‘Crisis of Civilization’ – was last public speech which Tagore gave on the occassion of his eightieth birthday in April 1941.
“One day I had to leave the exotic world of literary enchantment. That day the extreme poverty of the Indian masses revealed itself to me: it was heartwrenching. Food, clothing, water, education, health – such gross depravation of each and every fundamental need of the human mind and body has perhaps not occurred in any other modern state. … As long I was immersed in the pursuing the glory of the ‘civilised world’, I could not imagine such a brutal distortion of the human ideal that calls itself ‘civilisation’. ..and yet it is this country that has supplied the British with their wealth for a very long time. Finally, I have come to see through this perversion – and through it – the limitless arrogance and indifference of the ‘civilised’ towards the several crores of people”
In the same essay, he says
As I look around I see the crumbling ruins of a proud civilization strewn like a vast heap of futility. And yet I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in Man. I would rather look forward to the opening of a new chapter in his history after the cataclysm is over and the atmosphere rendered clean with the spirit of service and sacrifice. Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the sun rises
Read the full text here (reproduced from The Great Speeches of Modern India, edited by noted historian Rudrangshu Mukherjee).