RABINDRANATH TAGORE AND MAHATMA GANDHI: THEIR THOUGHTS ON EDUCATION FROM A POSTCOLONIAL PERSPECTIVE

Asoke Bhattacharya

Abstract


Post–colonialism, in its present theoretical formulation , is fraught with many contradictions.  Thoughts of Tagore and Gandhi had many inherent contradictions regarding colonialism in general and British colonial rule in particular.  Tagore grew up in the ambience of Brahmo religion, a reformed offshoot of Hinduism.  He became, in his early teens, a member of a secret society that had the grandiose aim of   bringing about independence of India.  Being a natural poet, his poetic outpourings in Bengali began to rejuvenate and recreate Bengali literature.  In his late twenties he was entrusted with the responsibility of looking after the family estates in North Bengal.  There he came into contact with the daily life of the village folk.  He started his village re-construction program there.  In 1901 he established at Santiniketan, a cluster of villages away from Calcutta, his school called Brahmacharyashram.  There he started his experiment in education. What he had learnt from North Bengal was applied here.  Gandhi grew up in a traditional Hindu family.  He was sent to England to become a Barrister. There was nothing extraordinary in his upbringing. He went to South Africa to work for an Indian businessman settled there.  There he came face to face with an atrociously racist regime.  His lifelong crusade against injustice began there.  He organized two communes—Phoenix Settlement and Tolstoy Farm.  There he began to teach the children of the inmates.  Thus developed his idea of education.  Coming back to India in 1915, he further concentrated on the subject of education in independent India.  In 1937 he placed before the nation his concept of Basic Education.


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