On December 2, 1991, I had the distinction of delivering a key-note address on Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize winning book Geetanjali at the function organised by the Centre for Literary Interaction and Creativity to mark the Tagore Day Function at the University Convocation Hall.
When Prof..R.N.Roy, the retired Head of the Department of English of Nagpur University, requested me to deliver a speech on Geetanjali I was elated at my good luck to be considered of that worth by a person whose credentials as an outstanding judge were well established, but I was terribly depressed by the awareness of my own limitations in undertaking such an august assignment. I had read Geetanjali decades back. I obtained its text from someone, and I read the whole of it loudly so that in the rhythm of the sound my whole physical and spiritual selves could get saturated.. Whatever ideas got conserved in my mind, I expressed in my key-note address. The Hitavada gave a comprehensive account of what I said. It reported:
“Geetanjali’ portrays every aspect of life – political, economic and scientific – and Gurudev Tagore’s influence on the West proved that even in the post-First World War period, spiritual values did exist, opined Mr.S.K.Jha, Commissioner of Income Tax here this evening……..Quoting relevant examples, Mr.Jha said ‘Geetanjali’ gives ‘supreme delight’ which could be experienced and comprehended on its own logic. Tagore was never interested in geometrical forms, he said adding that the great poet “comprehended in profound flash”…….’Geetanjali radiates light. However, not all Westerners could enjoy ‘Geetanjali’…….Referring to the songs in Geetanjali, Mr.Jha said that the force of terror is also to be loved in case of sorrow and greatest ever tragedies. He also gave an example from ‘Geeta’ in which Lord Krishna taught to get over the fear of mind and added that the 35th song in ‘Geetanjali’. ‘Where the mind is without fear’ is the finest preamble to this fact……”Tagore laid great emphasis on mind which is free from fear and where the head is held high”, he said and added even the Constitution of India reflects the same thing…..Mr.Jha further said that Tagore strove throughout his life to promote a feeling of International brotherhood. He (Tagore) wanted modern scientific approach to human management. Mr.Jha said adding that ‘Geetanjali’ was not a mere collection of devotional poems but explores his self.”
Shri .B.L.Majumdar commented the following in his letter addressed to the Editor of the Hitavada published on December 18, 1992:
“Sir, –Inaugurated by Dr.P.L.Bhandarkar, the VC, the ‘Centre for Literary Interaction and Creativity’ took off to a flying start when on its Tagore Day function in the Convocation Hall, Mr.S.K.Jha, the chief guest gave a brilliant talk on the universal appeal of the cosmic views of the Upanishads, so effortlessly blended by Tagore in the timeless poems of “Geetanjali”. As one goes through these poems again and again, Tagore appears like a mystic bard unfolding his soul in search of perfection, truth and ultimate spiritual emancipation with total submission to that eternal source of cosmic energy. Mr.Jha certainly illuminated the audience on this aspect with a candid, refreshing approach.”
In my considered view, for appreciating Tagore one must have certain spiritual attainments. Unless someone has right sensibility the beauty of Tagore’s works is bound to be missed.
[Written at Nagpur while posted as the Commissioner of Income-tax in 1991]