Tagore-Gandhi: Two journeys that forged a common path

Historian Rudranghu Mukherjee’s new book on the unique friendship of Gurudev and Mahatma revisits their vision of a more tolerant nation

AM | December 9, 2021


#Mahatma Gandhi   #Rabindranath Tagore   #freedom struggle   #history   #books   #ideas  
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)
(Illustration: Ashish Asthana)

Tagore & Gandhi: Walking Alone, Walking Together
By Rudrangshu Mukherjee
Aleph, 186 pages, Rs 699

Two men born in the 1860s, more than anybody else, gave us an idea of India, an idea of what this country should become. Rabindranath Tagore and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Each an extraordinarily noble mind animated by a deep concern for masses, both exhorting us in these distressing times to rekindle a vision of a more harmonious coexistence. Their friendship was an unparalleled phenomenon, nearly miraculous for the modern India.

It must have been an auspicious constellation under which they met for the first time – soon after Gandhi’s return to India in 1915. The affection and respect was spontaneous and mutual. Though their dreams and sensitivities were alike, the paths they’d forge were slightly different. Gandhi, for example, would call for a boycott of foreign cloth in a campaign that had elements of violence in it. Tagore was unhappy watching bonfires of foreign clothes.

Rudrangshu Mukherjee, in this excellent work, narrates the story of this matchless bonding that was a high point of India’s freedom struggle. Through their correspondence and writings, the book explores the evolution of their relationship and their ideas in their historical context.

What is the most beautiful in their friendship is that they discussed threadbare their differences in a model of public debate, appreciating each other’s motives, respecting each other’s views, without a hit of acrimony or self-righteousness. Their correspondence, indeed, enriches the possibilities of debate itself.

What could be behind their differences? As Mukherjee argues here, the Gurudev was animated by a poet’s heart, a heightened sensitivity, whereas the Mahatma was leading a mass movement against a powerful colonial empire. Yet, in the higher plane of their minds there was a harmony inexpressible in words. “I have found no real conflict between us. I started with a disposition to detect a conflict between Gurudev and myself but ended with the glorious discovery that there was none,” Gandhi said in Santiniketan in 1945.

Their one and the same fervent hope was to see an India free from fear, bigotry and hatred. Revisiting their journeys – when they walked alone and when they walked together – is as timely as necessary today.

Comments

 

Other News

‘World’s biggest festival of democracy’ begins

The much-awaited General Elections of 2024, billed as the world’s biggest festival of democracy, began on Friday with Phase 1 of polling in 102 Parliamentary Constituencies (the highest among all seven phases) in 21 States/ UTs and 92 Assembly Constituencies in the State Assembly Elections in Arunach

A sustainability warrior’s heartfelt stories of life’s fleeting moments

Fit In, Stand Out, Walk: Stories from a Pushed Away Hill By Shailini Sheth Amin Notion Press, Rs 399

What EU’s AI Act means for the world

The recent European Union (EU) policy on artificial intelligence (AI) will be a game-changer and likely to become the de-facto standard not only for the conduct of businesses but also for the way consumers think about AI tools. Governments across the globe have been grappling with the rapid rise of AI tool

Indian Railways celebrates 171 years of its pioneering journey

The Indian Railways is celebrating 171 glorious years of its existence. Going back in time, the first train in India (and Asia) ran between Mumbai and Thane on April 16, 1853. It was flagged off from Boribunder (where CSMT stands today). As the years passed, the Great Indian Peninsula Railway which ran the

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: How to connect businesses with people

7 Chakras of Management: Wisdom from Indic Scriptures By Ashutosh Garg Rupa Publications, 282 pages, Rs 595

ECI walks extra mile to reach out to elderly, PwD voters

In a path-breaking initiative, the Election Commission of India (ECI), for the first time in a Lok Sabha Election, has provided the facility of home voting for the elderly and Persons with Disabilities in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Voters above 85 years of age and Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) with 4

Visionary Talk: Amitabh Gupta, Pune Police Commissioner with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook Twitter Google Plus Linkedin Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter