Lift You
Published in

Lift You

Life Lessons from India’s Timeless Literary Genius

I wrote about my favourite writer for Forbes Africa

The Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European to win a Nobel prize in any category. History books also cite that he named Gandhi as ‘Mahatma’, the lawyer-activist who spent 21 years in South Africa. The deeper African connection is in Tagore’s poem, An Ode to Africa, written in empathic anguish for the ceaseless barbarism both Africa and India had endured through colonial rule.

Tagore once wrote a phrase about liberty that ran thus: ‘We gain freedom when we have paid the full price.’ The personal story of the poet is a reflection of this thought.

Tagore’s story is distinguished by a moral power that persevered through the pain of countless personal tragedies. It is the story of a man who saw the extraordinary within the ordinary.

On a January morning in 1877, a 14 year old Tagore took centerstage at the Hindu Mela, a political and cultural festival in Calcutta. He read aloud his witty satire against the newly-crowned colonial head of India, and revitalised patriotic sentiment within the crowd.

His elder brother Jyoti was the person who tutored him in poetry writing and musical rhyme. The young poet would work devotedly but would soon become disillusioned with his ablities and often crossed out paperwork and threw them away. His school mates mocked his feminine sensibilities and poetic aptitude.

However, Rabi went on to defy everyone’s expectations and achieved great literary fame. His intellectual diversity spanned leadership, globalisation, promotion of the scientific spirit, and most famously, Bengali poetry and prose. People globally saw him as the voice of moral awakening for a free nation.

As a young boy, he lost his mother. His adoring sister-in-law followed when he was a little older. His father, who he so revered, also passed on. Tagore’s beloved wife was next when she passed away, even before he reached middle age. Tagore also lost three of his five children to lethal illness. In those unimaginably dark times, Tagore devoted himself to writing meaningfully for children and spun stories that gave solace to the soul.

Spiritual truth flowed through his words in this heartbreaking era of his life, and he formed a deep, unbreakable connection with God. Tagore created a school for children in Shantinekatan. He spent his days teaching and being around the cheerful laughter of his new young friends.

Also known as the ‘Bard of Bengal’, he once wrote: ‘Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.’

In 1913, when he won the Nobel Prize for literature, Tagore spoke to his award ceremony audience about a global thread of spiritual union. He reminded them that when the West grew tired of pursuing perfection through its hard labours, it would find rest in the spiritual East that could rejuvenate one’s soul with her enduring peace and wisdom.

Over time, even as many artists questioned him for the source of his creative pioneering, Tagore maintained that his inspiration flowed from a universal source beyond himself. He believed in the ability to discover what one had to say, if one listened well enough.

As the world crumbled under the weight of a World War, a free economy bound by merit-based leadership still seemed far away in Tagore’s final days. With a deathless faith in the free will of humankind to propel success, Tagore wrote, ‘Faith is a bird that believes in the light when the dawn is still dark.’

Tagore illuminated a global liberated consciousness, even as the world was still on its journey towards merit-based leadership and wealth distribution.

Today, this great poet is known throughout the world as India’s symbol of a liberated bird of dawn.

Author Bio:

Vandini Sharma is a 19-year-old awarded, published Indian writer. She writes soulful, creative & light hearted stories intended to inspire. Her articles have appeared in 50+ global publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times & Hindustan Times. Her work can be found on www.liftyou.in

Happy 2022! I had the honour of being published in the winter issue of Forbes Africa! My heartfelt gratitude goes out to my editor Ms. Renuka and my friend Mr. Wahi for bettering my work and helping me reach readers across the ocean. ❤

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Vandini Sharma

Vandini Sharma

20 year old awarded & published 🇮🇳 writer. I write soulful, creative & lighthearted stories intended to inspire!✒AP, Forbes, HT & 50+ global credits.💖