Quotations of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore, also known by the sobriquet Gurudev, was born in Calcutta, India into a wealthy Brahmin family. He was a Bengali poet, Brahmo Samaj philosopher, visual artist, playwright, novelist, and composer whose works reshaped Bengali literature and music in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A cultural icon of Bengal and India, he became Asia's first Nobel laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's works included Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World). His verse, short stories, and novels - many defined by rhythmic lyricism, colloquial language, meditative naturalism, and philosophical contemplation - received worldwide acclaim. Tagore was also a cultural reformer and polymath who modernised Bangla art by rejecting strictures binding it to classical Indian forms. Two songs from his rabindrasangeet canon are now the national anthems of Bangladesh and India: the Amar Shonar Bangla and the Jana Gana Mana. He was born on 7 May 1861 in Kolkata, India and Died on 7 August 1941 in Kolkata, India.

  1. You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
  2. I slept and dreamt that life was Joy. I woke and saw that life was Duty. I acted, and behold, Duty was Joy.
  3. Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.
  4. The emancipation of our physical nature is in attaining health, of our social being in attaining goodness, and of our self in attaining love.
  5. Do not say, “It is morning,” and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name.
  6. Your idol is shattered in the dust to prove that God’s dust is greater than your idol.
  7. According to the true Indian view, our consciousness of the world, merely as the sum total of things that exist, and as governed by laws, is imperfect. But it is perfect when our consciousness realizes all things as spiritually one with it, and therefore capable of giving us joy. For us the highest purpose of this world is not merely living in it, knowing it and making use of it, but realizing our own selves in it through expansion of sympathy; not alienating ourselves from it and dominating it, but comprehending and uniting it with ourselves in perfect union.
  8. I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door - or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.
  9. We live in the world when we love it.
  10. We gain freedom when we have paid the full price.
  11. Children are living beings - more living than grown-up people who have built shells of habit around themselves. Therefore it is absolutely necessary for their mental health and development that they should not have mere schools for their lessons, but a world whose guiding spirit is personal love.
  12. Objects of knowledge maintain an infinite distance from us who are the knowers. For knowledge is not union. Therefore the further world of freedom awaits us there where we reach truth, not through feeling it by senses or knowing it by reason, but through union of perfect sympathy.
  13. It is very simple to be happy, but it is very difficult to be simple.
  14. If you shut the door to all errors, truth will be shut out.
  15. Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.
  16. Asks the Possible of the Impossible, “Where is your dwelling-place?” “In the dreams of the Impotent,” comes the answer.
  17. Life is perpetually creative because it contains in itself that surplus which ever overflows the boundaries of the immediate time and space, restlessly pursuing its adventure of expression in the varied forms of self-realization.
  18. Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony which is in the universal being; truth the perfect comprehension of the universal mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experience, through our illumined consciousness - how, otherwise, can we know truth?
  19. We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.
  20. There are two kinds of adventurers; those who go truly hoping to find adventure and those who go secretly hoping they won’t.
  21. In love all the contradiction of existence merge themselves and are lost. Only in love are unity and duality not at variance. Love must be one and two at the same time. Only love is motion and rest in one. Our heart ever changes its place till it finds love, and then it has its rest. Bondage and liberation are not antagonistic in love. For love is most free and at the same time most bound.


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