Rabindranath Tagore - The Spirit of Japan, 1916

Page 1

The spirit Japan

of

Rabindranath

Tagore


GIFT OF HORACE W. CARFENTIER




THE SPIRIT OF JAPAN A LECTURE BY \j

SIR

/

~Y\ vU'

-

-

' •

*

«'

RASlNDRANATH TAGORE i

Delivered for the Students of the Private Colleges of

Tokyo and Japancse

Members

the

Association,

of the Indothe

at

Keio Gijuku University.

* • •

» .

»

PUBLISHED BY THE INDO-JAPANESE ASSOCIATION, TOKYO JULY

2,

Copyrighted

1916.

in

U S

A.

Digitized by

Google


CARPENITIRH

•...»,

-

••••«.

• •

• •

*

.

,

.

*

Digitized by

Google


»

... »'*

• •

-

- .

|

am

more

My

glad

have

to

of speaking

stay here has been

think

I

so

sure that

certain

shall

I

aspects,

be

while

right

told, that I

may

to speak to

remain here

foreigners,

for

whose

long

my

full

I

experience

them doubtful about your moral even of your

efficiency in

idealising

disillusionment,

For

long.

am

I

others unnoticed,

leaving

and that there are chances of if I

«

leave Japan.

that one

short

my

have not earned

I

you about anything concerning your country. feel

«

opportunity once

this

you before

to

• .

D58ZI

"

I

!»••.• ... *

have known has

made

qualifications,

modern equipments

of progress.

But

I

am

not

going to be brow-beaten by

the authority of long to

experience,

which

is

likely

be an experience of blindness carried through

long yeara.

own country.

I

have known such instances

The mental

sense,

in

my

by the help of

M187688 Digitized by

Google


. .

RABINDRANATH TAGORE

2 •

which we

feel

the spirit of a

sense of sight, or of touch, It

finds

direct apprehension.

it

by

inner association.

natural

gift.

by

Those who have not

this

merely see events and

vision,

a

is

the

is like

but

not

objects,

its

people,

analysis,

and not

facts,

their

Those who have no ear

music, hear sounds, but not the song.

for

Therefore

when, by the mere reason of the lengthiness of their suffering, they threaten to establish the fact

of the tune to be a noise, one need not be anxi-

ous

about

music.

Very

often

it

mistakes

is

that require longer time to develop their tangles,

while the right answer comes promptly.

You right

answer

ask

my

in

me how

because

is,

There are

positive.

I

looking

is

of

It is

pany

see

am

I

My

can see.

I

something which

who

It

is

affirm that they

only

shows,

that I

on the picture side of the canvas,

and they on the blank view

can prove, that

that

others,

see something contrary.

am

I

confidence

side.

Therefore

my

short

more value than their prolonged stare.

a truism to say that shadows accom-

light.

What you

feel,

as

the

truth of

a

Digitized by

Google


THE people, has

its

roundness

the

every step by boast

can

SPIRIT

of the

a

contradictions,

vision of a truth, its

greater

I

first,

at

with

your

firm

me

loads

upon

my

which does not depend upon

my

had

vitality.

its

doubts.

I

thought that

might not be able to see Japan, as she

self,

as

Those who

bring before

remain

I

—just

contradicted

is

familiarity

can

but

dimension, but upon

At I

earth

and hollows.

hills

country than myself, of

3

numberless contradictions,

its

of

OF JAPAN

is

her-

but should have to be content to see the Japan

that takes an acrobatic pride in violently appear-

ing as something this country,

when

of a house on

— that peared

a

to

me

basking

scales,

large

slice

first arrival in

looked out irom the balcony

I

the

huge mass

On my

else.

hillside, of

like

the

corrugated iron

a

dragon,

in the sun, after

of the

town of Kobe,

living

with

roofs,

—ap-

glistening

having devoured

flesh

of the earth.

This dragon did not belong to the mythology of the past, but of the

mask age,

it

present;

tried to look real

to

and with

its

iron

the children of the

real as the majestic rocks

on the shore, as

Digitized by

Google


R ABTNDR ANAT

4

the epic rhythm

of the

my

hid Japan from

TAG ORE

and

view,

to

lifted

I

felt

I

way

*

like

have a sight of the eternal I

asked my-

Will the dense mist of the iron age give

for

a moment, and

and abiding

me

let

in this land ?

