December 7, 2022

Remembering Tagore: a Polymath whose ideas taught the world ‘where the mind is without fear’

Rabindranath Tagore, an artist who redefined literature in his own style and also a philosopher and a social reformer whose ideas taught the world “where the mind is without fear”

Edward Bulwer Lytton, a well known novelist and playwright wrote the much popular phrase, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword in the year 1839 for his historical play Cardinal Richelieu. Perhaps the phrase was written while keeping the master of words like Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore in mind.

Today the world marks the 161st anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, a polymath who believed in the idea of universal fraternity and humanism, an artist who redefined literature in his own style and also a philosopher and a social reformer whose ideas taught the world “where the mind is without fear”

Gurudev in his early days Image Source: Social Media

Tagore the Polymath

Tagore the lover of literature had been recognized as a polymath for his encyclopedic attitude. Not just a poet but Tagore also scores eminent remarks when it comes to other forms of art, be it playwriting, composing and painting. Also, the Noble Man was also a great philosopher and a social reformer and thus a polymath. Born in 1861, Kolkata, Tagore was sent to Britain to complete his graduation, as the nation then was suffering with providing better facilities. Tagore, however, returned without completing.
Tagore gathered the attention of masses by his early twenties. In his autobiography ‘Jeevan Smriti’ Tagore writes that Bankim Chandra Chatterjee once greeted Tagore with the garland that was offered to him in his respect. Chatterjee then praised Tagore a lot and said that more than him it was Tagore who deserved such a greeting
Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize was GitanjaliImage Source: Flipkart.com

The Jan-Gan-Man controversy

It has been a much popular tradition across the globe to push a popular person into the dock of controversies for one or the other reasons. Gurudev, too went through this process many times, of which the national anthem of the nation, i.e. the Jan Gan Man controversy stands first.
Many times people argue that the national anthem written by Tagore was actually written for Lord George V , the then King of the UK and British Dominions. However, Nityapriya Ghosh, in his book ‘Rabindranath Tagore A Pictorial Biography’ states that one of his friends requested Tagore to write a piece of art for the king to which the polymath refused. Instead, Tagore wrote this piece for the energy residing in the hearts of the countrymen. However, the former incident hit the streets and thus created controversy.

Gitanjali and the journey to Nobel Prize

Gurudev wrote the much popular Gitanjalibetween 1907-10. By the same time he translated this work into English as well. He took these pieces of art along with him when he left for England. William Rothenstein, an English painter of the time and also an acquaintance of Tagore asked for these artworks and then gave it to W.B. Yeats, popular poet of the time. Yeats then along with his other poets to whom he knew decided to publish the collection by the Indian Society of London. This way Gitanjali got published in London in 1912 and Tagore was awarded the Nobel the next year on November 14,1913.
The artwork summaries the true meaning of Democracy

Tagore in present

Relevance of Tagore and his works are a perfect example of the fact that art holds no boundaries. It enriches day by day, year after year and serves its purpose by catering to mankind. On the 161th anniversary of the legend, here we pay tribute to him with one of his own artwork, defining the true spirit of democracy.
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 Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
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, Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit, Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake