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CHRYSSA VELISSARIOU

SONGSOPTOK THE WRITERS BLOG | 6/15/2015 |




PART FOUR
RABINDRANATH TAGORE


The enlightened teacher Rabindranath Tagore, was one of the most brilliant figures of the modern era - a multifaceted genius, at once poet, painter, philosopher, Nobel Laureate and above all a humanist. In Poetry and masterful prose Rabindranath Tagore transfers to the outside world the inherent properties of our close relationship with nature, the search for truth, and a sense of solidarity and community that transcends and debunks the conceivable barriers of religion, race and language. It was many years ago when I met Tagore. Scurrying to the municipal library of my city, looking for treasures buried in the dust.

I fell on the strange name: Rabindranath. It was a small book, entitled "Lampyrides" (fireflies in Greek). I read a few lines and left with three books on my arms.
The first contact with this Indian genius was shocking, although I had read oriental philosophy and Hermann Hesse.

When the Western world first met him in 1912, he knew very little about this other way of thinking. So Tagore won Europe and the US within a year. Tagore's family belonged to the highest caste. He was starred in "Bengal Renaissance" as he dubbed the flowering of arts and letters in that province of British Empire. Most of the thirteen brothers of Rabindranath were intellectuals, artists, musicians and writers. (Only one became a football player).
He was a homo universalis, a polymath who dealt with every science, every art and philosophy.

In 1912, when he was fifty years old, he had gained recognition in India, but the rest of the world was waiting for him. That year decided to accompany his son to England to study. The trip lasted two months aboard and Rabindranath wrote lyrics in English during that trip. It was like poetry quotations small lampyrides, fireflies, which seemed to contain in a few words all the wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita (some of them you can read at the end of the text). When they arrived in England the suitcase of Tagore, along with notebooks and poems, was lost or stolen. He was indifferent to the loss. But a few days later, the suitcase appeared unexpectedly. I would like to believe that the thief read his poems and repented, but it would sound very fictional.

Tagore gave his notebooks to some English friends. They went to the Irish poet William Butler Yeats (known as WB Yeats)
"These poems shook my blood as nothing else for years," said Yeats.
Some of those poems were published immediately. What followed resembles the mania for the Beatles. Tagore became a pop idol, even before they introduced the term "pop".
The Ezra Pound compared Tagore with Dante.
Andre Gide, Juan Ramon Jimenez and Boris Pasternak translated his poems into French, Spanish and Russian.
In Germany he praised Thomas Mann.
A year after his meeting with the Western world, in 1913, Tagore received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He was the first, not only Asian but the first non-European who received this distinction.

His fans in Europe and the US, were waiting at the train stations, to see him, to kiss his hand. Some fainted from emotion. One of  Tagore’s black moments were his meeting with Mussolini in Rome in 1926. Tagore said that Benito was undoubtedly a great personality and that he seemed to have come out of a painting of Michelangelo. Moreover he said that fascism was a glittering Renaissance in Italy. It was not the only one who committed this error. The Futurists like Marinetti strongly supported fascism. The same happened with Ezra Pound, the great American poet, who resulted in a cage when his compatriots invaded Italy. And let's not forget Heidegger, who supported Nazism. Sometimes the darkness is so dazzling that resembles light.

In 1915 he was honored by King George of England with a knighthood, which declined in 1919 to protest the slaughter of innocent people in the city Amritsar from the English army. He was interested in education and pedagogy and in 1901 founded the Valmpour, 150 km away from Calcutta, a free teaching faculty, which in 1922 changed into an international university.

From 1924 onwards he traveled a lot and visited several countries, among them Greece. His works were translated into many European languages. Characteristic features in his poetry is the secrecy and sensitivity. Tagore was not only a poet. As we have said was involved in every science. And is philosophical relics meet  with the man who established the physics in the twentieth century, another pop idol, Albert Einstein.

The journalist who recorded the first debate between them writes: "It was very interesting to see them together. Tagore, the poet in  the head of the intellectual. And Einstein, the thinker in the head of the poet. To  an observer they seemed like two planets who were engaged in a friendly chat."

The New York Times had published a photograph, subtitled: "A mathematician and a mystic meet in Manhattan."

The ultimate scientist, Einstein, believed in some god who does not play dice, although declared atheist. The god was the Truth, which exists outside of man and without him.

Tagore, the adept believed that the truth, the reality, can only be understood in terms of our mental interpretations, based on what we think and we grasp.

Something similar was also claimed by Bohr, the founder of quantum mechanics: "The objective existence of the world has no meaning independent of " the human mind ".
Deep wells of mind.

Quantum mechanical showed that the observer affects the observed (see the living dead cat of Schrödinger). But whoever claims to have understood quantum mechanics, has not understood. It works, but in some incomprehensible way.

