A History of Sriniketan: Rabindranath Tagore’s Pioneering Work in Rural Reconstruction

Paper Type: Book print paper | Size: 228mm x 152mm; 234pp
Black and white, 59 photographs and 6 illustrations
ISBN-13: 978-93-91125-44-8


The idea of doing something to redeem the neglected village came to Rabindranath Tagore when he first went to live in his family’s agricultural estates in East Bengal during the 1890s. As manager of those estates, he got his first exposure to the countryside and its stark miseries. The experience played a seminal role in turning him into a man of action.

The present book, A History of Sriniketan, explores Tagore’s attempt to inspire the deprived sections of rural society to self reliance and to make them economically independent by setting up a centre for rural reconstruction called Sriniketan as a wing of his Visva-Bharati International University at Santiniketan in 1922.

The idea was pioneering in its times as an endeavour for improving the condition of the peasantry by using scientific methods of cultivation through laboratory experiments where the expert and the peasant collectively participated. To achieve all this, he sent his eldest son, Rathindranath Tagore, to the USA, for studying agriculture. He also invited Leonard Knight Elmhirst, the internationally known agriculturist, to come and stay in Sriniketan for a year. There was a parallel effort to revive the traditional rural arts and crafts as a means of creativity and economic recovery.

Tagore’s independent thinking gave him the courage of conviction to work alone with his ideas of rural reconstruction outside the Nationalist Movement. He was not one to accept that all improvements had to wait for our country’s political independence

Uma  Das Gupta
Uma Das Gupta

Historian and Tagore biographer Uma Das Gupta was educated at Presidency College, Calcutta, and the University of Oxford. Her post-doctoral research has been on Rabindranath Tagore and the history of the educational institutions he founded at Santiniketan and Sriniketan, 1901–1941. She retired as Professor, Social Sciences Division, Indian Statistical Institute. She was Head of the United States Educational Foundation in India for the Eastern Region. Recently, she has become a National Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IAAS), Shimla, and a Delegate of Oxford University Press, India.