Love of Creation and Mysticism in Tagore's Gitanjali and Stray Birds Paula Hayes Strayer University, USA
This paper is concerned with examining two of Tagore's collections of poems, Gitanjali and Stray Birds, from the perspective of the poet's love of nature and of God. The paper seeks to find a religious explanation for Tagore's perpetual praise of the natural world, a praise that he was able to connect dynamically to his love of God. The explanation given is that Tagore's repetition of nature motifs and his ability to link these motifs to a harmonious pursuit of the divine is rooted in an appreciation for cosmogony of the Rig Veda. The paper ends by addressing briefly how Tagore's naturalism, rooted in a tradition extending back to sacred text, leads the poet to a mystical expression of personality through his poems.
[Keywords: Naturalism in Poetry; Theism; Rig Veda; Mysticism]
Cosmogony as the Core of Tagore's Religious Expression in Poetry
Often when a poet is labeled as a naturalist writer, the poet's concerns are thought to be similar to the tenets of Romanticism. Poets such as Wordsworth, Whitman, and Yeats, to name only three, wrote of nature as a means of expressing symbolically the inner workings of the self-nature motifs in Romantic poets are emblems of larger realities, subjective realities. While Tagore's preoccupation with nature throughout his poems does share certain characteristics with the Romantic poets, such as the desire to express subjective realities, it is the claim here, by this author, that we should read Tagore's love of and concern with nature as part of a greater tradition of Indian literature that begins with the cosmogony of the Rig Veda.i
It appears that at the heart of Tagore's poetry there is a deep seated respect for the Rig Veda's creation myths. Tagore's father, Debendranath, even inspired a Bengali translation of the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda as sacred text is only one of four main books comprising the Vedas, comprised of over a mere 1,000 or more hymns. We may think of these liturgical poems, extending back to circa 800-600 B.C.E, as reflecting the transitions and flux inherent to an oral culture. One of the primary reasons for recognizing the naturalism of the Rig Veda is to help western readers of Tagore understand that when Tagore writes of natureii-of birds, trees, a singular blade of grass, a sunset, sunrise, a boat ride, a fading view of the water-while because all of these external objects belonging to the natural world may make Tagore appear much like western Romantic poets, such as Wordsworth or Yeats, Tagore's mission is actually quite different. In Tagore, what is expressed is a thoughtful relationship of poet to sacred text, of poet to the mythical or cosmological origins of the world. It is doubtful that the
Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities (ISSN 0975-2935), Vol 2, No 4, 2010 Special Issue on Rabindranath Tagore, edited by Amrit Sen URL of the Issue:...