Poetry Study Aid : Where The Mind Is Without Fear :Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore
Cover of Rabindranath Tagore
Where the Mind
is Without Fear

About the Poet:
Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore was a
person of great and varied learning who wrote Gitanjali with its deeply
spiritualist, bracing and beauteous verse. 
One of the greatest
writers in modern Indian literature, Tagore was
a poet, philosopher,
musician, writer, and educationist.
established the Santiniketan with its refreshing vision of education and later
Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize
in Literature
in 1913
for his collection of poems
He was awarded the knighthood in 1915 which he returned 1919 as a protest
against the Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh.
The spiritual and expressive
quality of his poems in translation together with his outwardly charismatic
prophet-like appearance created around him the aura of a mystic in the West
which hazed over his reformist and global vision and outlook.
Tagore was instrumental in
the introduction of new prose and verse forms as well as the usage of
colloquialism into Bengali literature which liberated the Bengali Literature
from the traditional forms excessively dependent on classical Sanskrit. Tagore,
the exceptionally influential creative artist, is celebrated as an icon of
Indian culture.
the Poem
Where the Mind is Without Fear
The poem
Where the Mind is Without Fear is a prayer to a universal father-figure, that
is, the God Almighty. The poem, with its inspiring lines, elaborates Tagore’s
vision of a new, enlightened India.
The poem,
written originally in Bengali, was composed before India’s independence most
probably in the year 1900. The original poem titled Prarthana was included in
an anthology named Naibedya and the poem was translated into English by Tagore
himself around 1911. The poem is Poem 35 in the English Gitanjali published in 1912.The
poem had a special place in Tagore’s heart and he recited its English version
at the Indian National Congress session in Calcutta, 1917.
The poet,
Rabindranath Tagore, envisages an ideal nation; liberal in outlook, united in
strength, dynamic in progress. The poet is totally devoted to God and entreats
Him that He must direct the poet’s fellow countrymen to be industrious,
truthful and rational so as to advance the country towards the most ideal
stature. The poet desires peace and prosperity among his countrymen and prays
that his country might attain overall welfare and self-reliance.
The prayer transcends the constraints of time as well as space and
achieves the appealing quality of being universal in nature.
The poem
is written in free verse and consists of just one sentence. The poem can be
considered to consist of two sections: the first seven lines with a series of
adverbial clauses and the principal clause coming at the end.
The first
seven lines refer a circumstance presented by a setting, “where the mind is
without fear, “where knowledge is free,” and so on.  We do not know the exact setting or scene
which these lines refer to until we come to the concluding line of the poem.
However, we can envisage that the place referred to is an awe-inspiring, almost
an ideal, place. It is almost a utopian realm where all the sublime features-
such as valour, knowledge, harmony, truth, intellect, and advancement-
In the principal
clause of the sentence the poet identifies that circumstance, that metaphorical
scenario as “that heaven of freedom” and requests the “Father,” the God
Almighty, to let his country to reach there or his country to realise that that
she ought to endeavour to accomplish the capability to establish all these marvellous
At the outset, the poet prays
to the God Almighty that all his countrymen must be brave and have their heads
held high in self-respect and self-confident undaunted by any fear of
repression or force.  Everyone in his
country should have free access to education and education should not be the
exclusive right of the aristocrats and the wealthy. Acquiring of knowledge by
the people should not be constrained by narrow ideas and loyalty.
Tagore was deeply distressed
by the dominance and suppression of the British Imperialistic forces and was
dispirited by the loss of pride and dignity of his mother country India because
of her repression by the British rule. Therefore, Tagore envisaged a country
where the people live with pride, knowledge and strength.
The poet continues his
universal prayer with the assertion that the world is broken up and the human
beings are divided on many a narrow considerations, like social, economic and religious or caste
restrictions. The poet prays that minds of the people of his country should be
above the influence of social status, economic circumstance, colour, religious
belief or doctrine, parochial narrow-minded considerations and destructive
superstitions. Their minds ought to be enlarged with worthy thoughts and
fruitful actions gainful to the nation. The words of truth should emerge from
the soundness of heart and should be uttered forthrightly and bravely for the
entire world to take heed. He prays that his countrymen should endeavour
unflaggingly to accomplish perfection in the struggle and strife they undertake
for the betterment of the nation. Their actions should be based on reason and
free from superstitions as well as outdated customs and conventions.
They should be focused on their destination and
should not be misguided by the barren beliefs and meaningless rituals or
customs. Their minds should be filled with progressive thoughts and their
logical activities should concentrate on the betterment of their country.
Tagore desires his country to be aware of the possibilities and potentials of
logical thinking and virtuous action. He entreats the God Almighty to guide his
country to progress to a heaven of freedom.

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