'

and thought that of curiosity,

true

is

had

my

in

misgivings

might be a violent outbreak

this

— or that

show

to

I

see what

was enveloped

I

a whirlwind of reception, but

bound

myself

it

short, waiting for the

is

snow on the Himalayan summit. self,

Anyhow

sea-waves.

the traveller, whose time cloud to be

[

these people

felt

themselves

man who

appreciation of a

their

had won renown from Europe, thus doing honour to the

West

in

a vicarious form.

But the clouds showed

had of Japan where she While

travelling in

wayside tees.

station,

their

true

a railway

some Buddhist

They brought

and held

is

rifts,

lighted

incense

the

and more human. met, at a

priests

and devo-

of fruits to before

my

me

face,

man who had come

The

dignified serenity

simplicity

of their devout-

from the land of Buddha. of their bearing,

I

train I

their basket

wishing to pay homage to a

and glimpses

Digitized by

Google


THE seemed

ness,

railway

to

SPIRIT

5

the atmosphere of the busy

fill

with

station

OF JAPAN

golden

a

of

light

peace.

Their language of silence drowned the noisy sion of the newspapers.

I

felt

that

effu-

saw some-

I

thing which was at the root of Japan's greatness.

And, since then,

have had other opportunities

I

of reaching the heart of the people

come

to the conclusion,

that

and

;

have

I

the welcome which

flowed towards me, with such outburst of sincer-

was

ity,

owing

the

to

fact

that

Japan

the

felt

nearness of India to herself, and realised that her

own

heart

has

room

to

expand

beyond

modern

and the boundaries of the

boundaries

her

time. I

have travelled

met with men

of

many

in

all

classes,

travels did I feel the presence distinctly as in this land.

signs of man's

tries,

saw in

vast

all

but

features.

and have

my

never in

of the

human

In other great

power loomed

organisations

their

countries

large,

so

coun-

and

I

which

showed

efficiency

There,

display

and ex-

travagance, in dress, in furniture, in costly entertainments, are startling.

They seem

to

push you

Digitized by


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

6

back feast

a

into ;

corner,

like

they are apt to

a

poor

make you

your breath away with amazement.

do not

man

feel

as

supreme

;

at a

intruder

envious, or take

There, you

you are hurled

against the stupendousness of things that alienates. But, in Japan,

it

wealth, that

the predominating element.

is

see everywhere

is

not the display of power, or

You

emblems of love and admiration,

You

and not mostly of ambition and greed.

see

a people, whose heart has come out and scattered itself

profusion

in

everyday

life,

manners,

that

in

are

in its

its

What is

perfect,

in

its

its

movement.

has impressed

me

most

in this

country

realised nature's

not by methods of analytical knowledge,

but by sympathy, of lines

in

and

not only deft, but

are

the conviction that you have

secrets,

utensils of

institutions,

social

carefully

dealings with things that graceful in every

commonest

You have known

and music of

colours,

the

her language

symmetry

in

her irregularities, and the cadence in her freedom of

movements

;

you have seen how she leads her

immense crowds of things yet avoids

all

frictions;

Digitized


THE how

SPIRIT

OF JAPAN

7

the very conflicts in her creations break out

in dance and music

how

;

her exuberance has the

aspect of the fullness of self-abandonment, and not

a mere

;

and

mother, nourishes

beauty which,

this

dis-

her power in forms

covered that nature reserves of beauty

You have

of display.

dissipation

like

a

it

is

all

the giant forces at her breast,

keeping them in active vigour,

yet

You have known

ot

energies

that

themselves from wearing

in repose.

nature save

by the rhythm

out

of

a perfect grace, and that she with the tenderness of her curved lines takes

world's muscles.

I

have

away felt

fatigue from the

that you have been

able to assimilate these secrets into your

the truth which

lies

has passed into your

but their

spirit

of training and

from outside her your

is

own

of true genius.

not

A

souls.

be had

of things can

the beauty of

in

in

a

life,

all

and

things

mere knowledge

short

enough time,

can only be acquired by centuries self-control.

