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Monday, 15 July 2013
Poetry Study Aid : Where The Mind Is Without Fear :Rabindranath Tagore
|Cover of Rabindranath Tagore|
Rabindranath Tagore was a person of great and varied learning who wrote Gitanjali with its deeply spiritualist, bracing and beauteous verse. One of the greatest writers in modern Indian literature, Tagore was a poet, philosopher, musician, writer, and educationist. He established the Santiniketan with its refreshing vision of education and later Viswabharati University. Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for his collection of poems Gitanjali. He was awarded the knighthood in 1915 which he returned 1919 as a protest against the Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh.
The spiritual and expressive quality of his poems in translation together with his outwardly charismatic prophet-like appearance created around him the aura of a mystic in the West which hazed over his reformist and global vision and outlook.
Tagore was instrumental in the introduction of new prose and verse forms as well as the usage of colloquialism into Bengali literature which liberated the Bengali Literature from the traditional forms excessively dependent on classical Sanskrit. Tagore, the exceptionally influential creative artist, is celebrated as an icon of Indian culture.
About the Poem: Where the Mind is Without Fear
The poem Where the Mind is Without Fear is a prayer to a universal father-figure, that is, the God Almighty. The poem, with its inspiring lines, elaborates Tagore's vision of a new, enlightened India.
The poem, written originally in Bengali, was composed before India’s independence most probably in the year 1900. The original poem titled Prarthana was included in an anthology named Naibedya and the poem was translated into English by Tagore himself around 1911. The poem is Poem 35 in the English Gitanjali published in 1912.The poem had a special place in Tagore’s heart and he recited its English version at the Indian National Congress session in Calcutta, 1917.
The poet, Rabindranath Tagore, envisages an ideal nation; liberal in outlook, united in strength, dynamic in progress. The poet is totally devoted to God and entreats Him that He must direct the poet’s fellow countrymen to be industrious, truthful and rational so as to advance the country towards the most ideal stature. The poet desires peace and prosperity among his countrymen and prays that his country might attain overall welfare and self-reliance.
The prayer transcends the constraints of time as well as space and achieves the appealing quality of being universal in nature.
The poem is written in free verse and consists of just one sentence. The poem can be considered to consist of two sections: the first seven lines with a series of adverbial clauses and the principal clause coming at the end.
The first seven lines refer a circumstance presented by a setting, “where the mind is without fear, “where knowledge is free,” and so on. We do not know the exact setting or scene which these lines refer to until we come to the concluding line of the poem. However, we can envisage that the place referred to is an awe-inspiring, almost an ideal, place. It is almost a utopian realm where all the sublime features- such as valour, knowledge, harmony, truth, intellect, and advancement- prevail.
In the principal clause of the sentence the poet identifies that circumstance, that metaphorical scenario as “that heaven of freedom” and requests the “Father,” the God Almighty, to let his country to reach there or his country to realise that that she ought to endeavour to accomplish the capability to establish all these marvellous lineaments.
At the outset, the poet prays to the God Almighty that all his countrymen must be brave and have their heads held high in self-respect and self-confident undaunted by any fear of repression or force. Everyone in his country should have free access to education and education should not be the exclusive right of the aristocrats and the wealthy. Acquiring of knowledge by the people should not be constrained by narrow ideas and loyalty.
Tagore was deeply distressed by the dominance and suppression of the British Imperialistic forces and was dispirited by the loss of pride and dignity of his mother country India because of her repression by the British rule. Therefore, Tagore envisaged a country where the people live with pride, knowledge and strength.
The poet continues his universal prayer with the assertion that the world is broken up and the human beings are divided on many a narrow considerations, like social, economic and religious or caste restrictions. The poet prays that minds of the people of his country should be above the influence of social status, economic circumstance, colour, religious belief or doctrine, parochial narrow-minded considerations and destructive superstitions. Their minds ought to be enlarged with worthy thoughts and fruitful actions gainful to the nation. The words of truth should emerge from the soundness of heart and should be uttered forthrightly and bravely for the entire world to take heed. He prays that his countrymen should endeavour unflaggingly to accomplish perfection in the struggle and strife they undertake for the betterment of the nation. Their actions should be based on reason and free from superstitions as well as outdated customs and conventions.
An Approach to ICSE English Gopakumar Menon