Visva Bharati University is a school located in Santiniketan, West Bengal.
It was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it Visva-Bharati, which means the communion of the world with India. The University provides all kind of education. As well as Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary education. The University provides hostels, cafeteria, hospital, libraries and good quality Wi-Fi. The university has two guest houses: Ratan Palli and Purba Palli.
The university is divided into institutes, centres, departments and schools. The respective departments are included in the institutes. The university’s programmes dealing with its rich cultural heritage, as well as art and dance education, are funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.
Visva-Bharati Library was established in 1901, at the time of foundation of the Brahmacharya Asrama at Santiniketan by Rabindranath Tagore. Presently, Visva-Bharati Library System has a Central Library, 12 Sectional libraries attached with:
- Darshan Sadan
- Palli Sangathan Vibhaga
- Palli Siksha Bhavana
Moreover, around 30 Seminar Libraries are in operation attached to different departments.
Visva-Bharati library contains old and rare documents, which include multi-lingual and multi-discipline books, reports, manuscripts, etc. The library also has a number of important collections; mention may be made of the collections of Rabindranath Tagore, Prabodh Chandra.
The university dates back to 1863 when Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the zamindar of Silaidaha in East Bengal, was given a land by Babu Sitikanta Sinha, the zamindar of Raipur, – which is a neighbouring village not far from Bolepur and present-day Santiniketan – and had set up an ashram at the spot at the heart of the town. It has now come to be called chatim tala. The ashram was initially called Brahmacharya Ashram, which was later renamed Brahmacharya Vidyalaya. It was established with a view to encourage people from all walks of life to come to the spot and meditate. In 1901 his youngest son Rabindranath Tagore established a co-educational school inside the premises of the ashram.
From 1901 onwards, Tagore used the ashram to organise the Hindu Mela, which soon became a center of nationalist activity. Through the early twentieth century the zamindars of Surul (Sarkar Family) – another neighbouring village, a few minutes by cycle from the Uttarayan Complex – and the zamindars of Taltore, – village just north of the university town – went on to sell their lands and other properties to the ashram and the college that was being built on this spot.
On 23 December 1921, Tagore formally started the college with proceeds from the prize money of the Nobel Prize he received in 1913 for the publication of his book of poems Gitanjali. The college also became a center of Brahmo learning in this period. It was granted full university status in May 1951 by the government of independent India. Rabindranath Tagore’s eldest son, Rathindranath Tagore, became the first upacharya (vice chancellor) of the new university. Another member of the Tagore family who performed the role of upacharya was Indira Devi Chaudhurani, a niece of the poet.
The way of learning
Rabindranath Tagore believed in open air education and had reservations about any teaching done within four walls. This was due to his belief that walls represent conditioning of mind. Tagore did not have a good opinion about the Western method of education introduced by the British in India; on this subject, Tagore and Gandhiji’s opinion matched.
Tagore once said, “I do not remember what I was taught, I only remember what I learnt.” Tagore’s idea on education was that every person is genius and that all students may not bloom at the same time. So he devised a new system of learning in Visva-Bharati. He allowed students to continue their course till the student and his teacher both are satisfied.
At Visva-Bharati University, if a course demanded by a student is not available, then the university will design a course and bring teachers for that course. The university would not be bothered by the consideration of whether there is a demand for the course.
While living in Santiniketan we had visited the school. We had seen how children study and the cafeteria that had a lot to offer in student prices. We loved it and wanted to stay. We tried to apply but it didn’t work. The place is lovely and quite big. If you visit the city for the first time it might be hard at first to know where is what.