Rabindranath Tagore: as Great Indian Poet of The Word

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      Rabindranath Tagore, who has rightly been called India's poet laureate, 'the sun of India' and 'the sentinel of the East is one of the greatest sons of India'. His achievements as a poet, novelist, short story write, writer, thinker and philosopher have won for him the title of 'Gurudev', the great teacher. This great celebrity has attained recognition during his own life-time: recognition, not only national but international, has been his. His works, or parts of them, are familiar to most readers in Europe, Asia and America. The best translations in English are by himself and these have been translated into other languages. Critics in Europe and America, almost without exception, have bestowed high praise on his writings and ranked him among the great poets of the world. Dr Iyengar feels that "Tagore is the most outstanding name in modern Bengali literature and he was the one writer who first gained for modern India a place in the world literary scene." He is without question the greatest song writer and lyrical genius of modern times.

Tagore has in all written about 2000 poems and 1400 songs. Rich and varied as is the output of Rabindranath in literary field, he stands pre-eminent as a lyric poet. A beautiful lyric is a sparkling little jewel of which every facet is carefully cut by the poet-jeweller and its setting is the language in which it is composed. A genuine appreciation can be had when a lyric is read in the original with proper understanding. The words, the figures, the metre are all wedded together. Rabindranath has translated his poems as no one else could have done, but how is it possible to convey in another language the grace the metrical arrangement and the musical harmony of the words of the original poems? Buddha Deva Bose expresses that poetry is the animating principle in all this extraordinary variety, and if Tagore were not a poet, he would not have been any of the other things he was.
Rabindranath Tagore

      Tagore has in all written about 2000 poems and 1400 songs. Rich and varied as is the output of Rabindranath in literary field, he stands pre-eminent as a lyric poet. A beautiful lyric is a sparkling little jewel of which every facet is carefully cut by the poet-jeweller and its setting is the language in which it is composed. A genuine appreciation can be had when a lyric is read in the original with proper understanding. The words, the figures, the metre are all wedded together. Rabindranath has translated his poems as no one else could have done, but how is it possible to convey in another language the grace the metrical arrangement and the musical harmony of the words of the original poems? Buddha Deva Bose expresses that poetry is the animating principle in all this extraordinary variety, and if Tagore were not a poet, he would not have been any of the other things he was.

A Poet of Mankind:

      While Tagore accepts man as material, living, psychological, social and moral being at a time, he lays more stress on the moral and spiritual aspects of man's nature. Every work of Tagore has an underlying importance of man. In first phase of his career, he sings of man in relation to nature; in second phase of Gitanjali he sings of relation of man with other man.

      Tagore's conception of man is definitely influenced by the opinion of the Upanisadic thinkers, the saints and bauls of medieval age, but he has felt in his heart the greatness of man, the immortality of his being and therefore his idea of man is his own. His work speaks of the nature of man. He sings about the glory, the joys of man. He believes that freedom of man is expressed in his personality. His view is that the personality of man is infinite in Nature. Because human personality is the realization of the creative idea of the Infinite in finite forms. Hence though human personality is finite, and opposed to Infinite personality, it is representative of super person who has expressed Himself through any particular centre. In man's infinite activity of love and creation that super personality expresses himself. Therefore, man's personality at a time reveals his personality as well as the supreme personality, both of which are related for the expression of man's true personality, an atmosphere of freedom is needed according to Tagore.

      Again man is great because God is expressed through him. Man is son of God and he is greater than all beings due to this. He is God's expression, he cannot be limited by the narrow boundaries of his lower self. He is immortal in that aspect where he is 'true' transcending the small partial Ego of him. He believes in the intimate relationship between man and society. Man's ideal is to serve the society unselfishly, which works for the best development of human being. Society, he says is not an obstruction in the growth of an individual but it paves the way for the progress of an individual. Tagore firmly believes in the progress of humanity through the ages. But this progress can be possible only when there is peace and friendship, and this makes him a great singer of cosmopolitanism and world brotherhood. He advocates love, kindness, care, affection and equality. All this makes him great humanist, realist and internationalist.

