Gitanjali: is an Appropriate Title of Tagore's Poetry

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      The title Gitanjali literally means the songs offering. Here the offering is to the Almighty, the omnipotent God by the poet Tagore. These songs of the devotee Tagore are offered to his beloved, God in the guise of beautiful flower. This collection of one hundred and three flowers or lyrics from various gardens is being offered to the Inscrutable Will with love and devotion. Each single poem is a flower and the cupped hands of Tagore offer these flowers of love, devotion, bhakti, gratitude and repentance one by one to His immortal feet. Each flower expressed in aspiration to be at one with tod and is itself a form of prayer. The poet pleads and expostulates with the creator, sometimes for inspiration, sometimes for guidance, but more often for a union with Him. It is the yearning of the soul for the communion with the infinite soul. The constant yearning of the soul makes Gitanjali a prayer for communion, pleading for salvation and liberty and an exaltation of the inner self. The lyrics have the mantric quality, as if they were hymns chanted by a true devotee to his Lord.

Gitanjali is written in a tradition of bhakti poetry. The songs give an impression of the bhakti of Meera for Krishna and of Kabira. The theme is devotional and style is of Vaishnav devotional poetry but the treatment with these two is new and original as given by Tagore. Abbe Bremond declared that Tagore's poetry "is half a prayer from below and half a whisper from above, the prayer evoking the response, or the whisper provoking the prayer, and always prayer and whisper chiming into song."
Rabindranath Tagore

      Gitanjali is written in a tradition of bhakti poetry. The songs give an impression of the bhakti of Meera for Krishna and of Kabira. The theme is devotional and style is of Vaishnav devotional poetry but the treatment with these two is new and original as given by Tagore. Abbe Bremond declared that Tagore's poetry "is half a prayer from below and half a whisper from above, the prayer evoking the response, or the whisper provoking the prayer, and always prayer and whisper chiming into song."

Feeling of Gratitude:

      The first song of Gitanjali is the flower of gratitude offered to God by mankind. The poet is grateful to his Creator for giving him birth and filling his life with eternal music. He shows his gratitude and offers his thanks to Him thus:

"Thou has made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life."

      He is thankful to him for His immortal touch, 'infinite gifts' and His eternal breath which has given the man melodies eternally new Tagore believes that the human body is the temple of the soul, the human soul is the temple of God. The human soul has no significance unless it is inhabited or filled by the spirit. Birth and death are but the filling and the emptying of the soul by the supreme soul, and the individual insignificance as he may seem to be in this way partakes the God's endless life, His immortality. Hence sings Tagore,

"The little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hill and dales, and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new."

      The lifeless flute comes to life when the Lord of Brindavan plays upon it forever piping songs forever new. The human soul is, not only God's temple, it is also Krishna's flute. Life's vicissitudes are many but new melodies are played by the Lord. The poet, therefore, concludes

"At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limit in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable"

The Guiding Spirit:

      The God, who is the Life of poet's life, does not pour only the life in the frail vessel but also lead this empty vessel through the darkness of life to the heavenly glory.

"Ever in my life have I sought thee with my songs. It were they who led me from door to door, and with them have I felt about me, searching and touching my world.
They guided me all the day long to the mysteries of the country of pleasure and pain at last, to what palace gate have they brought me in the evening at the end of my journey?"

      God is the guide who by hard refusals makes man more worthy. This is an indication of His mercy. Desires that make one forget Him will not be met by Him. God's refusals of such desires are only intended to help man and hence

"Day by day thou art making me worthy of thy full acceptance by refusing me over and anon, saving me from perils of weak, uncertain desire."

      He is the soother who soothes man, showers his mercy on him when his heart is parched up. He comes upon him with a shower of mercy, with peace and rest and if man looses his aim He would come to him as Tagore says;

"O thou holy one, thou wakeful, come with thy light and thy thunder"

      God is the all-pervasive father, He is the mother who takes man in her arms at his birth and when it cries takes him to her breast for consolation. This guiding spirit is the friend and brother of mankind who comes with all His love for man.

Love of the Almighty:

      Tagore is full of devotion towards his God and he offers his love for the Divine spirit who flourishes His creation with His divine love. The Nature with its myriad forms spreads the heavenly love which the Divine lover is pouring down from the gates of His palace. The rivers, trees, the clouds, the golden light all bring the message of His love. Tagore exclaims with joy and devoted heart

"Yes I know, this is nothing but thy love, O beloved of my heart - this golden light that dances upon the leaves, these idle clouds sailing across the sky, this passing breeze leaving its coolness upon my forehead."

      And when comes the morning with its golden light, the poet dances with joy for the divine love hidden in it and says

"Light, my light, the world-filling light, the eye-kissing light, heart Sweetening light!"

      The poet is full of gratitude for His eternal love and his devotion is seen in his poems. The flowers of various epithets embellish his God. He calls Him as 'Life of my life', 'the king of all kings', the great musician', the poets poet, beloved of my heart, 'my lover', 'my lord', thou holy one, 'thou wakeful' and 'my friend'.

Pleading with Another Flower of Devotion:

      The poet pleads his God, the Immanent force with the another flower of his love, affection and devotion. He pleads Him with simplicity:

"let me make my life simple and straight, like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music."

