Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861 and died in 1941. He experienced slavery in his motherland, India. For Tagore, the first Asian to win the Nobel prize in literature, freedom was one of the most lovely experiences and achievements. He had undergone suffering during the pre-independence days.
The collected poems and plays of Rabindranath Tagore show us a dream, so to say, of the Great Poet of our nation:
"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 depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
into the dreary desert sand of dead habits;
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".
Tagore says freedom from fear is the freedom I claim for the motherland. For him, fear is the phantom shaped by our own distorted dreams. He narrates about freedom from the burden of ages, for bending the head, blinding the eyes, and being ready for the beckoning call of the future. Freedom is to be from the shackles of slumber where you fasten yourself to night's stillness, mistrusting the star that speaks of truth's adventurous path.
Tagore contemplates freedom; our minds must be without fear, and our heads must be held high. Our knowledge and reasoning must be unfettered. The world we live in must not be broken into fragments by man-made walls but must be maintained integral and united; our words must come from the depth of truth and never untruth; we must struggle for perfection that is wholeness, beyond comprehension, but entirely under the ambit of reason; and our mind must be led to the ever-widening thought and action, and into that heaven of freedom we and our country must go ahead.
In this short reflection, Tagore invites Indians to be awake and stretch forward. Rabindranath summarily gives us points for life, belief and action. He does not speak of any religion but goes to the core of Hinduism as detachment and tolerance, Islam as faith, Jainism as love for life, Judaism as accepting one God, Christianity as total forgiveness, and Sikhism as following the path of Gurus. All these are one and the same as total integration and unity. Into this oneness and integral freedom, we pray with Tagore: LET MY COUNTRY AWAKE!
This must be the KINGDOM (the Rajya) we must dream of in 2024!!