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2.1 Tagore – Sadhana I – III Chapters Introduction Rabindranath Tagore born in Calcutta on 7th May 1861 was the youngest but one child of Debandranath Tagore. In the words of Tagore himself his father was one whom “I saw very seldom; he was away a great deal, but his presence pervaded the whole house and was one of the deepest influence on my life…’. He was called Maharishi or the great saint who believed in the worship of Invisible God. Tagore’s attitude to God and world was inherited from his father. The Tagores were Vaishnavas in their religious outlook and were inclined to vegetarianism in diet. They were a set of highly educated and enlightened people who assisted Raja Ram Mohan Roy in his movement of social reform. Rabindranath Tagore lived in a significant age when India was stirred deeply by three movements – religious, literary and social to which the contribution of the Tagore family was very great. The first movement was religious and its founder was Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who believed that God is one. One of the leaders of this movement was Debandranath Tagore, Rabindranath’s father. The second movement was in the field of Literature and Bakin Chandra tried to rescue Bengali language from the degradation of dead forms to which it had fallen and bring a new critical attitude and make Bengali language an instrument of the expression of rich imagination that would not tolerate any restrictions imposed upon it from outside. The third movement was national its was national; it was partly political and partly cultural. It raised a voice of protest against the humiliation which the Indians were subjected to at the hands of the westermers. It was not opposed to the introduction of western thought, but it certainly was not in favour of indiscriminate rejection of traditional Indian culture and values. Tagore’s father laid stress on the study of the Upanishads and left no stone unturned to check the wave of conversion to Christianity in Bengal. Tagore passed his boyhood in the Jarasnako house with the atmosphere that reverberated with the echoes of culture, refinement and art. He was from 63 64 very early years of his life fond of nature and longed for the outer world of nature. He was made to study science, literature, music and painting without taking into consideration whether he was interested in them or not. Learning all his subjects in English, he learnt Bengali well. Educated in India and London showed a great promise as a writer. He was influenced by the Vaishnava lyrical poetry, which gave to the poet an impetus to be bold and strike a new path for himself in the field of art and poetry. The Awakening of the waterfall, his work showed a great unity of meaning. What was memorable in this experienced was its human message and the sudden expansion of his consciousness in the supernatural world of man. There are three distinctive things which seem to come before us from this new vision of the poet about life. i. The human soul from which the creation and which its creative effort draws it away from itself and harmonizes it with the inner life of nature which is full of human significance. ii. The union between man’s growing consciousness and the spirit of nature is a source of joy and it is in this feeling of delight emerging from a realization of inner harmony of objects that the poet seeks for his definition of beauty. iii. This seeking and this joy is similar to freedom, for it is only by transcending the outer certain of common-placeness and triviality that its real significance is discovered. Published a number of collection of songs and poems in which the glorified the ideals of ancient times against the background of the evils of western nationalism which the condemned as the climax of greed. He waged a ceaseless war against the two evils of caste which dehumanizes man and nationality in the west which makes a brute of a man. After the publication of Gitanjali which marked the transition in his life, Tagore’s national aspirations got merged in the Universal. When the visited England and Europe he was greated there as seer with a universal message. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913. The publication of Gitanjali in English took the English – reading public by storm and they got examoured as much by 65 the nobility of its though as by the beauty of the language. During the course of his visit to America in 1913 to deliver some addressed there, he made the acquaintance of Rudolf Eucken, the famous German Philosopher, who was also charmed on reading Gitanjali. The lectures he delivered in America were published as Sadhana by Macmillan, along with The Gardener, The crescent Moon and Chitra. Tagore was a poet and a dreamer. He felt that the western civilization was heading towards a crash or destruction. He started thinking of the crash or destruction. He started thinking of the problems of life in a calm and detached manner and the expression was marked by a sense of bold optimism attempting to depict tot eh world the message of eternal peace. Peace and tranquility proved to be the theme. 