Tagore as of today

Tagore as of today

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‘I am a poet of the world, I try to capture its melody, wherever it rises’, was Tagore’s aspiration. Tagore’s relevance today lies in his universal outreach. His views retain its pragmatic fervour in present world. He melded ideas, traditions, practices and cultures of places panning the globe and this resulted in the Tagorean exuberance for the posterity to reckon as contemporary ever after.

Dr Samuel Berthet, a histrorian of contemporary history feels the creation of Shantiniketan and Sriniketan has a long way to go. ‘The poet gave altogether another dimension to this attempt for a social paradigm over four decades. Direct and daily access with its lively tenants in the rural areas and in collaboration with scholars and artists from all over India ….to rediscover heritage…by getting back to one’s own roots and reviving in a lively manner the links between popular and elite culture, rural and urban culture, under the form of an international forum was and remain a pioneering one….The legacy of this pioneering venture led by the poet is multi pronged and has been carried both in the subcontinent and other parts of the world.’

Eiko Ohiro, an English professor from Japan finds Tagore’s vision to unify people and aesthetics to forge harmony of the universe. She harps on purification of the aesthetic sense. Tagore praised Japanese people for having a ‘vision of beauty in nature and the power of realizing it’ in their lives. Tagore was fascinated by the story of a samurai who liked to view flowers arranged in vase before he left for a battlefield, for he thought that true heroism is aroused by the music of truth found in beauty. For Tagore that beauty could be found in life which revives again and again by enduring the atrocities of time. Tagore believed that the mainspring of Japanese civilization was ‘the bond of human relationships’ and the spiritual bond with the whole of nature. He urged Japan to share this with others as a universal message, allowing us to transcend the limits of modernism, individualism and material civilization. There was a negative change in a Japanese society in terms of human relationships during the six decades after the Second World War in the processes of industrialization and mass consumption. Family ties and other human relationships were problematically weakened. ‘ However, this tsunami, I think, has given us a chance to discover the Japan that Tagore extolled almost a century ago. Tagore insisted that the mission of civilization is to unite people and bring peace and harmony.’ says Prof Ohiro.

Tagore in his essay on ‘Nationalism in the west’ says, ‘Neither the colourless vagueness of cosmopolitanism, nor the fierce self-idolatry of nation-worship is the goal of human history. And India has been trying to accomplish her task through social regulation differences, on the one hand, and the spiritual recognition of unity, on the other’. But Tagore refrained from monolithic culture what may be termed as the ‘melting pot’ exuding alchemical unity of cultures. Instead by creating conduits between cultures, it leads to a stolid edifice of human unity without ‘devaluing their local origins, culture and traditions’ says Prof Indra Nath Chowdhuri. All political demarcations are good enough for a system but for another system these demarcations demur during another coalition. Thus segregation and coalition are relativistic stance. Baulking over the lines succumb to this hollowness. In Creative Unity, Tagore was outright, ‘Perfection of unity is not in uniformity but in Harmony.’

Prof Chowdhuri surmised to say – ‘It is particular cultural traditions that can provide the bases for understanding and morally relating to others and ultimately for developing a vision of universality.’During the deliberations of the seminar, some speakers remained cynical of Tagore’s nationalism which they felt declined with his growing ardour for universalism. Does nationalism impinge upon one’s cosmopolitan stature? Prof Indra Nath Choudhuri cogently put it across that nationalism can snugly fit in the ambit of global camaraderie. Prof Chowdhuri cited Amaratya Sen who had caught the innate Tagorean appeal – ‘The man point of cosmopolitanism, which is taken to be the world-citizenship claim, need not militate against valluing elements in one’s own tradition….universality….is dependent upon reason’s articulation of the universal through an engagement with the local’.

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NGI November 2013