Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where the mind is without fear

This is my favorite poem by the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). It was written by Tagore before India achieved independence, and expressed his vision of how a new, awakened India should be like. As I was reading this poem again recently, it struck me that there is a sense in which the poem isn't addressed so much to a country as to an individual person. In particular, the lines of the poem give vivid expression to the kind of qualities that we strive for in our yoga practice.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action ...
Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake.
Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, 1912


  1. The dreary desert of dead habit... he sure knows how to put it, beautiful Nobel... thanks for the poem

  2. I'm glad the poem speaks to you, Claudia. I must have read this poem at least ten thousand times since I first encountered it more than 10 years ago, and it still says something new to me every time I read it.