2.2 The relation of the individual to the universe The civilization of ancient Greece was nurtured within city walls. These walls leave their mark deep in the minds of men. They setup a principle of ‘divide and rule’ in our mental outlook, which begets in us a habit of securing all our conquests by fortifying them and separating them from one another. We divide nation and nation, knowledge and knowledge, man and nature. It breeds in us a strong suspicion of whatever is beyond the barriers we have built an everything has to fight hard for its entrance its our recognition. In India when the first Aryan invaders appeared, the vast forests provided them some special advantage of natural protection, food and water in plenty. Thus our civilization had its birth and it took a distinct character from this origin and environment. Surrounded by vast life of nature, was fed and clothed by her, having the closest and most constant intercourse with her varying objects. This atmosphere instead of dulling human intelligence and dwarfing the incentives to progress, gave it to a particular direction. Having constant contact with the living growth of nature, his mind was fee from the desire to extend his mind was free from the desire to extend his dominion by erecting boundary walls around his acquisitions. His aim was not to acquire but to realize, to enlarge his consciousness by growing with and growing into his surroundings. He felt that truth is all comprehensive that there is no such 66 thing as absolute isolation in existence and the only way of attaining truth is through the interpretation of our being into all objects. This harmony between man’s spirit and the spirit of the world was the endeavour of the forest dwelling sages of ancient India. In future even when Mighty Kingdoms were established – even in the heyday of its material prosperity – the heart of India ever looked back with adoration upon the early ideal of strenuous self-realization and the dignity of the simple life of the forest hermitage. Westerners took pride in subduing nature, as if we are living in a hostile world creating and artificial dissociation between himself and the universal nature within whose bosom he lies. But Indians believed that there is a rational connection between him and nature. We are in harmony with nature and the thoughts are in harmony with things – the power is in harmony with the power which is universal. According to it, everything that is low in the scale of being is merely nature, and whatever has stamp of perfection on it, intellectual or moral, in human-nature. The earth, water and light, fruits and flowers to India were not merely physical phenomena to be turned to and then left aside. The man who has his spiritual eyes open knows the ultimate truth about earth and water lies in our apprehension of the eternal world. There is not mere knowledge, as science is, but it is a perception of the soul by soul. This gives us not power but joy. When a man does not realize his kinship with the world, he lives in a prison – house whose walls are alien to him. When the meets the eternal spirit in all objects, them he is emancipated, for them he discovers the fullest significance of the world into which he is born. Thus the text of our everyday mediation is the Gayathri, a verse which is considered to be the epitome of all the Vedas. By its help we try to realize the essential unity of the world with the conscious soul of man. We understand the Eternal spirit, whose power creates The Earth, the Sky and the stars. It is not in the power of possession but in the power of union. India knew that when by physical and mental barriers we violently detach ourselves from the inexhaustible life of nature, when we become man, man in the universe, we crate bewildering problems. Man must realize the wholeness of his existence, his place in the infinite. The Rishis were they, who having reached the supreme God from all sides had found abiding peace, had 67 become united with all, had entered into the life of the Universe. Thus the state of realizing our relationship with all, of entering into everything through union with God, was considered in India to be the ultimate and fulfillment of humanity. His freedom and fulfillment is in love, which is another name for perfect comprehension. This is why the Upanishads describe those who have attained the goal of human life as ‘peaceful’ and as ‘at one with God’, meaning that they are in perfect harmony with man and nature, and therefore in undisturbed union with God. We have a glimpse of the same truth in the teachings of Jesus when he says, ‘It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven – which implies that whatever we treasure for ourselves separates us from others; our possession are our limitations. It is the one living truth that makes all realities true. This truth is not only of knowledge but of devotion. Buddha, who developed the practical side of the teaching of the Upanishads, preached the same. The Upanishad says that the being who is in his essence of light and life of all, who is world – conscious, is Brahma. Upanishad also says ‘thou shalt gain by giving away. Thou Shalt not covet’. In the Gita we are advised to work disinterestingly, abandoning all lust for the result. Everything his sprung from immoral life and is vibrating with life, for life is immense. 