Wednesday January 17, 2018

The never ending journey to self discovery: Remembering Rabindranath Tagore

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By Prachi Mishra

In this playhouse of infinite forms, I have had my play and here have I caught sight of him that is formless. -Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore, India’s one of the most prominent cultural personalities, has artistically brought out the essence of eastern spirituality in his poetry unlike any other poet. He himself had stated that his spiritual vision inculcates “the ancient spirit of India as revealed in our sacred texts and manifested in the life of today.”

Swami Adiswarananda of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center of New York, in the preface of ‘Tagore: The Mystic Poets’ wrote, “The inner-seeking spirituality of India infused all of Tagore’s writing. He wrote in many genres of the deep religious milieu of Hinduism. The values and core beliefs of the Hindu scriptures permeated his work.”

“Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophical and spiritual thoughts transcend all limits of language, culture, and nationality. In his writings, the poet and mystic takes us on a spiritual quest and gives us a glimpse of the infinite in the midst of the finite, unity at the heart of all diversity, and the Divine in all beings and things of the universe,” said the Swami.

Tagore was born in 1861 in a wealthy Bengali Brahmin family that was devoutly Hindu, yet also strongly political. His father and grandfather were involved with in the religious movement called Brahmo Samaj. After growing up in such an atmosphere, Rabindranath developed a strong individual perception of life.

In his writings, Tagore kept reiterating that humanity’s mission is to ultimately merge with God. He focused primarily on man’s oneness with God. In Sadhana, he stated “Man becomes perfect man, he attains his fullest expression, when his soul realizes itself in the Infinite being who is Avih (fearless), whose very essence is expression.”

“This is the ultimate end of man, to find the One, which is in him, which is his truth, which is his soul; the key with which he opens the gate of the spiritual life”, he added.

Tagore regarded human being as the highest of God’s creations. He believed that humans are endowed with an inherent divinity, which helps them to attain perfection. He wrote, “The world has found its culmination in man, its best expression. Man, as a creation, represents the Creator.”

Gurudev’s primary literary theme was man’s achievement of moksha (liberation) from the cycle of reincarnation. He believed that man is perpetually expanding the horizons of his mind and soul, and his ultimate destination is the divine union with God. His written works elucidated the idea of surrendering to God and serving humanity with love and respect.

He not only believed in serving humanity, but also in serving nature. His religious inspirations came mostly from nature. It was nature that gave his poetry its ethereal beauty. The poem Gitanjali (song offerings), for which he was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize for literature, celebrates the worship of nature.

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Rabindranath Tagore was indeed a very knowledgeable personality. Not only did kids love his stories, but elders also enjoyed it to the fullest

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8 must-read works of Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore was a versatile artist who provided an earnest insight into society and humanity with his various short stories, novels, essays, songs, plays, and paintings.

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Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature. Wikimedia Commons
Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature. Wikimedia Commons
  • Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature.
  • He has many landmarks works to his name which continues to inspire masses.
  • His collection of poems, Gitanjali got him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

The Nobel Prize-winning writer, Rabindranath Tagore, also known as Gurudeva or the Bard of Bengal, was the trailblazer of Bengali literature. He possessed literary genius through which he brought a revolution in Bengali literature and music.

A painting by mullti-talented Rabindranath Tagore.
A painting by multi-talented Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore was a versatile artist who provided an earnest insight into society and humanity through his short stories, novels, songs and paintings. His works even today inspire the masses and young readers and writers. Here is the list of some of his remarkable works:

Gitanjali

One of his best work is a collection of 157 poems called ‘Gitanjali’. The poems in this book vary in their themes, from spirituality to complexities of life. It was originally written in Bengali and was later translated into English. This work was so remarkable that Tagore got a Nobel Prize for it in 1913.

Gitanjali is the landmark work of Tagore. Wikimedia Commons
Gitanjali is the landmark work of Tagore. Wikimedia Commons

 Gitabitan

Rabindranath Tagore was a skilled and sensible songwriter. Throughout his life, he wrote a total of 2230 songs which are popularly known as ‘Rabindra Sangeeth’. The songs were compiled in this exquisite book called ‘Gitabitan.’

Chokher Bali

Chokher Bali or ‘A grain of sand’ is a Bengali novel written by Tagore, which was later translated into English. The story revolves around an extra-marital affair and depicts passion, desires, relationships and honesty in all its complexities. The novel is well known for its portrayal of complexities in a relationship.

Gora 

Rabindranath Tagore wrote 12 novels, and out of these, this one is the longest and most complex. It raises a number of concerns, which are relevant to our nation even today. This book aptly reflects different social standards in colonial India.

Rabindranath Tagore produced many works which changed the literature in India. Image source: buddybyte.com
Rabindranath Tagore produced many works which changed the literature in India. Image source: buddybyte.com

Kabuliwallah(The Fruitseller from Kabul)

The Kabuliwala is about an Afghan vendor who came to Calcutta, trying to earn a living. Along the way, he creates an emotional bond with the narrator’s five-year-old daughter. It is a very touching and heart-warming story which will leave you emotional.

Ghare Baire (The Home and the World)

This book has an autobiographical aspect. It reflects upon the deeper meaning of life by showing the struggles of three individuals. The story represents a war between the western and eastern ideology. Tagore chose Swadeshi Movement as the backdrop for this novel and provided a deep insight into the Bengal history.

The Postmaster

This is another one of Tagore’s work which revolves around the search for the meaning of life. This story of a city man working as a postmaster in a village to earn his living will give you lots of food for thought. The story represents loneliness in a beautifully haunting way.

Shesher Kabita

This novel was first released in a serialised form in the magazine ‘Probashi’. It was published as a book in the year 1928. The translated version of the book is called ‘The Last Poem’ and ‘Farewell song’ in English. The book portrays the platonic love of a matured couple and its complication. It is an epic love saga.