Humanism: A Way to Salvation:

      Tagore believes that for finding God, he does not go to any religious place, nor meditates sitting in a corner. But in Nature, in humanity he perceives his God. The worship which is done in temple in separation from humanity is not the worship of the Lord of the world. In Sonar Tori in the poem 'Deul' the poet says that when we cover our God by artificial imagination and worship Him by sitting in a corner surrounded by walls, then if that black wall is suddenly broken and the beauties of Nature, rays of the sun, and din and bustle of all people take place of hymns, flowers and incense, then we see it is real worship of God by which He is satisfied. One may imagine that when one individual gets success in dissociating himself from his fellows, he gets real freedom but it is not so. when one lives in separation from the whole world his personality becomes narrower, when one widens this consciousness and lives in communion with the humanity, he attains real freedom. When one relates himself with other beings by the relationship of love, he can feel the touch of Infinite. By loving our beloved we feel the presence of the divine love in our heart. All love affection, therefore becomes the worship of the Mysterious Being, what we call love is called worship. Divinity is inherent in real love, the eternal Vrindavam is existing in human heart where the eternal love play goes on. So when we love human beings, we get the glimpse of the Infinite. Tagore says "our union with a being whose activity is world wide and who dwells in the heart or humanity cannot be a passive one. In order to be united with Him we have to divest out work of selfishness, we must work for all. When I say for all I do not mean for a countless number of individuals. Work that is morally good, however small in extent, is universal in character, such work makes for a realization of Viswakarma', the world-maker who works for others. In order to be one with this 'Mahatma' we must cultivate the greatness of soul of all people and not merely with that of one's own." Tagore's way to salvation, way to God realization becomes one with way to realization of unity with the whole world and it indicates the dominance of humanistic element in his philosophy. Barren renunciation and philosophy of negation is never his preaching. He believes in the kingdom of Man on earth rich with variety of human relationship.

"Deliverance is not for me in renunciation I feel the embrace of freedom in a thousand bonds of delight.
My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame and place them before the altar of thy temple.
No, I will never shut the door of my senses
The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight.
Yes, all my elusion will burn into illumination of joy, and all my desires ripen into fruits of love."

      His spiritual realism lies in these lines:

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

"Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense! What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained? Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow."

      Tagore thus calls upon us "to give up our singing and dancing", our meditation, flower and incense. He says that the path of God realisation lies through the performance of the ordinary duties of life. We must come down from our high, secluded place and meet God in the company of the "tiller and the pathmaker." This is stern realism. There is no trace of asceticism in it. And yet it is not that realism which regards material enjoyment as the be-all and end-all of life. He does not want to indulge in sensuous enjoyment to the full. But he well feel and enjoy the delightful presence of God in the material objects of life which can be seen and heard and touched. "Matter is not rejected but it is brought into harmony with spirit. Desire is not to be given up, but it should be sublimated into love. This syntheses of matter and spirit - of the claims of worldly life and spiritual life - is what I call spiritual realism." (Chakravarty)

Love in the Lyrics of Tagore:

      Tagore is a great love poet and with extraordinary subtlety, he analyses the different moods and captures the ardent passion which lovers feel for each other. While it look as if he is more devoted to God and spiritual aspect but the truth is that even love is more dominating aspect of his poems. The love in various forms is depicted in his songs. Somewhere it is the love of a beloved for her lover, at other hand it is the spiritual love for the Divine spirit. At one place blows the air of love for Nature and another time whirls the flag of nation's love. There is great originality and delicacy in the art with which he portrays the ever shifting moods and emotional intricacies of love. He shows again and again how love comes in one's life suddenly, with a strong thrill and overpowers the soul with ecstasy' and disturbs them in daily occupation of their lives.

      His love poetry reflects the love of Vaishnav poetry, where the Nature dances with raptures of love, divine love, pure and ecstasic. The love poems of Tagore rejoices like the love of Radha Krishna in Vaishnav poetry. Like Radha, the woman lover waits for her beloved to come. Like Gopis, the woman lover in the Gitanjali is standing stubbed with the sweet music of Krishna's flute. The urge of divine love makes Radha waiting impatiently for her divine lover Lord Krishna. Similarly the soul in Gitanjali craves for divine presence and communion with the source of spirituality, elevation and joy and it sings.

"Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite"
"I live in the hope of meeting with him; but this meeting is not yet."
"I am waiting for love to give myself up at last into his hands."

