By Ananya Guha
It is learnt that the latest wrath has fallen upon Rabindranath Tagore and by who else but by lackeys of the powers that be. It is both not surprising and surprising as well. One felt that a man of his stature, Tagore would have been spared of the wrath. Not surprising because such protagonists have never tried to make the word culture truly interpretative. They view it only in terms of religion. They refuse to understand that culture is also broad mindedness, visionary and all embracing. If they had read Tagore’s ” Religion Of Man ” they perhaps would have grasped a little of Tagore’s nuanced philosophy of life and his crafted take on the unity of life and the world.
One worry is, why has this stand off taken place? Is it because of Tagore’s views on a transcendent nationalism? Or is it because of his closeness to Nehru? Or is it because that Tagore was ‘ untouched ‘ by the fervor of the nationalist movement? Tagore was indeed influenced by it but he was a man in whom there were multiple cross currents of the creative energy. In fact he believed that the creative and the spiritual merged, and in believing in this he was influenced by both Vedic and Upanishadic thought. His belief in supra nationalism was a transcendent vision of one mankind. By relegating Tagore’s visionary dreams to backwaters it is philistinism of the worst kind.
In such situations what is our impelling stance.? Read him properly, be led by his genius and the infinite power of his creative energy, his super abundant energy and zest for life, driven by passion to coalesce philosophy, poetry, politics, dance, religion with life in totality and composite. Hitherto not done or comprehended.The surplus in life was to him the creative energy ? Isn’t such surplus akin to the religious fervor outlined in ‘ our’ religious or sacred texts? Tagore’s view of life was dual, treble, but there was an overarching unity. This unity was vision of the spirit. True he did not advocate self abnegation, but only in moderation.To catch a glimpse of his creativity is to understand the eternal, the fixity of flux and the inner creative spirit of man. Such is his unity and the unity of the cosmos.
Young minds should try and position themselves in the vision of Tagore, a grand design of truth and harmony, of special relevance in today’s sundered and dissipated world, violence ridden. If Gandhi was the advocate of political freedom Tagore was that of freedom pushed by creative energy and the indomitable spirit of wisdom.
Tagore differed with Gandhi but revered him. Tagore taught us this telling truth, that, in midst of divergence of views there can also be mutual respect. This is what young people and students should know and learn. But our political savants want hierarchy and superiority of cultures. Lynching the past seems to be a favorite trouble baiting zone today. Marauding the historically significant another past time. What happens when this is done? We evict history, the past and the subliminal out of its roots. We blacken the past and deprive young minds not only knowledge but to debate and be arbiters in truth, justice and discussion.
It is not a question of alienating a community or the other. It is a question of alienating the truth, the younger generation, students and indeed the entire world, depriving them of the knowledge of one of the most outstanding Indian minds of the twentieth century. How do we change such superannuated thinking is the biggest challenge for thinkers and teachers?
The Bengali claim that Tagore belongs to them is not true. Tagore’s thoughts, his indomitable creative urge, his resonance of the spirit of man belongs to the entire world, manifest in a renaissance and embodying all the finer nuances of creativity.
Let us not politicize this and make creativity a machination for unscrupulous zealots.
About the Author: Ananya S Guha lives and writes from Shillong in North East India.