Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi : Similarities and Disagreements

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Tagore was a imaginary poet, a painter, philosopher and musician while Gandhiji was an activist with little tinct of philosophy in him. Both of them had a lot common thought and provocations but there were also some basic difference between the two.


  • Tagore and Gandhi both prophesied the humanism and the love of nature based on non-violence and tolerance to each other.
  • Both of them were in favour of self sustenance to alleviate the problems of poor India.
  • Both of them had love and sympathy for villages and people who live in poverty and destitution. And worked actively for the cause.
  • Both of them were in agreement on the  pride for ancient culture of India and its spiritual history in which tolerance to every ethnicity and thoughts was the key principle.
  • Whatever, it was god or truth, both of them have same source of inspiration. 
  • Gandhiji believed that the god is in 'Truth' but Tagore found his godhead in 'Love'. but their paths were different. Gandhi tried to achieve the 'Truth' through the path of Non-violence but Tagore tried to achieve his God/love through co-operation, mutual respect and tolerance.


Tagore's disagreement with Gandhiji was mainly on three issues:-

  1. Tagore heavily criticized Gandhiji's Non-cooperation Movement. Because he believed that the right of non-cooperation should not be given to public without any restraint from self willed march. He further said that idea of Nn-cooperation is negative nature which can not abstain from violence instead violence was inherent in non-Cooperation. It was proved true on when Chauri Chaura Incident occured. which lead to closure of the movement by Gandhiji.
  2. Tagore's second major disagreement was  on burning of foreign clothes for Swadeshi Movement. But Gandhi did not accept his interpretations because he believed that by burning foreign clothes, a person was burning his 'shame',  In other words people were obliterating the foreign domination over the country by burning their foreign clothes. Gandhiji thought that foreign clothes kept Indians believing that they were made to be ruled and felt down and disrespectful towards themselves.
  3. Tagore's third  major criticism to Gandhi was his idea of Charkha for sustainable life to downtrodden and poor people who were living in hunger and destitution and neglected modern factories and machines as they provide very less number of jobs. Tagore on Charkha, believed that it would lead India back into medieval age. He further said that Charkha inculcated disregard to the mind of people about science and through the idea of Charkha, Gandhiji was neglecting the vitality of science to eradicate people from extreme poverty and destitution. He further said instead of Charkha, India should move forward and adopt the spirit of inquiry and innovation, which is only possible through scientific temperament. He believed that science is necessary to achieve prosperity and removing the country from poverty.


  • Despite all differences both were living saints and idealist and had tremendous mutual respect to each other. 
  • Gandhiji was the first man who called Tagore as 'Gurudev' and Tagore was that person who called Gandhiji as 'Mahatma'. This itself a solid proof that how much respect they had for each other.
  • On disagreements between them, we can say that both are different personalities, on one side Tagore had a poetic and deep idealistic thinking which a man of action i.e. Gandhiji lacked in, but he had great experience of practical politics. That's why they differ on some issues.