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Kala Bhavana: 100 years of the arts school founded by Tagore

In 1919, when the country was still bleeding from the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, Tagore planted fresh seeds of life in the soil of Santiniketan by setting up Kala Bhavana — a school of arts

  • The institution is celebrating its centenary this year.
  • Exact date of establishment of Kala Bhavana is unknown, but art historian and Santiniketan veteran Prof. K. Siva Kumar says it was most likely in June that year, going by letters written at the time barely weeks after Tagore had returned his knighthood in protest against the massacre.
  • At the time, art in India was governed by colonial tastes and needs.
  • This was the first institution to break away from the colonial method.
  • It was a part of the nationalist movement, a model of anti-colonial education
  • Tagore was not a narrow nationalist; he wanted to connect with the larger heritage of world art, including non-Western traditions such as Chinese and Japanese.
  • At the same time, he also wanted to redefine Indian art.
  • His stay in the villages of East Bengal was an eye-opener for him.
  • He realized there was so much of nature to engage with, and so much of urban-rural divide that needed to be responded to
  • Earlier people used to come to Santiniketan because they subscribed to Tagore’s ideology, but now they come for the salary and job security because this is a Central government institution.” (Visva-Bharati came under Central control in 1951.)
February 2024