論文題目:Rabindranath Tagore and Visva-Bharati; Position of Visva-Bharati in Modern Educational Movement in Twentieth Century
著者:スニパ・デヴ (Sunipa Dev)


In the thesis entitled “Rabindranath Tagore and Visva-Bharati: Position of Visva-Bharati in Modern Educational Movement in 20th Century”, prepared for Ph.D. degree, a different image of Tagore has been established, rather than his prevailing image of a romantic, sentimental, dreamy literature and writer of sweet poems.
Here efforts have been made to introduce Tagore for consideration as a critic of modernism, and from the social, cultural, political, national, inter-cultural and personal perspectives.
Besides, I did not feel diffident to accept the position of a critic against various inconsistencies and limitations of Tagore including his conservative attitude. In the same way I was also not diffident to accept the position of a critic against various impracticable maudlin concepts about Tagore-- that transform him into a visionary figure.
And, I did it not from the intention of Tagore-encomium or Tagore-worship; the subject has been selected for researching from the urge to pay a judicious honor to him.
Here Tagore is not that wise man of India who is to be worshiped, but an attempt is made to draw out of his black-loose-cloak and to resuscitate him. He is found to be firmly alive in the sphere of world culture.
Almost everyone has branded Tagore as an ‘introspective’, ‘a poet full of caprice’, ‘romantic’, ‘dreamy’, and even as a ‘prophet’, ‘saint’ and ‘an ascetic who has renounced the world’. That is, wrong ideas have been created about him, regarding his comprehension and contemplation only as poet like fancy.
Various measures should be taken to reveal the real image of Tagore removing the prevailing erroneous and wan ones. The most important thing in this connection is to rescue the living Rabindranath of flesh and blood, removing the deity-like image of him. The variety of his creation, the elegance of his feeling and the oscillation of the flow of his ethereal contemplation are certainly worthy of being analysed. But only that is not enough. The writings of Tagore have also to be carefully assessed from their progressive implications.
If in this way Rabindranath can be placed in an accurate perspective, the general readers will be able to discover many relevant suggestions for our lives in Tagore's writings.
Analyzing, through various evidences, the relation of Rabindranath and Visva-Bharati with Indian culture as well as foreign cultures was one of my objectives in this dissertation.
From my adolescence, that is, most of the time of my life, I continuously studied the writings of and about Tagore. Sometimes, the intellect of my early youth failed to follow the latent meaning of his writings. Rabindranath in his ‘Jibonsmriti’ (The Memoirs) has said, “I remember that though I could not realize a lot of things in my childhood, they have given a strong jilt in me”. The same thing happened to me, also. Though I could not realize clearly, but whatever I could realize by semblances was a kind of mesmerism, attractive and delightful.
When I started my research here, I asked myself if Tagore was worthy of being put significance only from the literary perspective, because his ideal is highly relevant with the essence of the messages to the present age. Is not it much relevant for me to go into the unknown aspects of Tagore, like his perception of culture, society, politics and nationalism in the perspective of his fundamental idea of progress that has been converted into history through his deeds and ideal of education?
The subject of my present Ph.D. research is “Rabindranath Tagore and Visva-Bharati: Position of Visva-Bharati in Modern Educational Movement in 20th Century”. How Tagore’s thought of education, its plan and application had advanced to maturity through various incoherence, limitation, denial and disorder of colonial India has been made clear here.
Besides, why did Tagore institute a completely different kind of educational institution in lieu of the prevailing one? What was his intention and purpose? How clearly was he conscious of the purpose of this kind? And, what is the propriety of the distinctive method of education of Tagore where both the ancient tradition and modernism were not denied ? The reasons lying in the heart of these matters have been analysed and clarified in this research.
In 1901 Tagore at his sole effort started his first experimental measure against British colonialism by instituting the ‘Brahmacharyashram Bidyalay’ with only five students. This institute became the shelter of Indian culture, the centre for intrinsic fundamental learning and the pioneer of rural development. Later the education of Tagore started amalgamating internationalism with the ideal of Brahmacharyashram-- it was pushed forward through ‘Visva-Bharati’(1918) and the institute had become the meeting place of international learning.
Tagore expressed his educational ideal in such phrases as the ‘shelter of Indian culture’, ‘centre for intrinsic fundamental learning’, ‘pioneer of rural development’, ‘ combination of ancient heritage and modernism,’ and above all, the ideal of ‘Ashram’.
