Monday, May 27, 2024
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We are far removed from the principles of Rabindranath Tagore

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By Uma Purkayastha

Rabindranath Tagore, the great Nobel Laureate was not only a world famous poet-philosopher but a multi-faceted genius. He was an educationist, psychiatrist, a social and educational reformer, a revolutionary patriot; and over and above all he was a great ambassador of peace and harmony.He established Shantiniketan (Abode of Peace), an ideal educational institute with a view to bring peace and harmony among diversities through education.
He started the ‘Visva-Bharati’ University in the town of Shantiniketan to be a place where students and teachers from the East and the West would sit together and learn from each other in a common pursuit of truth. His motto was, give and take i.e reciprocal exchange of thought and feelings. In every step of his life Tagore preached peace and harmony through his writings and activities.
He travelled the world with his message of love and friendship and earned huge popularity and applause, which he gratefully acknowledged in his poem:-
“Thou hast made known to me friends/whom I know not/ Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own/ Thou hast brought the distant near and made brother of the stranger”.
[Translated by Tagore himself” Ref:- ‘Gitanjali’ facsimile of the original manuscript]
He could make friends with people anywhere and they in turn loved him dearly. He was the poet who first gained for modern India a place on the world literary scene. He preached the message of peace and patience through his poems in ‘Gitanjali’ which was highly appreciated by the then well versed philosophers of Swedish society. It is worth mentioning that Tagore composed his ‘Gitanjali’ after the death of his beloved wife, a daughter, father and his youngest son. So, Gitanjali is the harvest of his extreme mental agonies from severe pain of eternal separation. As much as sorrow and sufferings were heaped upon him, he accepted them ungrudgingly; and prayed to the Almighty to give him the courage and strength to bear the pain. He expressed his emotions in the following verses.:-
‘Let me not pray to be Sheltered from danger/But to be fearless in facing them’
Tagore was a man of principles. He could not compromise with any sort of indiscipline in any of his work and advised his students and followers to lead a life of discipline. Unfortunately these days it is observed that to honour Tagore’s memory, celebrations of ‘Rabindra Jayanti’ are performed in innumerable places with much fanfare but discipline is totally lacking.
Tagore did not like any loud musical accompaniment with his song. In his language, ‘It murders the melody and emotion of the song,’ Alas! These days ear-splitting music accompanies the artistes’ performances everywhere, hampering the gravity of melodious Rabindra sangeet.
When ‘Rabindra Jayanti’ is observed on many occasions people don’t even mention the name of the great poet. The new progeny takes ‘Rabindra Jayanti’ as a annual ritual only, but have no idea about the vast contribution of the great poet. In many places where this celebration is observed there is no provision for short speeches on Tagore and for his noble thoughts in the programme. The opinion of the organisers is that the audience prefer the cultural programmes more than the time-consuming speeches. As a result, the children are deprived of the opportunity to know the great personality to whom they are paying tribute.
Peace and unity, concord and harmony are vanishing day by day from the society where violence and heinous activities are the daily fare of miscreants. Hence we cannot deny that we have moved away from Tagore’s principle of peace, harmony, discipline and decency.
The poet welcomed people of India irrespective of caste, creed, religion and tribe to be united on the shores of the Ocean of great Humanity. The English Translation goes like this :-
“Come Ye Aryans, come non Aryans/ Hindu, Muslim, come all/ Come ye English, come ye Christian/ Come Brahmin, come one and all/Let all unite on the shore of/ Vast Humanity, that is India”.
Where is that concord and harmony in India today? The poet dreamt of an India,
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high/ Where knowledge is free/Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls/ Where words come out from the depth of truth/Into that heaven of freedom, my Father/Let my country awake.”
Could we achieve that freedom? Sweetymon Rynjah, Former Deputy Registrar of North Eastern Hill University, and member of Khasi Authors’ Society, wrote in her article, ‘Tagore’s Ideas And Their Impact On Khasi Thought,’ “On reading Tagore’s works through English translations, it is a surprise and wonder to me why even after so many years why they have not been translated in all the languages, especially in Khasi? The present society needs such writings to read and ponder upon. Our politicians need the same for firmly establishing the spirit of integrity, solidarity and nationalism in our motherland’.
Hence it is a painful fact that though we pay tribute to the great poet Tagore in a befitting manner, we are far away from his principles and morals.

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