Tagore from the 21st Century perspective

Inhabitant of his time, advocating Unity and Universality, underlining the part of the Unconscious as well as the Subconscious, Tagore did not need to follow the phases and vagaries of the construction of the new science in order to herald gtreat truth by which the basic values of his own tradition had nourished him all along. At the turning point of the year two thousand, we entered into a new century. But essentially, as we turned a page toward a newmilleniiium that, in many respects , imposed on us radical changes in our ways of living; and more so; a revolution, in an unconcious manner, of perceiving the world, of feeling life and how to envision our futures. And this prompted us to proceed, without noticing it , to change our mentalities, if not our consciousness. Seen in retrospect, Rabindranath Tagore, with the immense stature of his poetry,literature and creativity, poroved to be deeply rooted-even if it was in an unconscious manner, in his "Zeitgeist", the acting principal of a time, which gave birth to real upheaval, the concrete effects of which till today alter more than ever our daily lives.

Rabindranath Tagore almost was a voice in the desert, despite his travels of the Orient and his encounters with many a great man in the Occident and the whole world, where he was seen often wrongly, as a typical representative of the Orient, just as back home in India, where he called for the necessity of changes and evolution in his own cultural, religious and political context. After the meteoric rise following the Nobel Prize in 1913, he nearly sank into oblivion.A similar misfortune occured with Jonathan Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), to name only one among many, and he nedded to be rediscovered. This seems quite incomprehensible but at the same time -is perfectly possible, because this is what often happens to those who are very original and innovative and whose ideas are on fundamental that the mentalities of a given time cannot receive them without a deep questioning of its own values. As a reformer he was hitting hard on our chains and urging for changes inconceivable at that time.

What were these main upheavels of the time of Tagore that made our world views start to move? We can neither be exhaustive nor definitive here but would like to provide a glimpse of what could be a possible answer to these questions, attempted mainly in the spirit of the joy of discovery.

If the war of 1914-1918 is called "First World War", it is because never before was there a war which had such a dimension. The ruptures and changes it provoked on a sociological and anthropological level were unprecedeneted. On the negative side , it certainly was among the forerunners of what today , a hundred years later , we call globalization , which is a different kind of onslougt`. Like a volcano it has also led to destruction on the surface of some deeply underlying upheavels and ruptures. At the same time, irreparable disruption took place in the profoundness of all sections of science , with philosophy being a vitally affected part. Let us name some actors who brought in great changes earlier by way of explanation :

Darwin (1809-1882), Einstein (1879-1955), Marx (1818-1883), Freud (1856-1939), and the revolution they brought about in each of their fields turned everything upside down about a century ago. Then the big voice of thunder came through the advent of Quantam Physics. What began then was a series of questioning against what was believed to be known. One could even see it as erasure of our normal day to day logic, the logic of Aristotle , which is the logic of identity. By then we already knew that when the sun is rising in the east and setting in the west, it does not mean it turns around us. From then on, everything in fact all matters were no more taken as what they appeared to be but it was believed that things had a double identity "particle" as well as " wave"". The "singular" disappeared and "plural" became the master.

Here we could see a revolution in our human knowledge. Our perception of reality made a quantum jump . It obliged us to rethink our manner of thinking and acting, in short to review our " Ethics", and even note so-to finally invent an Ethic , that was valid for all of us.
It is here that Rabindranath Tagore plays his part. His part was that of a forerunner , a role too rarely recognized . Amidst his exchanges with the grand spirits of the time : certainly there was that with Einstein, so we can see Tagor being someone , like Dante (1265-1321) in his time, who was perfectly informed about tha advance of science in his days.

However, Einstein fought all his life against Quantum Physics because he could not admit the dictate of the philosophical implications-thus the concrete deriving from there -of its findings. Tagore, on the contrary , does not seem to mention anywhere about the shock of an encounter with the philosophy of Quantum Physics. .Nevertheless, if we go back to the small list above ,imagining it to have been conceived by our "grand homme", we will have no problem whatsoever to recognize him in each postulate`s new concept (eg. Organic vision).

Inhabitant of his time , advocating Unity and Universality , underlining the part of the Unconcious as well as the subconcious, Tagore did not need to follow the phases and vagaries of the construction of the new science in order to herald great truth by which the basic values of his own tradition had nourished him all along:

We have in front of us the problem of one country, the Earth , where different races, like individuals, would have the faculty to freely bloom and at the same time show solididerity to the fedaration. What matters is to create a unity more powerful, with broader views and deeper feelings....The science of meterology knows the truth when it acknowledges that the atmosphere of the earth is one and the same, although it influences the different parties of the universe in different manners..Likewise we must know that man`s soul is One, coming to life through differences necessary for the fertility of its fundamental unity. This truth , as soon as we understand disinterestedly, will help us to respect all the real differences between men, while staying conscious of our personality, while being aware of the fact that perfection of unity does not consist in conformity but in harmony"

There would be so many subjects, battles and keywords associated with Tagore for which to find in Our "Zeitgeist"parallels , evolutions,resonances-just as if times finally have come where our mentalities have acquired the necessary enlargement in order to, in the future, taking care seriously of the problematics and possibilities of which Tagore, his ideas and acts, already had made us see the importance as well as the inescapable solutions.

May these be few notions which follow as examples open slightly a door in which others will then open widely. In "Towards universal man(Gallimard, Paris, 1964: Visva Bharati, Santiniketan, 1961) many times we find elaborated this "Unity in diversity, the one in the number" of which Tagore thinks it could be what India, as an example, has to offer to the world. Nowadays Europe gets down to it and maybe tomorrow the whole world will. Our master, in the worst case , could be the "climate change", if our wisdoms will not have bent our egoisms beforehand.

Let`s listen again to Tagore:

"We must know every nation is part of humanity and everybody has to answer this question : What do you have to offer to man , which new way of happiness have you discovered? As soon as a nation loses the vital force necessary for this discovery-it becomes a dead weigt-a paralysed member of the body of Universal Man. Simply to exist is not a glory.

"Its a law of life to destroy that which is dead...it does not allow immobility ...This makes me say that the main truth of our time are these currents of a new life which drive us to act...But at the bottom of the soul there is a tendency to want to embellish humanity with one`s own individuality as ornament.

"When man ceases to act out of his own will and is driven only by habit, he becomes a sort of parasite , for he loses his means to accomplish the task assigned to him, which is to say "make possible that which seems impossible"and follow the road of progress, man`s true destiny.

"Those who could not reach interior independence in themselves are bound to lose it also in the exterior world. They are not aware of man`s true function , namely to transform the impossible into possible through one`s own capacity to work miracles and not to limit oneself to that which was, but to progress towards that which has to be "

These few citations simply are means to say : Let us go and look for that what the visionary nin Tagore has to say to us today. His book "Sadhana" (1913) is certainly to be kept among our Bibles , just as the notions that follow are to be used as stepping stones : The individual ( and with it the individuation dear to Carl Gustav Jung, 1875-1961), spontaneity, creativity, Independence, Cooperation, Power of Invention, Faculyy of the Spirit of Universility, Evolution(even in religion),-are all these living and current concepts of our era of "Yes we can" have been marvellously highlighted by Tagore. Stehane Hessel (1917), who participated in writing the Universal Declaration of Human Rigts in 1948, would like to see the " Declaration ofIndependence"of Nations be complemented by a " Declaration of Interdependence".Tagore, at his time , already was its advocate. It is for us still to make it come true. On the road which is ours, we fortunately are with companions and are helped by the light of forerunners.

- Ilke Angela Marechal