The picture of India, that he tried to give a shape through the work-procedure of the Brahmacharyashram in Shantiniketan and the Visva-Bharati, was not comprehensible to his contemporary educated society even in India. It was considered as a baseless, romantic and poetic imagination by the elitist scholars of India, the middle class and city dwellers who were restless in the competition of earning livelihood.
Except for a handful persons, almost everyone has considered Tagore ‘mystic’, ‘whimsical poet,’ ‘romantic’ and ‘dreamy’, and even he was considered a ‘prophet,’ ‘saint’ and ‘an ascetic who has renounced the world.’ But I made it clear that of his enormously extended mind as shown in any of his writings is far more than merely emotional.
In the books written till date, though Tagore’s purpose and goal of establishing the Brahmacharyasharam and the Visva-Bharati has been described, its latent causes were not explained. Unfortunately they did not pay attention to Tagore’s thought on education, social progress, and the universe, etc.
So in this thesis, consisting of five chapters, efforts have been made to clarify with explanation and analysis the nature of Tagore’s thought and his exceptional method on education, peace and progress. These matters have essential importance even today.
How ‘Shantiniketan Ashram’ the place of austere ascetic practice of Maharshi Debendranath had influenced Rabindranath and how gradually it transformed into a resort of colonial India against all disorderliness and incongruity, have been described in the first chapter.
There were various incongruities and limitations in Tagore. Bankimchandra severely criticized the caste-inequality of ancient India and of the detriments on account of this evil custom, but Rabindranath did not do that. Besides, those matters that have been focused at in the later chapters, are also briefly manifested in this chapter.
In the second chapter there is a long discussion on Tagore and the position of his Visva-Bharati in perspective of the twentieth-century India and the situation of the then world. It will give the reader a distinctive idea about the then India and Rabindranath and his educational institute the Visva-Bharati.
The discussion is divided into two parts. The first part analyzed Rabindranath and Visva-Bharati from psychological perspective and the second part analyzed them from historical perspective.
In the discussion of the first part of the second chapter, there has been shown how the Indian middle class of the recent history was born in Bengal. Rabindranath belong to this Bengali middle class. So, how the foundation of Bengali middle class is different from that of West European middle class was made clear.
The hypocratic tendency of the middle class was temporarily active in Tagore. But his urge for truth helped him to go beyond all these meanness, limitations and hollowness. His active belief, sprightly perception, deep devotion to Indian culture and respect to universality and totality, he gained all these qualities by way of inheritance. And his effort to keep up the past by admixing modernism with these inherited qualities gave him the honor of a widely respected philosopher and a developed person. And in this way his vivid belief, vivacious comprehension and profound admiration to Indian culture gave new life to the ancient culture. Shoving aside all the hindrances he was absorbed in the thought of an alternative shape of the contemporary society. We look into these alternative arrangement, which was esteemed as universally honored philosophy.
In the discussion of second part I explained the basic difference between the thought of Tagore and that of the famous figures of nineteenth and twentieth-century-India the renowned elitist scholars, writers, intellectuals, social reformers who created public opinion, and the famous politicians who are felicitated as the exponent of modern consciousness in the discussion of modernism of Indian nationalism.
In the discussion of modernism in Indian nationalism, it is relevant to take up Gandhiji and Nehru and a few intellectuals, who were the followers of complete modernism and influenced some political matters such as the abolition of slavery through liberation movement. Rabindranath in spite of being completely disinclined to politics, participated actively in the welfare of the country by instituting the Visva-Bharati, and preached his students peace, love and mutual understanding.
Though Rabindranath kept himself away from politics, he expressed opinions on the basic socio-economic problems of the dependent India through his deeds, writings and creations.
Because of various reasons the true nature of Tagore’s service to the country could not reach into the mind of the contemporary educated intellectuals who were mainly interested in the thought of political independence of the country. Those who are in power, either they are rightist or leftist, were equally indifferent to idealism.
Secondly, he willingly stayed away from the countrywide frenzied politics because he could realize very well that his idealism had no room in the countrywide movement for national home rule.
Thirdly, his appeal was to the individual person not to the totality. Notwithstanding that a huge quantity of people would come eagerly to listen to him.
What was the concept of Tagore about modern civilization? To Rabindranath, the ideal of humanity and morality was so extensive that it could not differentiate between politics and culture.
Among the procedures and activities of Tagore’s ‘Visva-Bharati’, the concepts of non-violent destructiveness, silent repudiation and utopia are strident.
Rabindranath rejected super manliness. He thought this super manliness was of western, and in stead of it he accepted womanhood, which grew into the cultural heritage of India. In place of the values of the West, Indian culture has unclosed the concept of tolerating cultural opaqueness, and India has applied this forbearance against cultural invasion.
