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International Conference on The Viswakabi and Internationalism: Rabindranath Tagore in the Contemporary World organized under Tagore Commemoration Grant Scheme (TCGS), Ministry of Culture, Government of India

Organized by:

A non-Profit, Non Governmental Organization
(Registered under The West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961) 29, BRAHMAPUR, GOVT.SCHEME, BANSDRONI, Kolkata 700070
Tel: 09874490250 # e-MAIL: #


Meeting of East and West: Rabindranath Tagore’s Challenging Ideas for World Change Professor Uma Dasgupta
Renowned Tagore Scholar and leading biographer of tagore
National Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path-maker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in shower, and his garment is covered with dust. Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil! (Tagore, Gitanjali, 1912) From the time when Man became truly conscious of his own self he also became conscious of a mysterious spirit of unity which found its manifestation through him in his society. (Tagore, ‘Man’s Nature’, The Religion of Man, 1930) Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work Gitanjali, Song Offerings. The celebrity he enjoyed for a few years provided Tagore with opportunities to speak to the world through his lectures, subsequently published as collections of essays: Sadhana (1913), Nationalism (1917), Personality (1917), Creative Unity (1922), Talks in China (1924) and The Religion of Man (1931). The ‘English essays’ are not the only works which Tagore wrote in, or rendered into, English, and translations abound from his vast literary and non-literary oeuvre in his native language of Bengali. But these six books are important because they represent what Tagore was able to communicate to the East and West at that time, not to protest about India’s treatment by the British Empire, but out of concern for the direction in which Western nations were taking their own people and influencing the diffident East. In the English essays Tagore wrote about bringing the East and the West together, adding to that polemical criticisms of nationalism as a dehumanizing apparatus of power and greed. Tagore’s vision of self-realisation involved reviving the multiplicity of local communities within India’s geographical boundaries, and for India to combine with the unity in diversity of Asia and lead the West towards the self-realisation of the world. Tagore maintains that our experience of the world is a human conception, our collective truth, hence his insight that ‘the earth and the sky are woven with the fibres of man’s mind, which is the universal mind at the same time’. Tagore’s thought presents a vital challenge to embrace the human, to recognise that this is Man’s world. This paper hopes to explore these ideas from Tagore’s creative writing and from his ‘life’s activist work’ in founding a new education whereby the doors were thrown open to men and women from everywhere to collaborate in intellectual companionship and social action at his Visva-Bharati international university in a tiny corner of rural Bengal. This education was hoped to build an Indian personality who would be free from the conflict of communities by representing the best in the history of humanity. Visva-Bharati would nurture such a personality with its school in Santiniketan, and its rural work in Sriniketan, an education that was an endeavour to integrate the city and the village as the basis of a comprehensive Indian culture and unity of diverse peoples.


Rabindranath Tagore & Internationalism: The harbinger of a new paradigm Imtiaz Ahmed
Professor of International Relations
University of Dhaka
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