Where the mind is without fear…

Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

from verses in Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore.

Whenever I read this poem, I get the picture of a utopian world which all of us can imagine but may never live to see it. These thoughts are so powerful and positive that they calm your raging anxieties and worries at once and take you far into a new world. The poet definitely lived ahead of his times and definitely deserved Nobel prize. Although my understanding of this poem is limited, still  I share it to see some new light at the end of tunnel called life.

Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel prize for li...

Where the mind is without fear

Fearlessness is what we all lack.Whatever we do in this world is fear-borne. We fear hunger/poverty, so we work for food. We fear low status, so we compete others. We fear our seniors that they may throw us out; we are afraid of our juniors that they may outperform us. Mind without fear is like a treasure in itself, a heavenly ability which can make things happen for you.

and the head is held high

Pride in oneself is not arrogance, but an expression of self-confidence. If we are not proud of what we are and what we do, then we may not be  a honest person or we have inferiority complex.Head held high makes us responsible for not doing something wrong.

Where knowledge is free..

In our commercial world, where can we find free knowledge?  We find tuition centres, commercial schools, colleges, universities all charging money for what they teach. Everyone has to pay for even a bit of knowledge. There are subscriptions to magazines, journals, theses, books. For knowledge, sadly one needs money now, and not qualification.

How great will the world be if knowledge was free in the truest sense. Wikipedia and some other internet sites come close to this. But again, compare this number with other websites.

Where the world has not broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls

Today the situation is quite the opposite. Every country is vying to snatch the other country’s land. Within a country, there is agitation within provinces. What is the point of breaking up the land? Partitioning the land never solved a problem and it never will. This is because problems are not region-based but people-based. People should get along with others, have more tolerance and not form chicken communities separating themselves from everyone.

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Today everyone lies for the sake of achieving success. Truth gives you indomitable strength. If your thought, word and deed are the same, then you are truthful. If you do something outside, but think something else inside, then, where is the truth ? Depth of truth implies being truthful from the heart. The consonance between the words and the thoughts gives the value or worth to one’s own words. Truth can make us extremely clear in our life and priorities. For every lie that you invent to save your skin, you have to invent one more. The more the lies , more difficult will it be to hold the truth in your stomach. Truthfulness gives clarity, strength and will-power.
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Tireless striving : How many of us actually strive to get our wants satisfied ? Tireless striving towards perfection has even more greater bearing. ‘Perseverance to be perfect’ is the quality lacking in commoners like us. Geniuses, as they are called, had this ‘perseverance towards perfection’ and hence, we have their masterpieces to remind us of their existence. Most of us live a mediocre existence working just to make both ends meet. If we really go the last mile, imagine the difference we will make to the world. To be proactive calls for action from the self without being pushed by external circumstances or people. If everyone thinks that somebody will do the job, then rest assured that nobody will do it. To summarise, let’s do our duty in the best way we can and let’s make every moment we live better than our previous one.


Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Reason is often dominated by emotions, prejudice, sentiment. Even the best of people lose their reason because of the conditions around them. How often we take decisions hastily, only to find later that it did not help everyone equally ? How many of our decisions are biased towards the people whom we like and don’t like? Dead habit conveys our mechanical approach. When we are habituated, we become sluggards. We lose track of situation and don’t anticipate any change. Without weighing the pros and cons, we continue to do our daily work like a chore. Living like a vegetable waiting to be tossed into action by someone else is self-deprecating. We are not mere puppets but have a free-will of our own to craft our destiny. If we keep doing the same thing, we will never grow up. Every moment we have to persevere to become better and see the work in a new dimension. Expansion is life(stream) and contraction is death(desert).

Every time you have a  doubt  whether an action is appropriate under some situation, ask yourself three questions :

  1. Can I talk about this in front of a huge assembly ?
  2. Can I recommend it to others if they face a similar situation ?
  3. Will I do the same way again if I face the same situation ?

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—

Ever-widening means being open in all directions, being liberal, accepting ideas from all sides without prejudice and preconceived notion. This is the first verse where Tagore mentions about God. Where the mind is led by God, who is omnipresent and omnipotent, it thinks more beautiful, abstract, deep, profound thoughts. It gets the bird’s eye-view and therefore, more conscious of what it is doing and how its present will affect its future.

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Here, after taking you through the voyage of his envisaged utopian world,  the great poet lets you know that it was his prayer to God. A prayer to realize such a heaven on earth. ‘Let my country awake’ might imply that the country is asleep and the need for it to wake up. But I view this differently. Perceive the messy situation of the present world as a dream and Tagore is telling us to wake up to the paradise which  world really is.

At this juncture, I would draw curtains to this lengthy interpretation of a great poem . Yes, I might be mistaken in my views and opinions. If you think otherwise, please let me know.  This exercise was to set you and me thinking about what is our role today to realize this  utopia in our life. We should understand Idealism, Realism and the possible merger between the two to ‘Heal the world and make it a better place’  in the words of Michael Jackson.

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One comment on “Where the mind is without fear…

  1. […] Where the mind is without fear… (sparshturaga.wordpress.com) […]

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