Rabindranath Tagore is one of the best Indian writers. The poem “Where the mind is without fear” was written during the time when India was struggling to free itself from British rule. In this poem, he expresses his love for his country and prays to the Almighty for his well-being. The poem was written in one sentence. Metaphor and personification have been used in different parts of the poem.
About The Poet: Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941) was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata). He was not only a writer, but also a painter, a philosopher, and a composer. The poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear…’ has been taken from his Nobel-winning collection of poems ‘Gitanjali’, a profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse. It was originally written in Bengali and subsequently translated into English by Rabindranath Tagore himself. In this poem, the noble laureate beautifully pours out his overwhelmed heart in his much-praised literary work “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” in which he exhibits his vision of a hassle-free nation by bestowing his heartfelt reliance on the master of the Universe. From a feminist point of view, this poem is appreciated as an inspiration for the woman race to improve their social status and economic status. Women of India need to come out of their narrow domestic walls by increased means of education and social justice. This thought-provoking poem also conveys the idea of eliminating the dreary desert sand of dead habits like Sati System, Dowry, and Child Marriage, etc from our Indian Culture to uplift our Indian Women. Our Women shell actively support and participate in the nationalist movement and secure eminent positions and offices in administration and public life in free India. This research article aims at stimulating the country to raise the voice for the freedom of women. It channelizes the empowerment of women by directing their efforts towards perfection.
About the poem: Where the Mind is Without Fear’ is one of his well-known poems of Rabindranath Tagore. It was initially written in Bengali, under the title ‘Prarthana’, which means supplication. This poem appeared in the volume called ‘Naibedya’ in 1901. Tagore composed this poem when India was under the grasp of British reign. He composed this poem to energize the countrymen, to ingrain heroic qualities and morale in their souls and brains.
The poet mourns the pitiful plight of Indians and in a manner reveals the people’s wretched state of being now downtrodden. They were in the clutches of cruel British rule. Tagore pours out his dream of the features of a splendid country That is his utopia in a manner. He dwells on the theme of spiritual liberty, freedom of mind, expression, beliefs, methods and thought, as well as political freedom. He wants to put forth uselessness of blind faith and superstition and heavily comment on the role of logical reasoning in our country’s prosperity.
In this poem published in days of pre-independence, the poet skillfully writes about happy heaven where all people of his country will be free from all sorts of bias and prejudice and not fragmented by narrow walls. He sketches a moving picture of the nation. He wants India to be a nation in the fold of brotherhood, a nation without fear of oppression and without apprehension. The poem reflects the utmost faith of the poet in God to whom he pleads to guide his countrymen.
Summary of Where the Mind is Without Fear
The poem, ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear…’, has been written by the poet in the form of a prayer to God for the true freedom of his country. The poet wishes for his country to be free from the oppressive rule of the colonizers. Once the country is free, everybody would live fearlessly and have confidence in themselves. The poet visualises a nation where knowledge is accessible to one and all since knowledge and education alone will lead the people from darkness to light. The poet wishes for a nation where people are not divided based on caste, colour, creed, class, etc. The people of such a nation would be truthful and would speak from the depth of their hearts. In such a country, the people would give their best and work hard, which would ultimately make them achieve their goal of perfection. It is the dream of the poet that he wants his countrymen to have the power of reason and not to give in to age-old superstitious beliefs. He prays to God to help his countrymen progress so that they become individuals who are logical, progressive and have a broad-minded outlook. He requests God to guide his countrymen into the heaven of freedom, where all that he has prayed for comes true. Tagore thus sketches out the ideal form of freedom and not merely political freedom that he desires for his country. He aspires to bring about an awakening in a country that is enslaved both, politically and intellectually.
Appreciation of the poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’
The poem, ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’, has been written by Rabindranath Tagore. There is no fixed rhyme scheme in the poem as it is written in a free verse format. The figures of speech used in the poem are Apostrophe, Consonance, Metaphor, Personification and Synecdoche. An example of Alliteration from the poem is “Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit” as the sound of the letter ‘d’ is repeated for poetic effect. The central idea of the poem is about the poet’s vision of freedom for his country. He desires and prays for an overall awakening of the people of the nation and not just for political freedom. This poem is not only a prayer to the Almighty but also a message to the countrymen to awaken from the bondages of colonial rule.