2.3 Soul consciousness The aspiration of ancient India was to live and move and have is joy is Brahma- the all conscious and all pervading spirit, by extending its field of consciousness all over the world. By beginning to try to realize all, one has to end by realizing nothing. But, in reality, it is not so absurd as it sounds. Facts are many, but the truth is one. The animal intelligence knows facts, the human mind has power to apprehend truth. This discovery of truth is pure joy to man – it is a liberation of his mind. Truth opens up a whole horizon, it leads us to the infinite. Upanishad says ‘know thine own soul’ – realize the one great principle of unity that there is in every man. All our egoistic impulses, our selfish desires, obscure our true vision of the soul. When we are conscious of our soul, we perceive the inner being that 68 transcends our ego and has its deeper affinity with the All. Like children learning the alphabets, words and then sentences, our soul when detached and imprisoned within the narrow limits of a self loses its significance. In love he use of difference is obliterated and the human soul fulfils its purpose in perfection, transcending the limits of itself and reaching across the threshold of the infinite. Therefore love is the highest bliss that man can attain. Our great ‘Revealers’ are they who man manifest the true meaning of the soul by giving up self for the love of mankind. We call then ‘Mahatmas’ – the men of the great soul? ‘Paramathma’ is the supreme soul in me and my joy is in the realization of this truth. The joys and sorrows of our loved ones are joys and sorrows of our loved ones, because in them we have grown larger, in them we have touched that great truth which comprehends the whole universe. Our highest joy is in the losing of our egoistic self and in the uniting with others. According to the Upanishads, the key to cosmic consciousness, to God- consciousness, is in the consciousness of the soul. The chick knows when it breaks through the selfcentered isolation of its egg that the hard shell which covered it so long was not really a part of its life. In Sanskrit, the bird has been called the twice-born : so too the man is named, who has gone through the ceremony of the discipline of self-restraint and high thinking – who has come out simple in wants, pure in heart and ready to take up all the responsibilities of life in a disinterested largeness of spirit. He is considered to have had his rebirth from the blind envelopment of self to the freedom of soul life. When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ he meant this. The doctrine of deliverance that Buddha preached was the freedom from the thralldom of Avidya (ignorance), when he attains ‘Bodhi’, i.e., the awakenment from the sleep of self to the perfection of consciousness, he becomes But Man’s poverty is abysmal, his wants are endless till he becomes truly conscious of his soul. The vision of the supreme one in our own soul is a direct and immediate intuition. Sin is the blurring of truth which clouds the purity of our consciousness. It is the supreme one which makes man feel the pang of his separation from God and gives rise to the earnest prayer, ‘O God, O Father, completely sweap away all our sins’. Give into us that which is good? Man’s cry reach his fullest expression. It is this desire for self69 expression that leads him to attain perfection. Man becomes perfect man, he attains his fullest expression, when his soul realizes itself in the infinite being who is Avih whose very essence is expression. When a man’s life rescued from distractions finds its unity in the soul, then the consciousness of the infinite becomes at once direct and natural to it as the light is to the flame. All the conflicts and contradictions of life are reconciled; knowledge, love and action harmonized; the formless appears to us in the form of the flower, of the fruit as the supreme one. 2.4 The problem of Evil The question why there is evil in existence is the same as why there is imperfection on or why there is creation at all. Imperfection is not a negation of perfectness; finitude is not contradictory to infinity; they are but completeness manifested in parts, infinity revealed within bounds. Pain, which is the feeling of our finiteness, is not a fixture in our