And cries:

That I want thee, only thee"

      In poem no 35 the love for country and mankind is deep. The poet yearns for perfection of mankind. He asks God that he and his people be led to a plane where the mind is fearless. Knowledge is free, where there is regard for truth, and reason is respected.

"Into that heaven of freedom, my father let my country awake."

      The Gardener is the richest of the collections that have appeared in English. It is in the main feast of love poetry-with a human rather than a divine slant, though with a poet like Tagore the border line be: tween the two is apt to be tantalizingly indistinct. These are paradoxial in their purity and intensity and even sensuality, yet paradoxically enough, recognizable this - worldly. When Tagore strikes his lyre, vivid imagery breaks out into sudden life, like sparks from the anvil -

"I run as a musk deer runs in the shadow of the forest, mad with his Own perfume.."
"The gleaning look from the dark came upon me like a breeze that sends a shiver through the rappling water and sweeps away to the shadowy shore..."
"You blind me with the flashes of laughter to hide your tear."

      All the make-believe and love-play that lovers feed on, all the agony and hopelessness, all the ecstasy and fulfilment of lovers, lives, allis woven here into a garland of memorable song. The lover who is restless because her beloved calls her with his flute, though he is far away, is left to cherish the mere breath that comes to her whispering an impossible hope.

      Hopeless, too though with a touch of the sublime, is the little girl's love for the Prince who passes by her door. She will deck herself in her best and await him, although she knows he will not even look at her. This agony and transcendent felicity of loving and giving must be its own reward:

"I swept aside the veil from my face, I tore the ruby chain from my neck and flung it in his path..
I know well he did not pick up my chain; I know it was crushed under his wheels leaving a red strain upon the dust, and no one knows what my gift was and to whom.

But the young Prince did pass by our door, aid I fung the jewel from my breast before his path."

      Philosophy is occasionally blended with this riot of romance, and hense tries to negotiate a truce with sensibility. "What if love doesn't last forever? Impermanence is the badge of all terrestrial things. Beauty must fade to be born again, knowledge should defy conclusion:

"All is done and finished in the eternal Heaven. But earth's flowers of illusion are kept eternally fresh by death.

Brother, let us keep that in mind and rejoice."

      In the circus of phenomenal life there is no room really for pride or self abasement, for "the simple blade of grass sits on the same carpet with the sunbeam and the stars of midnight." Even the inarticulate beast has an individuality as rich as man's akin to his, a kinship dating back, perhaps, to paradisal life in Eden

"yet suddenly in some wordless music the dim memory wakes up and the beast gazes into man's life with a tender trust, and the man looks down into its eyes with amused affection.

It seems that the two friends meet masked and vaguely know each other through the disguise."

      The Gardener thus almost brings us back to something of the primordial felicity of the Garden of Eden, and once this vision has come back to us and we are able to see things with a new rapture of recognition, we are not likely to reject the gift again. Endless is the variety of mood and which characterises Tagore's love lyrics. They are source of perennial joy for all lovers of poetry.

Nature Poet:

      The beautiful flowers are blooming in the poems of Tagore. The leaves are dancing with the rejoicing spirit of mankind. The warm and affectionate light is scattering everywhere. Nature, God and man, all three have an intimate relationship. Nature is an outer manifestation of God. It is an aspect of Almighty who expresses himself in Nature and its myriad forms. The beauty of Nature dwells in every poem. He is a great river poet and a great poet of the Bengali seasons. The forms, the colours, the sounds, the scents of Nature fascinate him, and he communicates his own joy in the manifold beauties of Nature to his readers. He observes accurately and describes minutely and precisely.

      "Today the summer has come at my window with it sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove."
"The sun rose to the mid sky and doves cooed in the shade. Withered leaves danced and whiled in the hot air of noon."

      Vivid and colourful word pictures of nature's beauty are scattered all up and down his lyrics. His love of nature is all comprehensive and realistic; like Wordsworth he is not unaware of Nature red in "tooth and claw. He is a poet both of the pleasant and harsh, ugly moods of Nature. Two of the most graphic pictures of Nature's terrible mood - one of a land storm and the other of a sea storm - come from his pen. The Nature is also a source of calm and spirituality that is why "The repose of the sun - embroidered green gloom slowly spread over the heart of poet and forgetting everything he "surrendered his mind without struggle to the maze of shadows and songs." And this is the Nature who takes him close to the Divine spirit, in whose search all his companions hurried to their way, leaving poet behind with a laugh and scorn.

