Considered the greatest poet in modern Indian literature, Rabindranath Tagore, was a Bengali poet, novelist, educator, and Nobel Laureate for the anthology called “Gitanjali”.
In this poem, Tagore shares a “heaven of freedom” from “narrow domestic walls” of a fearful mind.
He lived in challenging times, from 1861 to 1941 in India and took a stand after 400 demonstrators in India were massacred by British troops.
Rabindranath Tagore surrendered the knighthood he had been awarded four years earlier.
This poem (in full below), carries an air of reverend wisdom for how to navigate the unknown during difficult times.
“Where The Mind Is Without Fear” – Helpful For Self-Coaching
Rabindranath Tagore dreamed of a world where “the mind is without fear” and not fragmented by “narrow domestic walls”.
This is where negative emotions can hide, leading to feeling disconnected from the truth of who we really are.
He knew that fearful emotions hold us back. It’s unnatural for us to remain in that state.
This moves us away from joy and peace in which we long to live.
One message of the poem, “Where The Mind Is Without Fear”, Rabindranath Tagore reveals how the world could look if we all released negative thoughts and emotions.
When you see an animal running from prey, its adrenaline response gets mobilized so it can move as fast as possible away from the threat.
That happens with us too when we’re faced with a fearful thought or situation.
However, once the animal gets to safety, it shakes its entire body to release the emotion. For humans, we tend to hold onto that emotion.
With a fearful mind we:
- hesitate to welcome new opportunities
- hold ourselves back
- shield our authenticity from the world.
There are also proven physiological effects:
- lowers our immune system response
- can cause cardiovascular damage
- leads to gastrointestinal problems
- decreases fertility.
With self-coaching you have all the tools to help yourself out of a fearful mindset.
Here are some helpful suggestions you can use to coach yourself:
Practice being aware of thoughts running through your mind. Begin by taking a breath in a quiet space and relax your body.
Focus on feeling your breath going in and out.
Now look around and notice what’s in the room.
Maybe a chair – don’t label it, just notice.
What else is there? Just notice.
Now notice what you’re feeling in your body.
No judgement, just notice.
This is how you begin to practice presence through mindfulness.
- Question your thoughts
An important thing to remember is that you are not your thoughts, so you don’t have to believe every thought you think.
When you notice that fearful feeling, pay attention to the thought that came just before the feeling.
Question whether it’s really true and if you can know for certain that it’s true.
Write down fearful thoughts you have and beside each one, write down a turnaround.
Turn each thought into an empowering statement that feels more true and notice the change in how your body feels.
“Where The Mind Is Without Fear” – Key Takeaways
Some key takeaways and empowering beliefs from Rabindranath Tagore’s poem are:
- People should be liberated from oppression, repression, and subjugation
- Fearful thoughts which shackle the human spirit should be released and redirected to progress and prosperity
- People should be confident not confined
- There should be equality not separation based on colour, creed, caste, or gender
- People should be open to new challenges and changes
- Living decent lives with dignity should be a basic right for everyone
- People should live from the deepest truth of their hearts
“Where The Mind Is Without Fear” – Summary
Though Rabindranath Tagore’s time was very challenging, this poem can be applied to almost any time in history.
The poem begins, free from a fearful mind and “the head is held high”, people can live with dignity, as a fearful mindset is what holds us back.
Tagore expresses, “Where knowledge” is available to everyone in order to learn, understand and enrich their lives.
“Where the world has not been broken up into fragments”, Rabindranath Tagore refers to the separation of humans from God/Universal Mind, from each other into classes, or by colour, creed, or gender. It also refers to the fragmented mind with fearful thoughts.
When “words come out from the depth of truth”, people express themselves from their hearts.
The truest, most authentic form of communication.
With “Tireless striving” Rabindranath Tagore means for everyone to reach for their highest goal, always looking toward perfection.
This way, “the clear stream of reason has not lost its way” to prejudices and baseless thoughts that are not true.
“The mind is led forward by thee, into ever-widening thought and action” is what happens when clear thinking and mutual respect are upheld. Creativity expands to greater inventions, philosophies, and open hearts.
The poem finishes with the desire to want “that heaven of freedom”, asking, “father, let my country awake”.
By this Rabindranath Tagore prays that his country be lifted to that freedom, in its highest form.
Tagore’s desire to be led to a “heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake”, also relates to awakening people to come out of the darkness, prejudice, or disunity from negative thoughts and into feeling bliss.
Rabindranath Tagore was also regarded in the West as a mystic, yet he took on a tremendous role as a reformer and critic of colonialism.
Although you can find many Rabindranath Tagore quotes “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” on the internet, here’s the poem in full:
Where The Mind Is Without Fear
Poem by Rabindranath Tagore
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
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