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Perspectives on Remaking the Social

Rabindranath’s Praxis

Bhikhu Parekh observed that a possible reason why Gandhi perennially addressed Rabindranath Tagore as “The Poet” was that it implicitly classified him (and marginalised his many critical observations) as an impractical person of the imagination. Rabindranath’s reputation has had to bear this burden for a long time. It is difficult to recognise the Rabindranath who, in many places, stated bluntly that ideas can lead to a cul-de-sac unless they are given shape by work and achieve an external manifestation. Tagore’s practical imaginaries tend to be underrated, if not overlooked.

The anniversary edition of Tagore brought out by the Sahitya Akademi in 1961, for instance, has a large range of essays covering his cultural achievements, his personality, philosophy and international influence, among other things. But it does not have a single essay on his institution-making, leave aside his practical experiments with agrarian communities. While there were pioneering essays on Tagore’s rural development programmes, it is his 150th anniversary that has seen the arrival of more daring publications that, among other things, range from rousing calls to liberate his reputation from Bengal to those that critically explore the categories of his thought in a global context—to exhaustive monographs on his institutions and its practices. The present collection is a part of this new generation of work on Tagore. It covers the less familiar area of Sriniketan, the rural development wing of the global pedagogic institution that Tagore called Visva–Bharati. At the same time, this collection does not leave out the more familiar world of Santiniketan, but views it from the perspective of materialist aesthetic practices, a way of looking at Rabindranath’s works with which we are normally unacquainted.

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Updated On : 12th May, 2017

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