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Amrit Sen : Editorial

Self portrait of Tagore. Image courtesy -

“It is for the artist to proclaim his faith in the everlasting YES – to say: “I believe that there is an ideal … which is not the mere outcome of fancy, but the ultimate reality in which things dwell and move”. (The Religion of an Artist)

The seamless and vital integration of the world of the idea and the aesthetic never ceases to amaze even a hundred and fifty years after Tagore’s birth. His fertile mind explored a range of ideas - from education, travel, internationalism, rural reconstruction and critiques of oppression; while his creative soul transformed these ideas into aesthetic masterpieces, sensitive and lyrical. Born at a moment of flux in history, his ideas and aesthetics remain strangely visionary, operating across time. It is this aspect that we seek to explore in this issue of Muse India as we ask ourselves the question – how is Tagore relevant today?

In an age of militant nationalism, Rabindranath could radically advocate a cosmopolitanism that would stimulate ideas on globalization. Against the grain of a rigid education system, he could establish a model of holistic education that would provoke joyousness and creativity while sensitizing us to the harmony with nature and society. His ideas on rural reconstruction hinged on education, the co-operative principle and an introduction of technology. He remained vigilant to protest against casteism, female oppression and any form of dogma. He engaged and debated with the leading minds of his times exchanging and dispensing ideas, while reinvigorating the bounds of civil society. Having travelled extensively, he envisaged the collapsing of boundaries. Repeatedly witnessing exploitation, tyranny and avarice, he was capable of dreaming of a humanity guided by ethics. Central to his imagination remained the figure of Rammohun Roy, who argued for a relentless synthesis of the best ideas of humanity across cultural frontiers.

The visionary ideas of Tagore confront us in 2010 as we debate concepts as diverse as multiculturalism, globalization and cosmopolitanism, ecology, issues of gender and caste, models of rural reconstruction and co-operatives, theories of travel and exchange. The sophistication and nuances of his logic remain points of entry into such debates within the perimeter of aesthetic pleasure.

The contributions in this volume engage with Rabindranath’s relevance to our age. The translations deal with a range of poems and short stories, while one particular piece articulates Rabindranath’s radical notion of travel as pilgrimage in the process of interaction of cultures. The various articles interrogate Tagore’s responses and ideas about nationalism, female emancipation, translation and aesthetics, rural reconstruction, library science, ecology, visual and performative arts. His interaction with global communities and his debate with Gandhiji and Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray are explored, while an analysis of the Visva-Bharati Quarterly as a vehicle for his global university adds perspective to the volume. A separate section looks at Tagore’s reception - both generous and hostile - across the globe. A special feature is a section of creative responses to Rabindranath that articulate his immediacy and discuss his position today.

The overwhelming response to this issue remains a testament to Rabindranath’s appeal. As we look back, what strikes us is the zeal of both young and senior scholars in embellishing the volume. “The voice of Tagore” still remains a fountainhead of stimulating ideas and aesthetic delight.


Focus – "Reading Across Time": Tagore Today

  Amrit Sen : Editorial

Lead Article
  Udaya Narayana Singh : Redrawing the Boundaries

Critical Essays

  Nation, History, Cultural Exchange
    Avijit Banerjee : Tagore’s Visit to China
    Bijoy Mukherjee : Rabindranath and Indian History
    Biswanath Banerjee : Tagore and Acharya PC Ray
    Sagarika Chakraborty : Tagore the Diplomat
    Soumitra Roy : Tagore’s Ghare Baire

  Responses to Caste and Gender
    Dhriti Ray Dalai/ Panchanan Dalai : Tagore’s ‘Chandalika’
    Dipankar Roy : Women in Tagore’s ‘Domestic Novels’
    Sanjukta Dasgupta : “Streer Patra” - A Feminist Text?
    Swati Ganguly : Gender, Sexuality and Conjugality in Samapti

  Translation and Reception
    Anindya Sen : Tagore’s Self-Translations
    Jayati Gupta : Whose Gitanjali is it Anyway?
    Sushobhan Adhikary : Cartoons on Tagore
    Usha Kishore : The Auto-translations of Rabindranath

  Rural Reconstruction and Ecopoetic
    Bipasha Raha : Experiments with Village Welfare
    Debotosh Sinha : Tagore and Rural Reconstruction
    Falguni Piyush Desai : Floriography in Tagore’s Poetry
    Marie Josephine Aruna : ‘Letters’ and Ecopoetics

  Aesthetics, Paintings and Dance Dramas
    Aju Mukhopadhyay : The Poet of Sublime Love
    Raghupathi K V : Aesthetics of Tagore and Sri Aurobindo
    Sudeshna Majumdar : Paintings of Tagore
    Sutapa Chaudhuri : Dance Dramas of Tagore

  Tagore and the Short Story
    Dominic K V : Tagore’s Short Stories
    Mausumi Sen Bhattacharjee : ‘The Hunger of Stones’

  Tagore and Visva-Bharati
    Anindita Chongdar : Anecdotes of Santiniketan
    Debmalya Das : The Visva-Bharati Quarterly
    Subodh Gopal Nandi : The Visva-Bharati Library

Creative Responses

    Sanjukta Dasgupta : Remembering Rabindranath

    Frank Joussen : Tagore and Walt Whitman
    Nuggehalli Pankaja : The Voice of Tagore
    Sanjukta Dasgupta : To Rabindranath
    Shambhobi Ghosh : Yet

  Ahmed A H S : Birthday and other poems
  Anup Maharatna : From ‘The Last Writings’
  Ashoka Sen : Africa
  Barnali Saha : The Vacation (Fiction)
  Naina Dey : Chance Meeting
  Parantap Chakraborty : The Son of Man
  Suranjima Saha : Preamble to a Journey
  Swapna Dutta : The Editor

  Amrit Sen:Behind the Veil & Tagore and Modernity
  Kumaran S : Pathos in the Short Stories of Tagore

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