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Tagore’s greatness

india Updated: May 25, 2010 00:26 IST
PP Wangchuk
PP Wangchuk
Hindustan Times
Rabindranath Tagore

One does not understand why all this great fuss to save Rabindranath Tagore’s paintings from being auctioned off. Tagore knew no geographical boundaries, and believed in universalism. It is a great tribute to this Indian that his paintings are in great demand. In what way does the greatness of Tagore diminishes when his paintings go around the globe? We should be proud of it.

These days, when the world is celebrating Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, his paintings fetching millions reminds us of the greatness of the man. It tells us that his stress on universalism is clearly being vindicated.

Tagore was a social phenomenon of his time. His universal aspirations took him around the globe. If he discovered that Hindu religious sentiments and rituals pervaded life in Bali in very distinctive form, he was amazed to find the Ramayana and the Mahabharata suffused the dance and the drama of the Muslims in Java. In Bangkok, he pursued the Buddhist connection. There he found that the Pali Tripitaka in Thai script.

He found India and its soul almost in every part of the globe he trotted. That is why he used to say he felt comfortable within the concentric circles of Bengali patriotism, Indian nationalism and Asian universalism.

Tagore’s universal appeal has its gripping hold even today. His book of poems, Gitanjali, which got him the Nobel Prize, has the soul and spirit of India, and yet it bears a universal appeal. His concept of religion and God too were universal. Recall his words that God can be found only among the tillers in the field.

One can have access to God only if one has the heart to be one with the poorest of the society. For Tagore, God is truth, and the truth is that we are all same if we shed off the clouds of perception, and refuse to live an ignorant life.