Essay from Z.I. Mahmud

Contribution of spiritual leaders to the development of India

Adherent to  spiritualism and mysticism, Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel literature laureate of the Renaissance Bengal is famed to be enthroned as the Indian Shakespeare. Literary acclaim and widespread popularity of visionary Rabindranath Tagore’s incredible contribution as a mystic can be a wondrous marvel that strikes emotional socialists’, sensational spiritualistic, sentimental moralistic and humane philanthropists’ psyche from orientalism to transatlanticism. As luminary, Graham Greene, the twentieth century English writer and journalist, proclaims of Tagore’s majestic magnificence and glorious brilliance of the visionary eyesight symbolic to ‘Chesterton’s bright pebbly eyes’ ;so hithertofore therein is indeed indicative of the vindictive testament exclaimed by poetic lines of Even Anna Akhmatova. Even Anna Akhmatova’s admirable appeal for translation of Tagorean canon springs from exaltation of “that mighty flow of poetry which takes its strength from Hinduism as from the Ganges, and is called Rabindranath Tagore’’.  Rabindranath Tagore’s mysticism and asceticism surmounts the Indian myths and legends, folklore and folktales, hymns and lyrics, vernaculars and dialectics, narratives and discourses to a greater extent ascension and publicity amidst William Butler Yeats and Ezra Pound. 

Rabindranath Tagore’s philosophical theology centers heralding non-sectarianism and communal harmony and humanistic peaceful dwelling influencing the different parts of the Indian cultural background. A sage-like visionary poet whose existential influence for a millennia amongst Europeans as Schopenhauer in the New Testament critically appreciates, “A Tagorean Christ transforming morals into asceticism, its pessimism and its avatar.”  

The Sanyasi of high intellect, action and devotion ennobled Rabindranath Tagore to encourage inspirational reads which have nothing pessimistic but optimistic guidelines in harnessing knowledge of India: “divine unity of existence and unity in diversity”. Subhas Chandra Bose’s enthroned Vivekananda as the spiritual teacher and Mahatma Gandhi hailed enshrining Viekeanada works to be a treasure trove in reawakening feelings of patriotism, nationalism and world peace to a thousand fold. Spiritual resources of Vivekananda have uplifted motherland India and her fellow citizenry to be safeguarded in the brink of disillusionment :harbinger of challenges to circumstantial debacles hindering Hinduism and spirituality.  

Motherland India is the destination of harbourage and anchorage to multifarious backgrounds of microcosmic racial ethnicities, diversified culturalism, egalitarian and platonism to Swami Vivekanada-the cyclonic monk of Hinduism. Vivekanda exults in commendation and applauds of varieties of socio cultural linguistic and diasporic communities of faith in prevalence of mutual tolerance, great heartedness, broad-mindedness, liberal understanding, acceptance of brethrenship and fraternity’s fellow-feelings. Destitution of privation and refugeeship of geopolitical crises arouses empathy and sympathy to this nobly humanistic personae and, therefore, he pledges destitute and refugees rehabilitation within the society: enlightening society enlarging provisions, hearths and altars to be bereft of exilement, banishment, alienation, solitary confinement or forlorning isolation. In this regard, communalism, superstition, fanaticism, fundamentalism and debacle of social evils should be promptly and vigilantly eradicated with valiant resoluteness and brave-heartedness. “God”, “Allah”, “Jehovah”, “soul”, “love” are integrated in unison by sermoniser Vivekanada’s preachings universalistic genesis of Hinduism integrated in unison by sermoniser Vivekanada’s preachings universalistic genesis of Hinduism. Referring a letter to the famine devastated Muslim aborigines  Vivekanada imperatively advised  Swami Akhandananda in vouchsafing and safeguarding the Muslim community of the Murshidabad orphanage against religious conversion.       

Espousal of the cradle tales of Hinduism embedded in the civic and national lives the charismatic quintessence of being a Hindu refers to “A Hindu is a person who regards this Land of Bharatvarsha from the Indus to the Seas as his Fatherland as well his Holy Land and the land of his religion.” Awakener of the soul and the wayfarer of Northern India Swami Vivekanada is reportedly to have seen by Sister Nivedita in utmost reverence and solicitude of aboriginal nativity in ascension of foreign climes and environs. “…I had seen him in India, dressed in the two garments of simple folk, sitting on the floor and eating with his fingers, so, equally without doubt or shrinking, was his acceptance of the complexity of the means of living in America or France” In today’s era of digital and virtual live sessions yoga and meditation transmutate with variations in their clothing garbs of their closets and wardrobes. These boisterous folks have adopted their meaning of lifestyle concerned with forks and knives in the very transcendental English society and the westernized culture. To Vivekananda, the love of  Hindutva is pristinely engrossing in embellishment of the Divine within the self in case of different socio-economic strata prevalent; ie aristocratic multimillionaire or imperialist   and exploited or oppressed. Heralding humanity and harnessing humility Vivekanada disgraces and disdains apartheid of race culture and upholds the divination of spiritual beings as ancestry originating in the white-skinned Aryan, yellow-skinned Mongolian and black-skinned Negroid. 

