Gitanjali Poem 9 Summary and Analysis

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O fool, to try to carry thyself upon thy own shoulders! O beggar, to come to beg at thy own door!
Leave all thy burdens on his hands who can bear all, and never look behind in regret.
Thy desire at once puts out the light from the lamp it touches with its breath.
It is unholy - take not thy gifts through its unclean hands. Accept only what is offered by sacred love.

Rabindranath Tagore's poem Gitanjali song no.9
Gitanjali Poem no. 9

Summary

      This lyric is a message to man that Tagore tells the reader that man is foolish because he attempts to carry himself and all his burdens by himself. He is like the foolish beggar who begs at his own door. Man should leave all his burdens at God's feet as He can and will take care of everything. A man who does so need never look back in regret that he had done so.

      When man is corrupted with desire then the flame of light, the light of spiritual life is put out. According to Tagore, desire is unholy and exhorts man that gifts tainted by desire, which makes the hands bearing these gifts unclean shall not be accepted. Man should not be prompted by desire but gratefully accept all that God gives with sacred love.

Critical Analysis

      The lyric is warning to man. It begins with two paradoxes that aptly describe the situation of man who does not put his faith in God. It is foolishness as man's part to do so, to carry all his burdens himself to believe that he is strong enough to do so when God can easily lighten his load and bear all lightly. The other paradox is that man is like a beggar who comes to beg at his own door thereby gaining nothing. The idea that Tagore wishes to convey is that God is the supreme master and he carries the burden of the entire universe. So man should leave all his cares and worries and give himself upto God and he shall never regret having done so. All the desires that drive men are false and wicked and the human soul should be free of all desires to accept God's beautiful gifts. Man must purify himself, he cannot accept God's gifts with unclear hands and accept all that he gives with his love. The implication is that Man should resign himself entirely at God's hands.

Annotation

      To carry... own shoulders: a man carrying his burdens and cares. O beggar... at thy own door: a man who instead of approaching God, begs or depends on his own self. Never look behind in regret: the man who approaches God shall never regret having done so.

      Thy desire... puts out the light: This is an imagery taken from the Gita. "As a flame is enveloped by smoke, as a mirror by dust, as an embryo is wrapped by amnion. So this world is enveloped by desire." "Enveloped is the wisdom by this constant enemy of the wise in the form of desire, which is insatiable as a flame." "The senses, the mind the reason are said to be its seat; by enveloping there, it bewilders dweller in the body. Therefore, O best of the Bharat's, mastering first the senses, do thou slay this thing of sin, destructive of wisdom and knowledge."

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