Samaj and Swaraj: The relevance of Gandhi and Tagore for the twenty-first century

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The concepts of samaj and swaraj as theorised by Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) in the early part of the twentieth century presented a direct challenge to western notions of society and freedom, which are inherently based upon narrow political definitions relating to developments in European modernity. As such ideas surrounding freedom of the individual and society are inextricably linked to the modern nation state – an institution that embodies the rights of both the individual citizenry and the collective nation. Like Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the great doyen of Bengali literature, engaged in broader questions of society and freedom. This essay will chart the source and developments of how Gandhi and Tagore arrived at their understandings of samaj and swaraj. The interaction between these two giants of Asia and the wider world spanned many decades from 1915-1941 and saw them debate issues relating to nationalism, the freedom struggle and global politics. In mapping their individual trajectories, the paper seeks to interrogate both the synergies and divergences between Gandhi and Tagore on the question of liberation and mutual cooperation. In exploring the basis of such dialogue, it is hoped to offer some reflections on the necessity of an-all-inclusive concept of society and liberty that is fit for the contemporary world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)8-27
Number of pages20
JournalGitanjali and Beyond
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Gandhi
  • Tagore
  • Samaj
  • Swaraj
  • Indian nationalism
  • the state


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