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Monday, April 30, 2007


While I was arranging the books within an old cupboard, I found this green covered book which I had received as an award for topping the class, when I had just entered my teens. I remember having tried to read this book then, but somehow I could not go beyond the introduction. Now when I read this book, I simply loved it and hence devoting today’s post to capture some lines by virtue of which Tagore pictured the early lessons of his life. The book is “REMINISCENCES”.

On the memories -
Life’s memories are not life’s history, but the original work of an unseen artist.

On material possessions -
When material is in profusion, the mind gets lazy and leaves everything to it, forgetting that for a successful feast of joy its internal equipment counts for more than the external. This is the chief lesson which an infant teaches to a man.

On teaching -
The main object of teaching is not to explain the meanings, but to knock at the door of the mind. If any boy is asked to give an account of what is awakened in him at such knocking, he will probably say something very silly. For what happens within is much bigger than what he can express in words. Those who pin their faith on University examinations as a test of all educational results take no account of this fact.

On the feeling which he had when he had to leave behind his collection of stones which he had collected -
I was very troubled, on leaving Bolepur that I could not carry away with me my share of stones. It is still very difficult for me to realize that I have no absolute claim to keep up a close relationship with things, merely because I have gathered them together.

On the freedom that his father offered -
As he allowed me to wander about the mountains at my will, so in the quest for truth he left me free to select my path. He was not deterred by the danger of making mistakes; he was not alarmed at the prospect of my encountering sorrow. He held up to a standard, not a disciplinary rod.

On school -
I felt that my value in the social world was distinctly depreciating; nevertheless I could not make up my mind to be tied to the eternal grind of the school mill which, divorced as it was from all life and beauty, seemed such a hideously cruel combination of hospital and gaol.

On his cousin’s reaction for praising someone else for securing the highest marks -
My genuine pleasure at Satya’s success seemed to touch my cousin particularly. He turned to his friends and remarked on it as a very creditable trait. I well remember how mystified I felt at this, for I had not thought of my feeling in that light.

On the concept of rewards to children -
There is no harm in making gifts to children, but they should not be rewards. It is not healthy for youngsters to be made self-conscious.

On the death of Clive -
I still remember the surprise with which I heard how Clive, after establishing British rule in India, went back home and cut his own throat. How could there be such dismal failure within and such brilliant success outside?

On the changing sociological context -
We still meet for business or political purposes, but never for the pleasure of simply meeting one another. We have ceased to contrive opportunities to bring men together simply because we love our fellow men. I can imagine nothing more ugly than this social miserliness.

On poetry -
The utterance of feeling is not the statement of a fundamental truth, or a scientific fact, or a useful moral precept. Like a tear or a smile a poem is but a picture of what is taking place within. If science and philosophy may gain anything from it they are welcome, but that is not the reason of its being.


Chinmay said...

Hi Saby great post...reading the quotes was a good start to my day! Whose the author of the book?


Chinmay...such thoughts can come out of a mastermind only....the mastermind is Rabindranath Tagore himself.