"At last when I woke from my slumber and opened my eyes, I saw thee standing by me, flooding my sleep with thy smile".

      He is also a great myth maker, and in this respect Shelley alone is his equal. In his poetry, the objects and phenomena of Nature are constantly spoken of as human beings and given human attributes.

"There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth."
"Thy sunbeam comes upon this earth of mine with arms outstretched and stands at my door the livelong day."

The Poet of Imagery and Symbolism:

      The wealth of imagery and symbols is inexhaustible. There is variety and freshness of his natural magic. His images and symbols are mostly taken from the Nature and day to day life. It is this abundance of imagery that accounts for the open air atmosphere of his poetry, the very atmosphere of a folk-song. The various images of light, boat cloud, death and divine love with various symbols as flower, river, star, sky increase the expressive range of his poetry. Tagore regards Nature as the primal store-house of life, out of which humanity has evolved through the ages that is why Nature is the prime source of images. The beautiful images and symbols not only enhance the aesthetic charm of his songs but also serves the intellectual purpose of his songs. They are the highly expressive of his search for truth and spiritual inspiration. It embodies an attempt to relate the finite with infinite. One striking example of this is the spiritual voyage which he starts

"I must launch out my boat."

"Early in the day it was whispered that we should sail in boat...Only thou and I..". "

      A Patriotic Poet Tagore's many lyrics have the feeling of patriotism. He lays much emphasis on social evils of India and he thinks that these social evils are at the root of India's backwardness in the field of politics and economics. No other poet except him has ever written so ferociously about the orthodoxy and evils of his own people. He finds that caste-system is another curse on India. He preaches for welfare of man and the nation He prays for fearlessness, truthfulness and unity; he prays for the dominance of reason over superstition. He wishes for nation with the base of equality, peace, knowledge, reason, prosperity and unity. The poem no 35 from Gitanjali is a patriotic song of a nation lover:

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into dreamy desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake."

The Lover of Beauty and its Celebration in His Poems:

      It is not so that Tagore is a lover of Nature's beauty only. He also appreciates the human beauty, the woman's beauty. The one of his lyric which is descriptive of woman's beauty in a fascinating way is Urvashi. According to Hindu mythology, Urvashi is the heavenly dancer of Lord Indra. Tagore has painted her eternal beauty in this poem. She rose from the sea when it was churned by the gods. This woman, who emerged from the Samudra Manthan. Tagore views Urvashi as the perfect woman, an embodiment of beauty. She was the seductress and a marvellous dancer. Tagore says:

"Woman you are, to ravish the soul of Paradise.. Like the dawn you are without veil, Urvashi, and without shame."

      Tagore portrays her as an eternal beauty with nectar in one hand and poison in the other; she slumbered till day come, and then appeared in her 'awful little of bloom'; she is of all men adored, the ageless won der. A fullness, the sheer magic of the original, is retained in the rhythmic translation by Edward Thompson:

"In the assembly of Gods, when thou dancest in ecstasy of joy,
O swaying wave, Urvashi,
The companies of billows in mid-ocean swell and dance, beat on beat;
In the crest of the corn the spirits of the earth tremble;
From thy necklace stars fall off in the sky;
Suddenly in the breast of man the heart forgets itself. The blood dances.."

According to Thompson, poem Urvashi is "a meeting of East and West indeed, a glorious tangle of Indian mythology, modern science, and legends of European romance" and Dr. Iyengar says "Had Tagore written this wonderful poem alone, and no other, he should still be counted among the world's great magicians of song." Beyond praise is the melody of the splendid, swaying lines, knit into their superb stanzas, or the flashing felicity of diction in such a line as this one:

"In the crests of the corn the spirits of Earth tremble."

      In Urvashi, Tagore produced a world masterpiece and not merely the most accomplished lyric of India and won for himself the right to be included among the worlds lyric poets.

