Song 36 from Gitanjali


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this slideshow was created basically to support the video lesson on tagore's song 36 from gitanjali.
the lesson was telecast on mana tv for graduate students in andhra pradesh, india.
the presentation includes a very short introduction to the poet and a detailed explanation of the poem.

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  • Today, we are going to a take a detailed look at Song 36 from Gitanjali written by Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Before we take a look at the poem, do you know who is a theist, who is an atheist, who is a skeptic and who is an agnostic? The four pictures give you some clues and you may try matching the words with the pictures. A theist is one who believes in the existence of a god or a person who has religious faith; an atheist is someone who denies the existence of god; a skeptic is someone who has lots of questions and doubts on religious matters; and an agnostic believes that it is impossible to know whether there is god.
  • Do you know who said, “strength is life, weakness is death”? Swamy Vivekananda said “This is a great fact: strength is life; weakness is death. Strength is felicity, life eternal, immortal; weakness is constant strain and misery : weakness is death” while speaking about Work and its Secrets in 1900.
  • What do we generally pray for? Not all of us pray for the same things. While the commonest prayers of people are for material wealth, physical comforts, well-being and power, nobler people treat god as their friend and are happy merely sharing their sorrows and joys with Him.
  • Do we generally pray for the fulfillment of our own wishes or those of others? Small people pray for themselves, but great people pray for the universal good, for the welfare of the whole world, such as the famous Indian prayer ‘lokah samasta sukhinobhavantu, sarve jana sukhinobhavantu, sarva jeeva janthu sukhinobhavantu”
  • Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861 and lived a full eighty years during which he used almost every literary form and every genre to pour out his heart. He wrote not only poems and songs but also plays that brought him global fame, he wrote countless stories, novels and essays as well. His Ghare Baire – The Home and the World – was beautifully transformed into a film by Satyajit Ray. Sacrifice and Post Office are two of his best dramas. He wrote his first short story Bhikharini – The Beggar Woman – when he was just sixteen.
  • Tagore wrote not only in his mother tongue Bangla but in English as well. A large number of his original Bangla works he translated himself into English. Besides being a great literary artiste, Tagore was a musician and painter too. Tagore’s songs – Rabindrasangeet – have evolved into a distinctive school of music. He founded Visva Bharati which today is a central university. "The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence." - Tagore Healthy most of his life, Tagore became ill in January 1941. During his illness he reflected on the gift of life and pondered whether he had used his talents as effectively as possible: “How little I know of this mighty world! Myriad deeds of men, cities, countries....have remained beyond my awareness. Great is life in this wide Earth and small the corner where my life dwells.” Tagore died on August 7, 1941 at the age of 80.
  • Rabindranath Tagore’s songs were chosen as national anthems of both India and Bangladesh. The national anthem of Sri Lanka also is written by a student of Visva Bharati.
  • Here are the Bangla and English versions of our national anthem. Take a quick look at them. The three underlined words are often mispronounced.
  • Gitanjali (git = song and anjali = offereing) is a compilation of several prayers – 103 songs of offering - that the poet has offered at the feet of the divine giver of inspiration. Every single utterance of the poet is soaked in gratitude felt towards that Supreme Being. The very fact that God has appointed him to accomplish a poet’s task is elevating. Even a lay reader with no feel for poetry will be able to recognize how these verses, though framed in the simplest of vocabulary, manage to articulate thoughts and feelings of the highest order.
  • With his emerging fame as a writer, Tagore travelled widely, visiting more than 30 countries on five continents. The travels brought Tagore into contact and conversations with many notable contemporaries including, Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, Ezra Pound and the Irish Poet William Butler Yeats, who would later write the preface to an English version of Gitanjali . By the end of the 1930s Tagore had become world renowned. In 1940, the University of Oxford conferred upon him an honorary doctorate citing his innovation in education at Visva-Bharati University as well as his writing. Tagore was presented the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse in the English version of his Gitanjali. He became the first non-European and the only Indian to earn this coveted prize. "The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.“ - Tagore
  • Tagore gave a distinct spiritual, other-worldly feel to the verses in Gitanjali. Going through them, anyone can get transported into a ‘poetic heaven’. The songs in Gitanjali “depict a poetic world which can only be dreamt of by most of us.” – Yeats Each song in Tagore’s Gitanjali is a moving, heart-felt personal experience of god by the poet. Gitanjali has been translated into almost all the major languages of the world and is often called the greatest book of a great writer. The songs are very much like the psalms in the Bible in their rhythms and themes. "Not hammer-strokes, but dance of the water, sings the pebbles into perfection." - Tagore
  • Here are some interesting things that W B Yeats said about Rabindranath Tagore and his works. I am particularly fond of the second statement – to read one line of his is to forget all the troubles of the world. So transforming and ennobling are the songs of Tagore. Each song is original, spontaneous and exuberant with passion.
