Rabindrantah Tagore: His Universality & Relevance

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The Criterion: An International Journal in English

ISSN 0976-8165

Rabindranath Tagore: A Reappraisal of His Universality and Relevance

Prakash Bhadury
Lecturer (English)
Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
National Institute of Technology,
Hamirpur, H.P, India- 177005

Rabindranath Tagore stands as a millennium in himself reflecting the ancient Indian wisdom through the raptures of his lyrics and mystic vision. His metaphysical bent of mind was quite rooted to the realities of his time inasmuch as he served as an anchor of intellectual moorings upon which the emerging nation state was to set foot on to shape a new course of journey. As a liberal humanist he advocated for Inclusive nationalism. The national anthem itself speaks of universality of Indian thought. He crystallised the Indian Renaissance of new awakening in the 19th century via the path of Bengal Renaissance which first stimulated all the Indian vernaculars of a promise of lofty creative potentials. Tagor’s international repute as the first noble Laureate of Asia helped the subalterns to gain a voice during freedom struggle. Though the English translation of his poems and other literary works lost the vitality of language, the mellifluous rhyming quality, lyrical beauty and the word-magic but the power of his vision continues to be a source of great inspiration for whoever reads them. This paper is attempted to illumine on Tagore’s universality as a poet-seer and his relevance in modern time when the world is still reeling under indeterminacy of post modern fluidity that continues to witness global terrorism, religious hatred, racism, rampant corruption and discrimination of various sorts. Hence, it is worth that the myriad minded man, ‘the East of Suez’, may be reviewed afresh for his universality and relevance ever.

Keywords: Avant –Garde, East-West, eternal, globalization, liberal humanist, ‘mantra, religion, Renaissance, Trinity, truth. Time-Space-Causation.

The body of his art and philosophy stands as a perfect harmony of truth and beauty, for he devoted his whole life in harmonizing the material and the spiritual, not by renouncing, but by rejoicing amid the whirlwind of the world. Gandhi revered him as Gurudev, and he fulfilled the aspirations of both the East and the West combining in him the role of a political thinker, an artist, a social reformer, a philosopher, an internationalist and someone, as stated by Ezra Pound, who stands for mankind. The poems of the Gitanjali are only a few drops of Tagore’s ocean of creation in diversified fields of knowledge. Ezra Pound felt that ‘Tagore's lines contained the harmonious complexity which characterized all great art’ (Hurwitz: 55) and he compared the Gitanjali with Dante’s the Paradiso what justifies the universal appeal of those poems. He was not happy of a poor reception of Tagore in England in 1912, who he considered a unique genius

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The Criterion: An International Journal in English

ISSN 0976-8165

carrying the Eastern light to the Western land, and clarified the conception of him to the people saying that:
“... Rabindranath Tagore is not to be confused . . . with any Theosophist propaganda; nor with any of the various missionaries of the seven and seventy isms of the mystical East. He is an artist pure and simple, an author whose voice has almost as many shades as one might have expected from Voltaire and whose sense of humor is as delicate as that of any writer in Paris”(Quoted in Hurwitz: 57).

He has left the highest number of creative works in this world that includes more than 1200 songs with music composition, 38 plays, equaling the number of Shakespeare’s, 12 novels, 200 short stories, more than 2,700 pictures, let alone his direction, stage-setting, acting...
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