Greatness as a Lyrist:

      Tagore wrote every kind of poetry but his talent and art is best seen in his lyrics. Everyone has heard how his songs have passed into the daily life. Except the Child which was first written in English, his other works of poetry were first written in Bengali and were later transcribed into English either by himself or by others under his direct supervision. The Gitanjali, Englished in 1912, brought fame in guise of Nobel Prize for Literature, and it is on his collection of a hundred old lyrics that his reputation as a world-poet chiefly rests. His English poetical works - The Gardener, The Lover's Gift, The Fugitive and Other Poems, The Crescent Moon, The Poems, 1942 etc - are all collection of lyrics. His songs are some fifteen hundred in number, and are of all periods. His latest are better than his earlier. His songs are of a grace and lightness that no translation can convey.

      The basis of his work is essentially lyrical. Evening Songs showed, long ago, that a new lyrist had arisen. He speaks of 'aerial fascinations and somnolescences, dissolving phantoms and sleepy enchantments, twilight memories of days of fancy and fire, ghostly visitings of radiant effulgences, or the lightning - lashes or a Maenad-like inspiration. Tagore has used an immense number of stanza - forms, and has experimented endlessly with metre, is experimenting today. Bālāka shows the lyric freedom of Evening Songs. Gitanjali is the perfect piece of religious lyrics. And Urvashi is the example of another beautiful lyric, a masterpiece to show his greatness as a lyrist.

Tagore's Magic of Music:

      The lyrics of Tagore are full of subtlety of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour, or metrical invention. Tagore was a ceaseless experimenter with verse forms and as a result achieved perfection in the evoking of the music and melody that lies in words. The Gitanjali is written in verse libre. It aims at treeing poetry from such mechanical restrictions as that of rhyme and metre. It has given rise to some works of remarkable beauty, but it has also produced much that is, in another way, even more mechanical and artificial than conventional poetry. Freedom takes the utmost liberties with the length of the lines. Here is an example from one of the lyrics in Gitanjali where the shortest line and the longest line differ from each other to an extent which would be unthinkable in conventional poetry. The shortest line in this particular lyric is -

"Where knowledge is free"

      Whereas the longest line is-

"Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit"

      The rhythm and music of Tagore's poetry, especially in Gitanjali have a beauty of their own. They have the lilt of the folk-songs and Bhajans of Bengal; they have an incantory or mantric quality which is unique. They have the quality of those songs which the ancient bards used to sing. They sing, as it were, by natural magic of their own. All these qualities make Tagore one of the greatest lyric poets of the world.

Tagore as a Poet-Educator:

      Tagore's emergence as an educator was completely a matter of personal development, a necessary result of the entire course of his life and experience. He was born in a family which was a centre of all types of progressive ideas and activities, a centre of numerous cultural and social movements. The members of his family represented almost every aspect of human aspiration and accomplishment: spiritual experience, philosophy and the science, culture - eastern and western, poetry and the arts, music and drama, nation-building and social reform and even business and commerce. And Tagore had a power of acute and manifold reception, an extent of educability perhaps unequalled or very seldom equalled in man's history. Tagore avidly absorbed and assimilated all the rich and varied elements of eastern and western culture which met and featured in the daily life lived by his own people at their Jorasanko house. And Tagore employed the treasure he had received from his great father mainly and also from other sources to function as the nucleus of all educational experiences and efforts at all stages. He worked, through out his whole life for this purpose of preaching and educating people. He taught about nationalism, religion, mysticism and humanism. He taught about Nature as he believes in the education of Nature, by which 'beauty born of murmuring sound'. His establishment of Shantiniketan and the vedic prayers and his songs were another experiment in the field or education. Boys, in the school, go round the groves, in chanting. This is the morning prayer:

"Thou art our Father. Do Thou help us to know Thee as Father. We bow down to Thee. Do Thou never afflict us, O Father, by causing a separaton between Thee and us. O Thou self revealing One, O Thou Parent of the Universe purge away the multitude of our suns, and send unto us whatever is good and noble. To Thee, from whom spring Joy and goodness, nay who art all goodness Thyself, to Thee we bow down now and for ever.

      This is the evening prayer

The Deity who is in fire and water, may who pervades the universe through and through, and makes His abode in tiny plants and towering forests - to such a Deity we bow down for ever and ever".

