header ads

Humanistic Philosophy in the writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Dr Kakali Bezbaruah

 Humanistic Philosophy in the writings of Rabindranath Tagore

 ' Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high , where knowledge is free ...... where words come out from the depth of truth .... into that heaven of freedom , my Father , let my country awake '.

       These few lines of 'Gitanjali' highlight the essence of whole human existence , that is spiritual freedom , freedom from fear and prejudices prevailing in the society .
       Rabindranath Tagore , the Noble Laureate is an ambassador of humanity . His vision , mission and action promoted humanism and his writings opened up new horizons of creativity as he is the flag bearer of human values - truth , love , beauty , forbearance , harmony and bliss . Tagore's philosophy is spiritualistic as his upbringing implanted in his mind the ancient Indian ideals of the Upanisads and the Vedanta . In the later period of his life , he was influenced by Vaisnavism and most specifically by the lyrical outbursts of saints like Dadu , Ravidas , Nanak and Kabir . He is a prolific composer of poems , songs , creator of great novels , plays , essays , travelogues , and many thought provoking books . But he has always considered himself to be a poet and neither a scholar nor a philosopher .

       Tagore once said ,  " A poem is a speaking picture ". He picturised the world through his poems . 'Gitanjali' is a proof of his vivacious , grandeur and lofty expressions . But as we delve more into his literary works , we get the ground to claim that Tagore is a humanistic philosopher . A poet - philosopher is not interested in arguments and logic , he is a visionary and therefore , communicates the truths that are revealed to him directly through his poetic images .

       His writings can awaken the power of human soul and inspire the human beings to reach the ideal of perfection . Tagore was born in a world torn by strife , violence , conflict , superstition , greed and so on . Just like the other parts of India , Bengal was also passing through cultural revolution . His childhood influenced him to think freely and convert his thoughts into creativity . At a very early age , he comprehended the mysteries of man , nature and universe and that changed his worldly vision . From childhood , he was a keen observer of nature and he could feel his intense feeling of affection and gratitude for the nature . His intimate feeling of companionship with nature can be felt through his lines - ' I used to run away and hide on the terrace , would steal a golden holiday from the sky and would soak my tensed eyes in the calm blue of the sky ' .

       It also indicates how independent his thinking was and that freedom of thought miraculously transformed him . As he grew up , his subtle love for nature emerged in many nature poems like ' Stray Birds ' , ' The Broken Heart ' , ' The Evening Songs ' , ' Again ' , ' Ahalya ' , ' To the Sea ', ' Basundhara ' and many more . He penned beautiful lines which highlighted the various moods of nature . Like in stanza 309 of ' Stray Birds ' , he writes , ' To-night there is a stir among the palm leaves , a swell in the sea , Full Moon , like the heart throb of the world . From what unknown sky hast thou carried in thy silence the aching secret of love? ' In stanza 311 of the same poem he writes , ' The smell of the west earth in the rain rises like a great change of praise from the voiceless multitude of insignificant . ’ Through his writings , Tagore emphasised how an illumined mind can understand the mystery of unity and can realize the divine . Such a mind is free from all the prejudices . If we allow our minds to be restricted by power and greed then those tyrannical restrictions will make us coward , hypocrites . Through universal thinking , human beings can realise communion or unity with nature and the universe where they reside and find a livelihood . Realisation of communion and unity is experience of joy , freedom and love as Tagore writes : 
“ When a man does not realise his kinship with the world , he lives in a prison-house whose walls are alien to him . When he meets the eternal spirit in all objects , then he is emancipated for then he discovers the fullest significance of the world into which he is born ; then he finds himself in perfect truth and his harmony with the all is established .”

       Through inter-communion , proper understanding of human values is possible . Man possesses manhood which is greater than his material sense , because within man there is a creative surplus. He occupies a distinct place in cosmic freedom because of this creative surplus . That aspect of man’s nature is infinite which has been called the ‘ Universal ’ in man , the ‘ Surplus ’ in man , the element of ' Divinity ' present in man and so on . The infinite self always has the urge to transcend and reveal its own meaning. Tagore writes , “ To reveal itself , it gives up everything it has, becoming perfect like a flower that has blossomed out from the bud , pouring from its chalice of beauty all its sweetness . ”

       T.M.P. Mahadevan and G.V. Saroja compared the infinite self to a lighted lamp which can enlighten the world by establishing relation with all things and can freely sacrifice its fund of oil to feed the flame . His poems , novels , plays and other writings shed light on the ways and means of attaining the ultimate purpose in life . Realisation of infinite that take place through joy and love will make the life of human beings free from all contradictions. This is the conception of human freedom that Tagore emphasises . Man has the freedom to think , to imagine , to remember and therefore has the freedom to foresee the events . The freedom that characterises the nature of man is spiritual freedom . By attaining spiritual freedom , he will realise one’s self in the all-pervading God . Thus , the relation of oneness between individual soul and God can be felt through inner glory . This union itself is the spark of the Divine within man which makes the human beings realise their potential to free himself from fragmentations , distortions and contradictions of the society . In this world itself man should strive towards perfection of establishing the connection to the larger part of the world by freeing himself from selfishness and narrow individualism . Through his writings , Tagore seeks to build an integrated society where each and every human being understands his free and creative nature to think deeply about their lives and the world around them . His humanistic philosophy inspires the people around the globe to actively serve humanity and continues to shape their thinking regarding human dignity , worth and potential so that through their illumined consciousness they can understand the unified world .

Dr Kakali Bezbaruah
Asstt. Professor, Dept. of Philosophy
Chhaygaon College

Tagore , Rabindranath . Gitanjali ., 1913 , Macmillan and Co. Limited , London .

Tagore , Rabindranath .The Religion of Man . Vol 3.Ed by Sisir Kumar Das . New Delhi : Sahitya Academy . 2008 . 
Lal , Basant Kumar . Contemporary Indian Philosophy . Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi , 1973 , p. 47.
Tagore , Rabindranath . My Reminiscences . London and Basingstoke : Papermac. p. 232 , 1991
Tagore , Rabindranath . Sadhana . The Realisation of Life . 1st edition ,. London : Macmillan , 1957 . Vol. 2. p. 283 .
Carver , W. O. ( 1918 ) . Book Review : My Reminiscences ( 273 pp. ) and Personality ( 220 pp. ) . Review & Expositor , 15 ( 1 ) , 115–116 . https://doi.org/10.1177/003463731801500134

Post a Comment