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Santiniketan

Connection with Gandhiji
Gandhiji visited Santiniketan several times between 1915 and 1945. In a speech at Santiniketan in 1940, Gandhiji said,’ Santiniketan has been more than a home to me. It was here that the members of my South Africa family found warm hospitality in 1914, pending my arrival from England, and I too found a shelter here for nearly a month.’

Background
Situated in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, Santiniketan was founded by Devendranath Tagore as a guest house. Devendranath’s son Ravindranath started a school there in 1901 and named it Brahmacharya Ashram. It was modeled on the ancient Gurukul system of teaching. Ravindranath developed and expanded it as a prominent center of cultural activities after he received Nobel Prize.

C.F. Andrew, a missionary and sympathetic to the cause of India’s independence, was a common friend of Gandhiji and Gurudev Tagore. On his recommendation, Gandhiji sent his associates of Phoenix Ashram, South Africa to Santiniketan as he prepared to leave South Africa permanently. Gandhiji and Kasturba reached India via England in January 1915.

At Santiniketan
• Gandhiji visited Santiniketan soon after he arrived in India. His first visit and stay there was from February 17 to 20, 1915.- Speech at Santiniketan Reception
• Gurudev Tagore was not present during this visit. Gandhiji met Kaka Kalelkar and Professor Jivatram Kripalani for the first time at Santiniketan during this visit. Both became his lifelong close associates. Gandhiji’s visit was cut short by the telegram of Gopalkrishna Gokhle’s death. He immediately left for Puna on the 20th.- Speech at Santiniketan on Gokhale's Death
• From Puna, he started again for Santiniketan via Mumbai and reached there on March 6, 1915. He met Gurudev Tagore for the first time. He left Santiniketan on March 11.
• From Santiniketan, he proceeded for Calcutta and Rangoon. On his return journey, he reached Santiniketan on April 1 and left for Hardwar on April 3.
• Gurudev Tagore was abroad when Gandhiji reached Santiniketan on September 11, 1920. He went there on invitation by their common friend C.F. Andrews. Gandhiji left Santiniketan on September 17.- Speech to the Inmates of Santiniketan
• In July 1920, Gandhiji appealed to Gujaratis to contribute dutifully to the construction of buildings at Santiniketan.
• When a reader raised questions regarding Gandhiji’s appeal to help Gurudev Tagore and Santiniketan, Gandhiji replied to the criticism.
• During Gandhiji’s visit to Santiniketan from May 29 to 31, 1925, he discussed several political and religious issues with Gurudev Tagore. He also met Gurudev’s elder brother Dwijendranath.- Speech at Santiniketan • Gandhiji’s last visit to Santiketan in presence of Gurudev Tagore was from February 17 to 19, 1940. He left for Malikanda on February 20. He saw a play ‘Chandika’ at Santiketan.- Speech to the Inmates of Santiniketan
• On his way back to Calcutta, Gandhiji wrote to Gurudev Tagore,’ Though I have always regarded Santiniketan as my second home, this visit has brought me nearer to it than ever before.’
• Gurudev Tagore gave a note of ‘fervent appeal’ to Gandhiji when he was leaving Santiniketan. He requested Gandhiji to ‘accept this institution (Vishwabharati) under your protection.’ Gandhiji him all the assistance he is capable of rendering.
• Gandhiji’s last visit to Santiniketan was in December 1945, four years after Gurudev’s demise. Gandhiji reached Santiniketan from Calcutta on December 18. The next day he laid the foundation of C.F. Andrews Memorial Hospital and also visited Kala Bhavan of Nandlal Bose. He left Santiniketan on December 20. During the stay, Gandhiji gave speeches at the prayer meeting on December 18 and 19 respectively.
• Giving tribute to Gurudev and Santiniketan, he said,’ Santiniketan has been the abode of peace to me and since my family was given shelter on arrival from South Africa, it is a pilgrimage to me and whenever I got the opportunity I came here to seek peace and tranquility.
• In the speech the next day, he told the students, ‘Gurudev lives on in his mission. He has fulfilled his mission. It is we who have certain duties we owe to him.

Architectural Documents

Site Address/Contact
Santiniketan
West Bengal – 731 204

 

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