Monday, May 7, 2012

Where the Mind is Without Fear

I had written this article in 2008, the only thing that has changed in the last 5 years is that I have put on some more weight, aged more, and yes the social media is more active. Today on Guru Dev's  birth anniversary I am again re plugging this article with slight modifications.

Way back in the 70’s when i was a school going kid, we had the famous poem by Rabindranath Tagore, Where the Mind is Without Fear. To date it still remains one of my favorite poems. And when i look at what Tagore visualized and what we are today, i just observed the following.


"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high"

We live in a society where we are afraid to speak out our mind. We are afraid to speak out our mind, because we fear being labelled. We don't know whether we could go home alive if we speak out our mind. And that is because we have become a society afraid to handle the truth, and so we victimize the person who tells the truth. We have created sacred cows and heroes. And when some one points out that the hero, has feet of clay, we attack the messenger. So blinded are we by celebrity and hero worship, that any person who speaks their mind is harassed, called names and humiliated. And when we are afraid to speak our mind, how can we ever hold our head high. You want to free the mind, you need to create the atmosphere which enables people to do so. You need people to question, attack dogmas, speak out, else we  just grow up with a stunted mind.


"Where knowledge is free "

Knowledge has become a commodity to be auctioned to the highest bidder. Education has become commercialized as schools and colleges, determine a person’s worth not by their ability, but by the size of their pockets. Far from being free, knowledge has become a prisoner of Mammon. Knowledge is often confused  with cramming up facts,  ranks, marks, no it is not.  Knowledge is not simply knowing something, it is how you apply that to your life or  to people around you. Knowledge is not mere book learning, it  is understanding  the facts  in front of you,  taking your own inference out of  it.


"Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls "

The walls have become higher and higher, and the fragments have become more and more pronounced. Hindu, Muslim, North, South, Liberal, Conservative,  its like we have created our own tight cubicles and ghettos. We seek the false comfort and security of our ghettos, and we are reluctant to engage with others outside that ghetto. Any one who moves outside the ghetto is denounced as a traitor, condemned for blasphemy.We  have drawn our own small circles, our boundaries, created our own wells, and we are happy being frogs there. So blinded have we become by our own boundaries  that we  see every one opposed to our view point as enemies. Even people who fought in wars during ancient times, had respect for their enemies, but no, not us. We love the walls around us, we love feeling cocooned there. We might admire some one for their work or their art, but  what if he is not belonging to our ghetto, should we praise him.


"Where words come out from the depth of truth"

Words don't come out from the depth of truth, they come out from the manufactured spin of lies and half truths. Not a single word has a honest feeling to it. We pick up some half truths, and build our ideas around them. We write some half baked stuff culled from various sources and then call ourselves intellectuals. We are so taken up by freedom of speech, yet we don't want to accept responsibility for what we say. Words don't come from the depth of truth, they come from a shallow morass of half truths. For words to sound honest, you need to be honest to yourself first. But more often than not we let our words be hostage to what others feel about them. When you speak, with a feeling of  "what will people think?",  your words no longer have that measure of truth, they become manufactured sentences. They might be perfect grammatically, but  you can feel the lack of sincerity in them.  You can feel the urge to pander to people's sentiments, not to be true to yourself.


"Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection "

Yes we do tireless strive, but towards mediocrity. Chalta Hai, seems to be the national motto. And being mediocre seems to be hip. People who strive for perfection are laughed at, mocked for being boring. You strive for perfection, and you are told you are too old fashioned. We think it is cool not to be intelligent and take pride in being dumb. We mock at people who speak sense and truth. We have become educated monkeys, having all kind of fancy degrees, but nothing else. Far from striving towards perfection, we have become accustomed to short cuts and laziness. We live in an age when we are told "Oh come on now don't be such a bore, don't be too intellectual".  We do seek perfection  from some self help gurus and quick fix books, but  we need to understand that perfection is something, derived from a habit. Perfection comes from introspection, the ability to look within, the ability to question ourselves. And perfection is never achieved in a day, it is a continuous never ending process.


"Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit"

The clear stream of reason has not just lost its way, it has dried up forever. We have become so accustomed to living in the dreary desert sand of dead habit, that even when we are presented with an oasis of delight, we do not have the caliber to accept it. So accustomed are we to this dreary desert sand, that we have turned our minds into an empty barren desert. We have become like the swine, which do not realize the value of the pearls cast before them.


"Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. "

The mind is being lad backward, the thoughts far from widening, become narrower and narrower.

Is this the heaven of freedom that Gurudev had dreamed of?

18 comments:

Tanuj Lakhina said...

Got your link via PFC blog. This posts is certainly thought inspiring and shows how his knowledge is free and devoid of any socialism and money matters involved. Can I place a backlink through my blog?

Scorpius Maximus Indicus said...

Tanuj u sure can, no issues here.

Tanuj Lakhina said...

Thanks. Here is the backlink : http://le-chronicle.blogspot.com/2009/10/must-read-karan-johar-is-raped-by-mns.html

Mystic Margarita said...

Beautiful post -- very relevant to the times we live in.

Samiran Ghosh said...

Wonderfully expressed. Such simple lines when put in context of the tolls of life comes out so inspirational.

Shiv said...

Thank you for writing such wonderful post! Thanks.

Qurioux said...

A very good commentary on Tagore's outstanding poem!

Archana Raghuram said...

It is one of my favorite poems too, Ratnakar. It is really sad to see what has become of Tagore's dream of "Heaven of Freedom". You post reminded me of a old Tamil movie in which a Tamil Poet and Freedom fighter returns to see how India is enjoying its hard won freedom and he is so disappointed

keshda said...

Very heartfelt & inspiring

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Anuradha Goyal said...

Very well written Ratnakar Sir. Introspection is what timeless works let you do.

I recommend Identity & violence by Dr Amartya Sen that talks about how are identities lead to conflicts: http://www.anureviews.com/identity-and-violence-by-amartya-sen/

Javeed Ahmed M said...

Well, Its Nice you have Chosen the Poem of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, esp "Where The Mind Is Without Fear", But Alas now a Days We are far off from his World. That Utopian Free Mind is a Mirage in this world.

Anyway Thank You for Sharing the Link and Enlightening Us about Gurudev on his Birth Anniversary.

vamadevananda said...

It reminds me of how absolutely different are IDEAL and IDEOLOGY. The first sets a bar for us, who seek to raise themselves; the second burdens and limits us to a set frame that is merely expedient.

Our environment is forever challenging us. Few can dare to live by the ideal. But if, like most, we are not able to, by our circumstance, let us not despair.

Let us choose the ideal everytime, in our heart.

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