      He taught about the Christian doctrine of God's Fatherhood. He preached about the love and joy of the universe. From Upanishads he taught that life should be as close to Nature as possible. He educates the mankind about Buddha's compassion for all living things, and the wonder of his renunciation. The Gitanjali is a best example of his preachings, a combination of all his profound thoughts and teachings, whose single poem is drowned in profound meanings A Poet of Simplicity and Sublimity Unlike Donne, Eliot, Tagore is a very simple poet simple in words and sublime in his themes. His lyrics are a combination of simplicity, sublimity, intensity and spontaneity. The diction of Gitanjali, for example, is simple as simple as that of a folk-song, but the thought is sublime. The intensity of the poet's feelings is conveyed in a variety of ways but it is easily grasped by readers. The heavenly theme of spiritual illumination and divine communion is described so simply.

"That I want thee, only thee - let my heart repeat without end. All desires that distract me, day and night are false and empty to the core. As the night keeps hidden in its gloom the petition for light, even thus in the depth of my unconsciousness rings the cry - I want thee, only thee"

      The mystery of life and death is easily depicted in simple words. The beautiful imagery is taken from human life to solve the riddle of the obscure truth:

"And because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well. The child cries out when from the right breast the mother takes it away in the very next moment to find in the left one its consolation."

      Hardly, can other poet create such a beautiful image to serve his purpose. The wealth and abundance of his imagery serves to vivify his mystical thought, and images come out of his pen as frequently and spontaneously as sparks from the anvil of a blacksmith. He exhales a lyric as spontaneously and naturally as flower exhales fragrance.

The Gradual Evolution:

      Tagore is known as a universal poet. His lyrical genius underwent a long and gradual process of evolution, comparable to that of W.B. Yeats. His early lyrics are chiefly romantic - escapist in tone, like the early lyrics of Yeats. In his early lyrics he is a romantic who deals with Nature in its various aspects, with beauty, a source of eternal fascination for the romantic imagination with man as symbolising the life infinite in the universe, and with love "whose sensuous, delirious expressions are touched with Youth's golden gleams". His pursuit of Beauty and love during this phase reminds us both of Shelley and Keats. In the next phase we find that Tagore's romantic imagination, discontented with the present, turns to the golden past and explores the world of Hindu myth and legend. In the next phase, Tagore's soul turns to God. His romantic imagination explores the mystery of life and death, of the universe, and is soon in "tune with the infinite", and conflicts and tensions resolved, peace and harmony descend on the poet's soul. There is the romantic interest in the child and the exploration of child psychology. In the final phase the poet turns to man and his life and his suffering, and his poetry acquire that hard realism which characterises the poetry of Yeats, Eliot, Auden, the Sitwells and other English poets.

Tagore - A World Poet:

      In a very real sense, he was a world poet. His words - the tools which he used - are words of beauty, sensuous but not sensual, comprehending not only love of God and relationship between man and God bu human love. The profound sense of beauty pervades Tagore's work and ennobles that and makes it understandable to every heart. The world needs such poets. Tagore's eyes were fixed upon the future of mankind, when goodness and beauty shall flower out of inspired love. But he loved in the present and his words are valid for the present. He spoke out or his own soul and mind and heart. To him beauty is eternal and invincible, the indispensable source of refreshment for the soul, the min the heart of mankind. This truth is instinct in the great poet whose centenary we celebrate. In this troubled world it is good to remember him and to recall again that beauty in his message. His message is as living to-day as it ever was and never more necessary.

The Various Influences on the Poet:

      Vaisnavism supports the truth that this world is not the creation, manifestation or evolution but it is the lila or play of God. He creates this world not to serve any of His purposes, but the sole aim of creating this world is joy. We can search Him through love only. Tagore also nas supported this theory and he says in one of his poems, "when I engage myself in action God gives me respect and when I sing, God loves me. According to him this world is created by God for His Lila' because God cannot desire anything, his action cannot be motivated by any purpose. He created the finite soul so that He may get the playmate for this Lila or play. In his Gitanjali Tagore says: "You will play in me, that is why I have come to this world". And not only the infinite creates the finite soul, but He himself takes birth into this world in human form to get close association with the finite. In Vaisnava padavali we find that Lord Himself has accepted a human form (of Krishna) through infinite compassion for human beings in order to bestow on them something which was devoid to them up till that time. Thus the Vaisnava poets gave impression of the humanistic outlook in their works. The Vaisnava poets gave dignity and respect to human individual. The Vaisnava poet says, "The human lila of Krishna is the best among all Zilas and human body is its form." Tagore supports this concept of Vaisnava poets. His poems depict the romantic imagination of Vaisnava poets, where Krishna plays his flute sitting under the Kadamba tree and hearing the music Radha comes near him forgetting everything else, thus

