Where the Mind is Without Fear. Rabindranath Tagore. About the poet: Rabindranath Tagore reshaped Bengali literature an
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Where the Mind is Without Fear. Rabindranath Tagore.
About the poet: Rabindranath Tagore reshaped Bengali literature and music and was the first Asian to be awarded with the Nobel Prize for Gitanjali, in 1913. He has written multiple novels, poems, short stories, travelogues, dramas and thousands of songs. His writings are influenced by both Indian and Western traditions. His famous works include Sonar Tari, Gitanjali, Balaka (poetry), Raja, Dak Ghar, Muktadhara (dramas), Nastanirh, Gora, Ghare Baire (fiction) and the list is endless. About the poem: Where the Mind is Without Fear is one of his famous poems. It was originally composed in Bengali, under the title ‘Prarthana’, meaning prayer. This poem appeared in the volume called ‘Naibedya’ in 1901. Tagore wrote this poem when India was under the clutches of British rule. He wrote this poem to encourage the countrymen, to instil courage in their hearts and minds. Lines 1-2: The poet prays to God that his countrymen should not cower in fear. They should be free from oppression and compulsion. Their heads should be held high. He wants his countrymen to be fearless and have a sense of pride and selfdignity. They should not be daunted by any kind of oppression and should be determined in their pursuit of goal. In the second line, the poet dreams of a nation where knowledge is accessible to all and sundry. Only the light of education has the power to obliterate the darkness of ignorance. Hence, he wants everyone to be educated irrespective of class barriers. Lessons taught should have spiritual importance and should aim at the all-round development of a student’s personality.
Lines 3-4: Prejudices, discriminations divide people. They germinate the seed of hostility in all. The poet wants that there should not exist any form of difference among people based on caste, creed, language, sex, religion and colour. Prejudices and superstitions are the narrow domestic walls that divide us into groups, thereby breaking our unity and making us weak and fragile. Lines 5-6: Tagore wishes that the people of his nation will be forthright and honest. Their words should come out from their hearts. Their words should be clear and distinct. The poet asks everyone to work hard, without exhaustion, to reach their desired goal. His countrymen should tirelessly stretch their arms towards perfection. They should work hard till they attain perfection. The figure of speech used in the sixth line is personification. ‘Tireless striving’ has been personified as a human being, stretching his arms to attain perfection in his desired mission. Lines 7-8: The poet wants his people to be rational and logical in their thinking. They should not be dictated by the blind superstitions and traditional conventions. He draws an analogy between ‘reason’ and ‘clear stream’ and compares ‘dead habits’ to a ‘dreary desert’. Reason should not lose its way in the sand of dead habits. Lines 9-11: The countrymen should have a progressive approach and encourage new thoughts and ideas. Their minds should be led forward by the contemporary new objectives. In the final line, the poet addresses Almighty as ‘Father’ and prays to him to let his country wake up to such a heavenly abode of freedom where there is brightness, radiance and confidence all around. Extract based questions along with their probable answers: Q1. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free” a. Name the poem and the poet.
Ans: The name of the poem is Where the Mind is Without Fear and the name of the poet is Rabindranath Tagore. b. Name the form of the poem. Ans: The poem is written in the form of a prayer, an invocation to Almighty. It is written in free verse. c. What does the poet want our ‘mind’ and ‘head’ to be? Ans: The poet wants our minds to be without fear and heads to be held high. d. What is meant by ‘mind is without fear’? Ans: ‘Mind is without fear’ – the phrase alludes to the fact that our minds should be fearless. We should not be daunted by the shackles of oppression.