Leave This Chanting

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!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground
and where the pathmaker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower,
and his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like him come down on the dusty soil!

Deliverance?
Where is this deliverance to be found?
Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation;
he is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense!
What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained?
Meet him and stand by him in toil and in sweat of thy brow.

Gitanjali is a collection of 103 English poems, largely translations, by Rabindranath Tagore himself . ‘Leave this chanting’ is the 11th poem in the collection.

The poet advises the religious minded people to give up their counting of beads and their singing and chanting of mantras. He also urges them stop the worship of God in a secluded corner of the temple, with their eyes half shut. He sharply states, ‘Open your eyes and see God is not there before you.’ God is not to be found in this way. Tagore wants the pious ones to go beyond the four walls of their shrines to where god really exists. God lives with the humble and down-trodden like the tillers of the land and path-makers who work hard at breaking stones. He lives with those who toil in sun and shower and whose clothes are soiled with dust. If the priest wants God he must come out of his temple, give up his holy robes and work with the humble tillers of the soil in rain and sun. Tagore thus glorifies the life of the humble labourers and rejects the ascetic way of life.

The ultimate spiritual goal of the ascetic is to seek deliverance. This is the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. But God Himself is bound to all of us in chains of love. God is the creator and master of everything. He himself is not free as He has joyfully bound Himself to the work of creation and to the objects He has created. How can then man ever hope to be free from bondage? He urges the ascetics to leave the ritualistic flowers and incense which does not serve any purpose. According to the poet one can find God not in the temple but with the workers who are working whole day in the dirt and under the hot sun. He asks us what harm is there if you work under the sun and if your clothes become dirty. Even when your clothes are turn out or stained there is no harm because one is going to see the creator. Thus Tagore conveys that participation in the activity of life is essential for the realization of God.

Tagore suggests that the infinite expresses itself through the finite, and the divine is found in the human. Tagore stands for a synthesis of contemplation and action. Contemplation comes first, for that helps the purification of the mind. But the fullness of spiritual life can be realised only when the life of contemplation is merged into the life of action-the life of service to humanity. In the poetry of Tagore’s later life, the rejection of asceticism and the promotion of a world-affirmative view become more subtle and intricate.

Tagore knows the value of humanism and he expresses the value of humanism in this poem. Humanists believe that service to fellowmen and love of them is the highest form of worship. They also believe that God is to be found with the poor and the labourer. Tagore says that true worship of God means mingling with the humble humanity on terms of equality, and participation in their humble activities. According to Tagore, the rich and the proud can never find God, for they keep aloof from the poor and the downtrodden. He opines, pride can never approach to where those walk in the clothes of the humble among the poorest, the lowliest and lost.

It shows that God lives in the company of those who toil in Sun and Shower and whose clothes are soiled with dust. God loves the humble tiller despite his dirty and tattered dress. God is to be found with the poor and the humble who earn their bread with the sweat of their brow.

Last modified: Wednesday, 13 September 2017, 1:17 AM