Presently I am reading ‘Boundless Sky’.
It is a collection of representative writings of Gurudeva Rabindranath Tagore. The book is published by Visva Bharati and I have 1964 edition with me. The book contains eight stories, a novel, 14 essays, a drama and as many as 49 poems (why not 50? I don’t know). ‘Boundless Sky’ is title of one of the poems – which is adopted for the collection.
The book is in my collection for more than 20 years and I have read it at least five times during these years. The cost of the book is Rs. 14.50 – but I actually purchased it for one rupee from footpath. The book is obviously worn out and I need a fresh copy. But I don’t throw away this copy; simply because it reminds me of many old things – with which I have lost touch now.
As is my habit, the book has so many lines marked by me during the course of various readings. I also have the habit of writing comments – I do it only when I own the book and never with the books borrowed from library or friends. These underlines and comments show me what I had been thinking in the past – and it always makes me smile.
Today I was reading the essay ‘Religious Education’. Rabindranath elucidates many points in his typically simple and revolutionary way. His writing is logical and it also takes readers beyond the realm of logic. I was enjoying his arguments. The ending of the essay especially awakened me. I was as if taken into another world.
Let me conclude my paper with the translation of a characteristic poem by a Baul poet by the name of Madan whose courage to decry the conventional paths of the pious as leading to spiritual futility is made evident in this song:
Thy path, o Lord, is hidden by mosque and temple:
I hear thine own call, but the guru stops the way.
What gives peace to my mind, sets the world ablaze –
The cult of the One dies in the conflict of the many.
The door to it is closed by many a lock, of Koran,
Puran and the rosary.
Even the way of renunciation is full of tribulation:
Wherefore weeps Madan in despair.
It was like being struck by lightening. How did I not notice these beautiful lines earlier? Why did this despair not touch my heart earlier?
I also registered that not a single line in this essay was marked by me in the earlier readings.
Why did this despair not appeal to me for last 20 years? Was I not open to these feelings earlier? Was there a barrier within me? My ideas regarding religion have never been conventional –so, in a way I am in ‘league’ with the poet. But why did I not belong to it earlier? Why did I fail to recognize these fascinating words?
And what exactly happened today? What caught my attention today? What made me to understand these words today? That is a mystery.
Same is the case with joy, happiness, oneness, expansion.
Maybe, the Truth always exists; it is only when we open ourselves to it, we experience it!
And when we experience, we cannot explain - neither despair nor joy.