From Beauty to Machine

Excerpts from Tagore’s Letters & Diaries.
On board ss Tosamaru, on way to Japan – 1916 May

Once upon a time man said – Luxmi (Goddess of Wealth, also implies beauty) lives in trade. At that time the image of Luxmi comprised not merely her wealth, but beauty too. The reason is, at that time trade was not isolated from humanity. There was a harmony of mind of the weaver with his loom, the blacksmith’s with his hammer or any workman’s for that matter with his art. That is why, through trade man could ornate his heart to divulge it beautifully. Else, Luxmi would not get her seat on the lotus.
When machine became the medium of trade, it lost its beauty.
Comparison of old Venice with modern Manchester holds out this difference. In the beauty and wealth of Venice man has upheld himself in all respects. At Manchester man has dwarfed himself on the contrary to highlight his machine. That is why, wherever this machine based trade has gone it is spreading the epidemic of its own blight of ugliness, cruelty and greed around the world. So this endless rivalry and slaughter; so its untruth is staining the soil of this earth, muddying it with bloodshed.

Originally published in the Bulletin (May 2010) of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.
Translation by the author.

References and Source
The January-June 2003 issue of “Shrayan” a compilation from Tagore’s letters and diaries. by the editor of the magazine Mr. Pathik Basu.

More By  :  Rajat Das Gupta

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