Mystical Devotion

Rabindranath Tagore was a follower of Brahmo Samaj, the monotheistic reformist movement of Hinduism established by Raja Ram Mohan Roy during the Bengal renaissance of the 19th century. Tagore’s poetry is full of powerful mystical imagery, and this is mostly true in the body of work that he categorised under the title Puja. In these poems, most often of two to three stanzas, he bares his soul before the Almighty and charts his course on the choppy seas of this world. He stands before us, undisturbed in the deep inner peace of his soul, in his eternal quest for the Absolute.

Two of his Puja songs illustrate the point. In his poem, the Fiery Philosophers’ Stone, he beseeches the Almighty to touch his soul with the magic stone, to sanctify it, with the blessing of fire. ‘O Lord, hold me aloft, and set me alight as the lamp in your temple. And let that flame light my song always,’ he says.

In another poem, the poet says, O Lord, that night when my door broke down in the thunderstorm, I did not know that You had come to my abode; All went dark, the lamp got blown out; but toward Whom did I raise my hands to the heavens, O Lord. In the darkness I   lay, as if in a trance; how was I   to know that the tempest was your victory ensign. And, when I opened my eyes in the morning, what did I see, but that You were standing; on the vast emptiness that fills my breast.


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