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Rabindranath and his God

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Author: Dr. Rita Roy Chowdhury

A column, titled Rabindranath and his God, written by Dr. Rita Roy Chowdhury on 27.08.2015.

This is Rita. I have witnessed 62 winters and at present standing on a grey zone. I have done my masters in Philosophy from Calcutta University with specialization in Psychology and Doctorate in Environmental Ethics. I retired from my position of Associate professor from Vivekananda College for Women Kolkata on the 31st of January 2013. I love to write, to read, listen to music and travel. Monsoon is my best season and so is off beat places near rivers. I am mother to a 29 year old son working at SBI and mother-in-law as well. My husband is Associate Professor at Maulana Azad College; his discipline is mathematics.

Indian philosophy is in essence nature centric. It has found in nature a wealth of wisdom which is reflected in its cosmology, its epistemology and its ethics. In Tagore there is a reflection of this philosophy, of identifying God with the orderly harmony of what exists around us and not, "…in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings." -(Einstein)

This pantheistic element, this love for nature has been expressed in innumerable songs, poems and dance drama of Rabindranath.

I touch God in my song
As the hill touches the far-away sea
With its waterfall.
The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
Let my love, like sunlight, surround you and yet give you illumined freedom.
Love remains a secret even when spoken,
For only a lover truly knows that he is loved.
Emancipation from the bondage of the soil is no freedom for thee.
In love I pay my endless debt to thee
For what thou art.

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Rabindranath experienced the existence of God in Nature. In a poem he made it explicit that god for him is diffused in throughout the universe; is the sky and the nest as well...

"Thou art the sky and thou art the nest as well.

Thou beautiful, there in the nest it is thy love that encloses the soul with colours and sounds and odours.

There comes the morning with the golden basket in her right hand bearing the wreath of beauty, silently to crown the earth.

And there comes the evening over the lonely meadows deserted by herds, through trackless paths, carrying cool draughts of peace in her golden pitcher from the western ocean of rest.

But there, where spreads the infinite sky for the soul to take her flight in, reigns the stainless white radiance. There is no day nor night, nor form nor colour, and never, never a word".

ekadhare tumee

Harmony is the essence of Tagore's view of the world.. He has perceived harmony in the,

"...Marvelous quality of complex inter-relationships maintaining a perfect co-ordination of functions..."

This concept of harmony can be defined as a process of continuous synchronization among the different aspects of the natural world.

"The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow."

The natural world is in a constant flux, a ceaseless change, like the movement of the waves, where appearance of the one leads to the disappearance of the other, rising and falling in a continuous rhythm.

This cyclic process the Brahmanda Purana mentioned in its theory of creation as 'Sarga' or primary creation and 'pratisarga', which includes dissolution and recreation.

Interestingly the harmony found in the natural world seems to have been permeated in the human thought process or how else can one explain the Stoic 'apocatastasis' so similar to the Puranic cosmology! It explained the universe as a living being, which was born, lived its allotted span of time and died only to reproduce itself? The Stoics believed that the universe was animated by vital breath that burned through its entire extant vibrating all its parts that were interconnected.

"This universe, which is the same for all, has not been made by any god or man, but it always has been is, and will be – an ever-living fire, kindling itself by regular measures and going out by regular measures" commented Heraclitus the Greek philosopher and Tagore expressed all these philosophical findings by saying –

aachhe dukhyo
Aachhe dukhyo, aachhe mrityu, birohodahon laage.
Tobuo shaanti, tobu aanondo, tobu anonto jaage. 
Tobu praan nityodhaara, haase surjo chandra taara, 
Basonto nikunje aase bichitra raage. 
Tarongo milaye jaay tarongo utthe, 
Kusum jhariya pore kusum phute. 
Naahi khoy, naahi shesh, naahi naahi doinyalesh-
Sei purnatar paaye mon sthaan maage.

There is sorrow, death there is; 
There is the pang of separation 
Yet is there peace, 
There is joy, 
There is the call of the infinite within; 
There is within us the eternal flow of life, 
The radiant beaming sun, the smiling moon and stars
Yet spring, arrives at our doorstep, 
Bringing to bowers, 
A wondrous spray of shades and colours. 
As the tide falls so also the tide rises 
When a flower droops and falls another blooms. 
There is neither loss nor an end, no, not even weariness 
At that altar of abundance, my heart seeks its abode.

Column Published - Index

………… End …………

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