Sei sulla pagina 1di 6

short stories | stories for children | adventure stories | poems | musings | humour | general | travelogues inspirational writing | motivational

writing | spiritual writing | thoughts to inspire | creative writing | good parenting

Tagores Views on Women's Education and Empowerment Expressed Through His Articles, Novels and Short-Stories Tagores Views on Women's Education and Empowerment Expressed Through His Articles, Novels and Short-Stories

Home | More Book Reviews

Where the mind is without fear and the head Is held high, where knowledge is free, Where the world has not been broken up into Fragments by narrow domestic walls, Where words come out from the depth of Truth, where tireless striving stretches its arms Towards perfection, Where the clear stream of reason has not lost Its way into the dreary desert sand of Dead habit. Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my father

Let my country awake. GITANJALI

The word education has a Latin derivation from educare which means bringing up children physically and mentally. Education is basically a social process which is concerned with how the student develops as an individual and in group relations. Its objective is to prepare the individual for participation in society, and it serves as a vehicle by which the culture of the group can be transmitted and perpetuated.

The efforts of Raja Ram Mohan Roy to uplift the condition of women by education them had its social impact. As early in 1819, a school for females was opened at Calcutta by the Calcutta Female Juvenile Society. But education of women did not make much progress because of the strict observance of the purdah and superstitions fear of widowhood of an educated girl. Womens education became more common after the Hindu Girls College, the present Bethune College, was established in May 1849 due to the efforts of J.E.D. Bethune, President of the council of Education. Ishwar Chandra Vidhya Sagar, the great social reformer of Bengal after Raja Ram Mohan Roy also played an important part in the spread of womens education.

With the advancement of Womens education, the tempo of social changes increased. The age of marriage of the girls of the upper middle class and also their educational qualifications increased with the passage of time. This fact can be noticed when we study the heroines and other female characters of Tagores novels in a chronological order.

The heroine of Tagores first great novel, Binodini, published in 1903, did not have any formal education even though her father appointed a European Governess for his daughters instruction. Again in the same novel Asha, the wife of the hero, Mahendra was an uneducated girl. Sucharita and Lolita in the novel Gora (1910) did not have any college education since the story pertains to the latter half of the last century. Though HemaMalini in The Wreck (1906) studied in a college, she was not a graduate. Similarly, Bimla, the heroine of The Home and the world had no formal education.

The heroines of the novels written in the interwar period (1918-39) were educated Labanya, the heroine of Farewell My Friend written in 1928 was a post graduate. Similarly Ela the heroine of Four Chapters.. written in 1934, was a research scholar before she joined the revolutionary party.

Being the champion of the emancipation of women in the true tradition of Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Ishwar Chandra Vidhya Sagar, Tagore through his novels brings out the problems of the women of his

age. For this purpose he makes women the protagonists in almost all his novels. He tries to focus the attention of the society on the major problems of the women such as:-(1) The struggle of the modern educated young women for equality and freedom in the male-dominated conservative society.(2) The plight of widows in the joint families who are economically exploited and prevented from remarrying. (3) The complications that arise in the family set up when the modern women participate in the freedom struggle.

The novelistic world of Tagore embodies a vision of India caught up in the cross current of opposing ideologies, of the questioning of the old or traditional moral sanctions in search of self fulfillment, the clash between the reformist an evivalist forces the conflict between the moderate and extremist elements in politics as well as the eternal struggle in the human consciousness between love and sacrifice. The novels Binodini, The Wreck and Chaturanga relate to some of the pressing social issues which rocked the Bengali Hindu, society towards the end of the last century. The first novel dramatizes the struggle of young beautiful window for self actualization and selfhood in a social system that denies all scope for such attempts. The heroine Binodini though brought up in a village is skilled in all the households arts like cooking, knitting and interior decoration. Her father despite his limited resources engaged an English governess, to educate his daughter at home.

Binodini is very fortunate to receive modern education which many girls of even the affluent classes were denied, Modernity is ridiculed by Annapurna she taunts Mahendra, Would you rather have her as a modern girl, lazily longing about the whole day, reading novels or doing fancy knitting wanted upon by other.

Hemaline of the novel The Wreek is a traditional woman. She is the true representative of the new emerging class of emancipated women of the early twentieth century. Sucharita of the novel Gora heralds the age of the modern women who refuse to sit idly at home. She is eager to serve the country and the people. She is the precursor of Bimla (The Home and the World), Ela (Four chapters) and Sarla (The garden) who show political awareness and interest in freedom movement of the country. Sucharita surpasses the other heroines of Tagore in her keen perception, critical judgment and liberal out look. She is necessary for the growth of Goras personality and his self realization. Because of her, he realizes that women too have a role to play-in the upliftment of the country. In the same novel Lolita anticipates the modern women who rebels against all, sorts of tyranny and oppression by at least a generation. She is the harbinger of the womens liberation and feminist movements of the twentieth century. Tagore forewarns people that the days of women of the Sita and Savitri image are numbered. Women like Lolita

are ready to come out of the portals of tradition and orthodoxy and will not allow themselves to be oppressed by the male dominated society.

