Gitanjali and Beyond Issue 11; Tagore and Science: From Poetics to Politics

On 30 November 1917, Jagadish Chandra Bose – Tagore’s good friend and fellow Bengali polymath – opens his own research institute. For Bose, newly retired from his position as Professor in Physics at Presidency College Calcutta, the Bose Research Institute is a lifelong dream come true. For the occasion, Tagore composes a song that remains the institute’s official anthem to this day.

The anthem calls on the Institute’s scholars and on Indian scientists more broadly to enlighten the nation: India’s “favour’d sons”, as Tagore calls them, are to guide the way out of the “deep dark night of waiting”. This “band of pilgrims” and, crucially, this “brotherhood of freedom in the soul” who are “ye who know” are to destroy “the long shame / of Bharat-land!” In other words: the scientists, who are enlightened by education and who are free in mind, are to lead the country at large towards enlightenment, freedom, and “Victory!”

Tagore’s poems for Bose – and in particular the song he composed for the Bose Research Institute – echo a note of the Bengali nationalist narrative of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that considered science “made in India” a cornerstone of national identity and a pathway towards independence. Ashim Kumar Mukhopadhyay supports this by stating that “[s]cience was seen by Indians as a point of their freedom struggle” (1995: 2). Partha Chatterjee (1997), Gyan Prakash (1999), Pratik Chakrabarti (2004), Dhruv Raina (2010), and Projit Bihari Mukherjeee (2016) all show how science is implicated in upholding colonial hierarchies as well as in undermining them. Science, colonialism, and modernity thus become mutually entangled.

For this special issue of Gitanjali and Beyond, we invite articles that explore the poetics and/or politics of science in Tagore’s own writing, his wider circle, and work connected to the Bengal Renaissance more broadly. What role does a “poetics of science” play in the formation of South Asian modernity? Scientific speculation, ranging from possible futures of the region due to industrialization, to reflections on divine cosmic mysteries, blended in the thought of Tagore and many of his contemporaries.

Articles as well as creative pieces and art on the following broad themes are welcome:

  • Tagore’s poetic vision of science
  • Science and national identity
  • Science and colonialism
  • Science as a tool for anticolonial nation-building
  • Science and South Asian modernity
  • Science and pedagogy in South Asian modernity
  • Modernism and technology
  • Exchanges between European and South Asian scientists
  • The poetics of scientific speculation in colonial India
  • “Western science” vis-a-vis science “made in India”
  • Science and the Bengal Renaissance


Submission deadline for title and abstract (max. 300 words) of proposed article: 1 March 2024.

Submission deadline for complete article with keywords: 1 August 2024.

Submissions for the Creative section may be submitted by 30 April 2024 and finalised by 1 August 2024


Please use the following email address for all submissions and enquiries: gitanjaliandbeyond (at)

Author and submission guidelines are available:


This issue of Gitanjali and Beyond will be guest-edited by Dr Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay and Dr Christin Hoene.