Home and the world – Rabindranath Tagore

Home and the world is a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, one of the genius brains that I ever came across (not in person, ofcourse…). It is originally written as “Ghar Baire” in 1915. It was translated and published in English by Surendranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore’s nephew in 1919, with inputs from the elder Tagore himself. Satyajit Ray made it in to a movie later. A review of this book, which I found just now is here.
It is told in the voices of the three main characters of the novel – the husband and wife duo – Nikhil and Bimala, and Nikhil’s friend Sandip. It is set in the days of the freedom struggle and the time in which the “swadeshi” fever is at its peak. A couple of days back, when I was watching “Gandhi, My father”, I saw a couple of scenes in the same regard…and now, I am reading about the same. The story presents three perspectives and three mindsets. It even presents the complicated thought processes of the three minds with perfect ease of expression. However, yeah, its not so easy for the readers to understand everything that Tagore intended to convey, clearly. Perhaps, Tagore has a complicated thought process, which ordinary mortals cannot understand completely. I am not sarcastic in saying so. I am saluting the genius called Tagore. One world, One Tagore! The beauty of the whole reading experience is that, you will be sure that you did not understand Tagore’s intentions properly. You will be sure that sometimes it went above board. You will be sure that it is unputdownable. You will be sure that you would love to read it again, too. You will be sure that the play of words is wonderful. Finally, you will be compelled to campaign for Tagore whenever you meet some reading enthusiast…and wherever you go🙂 I am in that mode now and I am compelled to write a blogpost after such a long time because of this novel. Tagore ji jindabad! (say it 1000 times….and forward it to 10 people in 10 minutes. You will see the change in you. :))

It can be easily mistaken for a treatise on married life, if you stop it after 2,3 pages, which happened with a friend of mine. But, in reality, its a wonderful book on the concepts of Tagore’s philosophy of universalism. It points out the flaws in the ideologies of Sandip brilliantly. At the same time, it gives a clear picture of the Bengali aristocratic families of that time. It does not discuss much about the society and other people around. The whole novel has less than ten characters. Perhaps, this is Tagore’s style. Some of the novels have just too many characters that, you will soon be lost in the maze! In that sense, I like this, as I need not remember too many characters and too many relationships🙂 Two quotes, which instantly attracted me in ths novel, among many others are:

“…when music comes in to one’s life, the lack of a good voice is no matter. When we sing merely on the strength of our tunefulness, the song is belittled”

“Respect given and taken truly balances the account between man and man. But veneration is over-payment.”

Interesting sentences and quotes such as the above ones are abundantly available in this novel, which stay with you for a long time.

The ideas presented in this book, especially about Patriotism are worth reading for everybody. I found them extremely interesting, especially in the context described in this novel. Let me quote you two examples from my reading of Bengali literature. The first one is “Anandmath” by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and the second one is “Pather Dabi” by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Both of them potrayed two extremes of the same kind of patriotism. Yeah, I do understand that the previous sentence is highly ambiguous. But, what I intended to say is that while Anandamath potrayed what I would call religious patriotism, Pather Dabi potrayed something I name as -revolutionary patriotism. Now, Tagore, in “Home and the world” advocated a third kind of patriotism through the voice of Nikhil, which can perhaps more aptly be called as humanism than its actual nomenclature-Universalism. Sandip represented another division of patriotism, of which both religious and revolutionary patriotism are also subgroups. I name it as – “opiumised patriotism”. I hope those who are reading this got what opium-ised patriotism means. Final verdict: Home and the world is a great book. Its worth reading. Tagore is a must read for all the reading enthusiasts. I will read the “Collected works of Tagore” jumbo book soon and get back.🙂 And yeah, All the ideas in this paragraph are my own, and any resemblence to anything is purely coincidental. If you want to fight with me regarding the same, let us fight offline.🙂

Published in: on November 3, 2007 at 1:29 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. We had this in 1st year B.Tech. I only vaguely remember that it was set during freedom movement time .. and raises some interesting questions about concept of nationhood, patriotism, etc. Prof. Sharma who taught us killd any interest we might have had in the book🙂

  2. ఇంతగా పొగుడుతున్నారు కాబట్టి, నేను మరల హై వోల్టేజి పుస్తకాలు చదవడం మొదలు పెట్టాక ఇది తప్పక చదువుతాను! (ప్రస్తుతం భానుమతి గారి ఆసం అత్తగారి కథలతో బ్యాటరీ డిస్చారి చేసుకుంటున్నాను).

    మీ ఆఖరు వాక్యం అర్థంకాలేదు! మళ్లీ బ్లాగినందుకు సంతోషం!

  3. Hi Sowmya..

    I’ve read this book very recently and wondered how could you miss such a fantastic book. Nice that you’ve posted abt it.

    I loved everything about the Novel as your post approves it.



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