If you would like to know how literature becomes revolutionary, you should read Tagore.said my English professor in an English class.
But I was incapable of understanding what he meant because writing never seemed to be a tough job to me. Until I immersed myself in Tagore’s oceans of literature and his interpretation of life woven into words.
Everyone who is capable of writing becomes a writer, but some people have the ability to define an era of literature.
And, Rabindranath Tagore is a legend, who will never be forgotten as his legacy has come to define our history.
Thus, today I bring to you six books by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore that show his versatility as a writer and why “the pen is mightier than the sword” is a cliche in the present times.
O Silence, if you won’t speak,
if you don’t say a word,
I’ll accept in my heart,
Your price must be paid.
‘Gitanjali‘ was written by Rabindranath Tagore when he was coping with the loss of his beloved family. This anthology of poems came as a collection of words where he chose to express his grief.
The book is an amalgamation of love and religion that came to the world from a part of Rabindranath Tagore that was never known to his readers and admirers.
This was the book that led Tagore to his Nobel Prize win (one of the first Asians to win the award). William Butler Yeats wrote the preface of the English translation of the book from Bengali.
Gitanjali is powerful in its writing and provokes thoughts and emotions that you have never led into before. If you are delving deeper into finding answers about love, this book of rhythmic poetry is your calling!
The worst form of bondage is the bondage of dejection, which keeps men hopelessly chained in loss of faith in themselves.
At present, the mention of ‘Nationalism‘ could stir controversy in less than a few seconds, but this was the case, since forever. The idea of a nation and the devotion towards has always been a grey territory to get into.
Rabindranath Tagore had a different view on nationalism and the philosophy of humans living together as a society in harmony.
This book is the collection of his lectures and essays on what power means for humans to live together. Critiquing this idea of power, and his own perceptions, this book holds true in the present times as well.
A long description and poetic analysis of reality; it’s a read to understand what it takes to live in a nation as a good citizen and flawed human.
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3. Chokher Bali
When the teacher himself was a major obstacle in the path of education, how could the helpless pupil find her way through the forest of knowledge?
‘Chokher Bali‘ was considered way ahead of its time. The narrative dealt more with the internal psychology of humans than a mere physical action-reaction saga.
The book deals with the life of the then-modern woman and how a life bounded by stereotypes and restrictions works through their relationships with each other.
How the feelings that arise are often out of your control.
The societal constructs make it difficult for one to come to terms with expressing it.
Delving deeper into the issues that women faced in that century, the book finds itself as revolutionary for that time.
The book was published in 1903 as a novella.
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Into the cage flies the unknown bird, It comes I know not whence. Powerless my mind to chain its feet, It goes I know not where.
‘Gora‘ by Rabindranath Tagore is considered one of the biggest historical milestones in the history of Bengali literature.
This is the fifth novel by the poet that touches upon the many political, cultural, and social life as a common man.
The book delves into the idea of becoming a global community and brotherhood across nations. The Bengali version was translated into English by W. W. Pearson.
The story follows the relationship of two pairs of lovers, Binoy and Lolita, Gora and Suchitra. Their emotional experiences in the political and cultural climate during that era.
This book also represents the time, where the identity of an independent Indian was evolving and how people were finding their collective selves.
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5. The Religion of Man
She asked, ‘What would you do for freedom?’, and I answered, ‘Shout for help’.
Religion forms one of the major parts of our identity. It forms the basis of our lives many times, and the construct of our existence.
Thus, in this edition of this book, Tagore argues how religion drives human existence.
This Rabindranath’s book, ‘The Religion of Man‘ attempts to look at humans from the lens of God’s divinity and God as a human. Creating a link between human existence and the spiritual self, Tagore talks about his philosophy of religion and god.
He tries to visualize life from the perspective of science, personal growth, society, community, and more. Talking about what religion means to one’s self and how religion is institutionalized, Tagore breaks down religion for the layman.
For a ride into the vision and unique perspective of Tagore, you definitely should give it a read.
6. Glimpses of Bengal: Select Letters 1885 – 1895
All of a sudden a naked weakling of a human cub appears on the scene, makes sundry noises.
‘Glimpses of Bengal‘ is a travelogue written in the form of letters.
Yes, Tagore had captured his life in every form of literature. The letters capture the state of Bengal as Tagore extensively traveled for her personal reasons.
The places mentioned in these letters also formed the backdrop and set of many of his poems and plays.
The book captures Bengal like never before. A place that is interpreted in a newer meaning where the monuments, lanes, and demographics are given the life of their own. And, how they influence the lives of the people dwelling in it.
Some books represent history, some touch you in the heart, but Rabindranath Tagore manages to do both with his creations.
His books, especially the ones mentioned above, make us aspire to write, read and be better.
Drop your favorite book or work by Rabindranath Tagore in the comments below!
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