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What Was The Difference Between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore in Their Approach Towards Education and Nationalism?

Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore, two towering figures in the Indian nationalist movement, had distinct views on various subjects including education and nationalism. While both aimed at the betterment of India and its populace, their approaches and philosophies often diverged. Here’s a comparative analysis of their views:

1. On Education:

  • Mahatma Gandhi:
    • Basic Education: Gandhi emphasized “Nai Talim” or Basic Education. He proposed a system where education is rooted in craftwork and productive labor, thus linking hand and intellect.
    • Holistic Development: Gandhi believed that education should cater to the all-round development of an individual: body, mind, and spirit.
    • Medium of Instruction: He advocated for education in one’s mother tongue, believing it would make learning more intuitive and effective.
  • Rabindranath Tagore:
    • Natural Environment: Tagore founded the Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, emphasizing education amidst nature and away from the confines of traditional classrooms.
    • Global Connect: Tagore believed in the concept of “World University”. His idea was to foster internationalism, humanism, and spiritual values through education.
    • Integrated Development: Tagore believed in the confluence of art, literature, and spirituality in education, thereby nurturing creativity and individual expression.

2. On Nationalism:

  • Mahatma Gandhi:
    • Non-violence & Satyagraha: Gandhi’s concept of nationalism was deeply interwoven with the principles of non-violence (Ahimsa) and Satyagraha (Truth-Force). He believed in passive resistance against oppressive regimes.
    • Inclusivity: Gandhi’s vision of nationalism was inclusive, emphasizing unity among diverse religious and ethnic groups within India.
    • Swaraj: His ultimate goal was Swaraj or self-rule. For Gandhi, Swaraj meant not just political independence but also self-restraint and moral upliftment of the individual and society.
  • Rabindranath Tagore:
    • Critique of Nationalism: Tagore had reservations about aggressive and narrow nationalism. He believed it could become a tool for greed and a reason for conflict. He was critical of the jingoism that sometimes accompanied nationalist fervor.
    • Universalism: While Tagore was a patriot and played a crucial role in the national movement, he was also an internationalist. He believed in the concept of a “World Society”, emphasizing the interdependence of nations.
    • Cultural Nationalism: Tagore believed in expressing nationalism through cultural revival and understanding. He felt that India’s unique spiritual insights and heritage could offer a lot to the world.


Though Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore had different perspectives on education and nationalism, both were united in their commitment to India’s progress and betterment. Their differences in approach enrich our understanding of the multi-faceted nature of the Indian national movement and the diverse thought processes that shaped modern India.

March 2024