In the case of modernism of the ‘Indian heritage’ and ‘Bangali culture’, Tagore has just followed a unidirectional path. Though he was not involved in politics, he could create a distinctive doctrine in the sphere of patriotism-- which can be entitled modernism in true sense.
In the third chapter I described various frustrations and futilities about Visva-Bharati and Tagore. And how the institute initiated the success story in spite of various futilities and how it was transformed into a lasting existence.
Rabindranath Tagore is the first Indian personality who went forward in pursuit of the intrinsic power of humane-excellence with a rebellious mind against the insanity and madness of the educated politicians. And his quest was practical. He had no specific model of building up ‘human’ or the ‘country’ in his mind. He had in his mind an imaginary figure of human characterized in the ‘Upanishad.’ And in this sense Rabindranath is the successor of ‘Rammohon Roy’. But as for pragmatism Rabindranath was much advanced and more far-seeing than Rammohon Roy. Above all Tagore was alone along the road of progress. He was a solitary wayfarer of a lone way. When the heat of anti-colonial rule was at a high gear among his contemporary educated people, intellectuals and the whole Bengali society, by completely his lone effort, he initiated a unyielding resistance movement by starting practical-life-oriented education. To establish social independence he started the work of fostering students, teachers and activists who are inspired to do something for the country. In this sense, he initiated his first step of the service to the country by establishing ‘Brahmacharyashram Bidyalay’ in Shantiniketan.
It is mentioned previously that the picture of India in his mind he made efforts to give a shape through the work-procedure of Shantiniketan was not comprehensible to his contemporary educated people, neither in home nor in abroad.
And because of it he was insinuatingly criticized by some people in home and abroad. So, was not it reasonable for Tagore to make himself comprehensible to others and was not it a part of his responsibilities? Was not it a part of his procedure and purpose of internationalism that he would express the Indian thought in such a way so that it was comprehensible to the educated people of the world including India? In fact, many could realize the essence of Tagore’s ideal and were sympathetic to him, because they considered it a practical expression of an exceptional man’s culture. And it should not be forgotten that there are the frustrations and futilities behind every success, and Tagore was not exception from that.
To tell the truth, we can consider his austere ascetic practice a kind of self-deliverance, which is disinclined to propaganda or worldly mindedness but morally self-conscious and self-controlled.
As a matter of fact, his self-devotion to these orderly rules and regulations was so much profound that it was converted into his characteristic. I could feel his steadiness and his extensively extended mind in his creations. He expressed the essential qualities of modernism which he sought to fight. In this way by dint of a transcendent modernism he faced the Colonialism and opposed the avoidable things of the West, and thus he became the glory of his country.
I mentioned in second chapter, that the life-philosophy of Tagore was moistened with the undercurrent flow of belief and expectation that he has cherished fondly through his life and deeds.
Indology is a science that deals with the past and present of Indian culture. But no Indologist till date has contributed mentionably on Tagore, the harbinger of recent alteration of Indian culture. And yet it is the duty of Indology to go beyond the aesthetic and ideological considerations of the moment, in order to interpret the iridescent manifestation of Tagore’s creations, and his human and political leadership, in the light of the heritage of millenia of which Indology is the custodian. It is called upon to elucidate the unique interaction of ancient and modern, Indian and Western motifs and art- forms, a task essential for the understanding of this epochal change in Indian culture, as it took visible shape in Tagore. Intuitively we cannot but feel that an old heritage is here being formed anew and changed in a multitude of ways. It is the task of this research to address this feeling in all its complexity, and give explanation for it.
Stepping aside and avoiding that modernism delimited within a narrow definition, how the ideal and doctrine of Tagore depending on a transcendent truth (Indology) could establish a not existing history into the history which can be called modernism in accurate sense; to explain the intrinsic reasons of it and to establish these perceived ingredients into proper perspective, that is, the newness of this research.
Besides, in the fourth chapter, the period of from 1901 to 1941, the concepts and opinions of distinguished persons of outside India on Tagore and his Visva-Bharati have been discussed. The valued opinions of the direct students of Tagore who are still alive have been collected and presented here and it has added a new dimension in the research.
In the fifth chapter entitled ‘Visva-Bharati and Japan’ there has been described the friendship of Japanese scholar Okakura Kakuzo with Tagore, and how their friendship through the Brahmacharyashram Bidyalay and later Visva-Bharati helped to extend the road of Japan-India cultural exchange. Besides, intention of Tagore of his Japan tour is also explored here.