Gitanjali as a Mystical Poem
Mysticism is the spirit of communion between the individual soul and the eternal soul. When this sense of communion is expressed in poetry, we say that there is mysticism in this poetry. The entire Gitanjali is pervaded by this feeling of communion between the soul of the poet and the eternal soul whom he calls by different names as the friend, the comrade, the lover, the Lord and Master.
All the songs in Tagore’s Gitanjali are offerings of the poet at the feet of God, the Divine Master. These poems reveal the different moods and thoughts, desires and feelings, hopes and disappointments of the poet. Sometimes the poet feels the pangs of separation and expresses his sense of sorrow and anguish in tunes of plaintive melody. At other times he feels the approach of God and describes his feeling in the words, “He comes, he comes, he ever comes.” The poet feels that God comes to him through rain and shower, through sunshine and spring and also through his joys and sorrows.
The all-pervading presence of God in the whole world is described by the poet in different poems. The same stream of life that flows through his veins also flows through the entire universe and it is one with the eternal stream that flows everywhere. There is unity in diversity. The numerous forms are only the manifestations of the Divine who is also formless.
We must remember that Rabindranath, the mystic, is fundamentally different from the other mystic poets who usually ignore this earth and its people and look for salvation in the other world. Tagore‘s mysticism is combined with realism and humanism. It is not a philosophy that asks us to renounce the world and its activities. It is a philosophy based on the acceptance of the world as real and this life as earnest and sincere. Tagore goes even farther than this. He maintains that the Divine cannot be realized by renouncing the world. He has to be realized in this very life in the hearts of ordinary men and women of the world.
In several poems (Gitanjali, poems No. 10 and 11) le clearly tells us that God resides in the hearts of the people and not inside the temple and asks us to leave the chanting and counting of beads. There is no deliverance in renunciation. God rests his feet among the poorest, the lowliest and lost. If we want to realize God, we must be ready to worship the lowliest and the humblest. We cannot establish contact with the Divine without giving up our pride and vanity, Tagore asks us to come down on the dusty soil and find presence of the Divine among the tiller who tills the land and the pathmaker who breaks the stones. The charge of escapism and the other-worldliness against the poet are absolutely wrong and baseless.
It is Tagore’s conviction that God is to be realized not only in the heart of the devotee but also in the outside world, for the Divine resides everywhere.