I conclude this series of posts about Rabindranath Tagore on his 150th birth anniversary with the essay of the philosopher, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, the first Vice President of the Indian Republic. It is in the same volume from which Jawaharlal Nehru's essay is taken:
namely, the Centenary collection of essays published in 1961 on the occasion of the poet's 100th birth anniversary by the Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi.
Radhakrishnan observes that Tradition is not only concord with the past but also freedom from the past. Tagore, says Radhakrishnan, perceived relationships hitherto unnoticed and gave humanity his vision of one world. “His great gifts of imagination and art were used for fostering faith in the unity of man and forging bonds of kinship with others.”
He quotes Tagore about The Spirit India: ‘I love India, not because I cultivate the idolatry of geography, ... but because she has saved through tumultuous ages the living words that have issued from the illuminated consciousness of her great sons.'
On Rabindranath's philosophy Radhakrishnan says the poet “did not claim to produce an original philosophy. His aim was not to analyse or speculate about the Indian tradition. He expressed it in his own vivid phrases and homely metaphors and showed its relevance to modern life.”
In a previous post dealing with Tagore's religious attitude,
his own statements show that Tagore claims no original insight, but merely confirms what the best minds have thought centuries before. Yet, each in his own time must attain that realisation herself/himself. Tagore's words affirming a poet's receptiveness to God in the delight of the world and its creatures is recorded in these words:
if ever I have somehow come to realise God, or if the vision of God has ever been granted to me, I must have received the vision through this world, through men, through trees and birds and beasts, the dust and the soil.
In conclusion, Radhakrishnan quotes a letter to Gandhi the poet wrote on 12 April 1919, with the following invocation:
Give me the supreme courage of love, this is my prayer, the courage to speak, to do, to suffer at thy will, to leave all things or be left alone. . .
Read Radhakrishnan's entire essay by clicking below.