Summary of “Heaven of Freedom ”

Rabindranath Tagore was born in Bengal in 1861. He wrote poems in Bangla and in English. In 1913, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He produced some sixty collections of verse, nearly a hundred short stories, several novels, plays, dance dramas, essays on religious, social and literary topics, and over 2500 songs, including the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. Gitanjali a collection of poems by Rabindranath Tagore known for their unmatched style of presentation, fresh poetic structure and spiritual musings which was later translated into English by William Radice.Tagore also has the honour of being the composer of the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana.

The poem Heaven of Freedom is an extract taken from Tagore’s famous book Gitanjali for which he won the Nobel Prize. In the poem, the poet expresses his vision for a utopian India. The poet wishes that he wants his countrymen to be free of fear and hold their head high with self-esteem and humble pride. He wishes his county to be united and free of the narrow domestic strife, clashes; backwardness, and divisions. He wishes his countrymen to be living their life in truth only; he wishes his countrymen to make endless efforts for perfection in their respective spheres. He wishes for his countrymen to live rationally without ever getting lost in thoughtless habits. He wishes his countrymen to move ahead always taking guidance from omniscient God, ever-expanding until India is converted into a heaven of freedom. At the end, the poet prays to God to make all his wishes for his country come true.

Through the poem Heaven of Freedom, Tagore deals with the real meaning of freedom and the true values of Heaven. He talks about heavenly freedom. Heaven is possible anywhere even also on the Earth. Freedom of thoughts, ideas, mind, rules, and dogmas transfer earth into heaven.  If freedom comes based on the ideology of Tagore then the earth would transform into heaven. This heaven is compared with a Utopian State where there is no suffering and no sin. We can create such heaven through deeds, ambition and aspirations. The real heaven is nothing but created by men.

Tagore talks on the importance of a fearless mind, self-confidence and free knowledge.  The mind of men should not have any fear but brave and courageous to sustain and maintain the truth. The high goal is equally important in life to achieve the freedom. Being a pioneer of Education in India, Tagore believes in the Education which must be free and not bound in any narrow bookish system of examination only. Further, Tagore talks about the unity of the nation he rejects the system of narrow domestic walls that separate men from men. Free and frank communication with every people is very necessary to break the walls of separation. Tagore talks about freedom but freedom should be based on truth. He says about the truth in the following manner. 

Tagore was very much influenced by Gandhi Ji. Tagore includes Gandhian philosophy of truth in his poetry. Gandhiji has fully accepted the value of truth in My Experiment of with Truth. For Gandhiji, Realization of the Truth is the purpose of human life. The poet was very influenced and impressed by Gandhi and presents the value of truth. To get the freedom, the poet believes in perfection. It comes after hard and continuous efforts. Freedom of Heaven is a very thoughtful poem which presents the idea that the heaven is nowhere; heaven is itself on earth. Tagore stresses on fearlessness, free knowledge, no domestic struggle, truth, perfection. The poem may remind the Gandhian philosophy of Truth and the philosophy of thoughts and action of Jawaharlal Nehru. Tagore’s views can be compared with the slogan of French revolution Equality, liberty and Brotherhood. Tagore was a great nationalist and mighty internationalist. His poetry is born out of an amalgam of the rich classical heritage of ancient India.

Questions and Answers

Q. ‘‘Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake’’– What is meant by ‘heaven of freedom’? State briefly what kind of freedom that Rabindranath prays for his countrymen to achieve?
Ans.: The great poet Rabindranath Tagore finds his country India in a state of ignorance, laziness, irrationality and narrow-mindedness. The heaven of freedom mentioned here suggests the fearlessness of the Indians from irrational customs, traditions, blind faith and dead habits. The falsehood, prejudice, belief in superstition, division of mankind in castes and creed have led Indians into a state of deep sleep. In sleep, one is not aware of the real world. Consequently, he does not act or conduct himself to improve. The condition in India stands in this sorrowful state. So the poet prays to God to break this slumber of his countrymen and awaken them to the realization of true freedom which will lead them to progress and prosperity.

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