The Tradition of Extension Lectures


Rabisandhya Programmes and the Tradition of Extension Lectures

A special feature of the activities of the NCE, Bengal in the
first decade of the twentieth century was a programme of Extension
Lectures, regularly organised, in addition to the regular classroom
lectures. Delivered by eminent educationists, the Extension Lectures
were open to the general public. Synoptic accounts of these lectures
often appeared in contemporary newspapers and journals, particularly
in the pages of Satis Chandra’s Dawn Magazine.

In 1907 Rabindranath delivered four lectures on literature and aesthetics. This marked the beginning of the tradition of extension lectures at the Council. Scholars and specialists who lectured during
the years 1907-1909 included, among many others, Ananda Kumar Coomarswami (Art), Gooroo Dass Banerjee (Mathematics), Mohini Mohan Chatterjee and Surendra Nath Banerjee (History), Hirendra
Nath Dutta (Philosophy), Chandra Kanta Nyayalankar (Political Science), Peary Mohan Mukherjee (Economics), Ramendra Sundar Trivedi (Physical Science) and Indumadhab Mallik (Biology).

Among the speakers who regularly delivered series of lectures during the third and fourth decades of the twentieth century, mention may be made of : Hirendra Nath Dutt, Kaliprasanna Dasgupta, Kulada
Prasad Mallik, Pramatha Nath Mukhopadhyay, Jamini Kanta Sen, Dayal Chandra Ghosh, Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, Pramatha Chowdhury, Phani Bhusan Tarkabagish, Benoy Kumar Sarkar, Bipin
Chandra Pal, Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, Kalidas Nag, Nihar Ranjan Ray, Bata Krishna Ghosh.

Though very popular and quite unique of its kind, the Extension Lecture programme could not be continued after the fifth decade of the twentieth century as the Council had to get busy otherwise. The
programme came to be revived in the early nineties of the last century, and the phenomenon that triggered the revival is quite interesting.

National Council of Education, Bengal


Patrons and friends,
The ‘Rabisandhya Diary’ which the National Council of Education, Bengal has been publishing for the last twenty three years is essentially a manual or guidebook offering its readers important
information about the programmes on 49 Sundays scheduled for a particular year.

Acharyya Saumyendra Nath Brahmachari of Deva-Sangha, (Deoghar), since deceased, was invited to give a series of Sunday evening talks on the Upanishads in the premises of the National Council. His instructive addresses started attracting a special audience that attended the programmes regularly for several months. As the audience kept on increasing in size, there were demands for lectures on varied and diverse topics as the original programme of the Council had been. Keeping in view the importance of the doctrine that in the modern age an educated man has to “know something about everything” and with a view to “quickening the spirit of nationalism”, the Council decided to reorganize the Extension Lecture Programme and put Professor Rama Prasad De in charge of the Programme which came to be styled “Rabisandhya Programme”.

The Rabisandhya Programme has since earned an amazing popularity in an amazingly short period. During the last twentyfive years nearly twelve hundred lectures have been organised on a vast variety of subjects. Distinguished educationists, scientists, men of literature, philosophers, social thinkers and eminent personalities from other walks of life have been delivering talks on subjects of diverse interest.

All the Rabisandhya programmes except the Vijaya get-together are now under endowments and bequests from persons who value the Rabisandhya forum of the National Council and trust its moral and intellectual viability. Recently, since the number of memorial lectures has shot up to 67, we have decided to keep two lectures/programmes on as many as twenty Sundays. Of about a thousand lectures delivered in the last twenty years, about two hundred have been published.