institution's higher goal. Students from anywhere

in India or the world lived together, shared the same food

V and thus indirectly learned about each other cultures.


Any description of Visva-Bharati is incomplete without

Sriniketan. Tagore believed that an important part of the

work of a university should be to gather accurate knowledge

about village conditions and discover how to use that

knowledge to solve village problems. On February 6, 1922,

only a few weeks after the formal opening of Visva-Bharati,

the center at Surul was formally opened with the name of

Sriniketan. The word "Sri" contains the idea of prosperity

and thus the name Sriniketan reveals Rabindranath's hope to

make this place a center of village prosperity and welfare.

Prabhat Kumar, biographer of Tagore, wrote about the opening

day of Sriniketan, "This day is memorable in the annals of

Visva-Bharati. The long cherished dream of Tagore about

rural reconstruction was, on that day, on its way to ful-

fillment through the initiative of an Englishman and the''

financial assistance of an American"2 (Mukhopadhyaya, 1353-

1363 B.S. 3, p. 93). In fact, the movement started under

very promising circumstances. "What more could be wanted,

when these three great personalities were brought together

in the cause of humanity--Tagore with his visions and

dreams penetrating into the very souls of the peasantry

around him; Elmhirst with his leadership, sympathy and love

for the poor villagers of this part of Bengal; and Mrs.

Straight with her gift of money, without which neither of

the other two could proceed with any work of this kind"

(Lal, 1932, Ch. 3). The program started with two objectives

in mind, first to survey the economic, social and scientific

needs of the cultivators in their home, village and fields,

and second, to try out laboratory experiments in health,

education, craft, cultivation and animal husbandry (Elmhirst,

1957, p. 9). Accordingly, the activities of Sriniketan

were organized under four departments: (1) Agriculture,

including Animal Husbandry, (2) Industries, (3) Village

Welfare, and' (4) Education, and the unified program was

given the name of Institute of Rural Reconstruction--"Palli

Samgathan Vibhaga." The ideal of the institute, in the

words of Tagore, is "The object of Sriniketan is to bring

back life in its completeness into the villages making them

self-reliant and self-respectful, acquainted with the cul-

tural tradition of their own country and competent to make

an efficient use of the modern resources for the improvement

of their physical, intellectual and economic condition"

(Sriniketan, 1928, p. 1). Like different divisions of Visva-

Bharati, the Institute of Rural Reconstruction has also

expanded and its activities have been grouped under different

departments and different names, though still maintaining

the original objectives. Viewing the activities of the

institute at the time it started will convey Tagore's com-

prehensive approach to village education.

Village welfare was one of the major objectives behind

Sriniketan and through its Village Reconstruction Department

Tagore tried to generate in villagers the spirit of self-

help so that they themselves could undertake the work of

improving their own villages through mutual aid and common

endeavor (Sriniketan, 1928, p. 5). To gain this object a

multidimensional program was followed under different units

of Economic, Educational, Health and Relief Work.

(1) Economic activities. Tagore always stressed the

importance of rural surveys before undertaking any serious

constructive program. Under this unit research was con-

ducted on land and its problems. The economics of paddy

cultivation, the economic condition of the various classes

of tenants and many other subjects related to the economy

were studied. In addition, Tagore wrote, "In our country,

in every village, let the cooperative principle prevail in

producing and distributing wealth--this is my desire"

(Tagore, 1970, pp. 116-117). Accordingly, cooperative

organization such as Rural Banks, Health Insurance and

Irrigation Societies, Paddy Stores, Weavers Associations

were established very early in the history of the Institute.

(2) Educational activities. This department

initially provided the elementary education for boys and

girls of the villages by establishing night and day schools.

The syllabus included the three R's, some useful crafts and

some useful recreational activities. In the girls' school

an emphasis was placed on house-craft and gardening. Besides

the children's school the department also provided oppor-

tunities for adult education through circulating libraries,

lantern lectures and conferences, recitations from Epics

and scriptures.

One of the major organizations of the department

was Brati Balaka Organization--Boy Scouts. Miss Sykes

noted, "The Brati Balaks are an excellent example of the way

in which Rabindranath used good ideas from all over the

world in the building up of his Indian centre of education

and service. The Brati Balak troops owe a great debt to

the genius of Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the

English Boy Scouts, and his insight into the needs of the

boys. Rabindranath studied his methods, saw where their

value lay, and adapted them to the needs of the Indian

village boy" (Sykes, 1943, p. 98). A training camp is held

each year for the training of the village boys as leaders

of Brati Balkas in their own villages. The general aim of

these camps is to introduce a boy to a wider conception of

the art of living, which is taken to include the Art of

Livelihood with its house-craft and handicraft, the art of

thinking and coordination of experience, and the art of

expression through games, songs, and the drama (Sriniketan,

1928, p. 6). The Brati Balakas also help in the organization

of anti-malaria and village sanitation campaigns.

Another important activity of the department was

training camps for social service workers. The prescribed

syllabus included camp-life and house-craft, Elementary

Agriculture and Handicrafts, scouting, cooperation, sani-

tation, hygiene and first aid, and also recreational

activities like games, drama, singing and story-telling.

