From Tagore

I started reading essays on Nationalism by Tagore yesterday. In the first reading it might just read like any polemic against the western civilization. However, when we rewind ourselves back to his time, a time which was still not completely mechanized, when the pace of life was different, and sources of information relatively scarce, his essays come out partly as analytical but mostly brilliantly prophetic. It is usually said of poets that they can see what lies ahead. Time for them is not an unravelling phenomenon but rather like a flowing river, they can see where it begins and where it ends. 

And here is one man fighting for the preeminence of spiritual over material, appealing to the ‘inner’ nature of man… terms which are now considered as being devoid of any real sense, but I guess the poet would say that we have lost our ability to comprehend, to experience and to see things that way…

There are things that cannot wait. You have to rush and run and march, if you must fight or take the best place in the market. You strain your nerves and are on the alert, when you chase opportunities that are always on their wings. But there are ideals which do not play hide and seek with our life; they slowly grow from seed to flower, from flower to fruit; they require infinite space and heaven ‘ s light to mature and the fruits that they produce can survive years of insult and neglect. The East with her ideals, in whose bosom are stored the ages of sunlight and silence of stars, can patiently wait till the West, hurrying after the expedient, loses breath and stops. Europe, while busily speeding to her engagements, disdainfully casts her glance from her carriage window to the reaper reaping his harvest in the field, and in her intoxication of speed cannot but think him as slow and ever receding backwards. But the speed comes to its end, the engagement loses its meaning and the hungry heart clamours for food, till at last she comes to the lowly reaper reaping his harvest in the sun. For if the office cannot wait, or the buying and selling, or the craving for excitement, love waits and beauty and the wisdom of suffering and the fruits of patient devotion and reverent meekness of simple faith.  And thus shall wait the East till her time comes.

During his time may be the distinction between the East and West were pronounced. However, what we can take away from here is not the clear cut divide between the two civilizations but rather two very different aspirations of the same self, one which wants to lead the other that is lead by the harmonies of nature. One that delights in competition the other that thrives on co-operation. 

 I know what  a risk one runs from the vigorously athletic crowds to be styled an ‘idealist’ in these days, when thrones have lost their dignity and prophets have become an anachronism, when the sound that drowns all voices is the noise of the market-place. Yet when, one day, standing on the outskirts of Yokohama town, bristling with its display of modern miscellanies, I watched the sunset in your southern sea, and saw its peace and majesty among your pine-clad hills,-—with the great Fujiyama growing faint against the golden horizon, like a god overcome with his own radiance,—the music of eternity welled up through the  evening silence, and I felt that the sky and the earth and the lyrics of the dawn and the dayfall are with the poets and idealists, and not with the marketmen robustly contemptuous of all sentiments,—that, after the forgetfulness of his own divinity, man will remember again that heaven is always in touch with his world, which can never be abandoned for good to the bounding wolves of the modern era, scenting human blood and howling to the skies.”

I’m glad he immortalized idealism through his works… and of course the sheer delight of being a poet, a prophet, a seer and believer…

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