Anandamoji appears to be a symbol to Tagores broad vision of life, liberal and non-sectarian outlook and universal love. She echoes the novelists ideal of heaven of freedom, where there is not barrier between man and man. She believes that human beings are not born with caste and there is no reason why they can not be united in wedlock in spite of their different religions. Anandamoyi is a great rebel as a true follower of Raja Ram Mohan Roy. She does not care for the traditional and orthodox practices proclaim her a rebel against the customs and conventions of the conversation society. She is the only one in her class to wear bodice. She is mockingly referred to by her people at Mem Sahib. Bimla in the novel The home and the world comments:-

I was no longer the lady of the Rajahs house, but the sole representative of Bengals womanhood. And he was the champion of Bengal I said within myself that his language had caught fire from my eyes, for we woman are not only the deities of the household fire, but the flame of the soul itself. The theme of all the novels of Tagore revolves around a woman. Among the modern heroines of Tagore labanya (Farewell, my friend) is the first to take a post graduate degree and earn her livelihood. Urmila (Two sisters) the western educated woman takes her place in the company of Hemalini, Labanya. She is the first woman who goes to Europe unescorted. Urmila plays tennis and is interested in literature and music. The tragic condition of woman in Bengali society was best demonstrated in the feudal backwardness of the society. In the question of womans emancipation Tagore agreed with the enlighteners. The analysis of the stories of the nineties confirms that as far as the questions of the position of woman in society was concerned Tagore was never influenced by patriarchal views. It is not sheer chance that in many of his stories Woman characters are drawn more powerfully and in a brighter way than the characters of many spineless men. In the story Punishment (1938) the author takes us to the world of poor peasants where woman have no human rights. Tagore thus showed that woman protested against feudal oppression. Though their protest is positive one it is important to note that they resented against the set norms and customs and was not ready to accept humiliation in a sub missive manner.

In the story Atonement (1894) Anathbondhu like Jaigopal from the story Elder Sister belongs to that section of middle class society which at the first opportunity would used the helpless position of woman. Anath bondhu is an idler whose only intention is to make money without much effort. He married Bindhyabasini, a girl from a well-off family and led a parasitic life in the house of his in-laws. The author depicting the tragic position of woman emphasizes the real character of the heartless representatives of the middle class through the character of Anathbondhu. In this story Tagore sharply criticizes the meaninglessness of feudal religious rituals but the pathos of his work in revealing the true picture. Tagore in his stories also depicts the progressive section of the intelligentsia, who ceaselessly struggled

against fedul backwardness and colonial oppression. In the story The Renumciation Tagore shows the harmful effect and backwards of caste system which was an obstacle in the development of normal human relations and one of the main hurdle in overcoming feudal backwardness of society. Peari Sankar utilizes the custom of prohibition of inter-caste marriage and encourages Hemanta to marry Kusum belonging to a lower-caste.

Many stories of Tagore are devoted to the theme of exploitation of women. In the most glaring manner this them is revealed by the author in Elder Sister (1895).Tagore in this story shows that the middle class in spite of their education were still sticking to old cruel feudal morals. Jaigopal, one of the main characters of the story, is a typical representative of the middle class. His wife Soshi, a modest and kindhearted woman, loves him and greatly respects him. Tagore reveals the extent of the submissiveness of Bengali women to their husband, characteristic feature of Indian society for ages. Husband to the wife was almost like God and disobedience to husband was considered a great sin. In this story Tagore shows that had already stared protesting against humiliation and injustice. Soshi fully realizing the difficulty of her position does not despair and takes upon her the odious task of defending her brother. When Soshi approached the Deputy Magistrate for help, he refused to help an unprotected woman. He did not approve that a lady from a respectable family should come out of her home and start a dispute with her husband and property. Soshi dies struggling against injustice. Her death symbolizes the awakening of women. In the character of Soshi a splendid picture of Bengali Women has been revealed. Their brave, decisive and kind nature capable of loving intensely and struggling for justice has been reflected in the story.

Tagore as a whole suggests an emerging pattern seeking to encompass his vision of Indian reality and his adumbration of ideas about the nature of Indian society and culture caught up in the throes of radical change. Tagores distinctiveness lies in his responding positively to the forces of historical acceleration in Indian milieu without abandoning the age-old values Tagore also shows their keen practical sense and the purposive ness of their character. Tagore believed in progress and in freeing women from feudal bondage and he also believed that given equal rights and opportunities they may occupy their rightful place in society side by side with men.

REFERENCES 1. Humayun Kabir: Rabindranath Tagore, Tagore LECTURES 1961(Londen School of Oriental and African studies, 1961) p.29. 2. Edward Thompson: Rabindranath Tagore: His Life and Works rev by Kalidas Nag (Calcutta Y.M.C.A Publishing House, 1961)

3. Bhabani Bhattacharya: Tagore as a Novelist in Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1961, a centenary volume, ed. S. Radhakrishnan (New Delhi, Sahitya Akademi 1961) 4. G.V. Raj : Tagore, The Novelist , sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi-110016 5. Humayun Kabir (ed): Towards universal Man Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1961 6. M.Sarada: Rabindranath Tagore: A study of women charactersin his novels, Sterling publishers Pvt.Ltd.(1983) Dodiya (New Delhi : Prestige: 19999): 149-155. 5. Qtd. U.R. Anantha Murthy, Introduction to Tughlaq(Delhi:OUP,1972):VIII. 6. rajinder paul, Girish Karnad Interviewed, Enact, no. 54(june 1971): 2-6. 7. Three plays, translated by Girish Karnad (Delhi: OUP, 1994). 8. Veena Noble Das, Use and Abuse of History in Tughlaq, Girish Karnads plays: Performance and Critical Perspective (ed.) Tutan Mukherjee. (New Delhi : Penecraft International, 2006): 91-95.