Tagore’s India: freedom, dignity, justice

One day, in a small village in Bengal, a .. woman from the neighbourhood came to see me. She had the name “Sarva-khepi” given to her by the village people, the meaning of which is “the woman who is mad about all things.” She fixed her star-like eyes upon my face and startled me with the question, “When are you coming to meet me underneath the trees?” Evidently she pitied me who lived (according to her) prisoned behind walls, banished away from the great meeting-place of the All, where she had her dwelling.  Just at that moment my gardener came with his basket, and when the woman understood that the flowers in the vase on my table were going to be thrown away, to make place for the fresh ones, she looked pained and said to me, “You are always engaged reading and writing; you do not see.” Then she took the discarded flowers in her palms, kissed them and touched them with her forehead, and reverently murmured to herself, “Beloved of my heart.” I felt that this woman, in her direct vision of the infinite personality in the heart of all things, truly represented the spirit of India.

This is an excerpt from Tagore’s essay An Indian Folk Religion, first published by Macmillan in 1922, in Creative Unity. Its full text is available as an e-book at this link. It contains some of Tagore’s well-known and oft-cited essays.

Courtesy: The Gutenberg Project

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wrote on the occassion of the fiftieth anniversary of India’s Independence:

“At the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence, the reckoning of what India had or had not achieved in this half century was a subject of considerable interest.. If Tagore were to see the India of today, more than half a century after independence, nothing perhaps would shock him so much as the continued illiteracy of the masses. He would see this as a total betrayal of what the nationalist leaders had promised during the struggle for independence … Continue reading »

Our Tagore events

  • Oct 6, 2012 AUTUMN EXTRAVAGANZA, Michael Power St. Joseph High School, Toronto. A variety show with Tagore’s works, and a multicultural Dance Ensemble with folk dances of Ukraine, Chile, and India.

  • Sep 25, 2012 'Walking Alone: Justice and Inequality in Tagore's thought', talk by Ananya Mukherjee-Reed at Princeton University, USA.

  • May 4, 2012 Soul of Spring,McMichael Art Gallery, Kleinburg, Ontario. A medley of music, dance and poetry based on Tagore's play. It was performed during an exhibition of Tagore's paintings 'The Last Harvest' at the gallery.

  • Jan 19, 2012 'Race and Diversity in Tagore', talk by Ananya Mukherjee-Reed at the University of Toronto

  • Sept 30, 2011 Tagore reading at the Festival of South Asian Literature and the Arts

  • October 2, 2011 A panel on Tagore featuring Uma Dasgupta and Martha Nussbaum on Writers & Company, CBC Radio One Broadcast time 3:05 pm Eastern. Click here for more details and podcast
  • Dec 3-4, 2011: A film festival featuring the North American premier of two films based on Tagore's work.
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