Lines 1-2: In these lines, the poet prays to God that the people of his country should not fall down in dread and fear. They should be free from persecution and compulsion. Their heads ought to be always held high. He desires his countrymen to be valiant and have a feeling of pride and self-poise. They ought not to be plagued by any sort of mistreatment and should be resolved in their quest for a goal. In the second line, the artist longs for a country where knowledge is available to one and all. Just the light of knowledge can obliterate the haziness of darkness. Thus, he craves everybody to be taught independent of class barriers. Lesson instructed should have otherworldly significance and should go for all-round development of the student’s personality.
Lines 3-4: Prejudice, discrimination separate people. They grow the seed of enmity. The poet wants that there should not exist any type of diﬀerence among people on the basis of caste, creed, language, sex, religion, and colour and gender. Biases and superstitions are the narrow dividers that partition us into groups and parties, thus, breaking our solidarity and making us frail and delicate.
Lines 5-6: Tagore wants the people of his country to be frank and honest. Their words should surely come out of their hearts. Their words are supposed to be distinct and clear. The poet asks everyone to work hard to achieve their end objective without fatigue. His peasants should extend their arms tirelessly towards perfection. They should work hard until perfection is achieved. Personification has been used in the sixth line. ‘ Tireless striving’ has been personified as a human being, stretching his arms to achieve perfection.
Lines 7-8: The poet expects his countrymen to be reasonable and logical in their thinking. Blind superstitions and traditional conventions should not dictate them. He draws an analogy between “reason” and “clear stream,” comparing “dead habits” with a “dreary desert.” The reason in the sand of dead habits should not lose its way.
Lines 9-11: The compatriots should have a dynamic approach and support new thoughts and ideas. Their brains ought to be driven forward by the contemporary new goals. In the last line, the writer calls to Almighty as ‘Father’ and prays him to let his nation wake up to such a heavenly homestead of liberty where there is brilliance, brightness, and conﬁdence all around.
The poem is a lovely lyric, a patriotic song, and a dream of nobility. The theme is suggested by the opening line. It rouses the reader’s curiosity to learn about the place like heaven on earth where the mind is without fear. Is there any place on the earth where ideal civilization exists? That’s not the question, because the poet has his ideal dream for his nation. He prays for its fulfilment. He wants his countrymen to be free from outmoded customs and superstitious beliefs. According to the poet, true freedom lies in liberty from narrow considerations of caste, colour, and creed like factors. 3⁄4 cynics discover the poem unrealistic and unworkable.
We can not expect the world to be full of virtuous people who are always telling the truth and leading an honest life. But an ideal must always be high enough to exceed the grip of its pursuer. Herein lies the poem’s beauty that creates immediate appeal. Simile and metaphor poetic instruments have been used. Abstract thoughts have been clothed in pictorial imagery.
QUESTIONS AND THEIR ANSWERS
Q1. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free”
a. Name the poem and the poet.
Ans: Where The Mind is Without Fear is the name of the poem is and the name of the poet is Rabindranath Tagore.
b. Name the form of the poem.
Ans: There is no rhyme scheme in the poem. It is written in free verse. The poem is written as a petition, a supplication to Almighty.
c.What does the poet want our ‘mind’ and ‘head’ to be?
Ans: The poet wants our minds to be fear from fear and heads to be held high.
d. What is meant by ‘mind is without fear’?
Ans: The expression ‘Mind is without fear’ insinuates the fact that our minds should be courageous. We ought not to be overwhelmed by the shackles of tyranny and oppression. Dread should not be able to discourage us. Our heads should be held high, with no type of dread or confinement.
e. Explain: ‘head held high’.
Ans: ‘Head held high’ signifies to have confidence. The heads of the countrymen are held down as a result of the horrifying mistreatment suﬀered by them in the hands of the British. The poet wants their heads to be held high with most extreme pride and poise and not bowed down.
f. Whose mind is the poet talking about and why?
