Tagore & Death
“We are a part of vast entity classified as Universe” – Tagore inherited this truth from his father following the guidelines of Upanishad. However, never did he realize the truth would become a part and parcel of his life. In the sojourn of his life through numerous deaths that he encountered, it dawned to him our life is just a transient journey from the warmth of one mother’s breast to the warmth of another one. Or in other words from one womb to another. The phase in-between, which we term as “death”, is nothing but an unknown vastness beyond the realms of our knowledge. This is accordance with a Bhagawat Gita (Part 28 Chapter 2). It says:
“Abyaktadani Bhutani Byktamadhyani Bharat
Abyakta Nidhanaibya Tatra Ka Paribedana”
This means we are unaware where we were before birth. We are also unaware what will happen after death. The only bit we are aware of is our single life in-between. Having faced repeated deaths and bereavement in the long span of his life, right from being close to Michael Madhusudan Datta , known for his “Meghnad Badh Kabya”, Dinabandhu Mitra known for his “Neel Darpan”, his mother, then the love of his life his boudi Kadambari Devi who inspired him from childhood in his literally endeavours, his father, his daughter, then his son and again his elder daughter, his elder sister and numerous others; he coins his solace in agony “Amar Sakal Dukher Pradip Jwele Diyo, Amar Bythar Puja Hoyeni Samapan”. At that juncture, it dawned to him that there was a thin line between the known, which he termed as “Sheema” and the unknown vastness, which he classifies as death or “Asheem”, which he had already learnt from his father.
If this long journey of “so called” life which is flaccid lolling like a jelly and disappearing into our human’s nest of insanity. How painfully life alters life.....how insolently humility creeps in the wake of a spent revolution, how foolhardy to suppress an upheaval. In desperate solitude, dooms one question – the sword over meaningful existence! If that were so, then why do we strive with an intense throbbing expectation?
These deaths made his mind waver into that unknown looking for a solace through his expression of words and songs. The eternal philosophy of peace, harmony and tranquillity appealed to him in lines with the sloka of Rig Veda:
“Samani bwa akuti samana hridayani bwa
Samanstu bo mana jatha suswahati”
This concept actually elevated his writings from petty mundane matters of everyday life to bring forth the truth of humanity as a whole, which gave his writings a new dimension to the international arena irrespective of age, sex, culture, civilization to a universal eternal truth expressed through his songs, poems, stories and literary works.
He delved deeply trying to fathom the unknown, either in the form of planchet, or in the form of his sublimation to God, where again Upanishad echoed the completeness of the Universe – life or death being just different phases of that completeness, as daylight and darkness are two aspects of our everyday life, in the expression of “So Aham” which means, it is I who has created the Universe.
This transient jelly-like form of life is just a lucid stage which he expresses in musical form sometimes as “Jakhon Porbe Na Mor Payer Chinha Eyi Banke” or “Sheemar Majhe Asheem Tumi Bajao Apon Sur” or at phases he awaits for his unidentified Lord of Universe to cast an eye on him and prepares himself even after the death of his younger son “Jabo Na Je Jabo Na Re, Roibo Pore Ghorer Majhe, Jodi Tahar Amay Pore Mone”. And ultimately he succumbs to that sublimation “Jeebono Moroner Shimana Charaye Bondhu Je Amar Eshechho Daraye” and when this realization awakens amidst the agony of deaths, he submits to the peace in himself “Nayane Sanmukhe Santir O Parabar”.
He lost his childhood friend, philosopher and guide and maybe his only love notun bauthan Kadambari Devi ( probably the short story Noshtoneer was a reflection of his inner feelings for his lost bouthan) when he was twenty-four years old. This loss also inspired him to seek his bouthan whom he presumed probably lay at the cradle of God. This unquenched love led him to his mental detachment from mortal world into the unknown world of death. In this quest of love, his lyrics took a dual twist of the word “Tumi” which in different phases can be interpreted as “love” or at other phases can be interpreted as “God or the vast Universe” where love and God meet at a common platform into the unknown world of the vast unknown, which we term as death. His mind sings tunes of this completeness through his lyrics “Tomaro Asheeme Prano Mono Loye”.
Looking at it scientifically from quantum physics point of view this Universal One is nothing but a Fermi Sphere - when an outside energy flows into the sphere an electron shoots out. May be that is life. And the “hole” created on emergence of electron is positron. Maybe that is death or vice-versa. The cosmic philosophy of Albert Einstein is reflected in philosophical form through his expressions.
The key factor of the life of Tagore is not whether he was alive or not. Once someone asked him “Are you afraid of death?” Promptly came the reply “No”. Actually, his mind was well above the realms of the two, into a vast completeness.
I would say this Universal One is in reality, a serenity of eternal existence.....a sublime state of going through penance of life. A mental harmony of thought, of action, of doing good so that we reach Moksha or Ashtamangik Marg, as per teachings of Buddha. This is the final state of unification with the eternal one; so that these thin compartments are lost into One....... that is we do not have to be re-born again. Everything is bound to die one day as he had learnt from life, which includes all of us mortals. What will remain is our soul that will pass on from one form to another. Let us all keep the shroud of that soul pure and clean. It is just an attempt at amalgamation of “Jeebatma” and “Paromatma” into a common tune of the one and only One.
Life may come and life may go. Death may come and death may go. However, the harmony of life and death into a single tune merged the soul of Tagore into being a part of that vast Universe.
This concept of death singles out Tagore to an arena which is portrayed by the fact that even after his mortal death in 1941, he still remains in his death singing the sweet melody of our every moment even after one hundred and fifty years today and maybe for centuries to come.