Theme of Death in Tagore's Poetry Gitanjali

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A Warm Reception to Death:

      In several of the later passages of Gitanjali Tagore is preoccupied with death which he elsewhere calls the King of the Dark Chamber. The desire of self-annihilation dominates the heart of Tagore.

"On the day when death will knock at thy door what will thou offer to him?

Oh, I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life - I will never let him go with empty hands.

"All the sweet of all my autumn days and summer nights, all the earnings and gleanings of my busy life will I place before him at the close of my days when death will knock at my door".
The poet seems to feel that death is inherent in Nature and there fore lodged within him. It is the last fulfilment of life. The soul opens to death like "a bud in the forest at midnight". Death is as loving, peaceful and acceptable as life. The whole life of man is a preparation of death. Just as birth brings the soul into a strange world, so also death carries him into the great unknown across the sea to eternity. Just as the soul had loved the life in this world, so also it would love the new world where it will go after death.
Rabindranath Tagore

Death-An Amorous Adventure:

      The poet seems to feel that death is inherent in Nature and there fore lodged within him. It is the last fulfilment of life. The soul opens to death like "a bud in the forest at midnight". Death is as loving, peaceful and acceptable as life. The whole life of man is a preparation of death. Just as birth brings the soul into a strange world, so also death carries him into the great unknown across the sea to eternity. Just as the soul had loved the life in this world, so also it would love the new world where it will go after death. As a matter of fact life and death are two breasts of the Divine Mother. When the mother takes the child from one breast it weeps, but is soon consoled when it is put to the other breast. So also the human soul will easily find rest and peace in the other world to which it will go after death. Dying into death for poet is dying into the deathless. It is an amorous adventure undertaken in a stormy night. It is a wedding. The soul plays with the Lord as the beloved plays with her lover. The poet feels within him the same longing that the Gopis felt when Krishna left them. By meditating on him they broke their physical bonds and attained him. The soul giving up its vain struggle would travel on the beautiful path of death into the home of the beloved. The poet is ready to start his journey and before starting on his amorous path he requests his friends to wish him luck.

      "At this time of my parting, wish me good luck, my friends ! The sky is flushed with the dawn and my path lies beautiful" and he knows that his journey would end at a beautiful destination, he will meet his beloved bride, God and at the gates of her home he will be welcomed with Sweet music.

"The evening star will welcome out when my voyage is done and the plaintive notes of the twilight melodies be struck up from the king's gateway.."

Death-An Auspicious Event:

      The poem 91 says that "the flowers have been woven and the garland is ready for the bridegroom. After the wedding the bride shall leave her home and meet her lord alone in the solitude of the night". Again: "I shall put on my wedding garland. Mine is not red brown dress of the traveler and though there are dangers on the way I have no fear in my mind. The plaintive notes of the twilight melodies be struck up from the King's gateway". The red brown dress is a mark of renunciation. The poet will not have it. Death and life are the same thing for Tagore. Death for him is not a source of evasiveness and seclusion. He has lived the life fully for his perfection to attain the holy presence and now wishes for renewal of life for the further perfection and communion with the Almighty. Death is an auspicious event, the source of joy and renewal so he will go with it to his Lord in wedding robes. This occasion will unite the soul with the Supreme. The ecstasic consummation of life and death will thus take place like the union of bride and bridegroom.

Death Brings the Spiritual Enlightenment:

      Dying is not simple literal annihilation of spirit and matter. Dying is concomitant with the release of spirit. Death is an intimation of immortality. He sees "by the light of death thy (God) world with its careless treasures".

      It is a tryst with the divine. The nearness with death brings the true realisation, the enlightenment. He now realises that even the lowest and the humblest have their own value and significance. Wordly wealth, to which he has attached such importance till now is no longer cared by poet. He now cares more for things spiritual, which he had neglected so far. Tagore is ready to go to his spiritual path far away from the imperfections of ego, pride, avarice and materialistic luxury and comforts because

"Pride can never approach to where thou walkest in the clothes of the humble.."

      Donne and Hardy speak of death with the painful and gloomy aspect but Tagore loves the inevitable death. He speaks of it as a mystic. He makes love, life and death inseparable companions. For him all three are connected. Man takes birth, comes away from his Almighty Father. Throughout his whole life he enjoys the love of the divine Father and when he sends His errand his summons comes from the Highest, man should be ready to leave. Now the soul dispossessed of all the wordly goods will reach the Bridegroom. Hence death is not to be feared as Death comes to take the beloved to God. Once dead' the soul loses her identity and gets into sweet touch of the allness of the universe. Giving up all argumentation let man accept it. The cup of life is sweet but that of death is equally sweet. Dying is no more than yielding to the lover after a little struggle. Now the Lord as the bridegroom and the soul as the bride will make dying a happy wedding.

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