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Tagore: Death, Thy Servant, is at My Door

Death, thy servant, is at my door. He has crossed the unknown sea and brought thy call to my home.

The night is dark and my heart is fearful---yet I will take up the lamp, open my gates and bow to him my welcome. It is thy messenger who stands at my door.

I will worship him placing at his feet the treasure of my heart.

He will go back with his errand done, leaving a dark shadow on my morning; and in my desolate home only my forlorn self will remain as my last offering to thee.

Death, thy servant, is at my door, should we title it Death, The Coming of Yama or The Gloom of Death Looming It Large Over? Whatever be it, it is a poem of Yama, the Indian concept of Yama, the Messenger of Death sent by the Dharmaraja and death just a pretense under, und the pretext of. In the puppet shows, we to used to hear about Yama; Yama punishing and meting out punishment to. How does he for doing adharma, for committing ‘papa’, for telling a lie so often, for to be sinful and viceful? They used to make us afraid of and still now we think of if there is some consciousness in us.

How does the messenger come to take away the soul? How does it give relief to? How does it take away breaking the bonds of maya? At that , what will it bail out? Can we be Mrityunjaya? Even though we think of, but we cannot. We cannot be immortal. Death is the supreme fear. Is he greatest reality ever. We cannot negate death. If it has to, it will come, just wait for the time.

But Tagore as a poet is of maya and moha. He is fearful and afraid of. He is so engrossed in maya that he does not want to go as is the truth with everybody. He is not willing to go it at all as it appears.

But Yama’s command, how to let it go unwarranted? The black bird has fluttered and it is now time to go.

A death poem, it is not so as the poems by John Donne and Tennyson are, Death, Be Not Proud and Crossing the Bar, as they are more powerful and beautiful than that of Tagore. D.H. Lawrence’s The Ship of Death, Shadows and others are important o be quoted in his context.

Tagore’s poem is like The Terror of Death by Keats. Tagore is but a lover and a lover cannot dispel it his infatuation for Radha. The house is the focal point of attraction, samsara and the soul hesitates in going out.

The night is dark and lonely and he has to go. The soul will wail and weep on seeing the stranger, the messenger of God.

But he will not hesitate and be frightened. The poet will try to welcome him in to be with him, leaving it all. None can check the advancing steps of death. The picture is that of a packing things, leaving bag and baggage. But that too is not.

The last lines of the poem remind us of the lines from Macbeth, Man is but a walking shadow.

The Hindu view of Yama is so sacrosanct and so frightening. Here we interpret in terms of the crossing of the Vaitarini river, offering of pinda-dana, asthi-kalasha immersion, shraddha and so on. We take for Death, as Kaal, Mahakal. Sometimes we talk of the Death-conquering Mantra, though it may relieve and comfort for momentarily, but the Buddha’s is the last word, this samsara so much of sukkha and dukkha. Death will come to it all. Death is the greatest reality.

Death is just like a cable news, a telegram expressive of the condolences. Death is like a message received through a red-ink written death news and that too through a post-card ear-torn for, telling of something as inauspicious. Sometimes the black bird ruffling it during the  midnight darkness tells of the death imagery, the transmigration of the fugitive soul. Those who go away, do they return? The answer is in the negative. Food to the bereaved soul given at some lonely place sis just for the jackals and crows to eat. The image of death, the transmigrating soul is like that of a bird flown away.

Death may b the cartman coming to take the soul away. Why not to take it as a journey? It is also but a reunion. It is but a different type of Jerome K. Jerome’s Packing so mystical and mythical.

But Milton’s lines give us consolation to read that thousands are at His work executing His Command day and night. God does not need man’s labor. The best way is to work and wait with patience.

How the record book of the Record Keeper who is but Dharmaraja, the King of Religion, Piety and Goodness, taking a note of all that and calculating it thereafter? Yama the Dark Figure if he stands before, what message does he wire around? It is but a transmission of fear. The creature shudders at in thinking of death. But here the poet is very submissive and lowly feeling so much desolate and sultry. This is not the case with him. Everybody will hesitate on seeing him standing near or seeing it when the death call comes to.

The poet will receive the guest in full hospitality. Opening the door of the house, he will welcome him.


More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey

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