“Gitanjali” is one of the best-known works of Rabindranath Tagore for which he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. It is a collection of poems and another title of this collection is “The Song Offerings”. It explores the depths of the human spirit and its connection was published on August 1910, and comprised 157 songs. The English version was released in November 1912 by the India Society of London. It contained translations of 53 poems from the original Bengali Gitanjali, as well as 50 other poems from his drama Achalayantana & other books of poetry – mainly Gitimalya, Naivadya, and Kheya. It had a long introduction by the noted poet W. B. Yeats.
About Rabindranath Tagore
The poet of the ‘Gitanjali’ Rabindranath Tagore is a great poet, short story writer, singer, translator, social reformer, and philosopher in the modern history of Indian English Literature. It was Tagore who was introduced as the first Asian, who was awarded with Nobel Prize for his famous book ‘Gitanjali” in 1913. He wrote his first poem when he was only 8 years old.
Tagore also wrote the National Anthem of India in 1950, which is Jana, Gana, Mana………… He was referred to as “The Bard of Bengal”. He also wrote the Bangladesh Anthem and Founder of Santiniketan.
Themes Of Gitanjali
The main theme of Gitanjali is Mysticism. According to Indian Philosophy, mysticism is the highest stage where the human soul is in direct contact with God. A mystic thinks that the world we see with our eyes and ears is not real and that there is a more real-world behind if that can only be understood spiritually, not through the senses. Mysticism is not something that can be explained logically. All mystics try to separate themselves from the outside world and connect with the world inside. This type of mysticism is based on the ideas of renunciation, detachment from the world, and asceticism
Tagore was influenced by a lot of mystic writers such as – Walt Whitman, Kahil Gibran, and Sri Aurobindo. Still, Tagore’s version of mysticism is a little bit different from the others.
Gitanjali is God’s prayer. It is a collection of songs about God and praise for him, which was deeply rooted in the ancient tradition of Indian Vaishnava poetry and mystical, eternal, and sublime qualities. They have a wide range of moods and ways of doing things. The theme of God runs through the whole Gitanjali.
Gitanjali also has a theme about nature. It looks at the connection between God and nature. His lyrics stand out because of how beautiful and full of images they are. These images come from nature and Indian Mythology.
Gitanjali does not just talk about the relationship between a man’s soul and God. It also talks about the relationship between a man’s soul and God. It also talks about the relationship between a man’s soul and other men. It stands up for the rights of the poor and humble, who are often denied the most essential rights of man.
At the end of Gitanjali, Tagore also writes about death, and he does so in many different and artistic ways. He doesn’t fear death. Instead, he looks forward to it with joy because it’s the only way to be with God. He said,
“Death looks scary but it brings the soul of a person to a meeting with the eternal.”
There are many kinds of love in Gitanjali, including love for women, love for other people, love for humanity, love for God, love for beauty, and love for truth. Tagore is a poet who loves God and religion, and his poetry shows the world’s truth, happiness, and beauty. He wrote,
“Love is the only reality and it is eternal. All else is maya, illusion.”
Tagore’s philosophy of life in Gitanjali
Tagore’s Gitanjali is a collection of poems that reflects his personal philosophy of life. It is a deeply spiritual work that celebrates the beauty of the world and the unity of all beings. Tagore believed that we should live our lives in harmony with nature. He saw nature as a manifestation of the divine and he believed that we can learn to connect with God through our appreciation of the natural world. He wrote,
“Where the mind is without fear and
the head is held high;
Where the knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments by
narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from
the depth of truth.”
Tagore’s philosophy of life is also reflected in his emphasis on the importance of compassion and service to others. He believed that we should all strive to make the world a better place for everyone. He wrote:
“I shall never be afraid to ask for blessing, and
I shall never feel ashamed to beg for love.”
In the modern days of nihilism and despair the poems in ‘Gitanjali’ offer a kind of ‘faith and optimism’. Man can get rid of all kinds of despair and suffering, if he sacrifices himself to God. God will then carry his burden of life. The poet says this in his song.
“Leave all thy burden on his hands
who can bear all, and never look
behind I regret.”
Humanization of the divine is one of the significant aspects of Tagore’s poetry. God is presented as existing among the simple, poor, and humble people. So to ignore them is to ignore God. For example
“Here is thy footstool and
there rest thy feet where
live the poorest and
lowliest and lost.”
Tagore uses a wide range of vivid and picturesque images and symbols that are drawn from everyday life as well as from age-old myths. For example –
“This little flute of a reed
thou host carried over
hills and dales, and host
breathed through eternally new”
Human existence is compared to a flute through which God creates a new Melody.
Material desires and ego are the main barriers in the path towards God. Man is chained by shackles of desire and ego. Until and unless he sacrifices his desires, he cannot have a glimpse of God. In the song No IX, the poet says:
“Thy desire at once put out the light
from the lamp it touches with its breath.”
“Gitanjali” is a masterpiece that explores the depths of the human soul, the mysteries of the universe, and the quest for transcendence. Tagore’s poetic brilliance, combined with his profound spirituality, love, and human experience, has created a work that continues to inspire and resonate with readers worldwide. The collection’s translation into various languages further spread its influence, cementing Tagore’s reputation as a poet of global significance.
Thus, “Gitanjali” stands as a testament to the power of poetry to transcend boundaries and illuminate the timeless truths of human conditions.
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