As the eightieth year I enter
Of my life, it is my wonder –
The silent millions of stars –
Their ceaseless showers
Rush in bewildering speed
The infinite space, aimlessly to feed.
Within that boundless dark
My existence abruptly did spark
Amidst the eternal bonfire
In the chain of centuries never to tire.
In that earth I did appear, where
At the seabed from the swamps mere
On the vast lap of the inanimate
Life in slimes did vibrate
In its myriad branches to flower
To divulge its profound wonder.
The dusk of inchoate existence held firm
A stupor for ages on the animaldom;
On whose meditation
At countless days’ and nights’ completion
Appeared in slow pace
Man in life’s stage with his grace?
Lamps lit up there one by one
Newer significance to earn;
Amidst vast illumination
Man observes his future in brilliant revelation.
On this earth’s stage
To evince from age to age
Act by act, Man’s wisdom
There I too did come
As that drama’s performer
Along with many a other.
I too had my role
That curtain to up roll;
That is my marvel utmost-
Mother Earth that does host
The heavenly soul;
For what goal-
In her sky, light, air,
Soil, seas and mounts bear
What deep resolve
Around the Sun to revolve?
Stitched in that mysterious string
On this Earth I did spring
Eighty years ago,
A few more to go.
Original in Bengali - Poem No: 5 of the book Janmadine (On My Birthday) written in April 1940, shortly before the Poet’s death in 1941
The two visions of the Poet that may be noted in this poem are, the cosmic origin of man’s existence and his progress for a supreme goal as part of an international community, both being the intent of the Creator and both of which we miss in our mundane life. He never lost sight of this panorama even amidst his severe ailments for quite long before his demise when he wrote this poem. He reveals this broadness of vision in his book Viswa Bharati (=World University) while explaining his objective of education in his University (chapter 6 of the book) as follows –
“ I know, to work up such an attitude in our students’ mind is a great object. That man has been born in a vast family in this earth with such a great heritage – orientation toward this perception should be firm. In these miserable days of our country, object of education to many is a job. This deprives us of the treasures of the world, stifling the link of Anandam (=Heavenly joy) with mankind as a whole. But man must know where is his right. Just as he has to harmonize his mind with nature, so he should for a union with the entire mankind.
……that is why in their search for knowledge humans are rushing to the North Pole, to the interior of Africa accepting unbearable pain and even risking life. In search of work, wisdom and idea, they have taken rugged paths. They have known ‘Bhumeba Sukham’ [i.e. Man’s happiness lies on the paths of pain- Upanishad (ancient Indian scripture in Sanskrit language)]. We, in our country, have forgotten this and so we have crippled our soul within our narrow objectives for a limited living.
While establishing this University, at the outset I thought of liberating our students from their narrow outlook and cowardice. The Ganges, that has originated at the mountain top, flows through various lands and its water may be put to small and big purposes. Similarly, the knowledge that springs from the heights of human perceptions, directed towards the infinite along various directions perennially, should not be confined within narrow limits of our personal interests; but we should take dip in it for our ablution where it is boundless in its universal dimension.
‘sa tapohatapyata sa tapostapta idam sarbamasrijita yadidam kincha’ i.e. ‘the Creator is on meditation to create everything’ (Upanishad). His meditation is inherent in every atom and molecule and so there is continuous friction, rush of energy and ceaseless orbiting among those. Man’s meditation too flows along with the Creator’s and he is not a mere onlooker. Because, Man is also a creator and his main mission is creation. That he piles up is not his best revelation, which is in his sacrifice and there is his true self. That is why God’s universal seat of meditation is also his. Man is a sage which he is to appreciate and must perceive as truth all the dedications of everybody of every time and of every country.”