(3.) Health related activities. The workers of the

Village Welfare Department of the Institutes developed a

program to improve the health of neighboring rural popula-

tion. The program included an outdoor dispensary, supplying

expert advice and help from doctors and nurses, prevention

of diseases by inoculation, anti-malaria measures, and

training of village midwives.

Village reconstruction department also organized

activities around relief work against famines and epidemics.


Besides the educational activities of the Village

Welfare Department, Sriniketan maintains a high school,

Siksha-Satra, mainly for rural children. It seems Tagore

was not completely satisfied with the programs and activi-

ties at Santiniketan and made it clear that, "This was

not sufficient, and I waited for men and the means to be

able to introduce into our school an active vigor of work,

the joyous exercise of our inventive and constructive

energies that help to build up character and by their

constant movements naturally sweep away all accumulations

of dirt, decay and death. In other words, I always felt

the need of the Western genius for imparting to my educa-

tional ideal that strength of reality which knows how to

clear the path towards a definite end of practical good

. . .Fortunately help came to us from an English friend

who took the leading part in creating and guiding the rural

organization work connected with the Visva-Bharati" (Tagore,

1946, pp. 9-10). Thus, with the cooperation of Elmhirst,

Siksha-Satra was started in July 1924, about two and a half

years after the establishment of the institute. About its

origin, Elmhirst said, "Siksha-Satra is the natural outcome

of some years of educationalexperiment at Santiniketan and

at the Institute of Rural Reconstruction at Sriniketan.

Principles upon which it is based are little more than

common sense, deductions from the failures and successes of

the past" (Elmhirst, 1946, p. 17).

The school is organized as a miniature community and

students do everything that a village householder is

expected to do, on a small scale but with greater effi-

ciency and understanding. The literary education is not

ignored but more attention is given to the building up of

the whole man. The extra-curricular activities of the

Siksha-Satra include: (1) Industry (weaving, carpentry,

book-binding and leather works), (2) Gardening, (3)

Health and sanitation, (4) Housecraft and general manage-

ment, (5) Sports, games and Brati-Balaka activities, (6)

Educational trips to places of interest, (7) Literary

society, (8) A monthly manuscript magazine--Chesta (Effort).

A child can enter the school as soon as he is six years old

and not later than twelve years. He enters the Siksha-

Satra as an apprentice in handicrafts as well as housecraft

and then slowly along with his experiments in crafts,

gardening, etc., a child is given elementary academic

training. Always a close relationship between the two is

established in programs of Siksha-Satra. Here an attempt

is being made to give an all round education to village

children and provide them with training which will not only

enable them to earn a decent livelihood but also to equip

them with the necessary training and creative imagination

with which they may help to improve the rural life of Bengal

in all aspects (Siksha-Satra, 1936, p. 1).

Siksha-Charcha Bhavana

Educational activities at Sriniketan also included

a training school for teachers of village primary school

which is known as Siksha-Charcha. It provides instruction

in both theory and practice for teachers. Practical

training in one village craft is considered essential. At

present the instruction is provided for one year and it

leads to a certificate.

After Tagore's death a new department was added in

Sriniketan, Palli Siksha Sadana, College of Agriculture.

It is designed primarily to equip rural youth with the

knowledge of modern methods of farming. Besides, in-

struction in the basic sciences like Chemistry, Physics,

Mathematics, Botany and Zoology, it also provides specialized

courses in Agronomy, Goat Keeping, Agricultural Economics,

Agricultural Chemistry, Horticulture, Entomology, Agri-

cultural Engineering, Plant Pathology, Genetics, Plant

Breeding and Farm Management. Practical training in

agriculture and dairy farms and field work are integral

elements of the course.

The complete program at Sriniketan is an effort to

uplift the rural community and an integral program like

this can bring dynamic change in Indian Society. For

his efforts Tagore said, "I cannot take responsibility

for the whole of India. I wish to win only one or two

small villages. We have to enter into their minds to

acquire strength to work in collaboration with them. That

is not easy, it is very difficult and will require austere

self-discipline. If I can free only one or two villages

from the bonds of ignorance and weakness, there will be

built, on a tiny scale, an ideal for the whole of India.

This is what came to me then and what I still behold"

(Tagore et al., 1958, p. 7). He believed that our aim must

be to give these few villages complete freedom--education

for all, the winds of joy blowing across the village, music

and recitations going on, as in the old days. Fulfill

this ideal in a few villages and only if that is done, will

India be truly ours (Tagore et al., 1958, p. 7). His

institutions, their activities and curriculum thrived for

this object.

Organization of Daily Activities

The daily routine of Tagore's school is quite in-

teresting and it is there one sees his educational ideas

and ideals at work. The students are awakened into the

beauty and calm of early dawn by a band of singers who go

around the school singing the poet's songs. As soon as the

students get up, they clean their rooms and make up their

beds. From the beginning the children are taught not to

despise manual work and a spirit of self-reliance is

cultivated in them (Cornelius, 1930, p. 132).

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