      He pleads for innocence, honesty, love for common human, purity of his body and heart. He begs for truth, the sight of his face, His love, perfection and strength. He asks for 'a moment's indulgence to sit by His side' He asks Him to shrink his whole being into a very small self so that he can feel the holy presence of God nearest to him. In another prayerful mood he asks God to led him and his people to a plane where the mind is fearless, knowledge is free, where there is no narrow-mindedness. He begs for a 'heaven of freedom' where -

"words come out from the depth of truth; where the tireless strivings stretches its arms towards perfection; where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit."

Again

"This is my prayer to thee my lord-strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart. Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows....to make my love fruitful in service.... never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.... to raise my mind high above daily trifles.... to surrender my strength to thy will with love."

      He begs for the spiritual illumination, the enlightenment of his inner soul and a spiritual voyage to the sea of eternity "we should sail in a boat, only thou and I." The poet prays for rebirth after death. He pleads for renewal of his life which leads man to perfection and close to the Almighty. He pleads for mankind:

"renew his life like a flower under the cover of thy kindly night"

      Tagore believes in the joy of earthly life and the God gifted senses. He believes in a life of action as God Himself is busy in work. He is not inactive but busy in His work of creation and perfection. He believes in worldly affairs and relationships. To live life, perform the worldly duties and to find God in human is the true worship of God. He believes in acceptance of life and not in renunciation. He believes in the salvation of soul, exaltation of inner self only through beauty and love rather than asceticism and renunciation. For him freedom, deliverance is in spiritual humanism, He says:

"Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found" Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation, he is bound with us all for ever"

      So how can man escape himself from the bonds of life.

Repentance Exalts the Human Soul:

      Tagore is aware of the weaknesses of mankind. He knows that man is imperfect and prone to mistakes and sins. Tagore knows that only a pure and clear hearted soul can attain the God's presence. He knows that God is just and merciful and if man apologises, He forgives. in Gitanjali he sings about this mercy of God and offers his gratitude with a devoted heart. The poem no 83 in Gitanjali expresses Tagore's gratitude and his offering of tears of repentance to the Almighty, Creator and Generator. The poet repents of his mistakes and begs for forgiveness. He hopes that he will be forgiven and after that blessed with the divine grace. The poet prays and promises to weave a chain of tears in guise of pearls for her neck.

"Mother, I shall weave a chain of pearls for thy neck with my tears of Sorrow"

      And he is sure that

"when I bring it to thee as my offering thou rewardest me with the grace"

The Offering to God: The Ultimate Aim of Tagore's Song:

      The devoted poet offers his life to God. He accepts his life as a part of the Supreme soul and wishes to offer it to God. He, like a flower offers his life to God before it droops and withers away. It should be revered for Him for His service even though it lacks the requisite qualities. Before the time of offering is over it should be made acceptable to Him. He knows that he may be unworthy of finding a place in God's garland but even if he finds a place in God's feet, his existence would have been justified. Like a true devotee the poet here expresses his devotion by considering himself insignificant but wanting to place all that he has at God's feet. In other poems he devote his pure love for Him. Like a lover he sits the whole day in His wait. Another time, like Radha he expresses his honest love for his lord.

"I am only waiting for love to give myself up at last into his hands"

      He is absorbed in his love. In another poem no 55, he hurries for the love tryst. Not only the poet offers his love to His Almighty beloved but begs for His divine love too. He seeks God's grace and love as a flower girl seeks love from her lover. She sits like a beggar maid, drawing her skirt over her face and feels shy of telling anyone why she is waiting there.

"I wait here weary hours spreading my offerings for thee"

      The poet offers his inner self to the God similar to the one that a woman makes of herself to her lover. Like the virginal purity his soul has for long been hidden in the depth of purity and steadfastness. Far away from greed, guile, lust and spiritual decay, the inner self of Tagore has been there in loneliness waiting for thy (God's) recognition' thus steadfastly consecrated to God. There is another praiseworthy poem no 63 in Gitanjali where Tagore is lost in praising God for all the good that has come to him. This is all because of His grace that he has received renown and hospitality everywhere.

"Thou has made me known to friend whom I knew not, though has given me seats in homes not only own".

      He is grateful to the God who is Omnipresent guide of mankind. He begs for His grace because:

"When one knows thee, then alien there is none then no door is shut. Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose the bliss of the touch of the one in the play of many."

      That is why throughout his whole Gitanjali the poet sings the songs to offer his true feelings to the Almighty. He sings like true Bhaktas, like Surdas, the might and glory of his Lord and is content in singing.

"I am here to sing thee sings".

      The only work for him to do is to offer him creative work in the worship of his God. Tagore offers not only his inner self, love and songs to the Almighty, immanent will but happily offers his life to Him. He accepts death to offer his body to the Creator. Death is an errand of God, Tagore welcomes it 'with folded hands, and with tears' and ready to place 'at his feet the treasure of his heart. His life has its origin from the Supreme Soul and now he offers this harp of his life to the audience hall of the God and to lay down this 'silent harp at the feet of the Silent.' And he makes a final offering to the Supreme in a salutation to the Mightiest Creator:

"In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at the feet.

Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee."

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