Tagore, the adept, seems to be approaching more modern science than Einstein, the mathematical.
"God not only plays dice, but he throws them and places them where we do not see," said Hawkins.
There is a picture, from the office of Einstein, the day he died. If not deterred from the chaos up there, you'll notice a philosophy volume on the right.
Albert sought the truth everywhere, it was his god.
Tagore had understood that we cannot separate the intuitive than logical, mathematics than poetry. The spirit progresses as it seeks untold.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge, because knowledge has no limits."
Wise is the one who is trying to learn, and is conscious of his ignorance.
Anyone who claims to own the truth is either a charlatan or idiot or politician.
Fireflies.
The one without the other is emptiness, the other makes it true.
The burden of self is lightened when I laugh at myself.
The weak can be terrible, because they try furiously to appear strong.
The world is the ever-changing foam that floats on the surface of a sea of ​​silence.
The sea of ​​danger, doubt and denial around man's little island of certainty, challenges him to dare the unknown.
I leave no traces of wings in the air, but I’m glad I have had my flight.
The world knows that the few are more that the many.
Love is an endless mystery for it has nothing else to explain it.
Beauty knows to say, «Enough». Barbarism clamors for still more.
I am able to love my God, because he gives freedom to deny him.
The greed for fruit misses the flower.
Truth loves its limits for there it meets the beautiful.
Between the shores of Me and You, there is the loud ocean, my own surging self, which I long to cross.
True end is not the reaching of the limit, but in completion which is limitless.
My last salutations are to them who knew me imperfect and love me.
When death comes and whispers to me,
«Your days are ended», let me say to him,
«I have lived in love and in mere time».
He will ask, «Will your songs remain?»
I shall say, «I know not, but this I know, that often when I sang
I found my eternity »
 Through his writings, he expressed again the wisdom of  ancient
India meeting the pace of the modern times

Rabindranath Tagore visited Greece in 1926, when traveling in Europe.
"The logic and metaphysics, without which there can reflect no man of the West, were incorporated into the spiritual baggage of humanity" said Tagore about the achievements of the ancient Greeks. The great poet has in generally the thought in Greek poetry as it influenced the same way the whole world. Many books of the poet were translated in Greek, there were many articles and researches from Universities ,  ELINEPA  and others on Tagore’s excellent personality which reflects many of the Indo –Greek influences generated among the centuries as previously have been analyzed.

Here’s a small video of a simple Greek person who translated poems of Tagore and mad of them a video.

The Indian Council of World Affairs organized an International Conference on “Rabindranath Tagore – Envoy of India: His Vision of India and the World”.  The Conference was held on 9-10 May, 2013 at Sapru House, New Delhi. The outline of this conference was a commemorative volume on Tagore’s travels and his vision of India and the World.

The Conference provided a forum to scholars from the 34 countries  that Tagore visited for discussion on his global legacy as an envoy of India, highlighting his vision of independent India in a peaceful and unified world free from strife and conflict.

Two scholars and members of ELINEPA attended the Conference from Greece, Dr. Dimirios Vassiliadis, who spoke on “Tagore’s historical journey to Greece” and Dr. Andreas Katonis who spoke on “Tagore and the Delphic Idea”.

The Conference offered the opportunity to improve our understanding of Tagore’s contemporary relevance. This included an exploration of his travels to countries ranging from Japan to Argentina and the extent to which he succeeded in creating an enduring legacy. It also demonstrated the extent to which Tagore’s journeys influenced his own views of the universal Man and the world as a whole. How was he influenced by the culture and traditions of the countries he visited? How did his thoughts impact the overseas audience? How did these voyages contributed to his philosophy of internationalism, humanism and spiritual unity and religion of man?

Since then many tribute to Tagore had organized at lieast by ELINEPA.

Celebrating the 150 years from the birth of Rabindranath Tagore, the EL.IN.E.P.A. organized in co-operation with the Indian Embassy in Athens two events dedicated to the National Poet of India and Bangladesh.

The first event took place on the 5th February at the Cultural Center “Floisvos” of Municipality of Palaio Faliro. In the beginning of the event the Ambassador of India Mr. Tsewang Topden released the  commemorate volume on Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary that was published by EL.IN.E.P.A. After Ambassador’s introductory speech on life and work of Tagore, the President of EL.IN.E.P.A. spoke about Tagore’s philosophy and Prof. Andreas Katonis on the common vision shared by the poets, Tagore and Sikelianos. Ms Panagiota Koronia, a student of Hindi, presented Tagore’s poems. After the speeches, the documentary “The Story of Gitanjali” was screened and the program ended with Kostas Kalaitzis who presented songs of Tagore. In the event participated numerous artists from the Artistic Association Technosphera who had exhibited their works in the hall of Floisvos and made a suitable atmosphere for the whole celebration.

