In a period of rapid change as we face today, it is often difficult to find the right balance between the cultural contributions and needs of the local, the national, and the universal. One way of finding this balance is to look at the life and work of others, who earlier confronted the same challenges. One such person was the poet, writer and cultural reformer Rabindranath Tagore. As Amiya Chakravarty, a literary secretary of Tagore wrote “Each individual must strike the ‘universal concrete’ in terms of his own creative effort, in the milieu of his own cultural heritage. Only by proceeding from wherever we are, geographically, spiritually or vocationally, can we make the integral effort for peace. The peace-workers belong to the entire human family, using the language or religious associations to which he has been born, and which he transforms, not necessarily by revolt but by inner transcendence.” (1)
Rabindranath Tagore was the Renaissance man of modern India — the bridge from an Indian culture dominated on the one hand by a traditionalism that had long ceased to be creative and on the other by English colonial practice whose reforms were self-interested. He was known world wide as a poet having received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. His aim was to combine a renewal of local thought, in particular that of his native Bengal, with an appreciation of the cultures of the world. The motto of the educational center he founded, Visva-Bharati, was “Where the world makes its home in a single nest.”
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