Translated by Brother James
ISBN 984 05 1051 7 1984 133pp 180x120mm PB Tk.75.00 US$20.00
The 1911-13-15 trilogy of the Gitanjali (Offering of Songs), Gitimalya (Garland of Songs) and Gitali (Song Lyrics) are about God and the human soul, God and nature, nature and the soul, the soul and humanity; they often run over into one another.
“Swinging from intuitive experience, suffused with vision, they appeal irresistably to the depths of the spirit. Over the sensitive soul, like the wind oar the lyre, they strike at the roots of life, at the vital experiences that sustain it and give grace and truth to life’s unquiet dream.” (The Poetry of Tagore by S.K. Mukherji)
In his childhood Tagore had a mystic experience while (reading simple Bengali words): ‘It rains, the leaves tremble.’ “Life suddenly appeared to me in a luminous unity of truth. All things that had seemed like vagrant waves were revealed to my mind in relation to a boundless sea. I felt sure that some Being who comprehended me and my world was seeking his best expression in all my experiences, uniting them into an ever-widening individuality which is a spiritual work of art.” (HINDUISM by R.C. Zaehner)
For Tagore, to know Truth is to realize one’s unity with the entire universe, to merge the individual soul into the universal soul. (quoted by Zaehner)
In Hindu/Indian asceticism meditation, prayer, suffering etc. lead to ‘divine grace’: mercy of God, divine influence or favour, eternal life or salvation. So we find many references to Rudra who demands all in exchange for all. (Gitimalya 8, 24, 30, 34, 41 etc.)
Some influences on Tagore: the reading of the lyrics of devotional/love songs in praise of Vishnu, the Brahmo services he attended at Santiniketan, the services he conducted there as guru, Baul cult songs and lyrics, the Hindu scriptures, Bengali literature, English literature.
Tagore was a Brahmo. A member of the Brahmo Samaj does not accept the authority of the Vedas (ancient sacred Hindu scriptures), has no faith in avatars (incarnation of a deity) and does not insist on belief in karma and rebirth. Hindu rituals were discarded, some Christian practices were adopted, polytheism and the caste system were denounced. There is belief in One God.