The second celebration took place a few days later on the 22nd March at the Hall of the Youth Center of the Municipality of Chalandri, Athens where a photo exhibition was presented by the Embassy of Bangladesh. In the celebration spoke the Ambassador of India, the Ambassador of Bangladesh and the Mayor of Chalandri Mr. Giorgos Kourasis. The event continued until late with Kostas Kalaitzis’ songs and Nektarios Mitritsakis’ ragas in Sitar.

The documentary “The Story of Gitanjali” on the Life and work of Tagore (30′ English with Greek subtitles prepared by the students of EL.IN.E.P.A.) was screened sometime later by the Kontra TV channel.

The last one such event about Tagore happened this year Sunday, April 26and it was about Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore – Founders of the Modern Indian Thought . Anyway Internet is full of posts about Tagore in Greek. I think his poetry is very near the spirit which still pervades modern Greek intelligentsia, the ancient Greek Spirit. We enough analyzed above how the cultural origins of the poet connect with this Spirit through the centuries. Furthermore a quote of the great poet is “ I believe in the true come together of West with the East.”

To conclude let’s pay attention to the old and beloved book by Rabindranath Tagore, "The Religion of the poet."Culture, according to the Greek dictionary of Babiniotis is the combination of physical and spiritual achievements (or products of action) of a society. But Tagore does a lot less technocratic approach to the concept of culture and of course, much more poetic. Culture, says Tagore, is the crowning of good manners!

In his time, a hundred years ago, someone could talk about good manners! In our time, no. We shake off the oppressive education, of how it is appropriate to treat others in order to feel that we honor and respect them. And it almost doesn't concern us,  if they treat us accordingly. Or when we are concerned, we respond in a way not at all  civilized. It is very difficult, being able to have the measure of our acts.

"In seeking freedom, we reach the promiscuity, seeking democracy we end up in the misuse of ideas and the operation of " opponents ".

But, according also to Tagore, to reach culture in a comprehensive level requires "patience, composure and a comfort atmosphere."

But we will get patience only when we cease to have desires, because "our desires are always rushing to meet, rushing pushing one another, they are violent and brazen. They do not know rest and have no patience to achieve their purpose." All this is well known in our modern lives.

For the poise, the ability ie of self control in order to maintain a metron in our aims, as it is clear, we do not possess it and will not obtain, as long as our culture rests complacent in history and every modern achievements dedicated 'in Greece' are personal, individual creations of some persons who have set targets, mastered their self and imposed to him the minimum "comfort" to express their creative talent.

The comfort is a concept that wants particular attention to understanding. Because usually the economic, political or social comfort, enhance the desires and our culture is confined to superficial social rituals of politeness.

The greatest creations were made in times and conditions tight and hard. When appropriate external conditions do not exist, are replaced by the internal discipline of the creators. Then the spirit seeks the inner atmosphere of freedom, it installs it and creates. The atmosphere of comfort  for Tagore though refers in a transcendent behavior which it should adopt gladly someone to confirm "good manners" . Because "the real courtesy (as friendly and caring disposal) is a creation, such as painting and music. It is a harmonious combination of voice, gestures, movements, words and acts, with whom expressed a polite behavior. "

So culture according Tagore is this constant mood of kindness, which "reveals exactly the man and has no other another object than him."

All other achievements and activities of "civilized" people is culture, to the extent based on harmonization of mental courtesy of persons forming a specific society with feelings of mutual respect, solidarity, mutual acceptance and responsibility.

This love is what makes a man civilized and it is the foundation of a civilized society. It is certainly a very deep and meaningful view on culture, a penetrating gaze of the Indian Nobel Laureate Poet P. Tagore, who still had the sensitivity to say, that "For someone to write a really unsettling book, it is very likely to be considered as energy risky. On the other hand however, be silenced may be a sin. "

As you perhaps know I am a poetess, a Greek poetess and Tagore often inspired me, as I meet him often through poetical exchanges between me and my  Indian and Bangladeshian fb friends. One of my poems, in which his words inspired me, is the poem below. A Tagore’s quote is its title.

MIND ALL LOGIC  IS KNIFE ALL BLADE, HAND'S BLEEDING~(RABINDRANATH TAGORE QUOTE)
Sometimes I fear that
I avoided reasonably nothing and never
which I tried to avoid.

Nothing of what I
extirpate in fury doesn't just stay aside to
wither quietly.

How many times I
rejected you! How many times I said “This is the end.
I won't go crazy !”

Feelings have different
specific weight between people, so different
between me and you.

I sink because of
them, you float just by not confronting them.
We are not alike !

How would I solve this ?
Love doesn't get cured by a different love, it always  fakes
playing hide 'n seek ...

I sit idly by ,
waiting... Life comes swinging herself pretty fancy
and I ignore her!

Logic, sharp dagger!
How you stab me ruthlessly , you annihilate me! Ach!
Wish I was mindless!

Damn me! I did all
in my life consciously, I never had the trump
of mental lightness ...
END OF PART FOUR.
©CHRYSSAVELISSARIOU2013

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