Shantiniketan

On 22nd December 1901, Rabindranath Tagore established his school at Santiniketan with five students (including his eldest son) and an equal number of teachers. He originally named it Brahmacharya Ashram in the tradition of ancient forest hermitages.

Not too many know that Shantiniketan, which means the abode of peace – long before it became the name of a place, was the name of the guest house Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, father of poet Rabindranath Tagore, had built when he founded the Brahmo Samaj in 1863.

Shanti Niketan means the abode of peace. In 1863, a meditation center was founded at Shanti Niketan by Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, the father of the world famous Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore. Rabindranath established the Brahma Vidyalaya and in 1901 another. Shanti Niketan means the abode of peace.

Shantiniketan also spelled Santiniketan, was previously called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit), and owned by the Tagore family.

Rabindranath Tagore felt that education should be imparted to children in a way which makes them happy and creative. He believed that childhood is the time when children should learn outside the rigid and strict discipline of the schooling system set up by the British.

Bolpur – Culture Capital. … Located in the Birbhum district in West Bengal, Bolpur is most famous because of its close proximity to Shantiniketan, the hamlet town founded by the Tagore family. It was only after the British East India Company set up the first railway line in the 19th century that Bolpur started blossoming …

He believed that by having classrooms in the open and under the trees, the students would be closer to nature and would learn from the environment. In 1901, Rabindranath Tagore established an experimental school in Shantiniketan called the Brahmacharya Ashram with five student and five teachers

Tagore aimed to combine local culture with cosmopolitan openness to different viewpoints. The motto of Visva Bharati University: “Where the world makes its home in a single nest”, perfectly renders this principle. Acting as culture archeologist, Macuga seems to strive to achieve the similar goal.

In 1862, Maharishi Debendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath, was taking a boat ride through Birbhum, the westernmost corner of Bengal, when he came across a landscape that struck him as the perfect place for meditation. Captivated by the kaleidoscopic beauty of the luxuriantly canopied chhatim trees and palm groves that offered shade in the rugged, red coloured terrain, he bought the large tract of land that had charmed him, built a small house and planted some saplings around it.

At that time, the area was called Bhubandanga after a local dacoit named Bhuban Dakat, but Debendranath Tagore decided to call the place Santiniketan, or the ‘abode of peace’, because of the serenity it brought to his soul. In 1863, he turned it into a spiritual centre where people from all religions, castes and creeds came and participated in meditation.

In the years that followed, Debendranath’s son Rabindranath went on to become one of the most formidable literary forces India has ever produced. As one of the earliest educators to think in terms of the global village, he envisioned an education that was deeply rooted in one’s immediate surroundings but connected to the cultures of the wider world.

With this in mind, on December 22, 1901, Rabindranath Tagore established an experimental school at Santiniketan with five students (including his eldest son) and an equal number of teachers. He originally named it Brahmacharya Ashram, in the tradition of ancient forest hermitages called tapoban

Santiniketan is an essence that you need to feel, enjoy and cherish.

Over the years this sacred place of Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore has been changed a lot. When people talk about Santiniketan, they shouldn’t forget the city Bolpur. I would say, Bolpur has been changing lot.

Santiniketan, being the heart of the city Bolpur, the people in it explore everything against Santiniketan – which is not always fair. Santiniketan carry an integrated culture of art and artists who are actually the natives of the Bolpur city.

When someone is trying to understand how Santiniketan is – I guess the question itself lost it’s direction. It’s a great place for study, explore cultural ingredients, be peaceful and and enjoy the exact rural bengal at an utmost level. But that is not just how Santiniketan is. It is more than that.

However over the years this place is becoming an opportunity for growth and revenue. Understand this – any tier III city creates a good business point for a section of population when the healthcare improves and education too. At present Bolpur Santiniketan has a great healthcare facility. With the AICTE approved engg. college BITM, the resource pool and manpower have been easy too.

Rabindra Bhavana, founded in 1942, just after the death of the poet, is the focal point of Visva Bharati. It has a museum, archives, library and other units. It houses a major part of Rabindranath’s manuscripts, correspondence, paintings and sketches, 40,000 volumes of books and 12,000 volumes of bound journals, photographs and numerous items associated with the poet’s life. It is generally one of the first points of interest for anybody visiting Santiniketan.

It was established by the poet’s son, Rathindranath Tagore, as a memorial museum and research centre for Tagore studies.

Rabindranath Tagore with Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi at Santiniketan in 1940

The Uttarayana Complex, which lies in the northern portion of the town and is located next to Rabindra Bhavana, features a collection of five houses built by Rabindranath – Udayan, Shyamali, Konark, Udichi and Punascha. The gardens in the Uttarayan complex were planned and laid out by Rathindranath. Shyamali and Konark are mud houses. Shyamali was an experiment. The visual perspective was based on the Borobudur style. The entire outside wall was decorated with beautiful relief work by Kala Bhavana students under the guidance of Nandalal Bose. The Santals on either side of the main door and on the eastern corner were by Ramkinkar Baij. Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi stayed in the house as guests. Udayan is the most imposing house in the Uttarayan complex. It is meant for important guests visiting Santiniketan. Each suite in Udayan is on a different level which gives this house its individuality.

In 2013, Visva Bharati opened a museum Guha Ghar, in the Uttarayan complex, in memory of Rathindranath Tagore.

Mural by Nandalal Bose

The Ashram Complex is the oldest area of Santiniketan, where Debendranath built the Santiniketan Griha and the beautiful stained glass prayer hall, in the second half of the 19th century. Patha Bhavana came up after Rabindranath started residing in Santiniketan. It has beautiful frescoes by Nandalal Bose. Natun Bari was built in 1902 for residential purposes. Kalo Bari is a unique structure of mud and coal tar and profusely decorated. There are numerous other houses: Dehali, Santoshalaya, Singha Sadan, Dwijaviram, Dinantika, Taladwaj, Chaitya, Ghantatala, Panthasala, Ratan Kuthi, Malancha and others – each with an interesting story that makes it historically relevant.

Visva Bharati was established as a centre for culture with the objective of exploring the arts, language, humanities, music etc. Specialised institutes came up in different fields: Cheena Bhavana, Hindi Bhavana, Kala Bhavana, Sangit Bhavana, Bhasa Bhavana, Nippon Bhavana, Bangladesh Bhavana and others. Many of these institutes with myriad structures have been decorated by illustrious artists.

The landscape of Santiniketan is dotted with sculptures by Ramkinkar Baij (1906-1980), larger-than-life figures of Santals who were in reality part of the landscape. A Santal family, complete with dog, a group of workers running along at the call of the mill, their clothes flying in the air, a thresher, all situated along the main road. When Ramkinkar created Sujata, an elongated figure of one of the disciples of Buddha, he placed it just a little distance from the seated Buddha. Nandalal planted Eucalyptus saplings in the area, knowing that one day these tall trees would be a perfect setting to Ramkinkar’s Sujata. It was Nandalal Bose, who created an environment where art would be a part of life and the children of Santiniketan have grown absorbing these beautiful monuments as they have the oxygen in the air

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge

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