  • Before we go on to Song 36, let us take a quick look at Song 35 of Gitanjali, one of the most popular of Tagore’s poems. Let’s watch this one minute recital on youtube. This is the song that is often found painted on the walls of shcools, colleges, universities, workplaces and everywhere.
  • Let us now come to the main part of my presentation today. Let’s read and appreciate the poem prescribed for detailed study in your text book. Song 36 from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Please listen to me while I read the entire song and try to understand what the poem is about. What is the central idea of this song? First reading. You are right, it is a passionate prayer by Tagore to god, the lord. The first line says it all. I will now read the poem a second time and all of you may read it aloud along with me. Count the number of things that Tagore is praying for in the song. Second reading. If you have counted seven different items in the prayer, you are right. There are in all seven things – including the two in the fourth stanza – give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might. Let us now see each one of these prayers in detail by reading the poem line by line.
  • We are going to read the first part of the prayer now. But before that what image do you think the line – strike, strike at the root – suggest? The poet is making a reference to poverty in these lines. What kind of poverty is that? Answer these questions after you have read the lines again.
  • to strike = to hit hard; penury = poverty; the root = the essential part of something, the origin; The root of penury in my heart = lack of spiritual strength. Tagore’s first prayer is for spiritual strength. He says: My Lord, strike at my weakness, remove all timidity, diffidence and hesitation from my heart and strengthen my faith, my courage, my spiritual strength.
  • Here is the next question. In the next two lines of the song, the poet prays for strength to bear his joys and sorrows. How does he want to bear them? Take a look at the text now and answer the question.
  • lightly = gently; lightly to bear = to endure without complaining The poet prays to god to give him the ability to bear his joys and sorrows without complaining, with equanimity, with a calm composure.
  • In the next two lines of the poem, the poet is praying for love. What kind of love is Tagore praying for? Let us now read the next lines of the poem to find out the answer.
  • fruitful = successful; fruitful in service = to serve others that they may be benefited greatly; Tagore, in these lines, is praying for an ability to serve successfully. He recognizes that service to man is service to god and he prays for an uncompromising resolve to serve his fellowmen. Service begins with love and is successful when given to the right people at the right time. "We live in the world when we love it.“ - Tagore "I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy." - Tagore
  • The next question before we move on to the next lines: Tagore is praying for strength to refrain from doing two things. What are they? Read the lines now and answer.
  • to disown = to ignore; to bend my knees = to give up and surrender; insolent might = the rude behavior of the powerful people Tagore prays for strength to never disregard or ignore the needs of the poor. He wants the strength to serve them. He further prays for strength to never surrender before the rude might of powerful people. He prays for the kind of strength that Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa had to stand firm and strong without ever yielding to any form of tyranny or hardship. Tagore renounced knighthood in 1919 as a protest against the Massacre of Amritsar, in which British troops killed nearly 400 Indian demonstrators.
  • Tagore’s next prayer is to raise his mind. How high does he want it raised?
  • daily trifles = unimportant but irritating routine events Tagore prays to god to give him strength not to be caught up in the petty routines of life. His prayer is to rise above such trivialities of mundane life and be beyond them. Small minds discuss people Average minds discuss events Great minds discuss ideas – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Here is the last question: The poet does not want to surrender before insolent might, but he certainly desires to surrender to someone. Who is that?
  • to surrender = to give in, to submit Rabindranath Tagore prays to god for strength to surrender his strength to the will of god. This sounds a little self contradiction. Such statements are called paradoxes. (I know that I know nothing). Expresssions such as ‘the sound of silence’ are called oxymorons.
  • Rabindranath Tagore did not suggest any titles to the poems he compiled in the English version of Gitanjali. However, various titles have been suggested by different people to the poems. These are some titles that were suggested to the prayer song that we have just looked at. Suggest a title of your own for the song.
  • It might help you to read the poem once again to yourself silently to suggest an apt title.
  • When Indians began resisting British rule, Tagore joined the National movement. When members began to engage in violence, Tagore withdrew his membership. For the rest of his life he would denounce aggressive nationalism and patriotism. Tagore also supported Gandhi’s freedom struggle. In fact, it was Tagore who gave Gandhi the title “Mahatma,” meaning “great soul.” In a speech honoring Gandhi, Tagore said: “So disintegrated and demoralized were our people that many wondered if India could ever rise again by the genius of her own people, until there came on the scene a truly great soul, a great leader of men, in line with the tradition of the greatest sages of old, whom we are today assembled to honor — Mahatma Gandhi. Tagore was especially drawn to Gandhi’s emphasis on ahimsa or non-violence: for not departing from the standard of universal morality and for showing the way how, without wholesale massacre, freedom may be won. Tagore put his literary talents on the side of those seeking independence. He wrote a number of patriotic poems, which were turned into songs, helping mobilize an entire generation of Indians. Tagore became widely recognized as India’s national poet.
