Happy Independence Day! This day of joy and celebration has brought me back to the writing desktop after over a month. Albeit, the nation rejoices in subdued mood due to the virus and the virus generated an impending recession. We are not in a state where the mind is without fear…
But, is the virus truly the biggest threat to the idea of India? Specifically, is the virus real threat to the institutions and the functioning of democracy? That is not the case. In fact, there are dozens of more ominously potent viruses infecting the body polity. These viruses have prevented the country from letting herself awake into that heaven of freedom where the mind is without fear…
‘Where the mind is without fear’ is indeed a touchstone that the Gurudev has handed over to generations to come to judge the progress of the nation. It is the Preamble to the cultural Constitution of India. In a way, it is the poet’s version of the Directive Principles which he addresses both to the State and the citizens as well.
And, how do we fare? Well, I do not wish to be critical on the most auspicious day. Nonetheless, we don’t measure well against the yardstick that the global voice of India’s spiritual heritage provided way back in 1910. For now, let’s re-live the dream, re-read the poem.
Where the mind is without fear…
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where 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
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by Thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
Our failure as a nation might be due to our poor understanding of the eternal dream. So, here come some items to test our understanding. Take the quiz. More importantly, we should analyze our individual actions, society’s decisions and the State’s policies in the backdrop of the above dream. Interpreting a dream might be the starting point of realizing the dream.
Dreams invariably look utopian. Still, the astonishing scientific-technological advancements wouldn’t have been possible sans the dreams of numerous great minds since the dawn of civilization. Let’s be positive. Let’s be proactive. A day will come when the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Moreover, it is a prayer, not just a dream. It is an appeal to ‘Thee’. You may also take stock of the use of metaphors in the poem.
Ezra Pound calls the great age of Bengali literature as the age of Rabindranath. I am tempted to quote him at length from the December 1912 issue of the Poetry magazine:
The Greek gave us humanism; a belief in mens sana in corpore sano, a belief in proportion and balance. The Greek shows us man as the sport of the gods; the sworn foe of fate and natural forces. The Bengali brings to us the pledge of a calm which we need overmuch in an age of steel and mechanics. It brings a quiet proclamation of the fellowship between man and the gods; between man and nature.