Monday, 9 May 2011

Rabindranath Tagore: On Science, God and Truth

It’s really a great day for florists here. It’s 25 Boiśākh, 1418 today! Rabindranath Tagore turns 150 today according to the Bengali calendar. So it’s a moment for all of us to feel proud about the man who won Asia its first Nobel, who composed songs which we cannot stop listening to, wrote poetry we never forget and the man who gave the country our national anthem. But should we? Last year, on this day, I expressed my feelings about the celebration of his 150th birth anniversary. (Why do we have such fondness for multiples of twenty-five?) We have decorated the statue of Tagore with endless garlands to feel good and have only added to the halo that surrounds the “image” of Tagore. Making Tagore a divinity to worship and not a human being to discover (and re-discover and re-re-discover) is, I believe, something Tagore himself might have considered an insult.

Today, in this post, I’ll explore an aspect of Rabindranath which is rarely discussed about him, except, perhaps, in academic circles. (I had another topic on mind which is almost never in limelight, but let’s keep that for another day.) I wish to ignore all the titles, prefixes and suffixes that surround Rabindranath’s name and cut right to the heart of his ideas. It goes without saying that I am writing this also because it’s a very personal topic to me – a topic that always stirs up my thoughts. I am absolutely unqualified and incompetent to offer any conclusive viewpoint. At best, my aim is to explain why the topic matters so much to me and I don’t think I can do that very well because some of these ideas are way beyond my comprehension.