top of page
Tagore's University: A History of Visva-Bharati 1921-1961

Tagore's University: A History of Visva-Bharati 1921-1961

Tagore's University is a history of Visva-Bharati, the world centre of learning and culture founded by Rabindranath Tagore a hundred years ago. The poet’s conception entailed several autonomous centres – for Asian studies, the visual arts, music, and rural reconstruction – in defiance of the standard notions of a university. Visva-Bharati was set up to break barriers between nations and races by rebuilding in miniature the visva – the world torn apart by World War I.


The book traces the first four decades of this large experiment in building a cultural community of learning, teaching, and scholarship. It tells the story of exceptional individuals from across Europe, Asia, America, and India who became Tagore’s collaborators in a mini-universe of creativity and humane intellection. It reveals why in its heyday Visva-Bharati was so internationally renowned as an extraordinarily attractive institution.


Swati Ganguly explores the many achievements of what Tagore called his “life’s best treasure”. She also narrates changes in the material life and spirit of the place after Tagore, when it was shaped by the larger forces of a newly independent India. Archives, memoirs, official documents, and oral narratives come alive in this compellingly written and little-known history of an institution that once redefined tradition and modernity.

  • Author

    Swati Ganguly is Professor, Department of English, Visva-Bharati. Her interests include Rabindranath Tagore, the European Renaissance, feminism, translation, and theatre. She has held a Charles Wallace Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, Norwich (1996), and a New India Foundation Fellowship (2011). She has translated short stories by Bengali women writers and co-edited two anthologies of essays on Tagore. Tagore’s University, her first monograph, was written in her Santiniketan home, “Nepathya”, under the strict supervision of her canine companion Arjun.

  • Details


    508 pages

    Published in collaboration with the New India Foundation

    In the Hedgehog and Fox series, copublished with Ashoka University.

    World Rights

    You can buy this book from our distributors Orient Blackswan or from good bookstores, or from online portals.

  • Reviews

    "Ganguly’s history is a labour of love . . . a heroic achievement . . . a fascinating story, absorbingly told” Supriya Chaudhuri, Biblio

    “a meticulously researched study on the inception and growth of Visva Bharati . . . Ganguly writes with a rare elegance and sensitivity . . . Well supported by a good number of rare photographs, Ganguly’s detailed and richly textured history of the Visva Bharati makes for pleasant and informed reading”

    Winner, "Bochorer Best" awarded by Ananda Bazar Patrika to the year's outstanding achievers in Bengal
    Amiya P. Sen, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

©2022 by Permanent Black

bottom of page