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Feel God at night!

Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, was a keen observer of the night. He saw enormity in it, without despising the day.

india Updated: May 05, 2011 23:33 IST
Uddalok Bhattacharya

Rabindranath Tagore, whose 150th birthday will be celebrated tomorrow, was a keen observer of the night. He saw enormity in it, without despising the day.

In an essay called Day and Night, he says: "The sun has set. Hidden behind the corner of darkness, the last golden lines of the evening's final reaches have dissolved. Night is impending!"

What tune is this playing in our heart, this everyday occurrence? Does it not portend a greater meaning? Each monsoon the floodwaters invade the fields and then the autumn that comes makes the soil fit for sowing after the waters have receded. Does this eternal cycle, played through the ages, not leave behind its imprint and history?

Daylight brings out the distinctiveness of all objects and their differences become stark before us. It creates a hiatus among us and the borders that demarcate our respective spheres become visible.

At such a time when night descends upon the universe, our gaps become blurred. The deep unifying force that binds us is now easier to feel, to perceive. Hence night is the time to unite and love. (Here the poet is talking of not just of man-woman union.)

Day is the corporeal form of our strength and our self-interest; night is the essence of quietude. Strength diffuses and refracts itself through the day. Reconciliation happens during night.

Night is also the time to celebrate. This is when the universe has found place in its womb, which reveals to us more than it hides. A child forgets all in her/his mother's embrace. This feeling of forgetting is more wholesome that the mundane observations we make during the day.

Elsewhere, Tagore says: The day belongs to the realm of the earth, the night to the realm of the tune, the melody. Man fears, man works with others, man wants to watch his next step, and hence the need for light. God is fearless, god works in silence and privacy and hence there is no conflict between his steps and the hush all round. The deep darkness is an awning over god's council.