Brief History of Shantiniketan – From The Early Days To As It Stands Today – panthashala

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Brief History of Shantiniketan – From The Early Days To As It Stands Today

Shantiniketan was a dream of Maharshi Devendranath Tagore that was later on nurtured Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. The very word “Shantiniketan” means the “the abode of peace”. Indeed the place is. Located in the north- central region of West Bengal under Birbhum district, Bolpur-Shantiniketan is the perfect place to find the self because of the serenity and absolute peace. The tranquil nature and the mesmerizing ambience of the red soil region can be the ultimate destination for those who are looking forward to escape from the city hustles and bustles. Bolpur forms itself with Shantiniketan, Sriniketan and Prantik. The famous Vishva-Bharati University, the open air schools of Shantiniketan created by Tagore and the famous handicraft industries are the most interesting things to explore here.

Santiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (after Bhuban Mohan Sinha, the Zamindar of Raipur in WB), and was owned by the Sinha family. In 1862, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, while on a visit to Raipur, showed interest in land near Birbhum. There was only one building there, namely “Santiniketan” (which is still there adjacent the Upasana Mandir known as “Odisha Bhawan”). Maharshi liked the place and registered it in the name of Maharshi Devendranath against Rupee One as token value. He called his home Santiniketan (after the name of the house). Santiniketan became a spiritual centre where people from all religions were invited to join for meditation and prayers. He founded an ashram here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Brahmo Samaj. Binoy Ghosh says that Bolpur was a small place in the middle of the 19th century. It grew as Santiniketan grew.

Santiniketan was earlier called Bhubandanga (after Bhuban Mohan Sinha, the Zamindar of Raipur in WB), and was owned by the Sinha family. In 1862, Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, while on a visit to Raipur, showed interest in land near Birbhum. There was only one building there, namely “Santiniketan” (which is still there adjacent the Upasana Mandir known as “Odisha Bhawan”). Maharshi liked the place and registered it in the name of Maharshi Devendranath against Rupee One as token value. He called his home Santiniketan (after the name of the house). Santiniketan became a spiritual centre where people from all religions were invited to join for meditation and prayers. He founded an ashram here in 1863 and became the initiator of the Brahmo Samaj. Binoy Ghosh says that Bolpur was a small place in the middle of the 19th century. It grew as Santiniketan grew.

A certain portion of Bolpur was a part of the zamindari of the Singha family of Raipur. Bhuban Mohan Singha had developed a small village in the Bolpur area and named it Bhubandanga. It was just opposite Santiniketan of those days. Bhubandanga was the den of a gang of notorious dacoits, who had no compunction in killing people. It led to a situation of conflict and confrontation, but the leader of the gang, ultimately, surrendered to Debendranath, and they started helping him in developing the area. There was a chhatim tree under which Debendranath used to meditate. Inspired by The Crystal Palace built originally in Hyde Park, London, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851 and later relocated, Debendranath constructed a 60-foot × 30-foot hall for Brahmo prayers. The roof was tiled and the floor had white marble, but the rest of the structure was made of glass. From its earliest days, it was a great attraction for people from all around. In 1863, Debendranath Tagore took on permanent lease 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land, with two chhatim (alstonia scholaris) trees, at a yearly payment of Rs. 5, from Bhuban Mohan Singha, the talukdar of Raipur. He built a guest house there and named it Santiniketan (the abode of peace). Gradually, the whole area came to be known as Santiniketan. Here Rabindranath Tagore started Patha Bhavana, the school of his ideals, whose central premise was that learning in a natural environment would be more enjoyable and fruitful.

After he received a Nobel Prize in 1913, the school was expanded into a university, known as Vishva Bharti University, in 1921. In the year 1924 based on the same ideology and with the intention of educating and training the people belonging to deprived part of the society he founded Siksha Satra with only 7 students. Founded in 1921 by Rabindranath Tagore, Visva Bharati was declared to be a central university and an institute of national importance,* in 1951. Visva-Bharati University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore is Shantiniketan’s sole university, offering courses across the arts, history, sciences and foreign languages. It is considered one of the premier universities in India and serves as the town’s cultural and academic center. Notable figures and alumni of the university include Satyendra Nath Bose.