Prinseps

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Rabindranath Tagore's speeches: Mandir

After many days, today I am present in front of you in this shrine (mandir). I have come with a lot of hesitation. I am aware that due to prolonged absence our entire organization has become weak. For whatever reason it may be, your minds are no longer ready to accept all the functions, activities, and rites of the Ashrama. There is no point denying this. For this, not only are you to be held responsible but we are equally responsible.

Rectifications for the Bhadra edition of Prabasi

Today, a day from forty years back is getting recalled by the mind; in a remote corner of Bengal, I was then on the isolated banks of the river Padma. Looking back at that When the mind reflects on that, it seems one can see the dawn of a distant age when an inaugural mantra, all of a sudden, came to my life-force crossing ages and eons. I can distinctly remember that day. Then I would spend my days solely in writing poetry, staying immersed in deep study and literary discussions; besides there was the huge baggage of materialistic activities and endeavors. My mind was completely away from such contemporary ceremonies.

many of my long-held beliefs and determination have become slack.

Suddenly, there came a Renaissance; a strong force shook me up to life. I cannot explain why I was dragged from that peaceful mellow haven to this sun-scorched desert. I can only say that day, a deep invitation urged my life force, and I accepted it with all my heart.

With passionate desire and deep rigour, I had come here that day, I can still remember. Only with a handful of lecturers and students, I started the work, but I would always feel completeness. What I brought is not at all fir for the modern-day education system. Our ideals were far higher than passing examinations. With utmost concentration and will, I have always desired to dispel all the pettiness, low-mindedness, and shrewdness of contemporary times. Of those I had taken up the responsibility of education, I would help them essentially grow up I hoped from the bottom of my heart to guide them to the origins of the immortal nectar of age-old Indian rigour and pursuit (sadhana). 

When I had reached here, there was solitude and loneliness outside, but within my heart, there was always an assurance of completeness. 

Many a day, I would gather with only one or two pupils ‘upasakas’ in front of the shrine (mandir). Uninterrupted attempts were aimed at awakening the dormant life force. Besides, attempts were that boys could internally get motivated using the strength of their mindful consciousness. I have never tried to impart education in fragments. In the segmented organization of a classroom, I have never destroyed the holistic essence of education. My idea was, that centered around Bhakti their education would take a complete form.

the endeavor was to motivate them with independent ways of working and mental strength.

That day, the arrangement was not faded with blind ceremonies; it was not insulted by the fatigue of habitual practice. That day they had accepted with heartfelt sincerity this profound truth. There was not any work which was not inextricably linked to the root source of Bhakti. All mundane activities like bathing, drinking, and eating was initiated pervaded by this root source. The air and atmosphere of Shantiniketan were pervaded with this realization and understanding. The bliss of this realization got echoed even in the songs of birds of those days. 

to the root source of Ashrama’s central ideal of veneration. That day, no one could repudiate this and become inattentive.

Today, ebbing senility has distanced me from your lives. In the solitary confines of a room, I am doing some work of the last days of life. There is not a person, dedicated and devoted enough to shoulder the high ideals of the Ashrama. I think this is but a characteristic feature of the modern age. It takes pleasure in doubting everything, insulting everything. As if the order of the age is to indulge in such cruel skepticism. This nature is mercilessly spreading out to bizarre viciousness. It is ridiculing whatever is eternal, whatever is of eternal, whatever is of rigorous pursuit, whatever is the object of internal realization. One who doesn’t have any education and culture; that illiterate can even criticize in this age, can deny with disrespect the most venerable object of life; can assume with pride this to be the just right of this modern age.

The first and foremost ideal, with which I had come here, I cannot see any joyful motivation and determination to rescue it from the infirmity of my waning strength. Its vicious signs are getting manifested in atrocities in the country and abroad, getting reflected today in the states and the society. It is ridiculing the eternal constituents of human civilization.

Forty years back, when I had come here for the first time, the atmosphere of the Ashrama was transparent, clear! Poisonous fumes of doubt and skepticism were not in the air Arrogance was not announced in everyone’s interiority. Every ceremony of the Ashrama was seated in its reverential place. Today, in this narrow skeptical age, after crossing over the barriers of every argument, disrespect shown by the ones driven by arrogance; this ceremony has not achieved your belief and acceptance. Yet I would try to keep this alive. If you give me the opportunity, then even with an exhausted body, I will bring forth amidst you the precious savings of my life. 

Back then, poisonous fumes did not pervade the ambits of the human world and human civilization.

Today, I have come in front of you from far off. Through a lot of hardship, I have reached your times, traversing a long path. You would not understand the pain, the suffering, and the miseries of this long arduous journey. You don’t know and would never know the unwritten history of agony. That history is permeated in the pellucid skies of the Ashrama. Never would you be able to understand the depth of that pain, the intensity of its agony, but still it is diffused in the very atmosphere of this place. 

If you could accept this with a bit of discomfort, you could see that in its core is instilled the prophecies of ancient seers (rishis), who one day had recited aloud, welcoming the cosmos-‘Vedahametam Purusham Mahantam’. It was my only soulful desire to believe in this belief, to execute this in life. Transcending all the barriers and obstructions of samsara, let that be the supreme pursuit of life. Beyond the mocking laughter of the masses and the ridicule of the undeserving, I had to take this welcome address to the refuge of ‘Shantam, Shivam, Advaityam’.

Today, again I have come in front of you, seemingly from far off. I can remember the long tiring journey on my way to enter the Ashrama for the first time. No one would know the painful history of this progressive journey, cutting through the unkindness of unfavourable ill-fate. Today I have come through these miserable memories. With an anxious mind, I have come to seek in you its success. Do not reject this penance (Tapasya) from your mind with the disrespectful arrogance of the modern age. Accept this. 

In history, there have been many catastrophes, many monuments of civilization have been destroyed in each age, yet human power has not become completely obsolete. Depending on this trust, attempts must be directed at retrieving the yacht, a vehicle was driven by mantra; sailing in the new wind it will commence voyage. That the flow of time internally drives the young load-bearers, does not always inform their sensibilities awareness. One day, through haughty arguments and ridiculing laughter, when the numbers of their age would also ripen, their hearts would become toughened like stoned; then the dry theoretical words of justice would not give solace to the vital life-force (prana). The endeavor to the origins of nectar would begin in life then.

then dry intellectual skepticism 

One who is Shanta, one who is Shiva, one who is Advaitya; then the interiority would long to be filled with this realization. Today if you cannot accept this truth in interiority, if you fail to realize the true purpose of this ceremony, then I would feel that my efforts for years have failed

We are travelers of that path of optimism, preparing to sing reverentially the mantra of a new dawn, in that respect is the invincible semen, one who cannot be defeated by the darkness of pessimism, one who can proclaim- 

‘Vedahametam Purusham Mahantam

Adityavarnam Tathaparastat’.

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