Rabindranath Tagore, poetry and politics

This video is called RABINDRANATH TAGORE (1961, Documentary) – by Satyajit Ray.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Credit where it’s due

Sunday 08 March 2009

JOHN GREEN revisits the mighty exploits of Asia’s first Nobel laureate but finds it tough to pin down his legacy.

RABINDRANATH Tagore was a towering figure during the late 19th and early 20th century and was lionised internationally.

He was a polymath – a novelist, philosopher, essayist, playwright, painter and composer.

The songs that he wrote are deemed to be some of the most beautiful in the world and many have become a staple of Bengali folk tradition. He was also a mystic and guru.

Born in 1861 into a wealthy Bengali business family, Tagore eschewed material wealth in later life in favour of the simple life.

He was a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi‘s and an admirer of the Soviet Union and its efforts to uphold communism, but his biographers describe this as “the greatest blunder of his life,” not realising that the Soviet attempt to build a society based on co-operation, egalitarianism and solidarity was something that he, too, aspired towards.

Although Tagore was brought up in a liberal Hindu tradition, he was a fierce opponent of the caste system, religious fundamentalism and hierarchies in general.

He perceived his life’s work as an attempt to bridge the gulf between Western and Indian culture, seeing positive aspects in both.

Like Gandhi, although he met and talked with many leading politicians, he remained largely aloof from the machinations and infighting of party politics.

This attitude often made his followers and admirers angry and frustrated.

Tagore was dedicated to what he regarded as untarnished truth, complete honesty and higher morality, which could be discovered by introspection rather than social action.

He was also a committed pacifist, who regarded the use of violence to overthrow British colonial rule in India and even [in] the battle against fascism in the 1930s as misguided.

He viewed the growing influence of technology as a danger and argued that science and technology must serve humankind and not vice versa.

But despite his indisputable achievements and the widespread admiration and awe that he inspired, it is difficult to describe what his legacy is and how much of his work is relevant today.

This book offers a very detailed and perceptive portrayal of the man and his times and, since it is co-written by an Englishman and an Indian, it provides an understanding and appreciation from both perspectives.

To the end of his life, Tagore remained optimistic about humanity, believing that with adequate guidance, broad-based educational systems and egalitarian policies, it could surmount all its difficulties.

In the face of a public outcry, the Congress Party, the dominant partner in India’s coalition government, has dropped as candidates for the coming national election two veteran congressmen who helped instigate a horrific 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom in Delhi: here.

From the second half of the 1950s, between 1956 and 1958, food movements became an annual occurrence. The Food Movement of 1959 however was a turning-point in the history of class struggle in West Bengal: here.

3 thoughts on “Rabindranath Tagore, poetry and politics

  1. Montblanc’s $25,000 Gandhi pen stirs controversy

    Source: OpEdNews.com (via USA Today) (10-3-09)

    MUMBAI, India — An incongruous billboard has appeared high above Mumbai’s slums: A thin Mohandas Gandhi, the ascetic father of India’s independence, sits wrapped in simple white cloth above the image of a fat Montblanc pen.

    German luxury penmaker Montblanc launched a limited-edition commemorative fountain pen in honor of Gandhi this week, just in time for the 140th anniversary of the birth of the Mahatma — or “Great Soul” — on Friday.

    The price? $24,763.


  2. Pingback: Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and Brazil | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore and Brazil | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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