• 20 Jul, 2024

Tagore’s Homage to Sri Aurobindo

Tagore’s Homage to Sri Aurobindo

To mark Sri Aurobindo's 151st birth anniversary this month, we publish Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore's beautiful and inspiring tribute to Maharshi Sri Aurobindo.

Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee!  
O friend, my country’s friend, O voice incarnate, free,  
Of India’s soul! No soft renown doth crown thy lot;  
Nor pelf or careless comfort is for thee; thou’st sought  
No petty bounty, petty dole; the beggar’s bowl  
Thou ne’er hast held aloft. In watchfulness thy soul  
Hast thou e’er held for bondless full perfection’s birth  
For which, all night and day, the god in man on earth  
Doth strive and strain austerely; which in solemn voice  
The poet sings in thund’rous poems; for which rejoice  
Stout hearts to march on perilous paths; before whose flame  
Refulgent, ease bows down its head in humbled shame  
And death forgetteth fear;—that gift supreme  
To thee from Heaven’s own hand, that full-orb’d fadeless dream  
That’s thine, thou’st asked for as thy country’s own desire  
In quenchless hope, in words with truth’s white flame afire,  
In infinite faith, hath God in heaven heard at last  
This prayer of thine? And so, sounds there, in blast on blast,  
His victory-trumpet? And puts he, with love austere,  
In thy right hand, today, the fateful lamp and drear  
Of sorrow, whose light doth pierce the country’s agelong gloom,  
And in the infinite skies doth steadfast shine and loom,  
As doth the Northern star? O Victory and Hail!

Where is the coward who will shed tears today, or wail  
Or quake in fear? And who’ll belittle truth to seek  
His own small safety? Where’s the spineless creature weak  
Who will not in thy pain his strength and courage find?  
O wipe away those tears, O thou of craven mind!  
The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God  
Hath come—where is the king who can with chain or rod  
Chastise him? Chains that were to bind salute his feet  
And prisons greet him as their guest with welcome sweet,  
The pall of gloom that wraps the sun in noontide skies  
In dim eclipse, within a moment slips and flies  
As doth a shadow. Punishment? It ever falls  
On him who is no man, and every day hath feared,  
Abashed, to gaze on truth’s face with a free man’s eye  
And call a wrong a wrong; on him who doth deny  
His manhood shamelessly before his own compeers,

And e’er disowns his God-given rights, impelled by fears  
And greeds; who on his degradation prides himself,  
Who traffics in his country’s shame; whose bread, whose pelf  
Are his own mother’s gore; that coward sits and quails  
In jail without reprieve, outside all human jails.

When I behold thy face, ’mid bondage, pain and wrong  
And black indignities, I hear the soul’s great song  
Of rapture unconfined, the chant the pilgrim sings  
In which exultant hope’s immortal splendour rings,  
Solemn voice and calm, and heart-consoling, grand  
Of imperturbable death, the spirit of Bharat-land,  
O poet, hath placed upon thy face her eyes afire  
With love, and struck vast chords upon her vibrant lyre,—  
Wherein there is no note of sorrow, shame or fear,  
Or penury or want. And so today I hear  
The ocean’s restless roar borne by the stormy wind,  
Th’ impetuous fountain’s dance riotous, swift and blind  
Bursting its rocky cage,—the voice of thunder deep  
Awakening, like a clarion call, the clouds asleep  
Amid this song triumphant, vast, that encircles me,  
Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee!

And then to Him I bow Who in His sport doth make  
New worlds in fiery dissolution’s awful wake,  
From death awakes new life; in danger’s bosom rears  
Prosperity; and sends his devotee in tears,  
’Mid desolation’s thorns, amid his foes to fight  
Alone and empty-handed in the gloom of night;  
In divers tongues, in divers ages speaketh ever  
In mighty deed, in every great endeavour  
And true experience: “Sorrow’s naught, howe’er drear,  
And pain is naught, and harm is naught, and naught all fear;  
The king’s shadow,—punishment is but a breath;  
Where is the tyranny of wrong, and where is death?  
O fool, O coward, raise thy head that’s bound in fear,  
I am, thou art, and everlasting truth is here.

 

The English translation by Kshitish Chandra Sen, was first published in the Sri Aurobindo Mandir Annual, Calcutta in 1944.

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