life. It is not an end in itself, as joy is. We feel that good is the positive element in man’s nature, and in every age and every clime what man values west is his ideal of goodness. Will is the supreme wish of larger life, the life whose greater partition is out of our present reach, whose objects are not for the most part before our sight. Then we begin to distinguish between what we immediately desire and what is good. Good is that which is desirable for our greater self. Thus sense of goodness comes out of truer view of life. In this he becomes great, for the realizes truth. Life is not made up of fragments, purposeless and discontinuous. It is a truth that man is not a detached being, that he has a universal aspect; and when he recognizes this he becomes great; very often it is our moral strength which gives us most effectively the power to do evil, to exploit other individuals for our own benefit, to rob other people of their just rights. The life of an animal is unmoral, for it is aware only of an immediate present; the life of a man can be immoral, but that only means that it must have a moral basis. Not to see is to be blind, but to see wrongly is to see only in an imperfect manner. To live the life of goodness is to live the life of all. Pleasure is for one’s own self, but goodness is concerned with the happiness of all humanity and for all time. From the point of view of the good, pleasure pain 70 appear in a different meaning. Martyrs prove is in history and we prove it every day in our little martyrdoms. To live in perfect goodness is to realize one’s life in the infinite. Our body can only die if it tries to eat its own substance, and our eye loses the meaning of its function if it can only see itself. We see then that man’s individuality is not his highest truth, there is that in him which is universal. Our organ of sight, our organ of locomotion, our physical strength becomes worldwide; steam and electricity become our nerve and muscle. It is the same with our spiritual life. Yet we complain that we are not happy, as if there were something inherent in the nature of things to make us miserable. The universal spirit is waiting to crown us with happiness, but our individual spirit would not accept it. The most important lesson that man can learn from his life is not that there is pain in this world, but it depends upon him to turn it is not good account, that it is possible for him to transmute it into joy. NON – DETTTTAILED – 2 . 5 .AN AREA OF DARKNESS -V.S.NAIPAUL V.S.Naipul’s position as a third generation Caribbean settled in England makes the idea of the return (to an unsullied past ,and threby a complete, rooted identity )doubly problematic . In one of his essays ,Naipaul wrote , “ although the English language was mine , [ …] its tradition was not ” . There is no virtually Caribbean ‘ tradition’ that he can fall back upon , and this perhaps is the basis for his anguished sense . The aboriginal peoples of the Caribbean have long been extinct .Naipaul has also in his many interviews and essays ,made his own myth into that of the writer as a displaced person ,one who does not “ have a side , doesn’t have a country ;doesn’t have a community ; one who is entirely an individual ” , a figure who has achieved a ‘Brahminical ideal of non –attachment ’,a man without a home . His protagonist Mr . Boswas depicts this linked to the ownership of ‘a house ’ – ‘a home ’.The slow and stately rhythm of his prose ,the measured tone ,reflects a grim solidity , and grants to it something of the status of fact . Naipaul visited India for many months on different occasions in order to gather ‘materials’ for his ‘An Area of Darkness ’ (1964),India :A Wounded Civilisation (1977),andIndia:A Mmillion Mutinies Now (1990). They are serious undertakings that entail much thought and analysis ; thus ,the eye-witness account gives ‘authority’ to his writings . It is a first hand account of what happened and who was involved . No one can doubt the 71 extraordinary qualities of Naipaul’s observations ,they are keen ,detailed and exact . In ‘An Area of Darkness’ , the ‘quest’ for ‘self ’ is notable : there is an intence preoccupation withself, and this colours all of Naipaul’s observations and comments . The narrative is replete ,with confessional statements ,with philosophical commentaries ,his own fears and anxieties about India . The philosophical perspective is imbedded everywhere in both of Naipaul’s fiction and traver narratives ;it is this substantive –idea that permeates his writings ,and is at times connected with the ‘autobiographical ’sense. In many passages philosophical ideas are brought out through autobiographical instances there is a dynamic interrelationship between both travel and fictional writings . The sharp literary image gives his travel narratives the necessary ‘literariness’ , and at the same time ,his travel narrative
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