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‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’

‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’

Tagore had a very deep religious cast of mind and profound humanism. He was both a patriot and an internationalist.

Tagore sketches a moving picture of the nation he would like the world to be. Where everyone within the fold of the brotherhood is free to hold up one’s head high and one’s voice to be heard without having any tension of fear of oppression or forced compulsion.

Where the knowledge is not restricted by narrow ideas and loyalties. The British rule had robbed India of its pride and dignity by reducing it to a subject nation.

The World of Tagore’s dream is a place where the people hold their heads high with their pride in knowledge and strength born of that knowledge. Where all men must come out of the aged-old world of people who have lost the vision of one humanity by the narrow loyalties of caste, creed, skin of color, and religion.

Prejudice and superstitious which narrow the mind and divide people would be a thing of the past. Where the words of truth come out from the depths of the heart and are spoken out courageously in the open for the world to hear. People would work for perfections in the clear light of reason leaving aside all superstitious rituals.

Where everyone is free to toil and work hard for anything they desire either for their own or for the good of humanity. Everyone is encouraged to strive tirelessly until they attain full satisfaction in reaching their goals and perfection.

Where blind superstitious habits of thought and action have not put out the light of reason. Where people’s minds should not dwell in the mistakes of the past nor be possessed by it. On the other hand, they should be led by the power of reasoning to be focused on the future by applying scientific thought and action.

Tagore’s only prayer to the Supreme Ultimate is leading the world to such an ideal state of heaven. It is only by the universality of outlook and an abiding passion for the realization of great human ideals that humanity will achieve her true freedom. This way alone we will realize her destiny.

Tagore talks about India, It has been more than sixty years since we became independent but yet we are enslaved by fear. A fear that refuses to let go, a fear that has become habitual to us and a fear that dominates our minds.

We have the fear of getting lost. So we don’t take the risk of venturing out too far. We are afraid of taking the road less traveled. That is why most of the parents want their children to become doctors, engineers, or lawyers but not painters, scientists, or writers.

We sometimes refuse to forsake our comfort zones even though we have an opportunity to make it big. We have the fear of being ridiculed or laughed at. Remember, every new idea is at first ridiculed, then criticized, and finally accepted.

We never want to try something new. We are free to take risks. Too many doubts: What if we fail? What if we don’t make it? Professionals had built the Titanic, whereas it was amateurs who built Noah’s ark. Decide for yourself, which fared better.

All of us especially Indians are afraid of our own culture and traditions. We would all touch our parents’ feet at home, but when abroad, in front of foreigners, we would think twice before doing so.

We all want to race towards modernity, but how will a person who has forgotten his own traditions get accustomed to a foreign culture? The Yoga buzz took over the world and that is when we began appreciating the science of it, otherwise, it would have been buried just like many other ancient traditions before it.

The Gurukul system of education in India was one of the finest and was dedicated to the highest ideal of physical, spiritual, and mental development. But today education is our biggest worry, as most of our population remains illiterate.

We are afraid to question things and accept them as it is. Sitting under the tree, if Newton hadn’t questioned as to why the apple fell on his head, we would not have been able to invent the plane. In school, where most of us received our education, we learned to cram things without delving deep into them.

All of us were taught in school that JGK was assassinated, but how many of us questioned as to why and who? And how many of our professors knew the answer. A fool wonders, a wise man asks.

We have the fear of taking responsibility. We would rather hide behind other people when the time to accept responsibility comes up. We blame the system, the politicians, the bureaucracy, and the corrupt officials. But we overlook the fact as to who made them corrupt. It is we who chose the politicians and it is we who are the system.

While returning from the office, we blame the infrastructure for the jam-packed roads. How often do we think, “You are really never part of a traffic jam, you are the traffic jam.”

Lastly, we are ashamed of being called by our true identities though we all are. When some of us go to chat online as anonymous users, we would choose to say we are from Canada or California but not from India.

Fear is a temporary state of the mind and can be overcome by positive thinking. We would have to let go off all these fears and only then we can rise. Only those who risk going far can find out how far one can go. Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom. And once that fear is conquered, our mind could be led into ever-widening thought and action, into that heaven of freedom.


If we pray for Freedom, we are in Submission – Where the Mind Is Without Fear – A Song by Rabindranath Tagore, India, (1861-1941).

When we pray, if we pray for riches, certainly we are very poor. If we pray for health, we are then certainly sick. And if we pray for freedom, we are in shackles, bondage and our hands and feet are fettered.

Rabindranath Tagore wrote his poem Where The Mind Is Without Fear in the first decade of the Twentieth century. It is the 35th song in his famous book Geethanjali which was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

He wrote this poem during the peak of the cruel and brutal British Rule in India. It is his Utopia, in a sense, in which he prays God to let his country awake to blissful heaven of freedom that is his dream. The distance between his dream and the real state of affairs in his country is far, and he skilfully brings to the world’s attention the state into which his great nation has been felling into by the mighty British Empire.

He does this without offending anyone and as is expected from an England- educated noble genius. As an aftermath of the second world war and due to the severeness of the Indian Independence Movement, the British however were forced to leave India during 1947. But 6 years earlier, Tagore had died without seeing a free India.

In present times, this poem serves a dual purpose. It unveils the horrible downtrodden position to which his country and its heritage were brought to by Britain. At the same time, it is a scale to measure whether India has progressed any after half a century of her independence. 

By describing his visions of the characteristics of a glorious country, he emphasizes the pitiful plight of his native land. He prays for a heaven of freedom, to denote the hell of submission and slavery prevailing then.

People cannot express themselves fearlessly. The Nation’s head is forced to be held low and stooping. Knowledge is not free. The Nation is broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, divided into isolated segments by geographical and politically induced barriers.

It is true that Lord Curson’s cunning partition in 1905 of his native Bengal into Muslim and Hindu Bengals as part of the notorious policy of Divide and Rule heart-broken and frustrated the poet, the strong emotions emanating from which are reflected here. It is relevant to note that Tagore was a dedicated and committed national leader too.

The poet then denotes that spoken words no more come out from the depth of truth, the meaning of which anyone can guess. The ancient stream of reason which once flowed clear and unhampered through the ages has now lost its way into the desert sand of Unindian dead habits.

A God-fearing nation has now become captain less and the once-ever widening thought and action of a mighty people, have stuck where it has been decades back. So he prays to God to raise his country into that heaven of freedom where everything is the opposite. Even though disguisedly pungent, this poem contains exquisite music as was usual with all Tagore songs.

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