Ans: The poet is discussing the minds of the countrymen. He wants his comrades to be courageous and not remain grasped in dread. His comrades were under the grip of the British when he composed this poem. So his vision is of a daring India.
g. What is the vision of the poet?
Ans: The poet envisions a’ World of Freedom’ that can be acquired only if the people are fearless. Only a fearless mind can keep upright and straight his head. He wrote this poem when the British controlled the Indians. So, without any internal domination, he visualizes a mental image of free India without any external hegemony.
h. Why does the poet feel that his countrymen should not feel any kind of fear?
Ans: The poet knows how magnificent India used to be in the past, how India soared high before its views were chained. With the advent of the British, the people had lost their pride, confidence, and self-esteem. So the poet dreams of a free nation where his countrymen would not feel any kind of fear or oppression. People would keep bravely their heads high and voice their opinions freely.
i. How would the countrymen be able to hold their heads high?
Ans: The countrymen would be able to keep their heads high if they were free from any kind of oppression. They would derive power from their access to knowledge that could assist them to become confident. Their knowledge would not be confined to small thoughts and ideas. Narrow walls would bind them into chains, all of which would assist them to keep their heads high.
Q2. “Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls.”
a. Explain ‘Where knowledge is free’.
Ans: Knowledge enables us to comprehend different things, and everyone has the right to acquire knowledge regardless of caste, creed, and status. The sentence’ Where knowledge is free’ occurs in the poem Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore. The poet wanted an atmosphere in which knowledge would be freely available to everyone and not limited to a specific segment of society. Not only the wealthy and wealthy parts should be provided with the chance to gain understanding. It should be accessible to everyone, whether the rich or the poor, without any social obstacles of any kind. It should not be limited by narrow ideas and social backwardness because it is only the light of knowledge that can obliterate the darkness of ignorance.
3. Explain the following phrases/lines from the poem.
i. ‘narrow domestic walls’
Ans: The phrase ‘narrow domestic walls’ means the conservative or narrow-minded divisions based on caste, colour, class, and creed existent in society.
ii. ‘Where words come out from the depth of truth.’
Ans: The line ‘Where words come out from the depth of truth’ means that –
a. people must be honest in thought, word and deed.
b. they should stand by the truth even
when they face the most difficult of
iii. ‘tireless striving’
Ans: The phrase ‘tireless striving’ means making an effort to keep on trying without giving up, irrespective of the obstacles and difficulties.
iv. ‘dead habits’
Ans: The phrase ‘dead habits’ means the rituals and customs of the olden days which are followed without thought and logic.
4. State the context in which the poet uses the word ‘widening’. Suggest ways in which it can be made possible.
Ans: The poet uses the word ‘widening’ for the thoughts and actions of the citizens of the nation. He advocates that the Almighty can lead the people forward in life by broadening their outlook.
5. ‘Our nation should awaken from the darkness of the night’. Explain.
Ans: ‘Our nation should awaken from the darkness of the night’, means that the people of the nation should break free from the shackles of the oppressive colonial rule which was like a dark, long night and breathe in the fresh air of freedom.
6. The poem is not meant for India alone. Justify.
Ans: The poem is not meant for India alone because of the following reasons:
i. It concerns all the countries which are under an oppressive rule.
ii. It talks about freedom for all such countries.
7. The words we speak should reflect the truth. Justify.
Ans: The poet wants a world for his countrymen where they can speak the truth without any hesitation. He wants them to be free in every sense of the word so that their words reflect nothing but the truth.
8. Elaborate on the effect the word ‘where’ creates at the beginning of each line of this poem.
Ans: The use of the word ‘where’ at the beginning of each line creates emphasis on the fact that the poet is describing an ideal country. It creates a continuity of thought and links each of the factors that the poet describes into the whole idea of a heavenly country.
9. State the attributes of Rabindranath Tagore that the poem (prayer) reflects and give reasons for your answer.
Ans: The poem reflects the following attributes of Rabindranath Tagore:
i. Religious –
When he realises that his countrymen are in a deep slumber of ignorance, the poet composes a prayer to the Almighty in the hope that his intervention will awaken them.
ii. Hopeful and optimistic –
Rabindranath Tagore is aware that the situation in the nation is bleak today, but he is hopeful for a better future.
iii. Concerned –
The poet is concerned about the well-being of the people of his country. He wants them to gain knowledge and progress in life.
iv. Composes freely and from the heart –
Tagore uses free verse to write this poem, which indicates that he is an individual who loves freedom – be it for himself, his thought or his nation. The words flow from the depths of his heart and possess the ability to touch the heart of the reader and transform it.
