Tagore and Rokeya: Autodidacts as Educational Pioneers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1980–1932) are two of the most iconic figures in Bengali, nay South Asian literature and culture. They are celebrated in both India and Bangladesh. Tagore’s songs are sung daily as the national anthems of the two countries; universities and university residential halls have been named after them;1 a school and a library have been named after Rokeya in West Bengal, 2 and Bangladesh celebrates 9 December, Rokeya’s birth and death anniversary,as the Begum Rokeya Day. In a BBC opinion poll conducted among the listeners of BBC’s Bengali Service in 2004, Tagore and Rokeya were voted among Top 10 “Greatest Bengalis of all time”—Rabindranath in the second place, just behind Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal) Sheikh Mujibur Rahman(1920–75), the founder of Bangladesh, and Rokeya in the sixth place, ahead of such acclaimed Renaissance figures as Raja Rammohun Roy (1772–1833), Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820–1891) and Swami Vivekananda(1863–1902), and the only woman to make into a list of Top 20 (“Listeners Name ‘Greatest Bengali’”). This is an extraordinary feat by any measure, as it refers to thousands of years of Bengali history.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRabindranath Tagore's Journey as an Educator
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Perspectives on His Poetics and Praxis
EditorsMohammad A. Quayum
Place of PublicationOxon, United Kingdom
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-15776-2
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-69500-2 , 978-0-367-74428-1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Rabindranath Tagore
  • Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
  • Santiniketan School
  • Visva-Bharati University
  • Sakhawat Memorial School
  • Feminism
  • Nationalism
  • Cosmopolitanism


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