Rabindranath Tagore: A great humanist

Ataur Rahman | Published: 18:15, May 07,2017

 
 
Rabindranath Tagore

File photo shows Nagorik Natya Sampradaya stages Raktokarobi.

Rabindranath Tagore, the great myriad-minded creator of art, culture and literature, with a deep of philosophy life has glorified the lives of the Bengalis in its entirety. This multifaceted, gifted man embraced and assimilated the entire world culture at ease. In him we find the essence of humanity. He broke through the barrier of his own country and standing on its soil he spread out his two hands and cupped handful of elixir from the entire human races of the world. In return, he paid back the universe a deep rooted philosophy embracing international peace, friendship, brotherhood and above all the spirit of mutual co-existence and forgiveness. As a great ambassador of humanity, he sent out to the West, the simplicity our soil-bound life and its philosophy which is sober, composed and simple life-oriented. Tagore being a prolific composer of poems and songs and creator of great novels, plays, essays, travelogues, thought provoking books on agriculture, science and education, emitted sparks and rays of a humanistic philosophy in all his creative ventures. Tagore’s had a colorful journey through out his entire life of eighty years which was more adventurous, meaningful and above all humane than Odysseus of Homer’s Epic thorough the quagmire, but he covered his path with the fragrance of flower petals. Rabindranath Tagore went to England at a young age of seventeen and he said in one of his writings, being in West he could realise the meaning of his life; Rabi means sun and sun rises encompassing the entire world- east, west, north and south.

In one of his well-known poem titled ‘Africa’ he lamented the neglect of Africa, then known as a dark continent, the inmates of which were humiliated and insulted by the neo-colonialist Titans of the West but at the end of the poem he dismissed his anger and proclaimed humanism and peace, which was paragraphed as under :

‘Today, when on the Western horizon

Evening stands stifled by storms, when beasts

emerge from cavernous depths to announce

the end of light in ugly shrieks,

O Poet of an epoch’s end, come and stand

before the humiliated woman in the glow of

the impending gloom, ask for her forgiveness.

Let this be your last scared word of faith in

this cacophony of cruel hatred.

                             -- (Translated by Chitananda Das Gupta)

In his well known essay ‘Crisis of Civilization’ which is read and re-read almost by the good number of populace of the world concludes thus:

‘As I look around I see the crumbling ruins of a proud civilisation strewn like a vast heap of fatality and yet I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in Man.’ In fact, Tagore had reminded the entire universe about the tolerance of the oriental people. If we go back though our memory line, it will be noticed that leaving aside the first and the second world wars, no war of destruction emanated from the East. People of orient always believed the unity in diversity and Tagore was a great flag bearer of that faith.

In one of his well know song Tagore is chanting ‘I shall not load you with the weight of jewels,/  nor cover you with chains of flowers. / My tenderness will be the garland/ which I shall swing from your throat’./ (Translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson)

As a great humanist he once wrote to Mahatma Ghandi indentifying humanism of Buddha and Christ ‘In every important act of his life Buddha preached limitless love for all creators. Christ said ‘Love thy enemies’ and that teaching of his found its final expression in the words of forgiveness he uttered for those who killed him.

Rabindranath Tagore, the myriad-minded universal man was politically and socially conscious creative man with sharp receptive mind. Any socially or politically wrong doings within his own country or in the outside world never escaped his attention.  His pen was ever alive against any mis-doing anywhere in the world which got an outlet in this innumerable writings of varied genre. He expressed his view about West in ‘Red oleanders (Play Raktakarabi): Author’s Interpretation’. He expressed his opinion about the then West in the following lines ‘The view that we can get of her, in our mutual dealings, is that of a titanic power with an endless curiosity to analyse and know, but without sympathy to understand; with numberless arms to coerce and acquire, but no serenity of soul to realise and enjoy.’ In the same rejoinder against the opinion expressed in ‘The Manchester Guardian’ in regard to his play ‘Raktakarabi’ expressed -- ‘It is an organised passion of greed that is stalking abroad in the name of European civilisation’. We need to reckon the fact; it was time when British patriotic song used to raise resonance – ‘Rule Britannia rule the waves’ and ‘Britons never will be slaves.’ In the same write-up Tagore said, ‘Christian Europe no longer depends upon Christ for her peace, but upon the League of Nations, because her peace is not disturbed by forceful individuals so much as by organised Powers. Rabindranath Tagore was always against the evil force of organised Powers. Tagore was also a great propagator against the unholy spirit of megalomaniac ambition. During his first visit to United State of America, he observed intently that the menacing ghost of megalomaniac ambition and titanic wealth is gliding in the air. Tagore expressed his views about humanity in the same write-up through these following sentence- ‘I have a stronger faith in the simple personality of man than in the prolific brood of machinery that wants to crowd it out.’ In this rejoinder he expressed his faith in the hidden power of women and said that he painted the portrait of ‘Nandini’, the heroine of the play ‘Raktakarabi’ (Red Oleanders) as the bearer of the message of reality, the saviour through death. Tagore also expressed his faith by saying that the women will rescue this world from the dominance of the unholy spirit of rapacity.

Rabindranath Tagore, being the son of a lord, a member of the upper strata of society, felt very ardently about the working class and downtrodden people of society. In his play ‘Muktadhara’, Dhanajoy Boiragi, a singer propagating humanity and also a common people’s representative, said on the face of Ronojit, the king, that he and the working people would not pay the revenue to him as he could only have the share of surplus food of the people, but not the food of hunger of the working class. This was Rabindranath Tagore who was a tireless of messenger of truth relating to human dignity and rights, despite his being a great creator of art, culture and literature. He has glorified our life in its entirety. Rabindranath will remain a North Star in our sky.

The writer is Actor-Director-Writer

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