10. Identify the Figures of Speech used in the present extract.
i. “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high”
Ans: a. Alliteration – The sound of the letters
‘w’ and ‘h’ are repeated for poetic effect.
b. Synecdoche – Here, ‘mind’ and ‘head’
(a part) stand for the ‘citizen’ (whole).
ii. “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments”
Ans: a. Alliteration – The sound of the letters ‘w’ and ‘b’ are repeated for poetic effect.
iii. “By narrow domestic walls”
Ans: a. Metaphor – An indirect comparison has been made between ‘narrow domestic walls’ and the ‘narrow-minded divisions in society’.
iv. “Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”
Ans: a. Personification – An inanimate object ‘striving’ has been given the human qualities of being ‘tireless’ and ‘stretching its arms’
v. “Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way.”
Ans: a. Personification – An inanimate object like the ‘stream’ has been given the human quality of ‘losing its way’.
b. Metaphor – An indirect comparison has been made between the ‘clarity of a stream’ and ‘reason’.
vi. “Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”
Ans: a. Alliteration – The sound of the letter ‘d’ is repeated for poetic effect.
b. Metaphor – An indirect comparison has been made between ‘habit’ and ‘desert sand’.
vii. “Where the mind is led forward by Thee”
Ans: a. Synecdoche – Here, ‘mind’ (a part) stands for the ‘citizen’ (whole).
viii. “Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
Ans: a. Personification – An inanimate object ‘country’ has been given the human quality of ‘waking up’.
b. Apostrophe – A direct address has been made to ‘Father (God)’ who is not present there.
11. Write an appreciation of the poem in about 12 to 15 sentences with the help of the following points.
iii. Rhyme scheme
iv. Favorite line
v. Theme / Central idea
vi. Figures of Speech
vii. Special features – Type of the poem,
language, tone, implied meaning, etc.
viii. Why I like/dislike the poem
Ans: The title of the poem is ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear…’ It is created by the incredible poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore.
There is no fixed rhyme scheme in the poem as it is written in a free verse form.
My most loved line from the poem is, “Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake” since it isn’t just a petition to the Almighty yet, in addition, a message to the compatriots to stir from the servitudes of colonial rule. The focal thought of the poem is about the poet’s vision of freedom for his nation. He wants and appeals to God for an overall arousing of the countrymen of the country and not only for political opportunity.
The poetic devices utilized in the poem are alliteration, Metaphor, Apostrophe, personification, and Synecdoche.
The most uncommon features of the poem is the fact that it is a poem of expectation as the poet isn’t content with the current state of the nation, however, he is confident for a superior future.
The poet utilizes various metaphors to expand the shades of malice existent in the nation. Each idea has been associated with utilizing the word ‘where’. The poem is brimming with positive and negative symbolism as the poet imagines a superior future while confronting the bleak truth of today. I like the poem for its wonderful dream of a free and equivalent place, where the fellowmen live with one another in harmony and congruity. The poem has a widespread message and is pertinent even today.
12. State the poet’s wish that is expressed through the poem.
Ans: In the poem, the poet wants God to guide his compatriots for freedom from the oppressive colonial rule and lead his nation to an intellectual and moral awakening where its people are broad-minded, rational and proactive.
13. Explain the lines, “Where the mind is led forward by Thee Into ever-
widening thought and action”.
Ans. The lines mean the following:
i. The poet wishes that the minds of his countrymen are enlightened by the Almighty so that they see the power of reason and don’t give in to age-old superstitious beliefs.
ii. He prays to God to help his countrymen progress so that they become individuals who think and act logically, are progressive and have a broad-minded outlook.
Q. Name any one Figure of Speech in the following line:
“Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection”
Ans. Alliteration, Consonance, Personification, Transferred Epithet