  • Song 36 from Gitanjali

    1. 1. m n RAJU
    2. 2. m n RAJU Theist Atheist Skeptic Agnostic
    3. 3. m n RAJU Who said: “ Strength is life, weakness is death”
    4. 4. m n RAJU What do we generally pray for? “ We do not always pray for something, sometimes we just praise God and sometimes we merely share our sorrows and joys with Him.”
    5. 5. m n RAJU Do we generally pray for the fulfillment of our own wishes or those of others? Great People
    6. 6. m n RAJU Rabindranath Tagore 1861 - 1941 <ul><li>Wrote songs, stories, poems, novels, essays, dramas . . </li></ul>
    7. 7. m n RAJU Rabindranath Tagore 1861 - 1941 <ul><li>Wrote in Bangla & English </li></ul><ul><li>Also musician, painter </li></ul><ul><li>Founded Visva-Bharati </li></ul><ul><li>Known as Gurudev </li></ul>
    8. 8. m n RAJU Rabindranath Tagore The only litterateur who wrote national anthems of two countries: Jana Gana Mana – India Amar Shonar Bangla - Bangladesh
    9. 9. Jana-gana-mana-adhinayaka, jaya he Bharata-bhagya-vidhata. Punjab-Sindh-Gujarat-Maratha Dravida- Utkala -Banga Vindhya-Himachala-Yamuna-Ganga Uchchala - Jaladhi -taranga. Tava shubha name jage, Tava shubha asisa mage, Gahe tava jaya gatha, Jana-gana-mangala-dayaka jaya he Bharata-bhagya-vidhata. Jaya he, jaya he, jaya he, Jaya jaya jaya, jaya he! Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people, Dispenser of India's destiny. Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind, Gujarat and Maratha, Of the Dravida and Orissa and Bengal; It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas, mingles in the music of Jamuna and Ganges and is chanted by the waves of the Indian Sea. They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise. The saving of all people waits in thy hand, Thou dispenser of India's destiny. Victory, victory, victory to thee. m n RAJU
    10. 10. m n RAJU Gitanjali (1910)
    11. 11. The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913 m n RAJU &quot;because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse&quot; the first non-European the only Indian
    12. 12. m n RAJU Gitanjali <ul><li>Tagore’s experience of god </li></ul><ul><li>Moving, heart-felt prose poems </li></ul><ul><li>Greatest book of a great writer </li></ul><ul><li>Widely translated </li></ul><ul><li>Like the psalms in Old Testament </li></ul>
    13. 13. Yeats on Tagore <ul><li>stirred my blood as nothing has for years </li></ul><ul><li>to read one line of his is to forget all the troubles of the world </li></ul><ul><li>so abundant, so spontaneous, so daring in his passion, so full of surprise </li></ul><ul><li>fusion of art and religion </li></ul>m n RAJU
    14. 14. 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. Song 35 m n RAJU
    15. 15. m n RAJU Song 36
    16. 16. This is my prayer to thee, my lord - strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart. Give me the strength Lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might. Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles. And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. m n RAJU Song 36
    17. 17. What image does the line - strike, strike at the root - suggest? m n RAJU In the line – penury in my heart – what kind of poverty does Tagore refer to? ?
    18. 18. This is my prayer to thee, my lord – strike, strike at the root of in my heart. m n RAJU penury
    19. 19. How does the poet want to bear his joys and sorrows? m n RAJU ?
    20. 20. Give me the strength Lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. m n RAJU
    21. 21. What kind of love is the poet praying for? m n RAJU ?
    22. 22. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. m n RAJU
    23. 23. What two things does the poet not wish to do? m n RAJU ?
    24. 24. Give me the strength never or before m n RAJU insolent might. to disown the poor bend my knees
    25. 25. How high does Tagore want his mind to be raised? m n RAJU ?
    26. 26. Give me the strength to raise my mind high above m n RAJU daily trifles.
    27. 27. m n RAJU To whom does the poet want to surrender his strength? ?
    28. 28. And give me the strength my strength to thy will with love. m n RAJU to surrender
    29. 29. Song 36 – Some Titles This is My Prayer to Thee Prayer for Strength Give Me Strength A Poet’s Prayer Suggest your title for the song. m n RAJU
    30. 30. This is my prayer to thee, my lord - strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart. Give me the strength Lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might. Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles. And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love. m n RAJU
    31. 31. <ul><li>Tagore’s song in his own voice </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>m n RAJU
    32. 32. Tagore drew spiritual inspiration by spending time in nature, observing it carefully, a ritual rooted since his childhood. “ We had a small garden beside our house; it was a fairyland to me, where miracles of beauty were of everyday occurrence,” he recalled. “ Every morning at an early hour I would run out from my bed to greet the first pink flush of dawn through the trembling leaves of the coconut trees which stood in a line along the garden boundary. The dewdrops glistened as the grass caught the first tremor of the morning breeze. The sky seemed to bring a personal companionship, and my whole body drank in the light and peace of those silent hours. I was anxious never to miss a single morning, because each one was more precious to me than gold to the miser. I had been blessed with that sense of wonder.” m n RAJU
    33. 33. m n RAJU