Viveknanda’s motherland India is the cavern wonderment of meditation and reflection which is nowhere else to be found. “Oh I know I have wandered over the whole earth…but in India I have looked for nothing save the cave in which to meditate!” “But the sannyasin no longer needs to worship, or to go on pilgrimage, or perform austerities. What then, is the motive of all this going from pilgrimage to pilgrimage, shrine to shrine and austerity to austerity?”  Whs- can this heavenly idealogue be chanted in a dialogue amidst prophetic and visionary Rabindranath Tagore during the later stages of his life in  Victoria Ocampo’s hearty hearth? Vivekananda’s Victoria Ocampo foils as orchestrated by the portrayal of a ‘Western Woman’[Sister Nivedita] in whom, charity’s endowments bestowal ensues with happenstances of observing ‘’…that quiet giving, always to the right person in the right way, at the right time, and never making a mistake…”

Starstruck, awestruck and wonderstruck Swami Vivekanada and Rabindranath Tagore voyagers of the distant starlit sea in pursuit of charismatic spiritualism’s quest. They have a glare of serendipity and sanguine to pour into the wounded bosoms the love of universal brotherhood, fraternity of siblinghood and unconditional camaraderie.  

The High Priest of Internationalism and the One Man Ambassador of Culture, Tagore’s indianness is allusive to the ascetics with the abolition of disunity…and, therefore, from bridging to conquering the hearts of the people… between the East and the West, old and new, nationalism and internationalism, knowledge and power, art and literature  “Honeyed the heavens,honeyed the dust of the earth, this is the great fulfilling chant of life, I have received and treasured in my heart.”  Visiting the Buenos Aires isles and seashores, seafaring hospitality of Victoria Ocampo, the devoted admirer of the wayfarer traveller, Rabindranath Tagore’s Sadhana, proclaims, “Eyes see only dust and earth but feel with the heart, and know pure joy.” Heraldry of fortuitous bond evolved between the mindscapes of Asian and Latin American landscapes through prophetic sage or visionary ambassador or ascetic diviner Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and the ambrosia enchantress Argentina’s lady.  And the end of the discussion of spiritual contribution in the development of India truly enchants, enlivens, enlightens, entices, engrosses the gentry bereft of bigotry and sectarianism in awed admiration of faith: Donning a prophet’s robe and preaching sermon from the pulpit Tagore’s advises “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.” 

To the spirit of spiritual Indianness depicts the universal outlook of liberal mind and tolerance of dissent, of the unfamiliar and even of the wayward and sympathies transcending race, religion and nation. Penchant of loves leads to triumphanal Bhakti since Swami Vivekananda implies, “Books and learning, yoga and meditation and illumination- all are but dust compared with love.” Love withholds the vainglory and prompting austerities of ceremonials but love bestows relief and charity to feed the starving masses or famine afflicted downtrodden. In Vivekananda’s repertoire, spiritual enlightenment and dreamy mystic benevolence envisionings to the ascetic upliftment ablaze luminosity in these quotable dialectics, “I love the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden, I feel for them— the Lord knows how much… I do not care a fig for human approbation or criticism.” and this declarative further reechoes Vivekanada’s letter to the swami famine of Rajputana [“No god will come of sitting idle and having princely dishes and saying “Ramakrishna, O Lord!.. You must give your body, mind and speech to the “welfare of the world.” You have read—… . God, look upon your father as God”—-but I say—”the poor, the illiterate, the ignorant, the afflicted let these be your God.” The wonderful saints or avatars encompassed Hindustan to alleviate the affliction and elevate the freedom strugglers “through the powers of insights into the human hearts and lifted it off”.   

Further Reading and Bibliography

1. An Aspect of Tagore’s Criticism In The West: The Cloud of Mysticism, Asian Studies Center, Author: Nabaneeta Sen, Michigan State University Publishers, Source: Mahfil 1996, Volume. 3 No. 1, pages: 9-23

2. West Meets East: Tagore On The Banks of The River Plate, Author: Victoria Ocampo, Source: Indian Literature, April-September 1959, Volume 2, No. 2, pages: 13-22 

3. Tagore: The Oriental and Modern, Author: Prabhakar Machwe, Source: Indian Literature, September-October 1976, Volume 19, No. 5, pages: 80-94

4. Guru To The World The Life and Legacy of Vivkenanada, Ruth Harris Winner of the Wolfson History Prize, Professor fo European History University of Oxford, 

4. Rabindranath Tagore, Authors: Maria Renee Cura, Source: World Affairs, The Journal of International Issues, Volume 9, No. 2, Summer 2005, pages: 131-139, Kapur Surya Foundation Publishers

One thought on “Essay from Z.I. Mahmud

  1. I’m surprised that Schopenhauer (d. 1860), could write about Tagore (b. 1861 – d. 1941), especially in the New Testament. Schopenhauer was a truly talented visionary.


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