The Indian Council for Cultural Relations organized an international seminar on Tagore in October 2011 in New Delhi to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore (1861—1941) to primarily focus on ‘Tagore’s Vision of the Contemporary World’ ‘where knowledge is free’ and ‘where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way in the dreary desert sand of dead habit’ and also to discover, as says Tagore, the most profound unity, the spiritual unity between the races. The primary objective of the conference on Tagore was to bring Tagore into worldwide focus, who was not only seeking unity on a higher level between the Infinite and the finite but also seeking answers to many ticklish issues both social and political and at the same time spiritual and philosophical and dreaming at the same time as how to achieve Human Unity and bring peace.
The seminar corroborated that today Asian and European cultural and civilizational traditions are seeking a sort of completion in one another not through a philosophical discourse or mutual cross-questioning but by creating a common space within which the voice of the one evokes a responsive echo in the other and the engaging issues of the contemporary world become a thing of concern for all of us of the East as well as the West.
Indra Nath Choudhuri was in Academics, Administration and Cultural Diplomacy. Taught Comparative Literature, Delhi, Hyderabad and University of Bucharest. Visiting Professor, Central University and UEFL, Hyderabad, Jadavpur and JNU, was Secreatary, Sahitya Akedemi and Minister (Culture)., Indian High Commission, London and Dicrector. The Nehru Centre, London. was Member Secretary and Academic Dir, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. ICCR first Tagore Chair at Edinburg Napier University. Written books in Hindi, English and Bengali. Latest books Medieval Indian Legacy: Linguistic and Literary and also Hinduism: A way of Life and a Mode of Thought written jointly with Professor Usha Choudhuri.
An artist of genius, Rabindranath Tagore gave humanity his vision of one world. Gifted with imagination and creativity he fostered faith in the unity of mankind and strengthened bonds of kinship with one-another. Tagore’s ideas of universal humanism resonate in today’s contemporary world. His belief in the spiritual unity of the East and the West was a powerful message of redemption for a society beset by greed, callousness and irreverence.
Tagore’s central vision was mankind’s growth towards the Infinite. He elucidated his concept of the Infinite in ‘Religion of Man,’ ‘Infinite’, he said, ‘is the unity’ that transcends many beings expressing itself’. He further said, ‘in order to have a clear vision of truth, one should not allow one’s perception to become a prisoner of innumerable fragmentary objects, but learn to visualize the ‘one’ in ‘many’, and realize that all events of life are held together by the power of truth, and the same power holds all the individual objects together. ‘This world being the proof of creation of the Infinite should not be rejected, as the Infinite expressed itself through the body of the finite world. We are bound together in a relationship of joy and love with each other in the world. ‘Tagore ‘s vision of the contemporary world uniting all the individuals to ‘one’ mankind, therefore, continues to sustain its relevance generation after generation.
I am sure that its volume presenting the proceedings of the International Conference on ‘Tagore’s Vision of the Contemporary World,’ with papers from some of the best minds from different parts of the world, will be an important contribution to the study of the multifaceted personality which Tagore was.
This compilation, is Indian Council for Cultural Relation (ICCR)’s homage to the memory of a great poet, artist, philanthropist and scholar of India- a poet of humanity and of freedom whose teachings were not limited to India but transcended around the world. Mahatma Gandhi called him ‘the Great Sentinel’ and Pandit Nehru in his prison diary noted on the death of Tagore in 1941: ‘It is not so much because of any single virtue but because of the tout ensemble that I felt that, among the world’s great men today, Gandhi and Tagore were supreme as human beings’.
I hope this volume brings to the collective consciousness of new generation of men and women the understanding of human identity, uniqueness of man and unity of the universe- a central message to mankind which has made Tagore relevant to the contemporary times and for generations.
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