The Major Themes of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali

The Major Themes of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali

The Major Themes of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali : As a matter of fact Gitanjali is a great work of art, and as such a number of themes and ideas are woven together to make up its complex texture.

The Major Themes of Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali

As a matter of fact Gitanjali is a great work of art, and as such a number of themes and ideas are woven together to make up its complex texture. Its hundred and odd lyrics explore (1) God and the human soul: (2) God and Nature; (3) Nature and the soul, and; (4) the soul and humanity. These four themes are not kept strictly separate; they frequently run into each other, fuse and mingle.

The Theme of Devotion:

Gitanjali is a collection of devotional songs in praise of God. These songs are firmly rooted in the ancient tradition of Indian Vaishnava poetry and they reveal a highly personal quest for the Divine. They are characterised by a great variety of moods and approaches. The poet is intoxicated with the love of God at the immortal touch of whose hands his little heart loses its limits of joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

This theme of devotion expresses the yearning of the devotee for re-union with the divine. The poet is a singer and he seeks the realization of God through his songs. He considers himself to be a living musical instrument in the hands of God, the Master Musician. The entire Sadhana of his life is devoted to removing the imperfections and in the impurities of his mind and heart, to overcoming all obstacles in the path of his realization of God:

“Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel then emptiest again and again and fittest it ever with fresh life.” 

Humanism-Individual and Society:

Along with the relationship of the individual soul and God, the relationship of the individual soul with other men is also explored. Tagore’s humanism is voiced forcefully in a number of lyrics. God is not to be found in the temple but with the lowliest of low. Idolatry and blind worship are castigated:

“Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads! Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee.” 

The tiller, the stone-breaker, the honest labourer working in the spirit of the Gita,—God is with them. The idea of ‘escape’ from world’s duties is condemned by the poet:

“Deliverance? Where is this deliverance to be found? 

Our master himself had joyfully taken upon him the bands 

Of creation; he is bound with us all forever.” 

Relationship of God and Nature:

In many songs in Gitanjali the poet explores the relationship of God and Nature. In it the poet ranges over the immensities of time and space, the eternal and the temporal and probes into the mysteries of life, of man and of nature, and the poet’s vision is “free, vast and serene”. One of the central themes in Gitanjali is the immense of God in love and joy in Nature’s beauties to woo the human soul. He craves for:

“In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes.
In the rainy gloom of July nights on the thundering chariot of Clouds he comes, ever comes.” 

The Theme of Death:

The theme of death finds a most varied treatment. To the poet Death is not an object of fear. Rather, he welcomes it joyfully, for it is a gateway through Rabindranath Tagore which alone union with the eternal is possible. This creation of myriad colours and shapes is the curtain that separates the poet from his maker, and it is death alone which rends asunder the veil and ushers in the poet in the presence of divine. The poet, therefore, welcomes this king of the fearful night. It is a guest who must be welcomed with an open hand. Death may be terrible to look at, but it leads the human and to its tryst with eternal.

Death is not the end of life. It is the renewal of life. It is the last fulfilment of life:

“Even so, in death the same unknown will appear as ever known to me. And, 

because I love this life, I know I shall love death as well.” 

“The child cries out when from the right breast the mother takes it away, in the very next moment to find in the left one its consolation.” 

It is only through death we can realise spiritual truth and can see into the hearts of things.

Thus, in Gitanjali, some flowers are from the garden of love, some from the garden of light, other from the garden of time, yet still others from the garden of death. The beauty of the poem lies not so much in the statement of any kind of experience but in the realisation of experience through words which in themselves become ‘things’. The theme is always Man: Nature: God: Life: Death-the universal things. More specifically, Gitanjali is the story of soul’s liberation a tale of soul’s wait to meet her eternal bridegroom, the divine Lord.

 Read it also: Thou Hast Made Me Endless

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