A Nobel laureate, a legend and a writer par excellence who can perhaps only be imitated but never surpassed — Rabindranath Tagore lived and wrote more than a century ago. Yet, he lives on through his works and becomes the nodal point of festivals, arguments and awards.
Tagore founded the University of Shantiniketan, which he named Visva Bharati. Tagore himself gives us the purpose of having this institution:“Visva Bharati represents India where she has her wealth of mind which is for all. Visva Bharati acknowledges India’s obligation to offer to others the hospitality of her best culture and India’s right to accept from others their best.”
The university continues to be different. Sumit Bhatacharjee wrote in a report in The Hindu: “Located at Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal, the university still has the rural trappings that Tagore dreamt of. The classes are still held in the open under the shade of huge mango trees and students and tutors alike still travel by cycles to keep pollution at bay. The old buildings, even those that were made up of mud walls and thatched roofs, are still intact and find a place within the main campus. While some are preserved for historical value, others are functional in all aspects. While for tourists the place could only be place for sight-seeing, the studious and the academically-inclined can easily feel the scholastic vibrations. Many, especially the Bengalis, have deep reverence for the place and take the visit as a pilgrimage to pay their respects to Tagore. Almost every festival, be it the local ‘ Poush mela'(winter fair) or the more universal ‘Raksha Bandhan’ or ‘Holi,’ is celebrated in its originality by the students, locals and staff on the campus.”
Now another university in Madhya Pradesh creates a “Tagore International Literature and Arts Festival” to bring the maestro to those who speak Hindi and are not too familiar with him. However, they talk of boosting Hindi, the national language of India, through him. Tagore wrote in Bengali. Read how they plan to infuse Hindi into the bones of a Bengali legend in this article in Hindustan Times.
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