"In the spell of the wonderful rhythm of the finite he fetter himself at every step, and thus gives his love out in music in his most perfect lyrics of beauty. Beauty is his wooing of our heart it can have no purpose."

      Similarly Tagore is influenced by the conception of Radha as expressed in Vaisnava literature. His poems are full of cries of soul for communion with God as Radha, the devotee, the true lover, the Shakti waits eagerly for Krishna, the divine lover.


      The influence of Buddha and his life is clearly seen in Tagore's poems. The Buddha preached the path of love which is not abstract and it consists of practical service of mankind. The social aspect of Buddhism is purely based on humanity, as seen in Tagore's poems. Tagore, whose philosophy is love for the humanity is much influenced by Buddha's teaching of fraternity, equality, love for mankind, human welfare etc.

      Tagore was influenced by the concept of 'nirvana', He believes in Buddha's saying that life is full of suffering and cessation of suffering lies in 'nirvana', the way to it. Buddha's approach towards life is not negative or pessimistic as he never neglected the virtues to be practised in this life. Tagore also draws the attention to this positive aspect of Buddhism and neglects the negative, pessimistic and world denying attitude of it.

      The influence of Gita, Brahmo Samaj and Christianity is there in his poems. Gita taught him that the search of truth or of dharma does not mean renunciation of action. Soul cannot be liberated if it remains inactive. Brahmo Samaj preached equality and love for low and humble Tagore's conception of full fledged liberty of man is direct out-come of the ideas of Ram Mohan who taught that above all is man and his true religion.

      Tagore preaches the gospel of Christ in his poems - the religion of love and tolerance among all man of world. Many Christian thinkers said that the God of Gitanjali is a Christian God.

The Western Influence-Shelley, Keats and Browning:

      Tagore, in his teens, was called, the Bengali Shelley. He has trans lated Shelley and has acknowledged him as an influence. Tagore appreciates Shelley's The Hymn to Intellectual Beauty and says "it was like a transcript of his mind in his youth. I felt as if I could have written it." Shelley's mythopoea, his compound adjective, his personifications, his unhappiness - all these things fill the Evening songs of Tagore. The delicacies and grace of Mrs. Browning and Christina Rossetti attracted him. Keats The Ode on a Grecian Urn is a favourite poem with Tagore, he admired these compact, masterly stanzas of Keats and is evident in Urvashi:

"Like some stemless flower, blooming in thyself,
When didst thou blossom, Urvashi?
That primal spring, thou didst arise from the yeast of ocean,
In thy right hand nectar, venom in thy left.
The swelling, mighty Sea, like a serpent tamed with spells,
Drooping his thousands, towering hoods,
Fells at thy feet!
White as the Kunda (Jasmine) - blossom, a naked beauty, adored by the king of Gods,
Thou stainless one,"

      The influence of Browning was a stronger one. It is very marked the new psychological interest of many poems in Mansi. Survey of Some of the Poems of Tagore Tagore's chief poetical works include the 'Gitanjali, The Gardener The Crescent Moon', 'Fruit-Gathering', 'Lover's Gift,' 'The Fugitive and other Poems'.

      The Gitanjali poems in English are indeed full of rare charm. The one unarmed of odd songs in it form a mighty piece of prayer and pleading and exultation. They are mainly poems of bhakti in the great Indian tradition. Yeats says: "The lyrics of Gitanjali display in their thought a world I have dreamed of all my life."

      The Crescent Moon is a book of poems about children. It lets us into the secret of the child's life and thought. It contains a handful of poems about childhood and children. One of these Bless this little heart - has a matchless beauty and tenderness:

"I know not how he chose your form the crowd come to your door, and grasped your hand to ask his way. Forget him not in your hurry, let him come to your heart and bless him."

      The Gardener is a rich collection of poetic flowers and is indeed a feast of love poetry. Dr. Iyengar feels "All the make-believe and love play that lovers feed on, all the agony and hopelessness, all the ecstasy and fulfilment of lover's lives, all is woven here into a garland of memorable song'. It has won a deepened popularity for him. It includes Nature poems, love poems, religious poems, mystical poems, bird poems and a few with a political touch. The Lover's Gift points out that time has no pity for human heart but laughs at it. Crossing sings of a Lead, kindly light' to the Lord to deliver him from his own shadows, from the wrecks and confusion of his days. The Fugitive and Other Poems contain certain mystical beauties and Urvasi is a poem of eternal beauty of Women.

      Tagore's poems are rich in content and form. There is the blending of the harmony of thoughts, feelings and melody of words, and they cover such a wide range of human feelings and emotions - love, earthly and spiritual, devotion, the yearnings of the human spirit towards the Divine. They are the great hymns to life and the creator.

The Faults of this Great Poet:

      However, this does not mean that Tagore's poetry is uniformly good. There is a much inequality in his thought and matter. This is the most evident in The Gardener which otherwise contains some of the most charming lyrics of love. Lines such as the following can only be described as pretty banalities: You are the evening cloud floating in the sky of my dreams, I point you and fashion you ever with my love longings. You are my own my own, Dweller in my endless dream There are also occasional faults of idiom and grammar. The chief defect of Tagore's lyrics, however, is a certain sameness, a certain monotony or lack of variety, a certain melli-fluousness of emotion and a certain vague sweetness of emotion. The readers are not surprised or thrilled by something new or unique at every step. Writes Verghese "the tone is mystical and devotional all through his works from Gitanjali to The fugitive and other poems. It is this monotony more than anything else that accounts for the decline of Tagore's reputation in west."

      Edward Thompson in this connection says, "It must be admitted that he has written a great deal too much, and that the chief stumbling block in the way of accepting him among great poets is the inequality of his work. There are frequent out croppings of stony ground, as in a Bengal upcountry landscape. Also especially in his earlier books, there is a vast amount of flowery undergrowth which needs a sickle or a fire, to clear the loftier trees and show them in their strength and nobleness. There is recurrence of a certain vocabulary, of flowers, South wind, spring, autumn, tears, laughter separation, tunes, bees, and the rest which sometimes is positively maddening. This sort of thing is most apparent when he is least inspired, but it is by no means absent from his best work. 'In Rabindranath', said a Bengali to me, 'flowers are al ways opening, and the south wind is always blowing. Even in much of the noblest work of his latter years his incorrigible playfulness, the way in which, often when most serious, he will fondle and toss with fancies, spoils some splendid things.. From all this comes sometimes a sense of monotony, which hides from the reader the richness and versatility of his work."


      Tagore is indeed one of the greatest lyric poets of the world. His lyrics are noted for their simplicity and directness of expression. The poet's sincerity of feeling and vividness of imagery combined with the rhythmic flow of words give the reader or the hearer the impression that the poet's mystic yearning is harmoniously fused with deep human passion and significance. The humanistic essence combined with spirituality, love of Nature and man are the features of his poems. The mysticism, the spiritual message of Tagore does not compel us to run away from the fret and fever of life but insists on our full participation in the joys and sorrows of life. This mystical quality of Tagore's poetry influenced some poets in India. They are overwhelmed by Tagore's poetry and tempted to write mystical poetry in the manner and spirit of the master. For instance, Harindranath Chattopadhyay in spite of his Marxism in politics, is mystical in his verse and constantly expresses a desire to remove his false self and to discover God. In the wake of Tagore's success as a mystic poet, there has also been an impression among critics of Indian poetry that true Indian poetry is mystical. For example, J. H. Consins in his The Renaissance in India writes, "It is the quality o spiritual vision that seems to be the supreme characteristic of Indian poetry Tagore made a phenomenal impact on every regional literature in India which became possible because of the Translations of his original Bengali works into English.

      Tagore combines in himself the romanticism of Shelley, the mysticism of Wiliam Blake, and the realism of Yeats, Eliot, Auden and the Sitwells which gives Tagore a rare position in the world of words.

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