Dominating nature

a much simpler thing than making in love's

Your

delight,

race has

by acquirements, but by

which

shown

is

a work

that genius;

creations; not byj

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

8

by manifestation

display of things, but

and

nations,

ot its

This creative power there

inner being.

ever

is

it

active

in

own

in all

is

getting hold of

men's natures and giving them a form according to

But here,

ideals.

its

have achieved the minds of

success,

its

Japan,

it

Your

seems to

and deeply sunk

men, and permeated

all

and nerves.

in

instincts

into

their muscles

have become

true,

your senses keen, and your hands have acquired natural

The genius

skill.

Europe has given

of

her people the power of organisation, which

made

specially

merce and

The

in

coordinating scientific knowledge.

in nature

life.

And,

of organisation

and the power of because

the inner

spirit,

it.

realising

of this fact, the

come so

has

when you needed is

manifest in politics and com-

genius of Japan has given you the vision

beauty

your

itself

lias

it

oi

in

power

easily to your help

For the rhythm of beauty

whose outer body

is

organisa-

tion.

All particular civilisation

of particular to have

felt

human

is

experience.

the interpretation

Europe seems

emphatically the conflict of things in

Digitized by

Google


THE

SPIRIT

the universe, which

by

control

can

OF JAPAN

be brought under

only

Therefore she

conquest.

9

ever ready

is

and the best portion of her attention

for fight,

But Japan has

occupied in organising forces.

is

felt,

in her world, the touch of some presence, which

has evoked

her soul a feeling of reverent ador-

in

She does not boast of her mastery

ation.

with

nature, but to her she brings,

and

joy, her offerings

with the world

This

spiritual

with the

hills

is

infinite care

Her

of love.

relationship

the deeper relationship of heart.

bond of love she has established with

of her country,

the streams, with the forests in

all

the

sea and

their flowery

and varied physiognomy of branches

moods

of

has taken into her heart

all

;

she

the rustling whispers

and sighing of the woodlands and sobbing of the waves all

;

the

and she

the sun and the

modulations is

seasons in fields.

moon she has

of their

glad to close her her orchards

lights

shops

studied in

and shades, to

greet the

and gardens and corn-

This opening of the heart to the soul of

the world

is

not

privileged classes,

confined it

is

to

a section of your

not the forced product of

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

io

exotic

but

culture,

and women of your

soul, in

belongs

it

your

all

men

This experience of

conditions.

all

to

meeting a personality

in

the heart of

the world, has been embodied in your civilisation. It is civilisation

tionship

that

is

of

human

relationship,

bonds of love

Your duty towards your

and reverence.

assumed the character of

filial

nation becoming one family with your

Your

head.

from

and

the

of

arms

purposes,

or

from

raiding adventures, dividing

the danger and

duty, your

Emperor as

for

its

purpose,

but

it

is

in

among each member

of robbery.

spoils

defensive

partnership

It is

outcome of the necessity of organisation ulterior

state has

national unity has not been evolved

comradeship

offensive

rela-

not severed even by death and

links generation unto generation in

naturally

—the

not aa

for

some

an extension of the

family and the obligations of the heart in a wide field

of space

and time.

The

ideal of

bottom of your

culture,

men and

" maitri " with

Nature.

expression

of this

beauty, which

is

so

love

is

in

abundantly

"maitri"

—" maitri " with

at the

is

And

the

the true

language of

universal in this

Digitized


THE

.

This

land.

SPIRIT

reason

the

is

myself, instead of feeling

n

OF JAPAN why

a stranger, like

envy or humiliation be-

fore these manifestations of beauty, these creations

of love,

a readiness to participate in the joy

feels

and glory of such revealment of the human

And

this

has

made me

all

hensive of the change, which

something

civilisation, as

own is

age,

pitifully

and hidden power of But the danger

mass, of

by

its

reticent beauty, as in Japan. lies

savage to the its

Its

this,

that

organised

carries the

day by its

to

its

fetish

harsh obtrusiveness makes

overcoming our senses,

altar

sacrifices as

does

a

which appears powerful be-

hideousness.

things that are th.i

in

aggressive persistence, by

forcibly visible to us,

and we bring

cause of

usefulness,

mockery directed against the deeper

sentiments of heart. it

is

exposed against the dignity

mind and

ugliness storms the its

a menace to one's

like

whose only common bond

nowhere so

power

more appre-

threatens Japanese

For the huge heterogeneity of the

person.

modern

the

heart.

Therefore

its

rivalry to

modest and profound and have

subtle delicacy of

life

is

to

be dreaded

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

12

am

I

object

with

affectation is

too

those

poetising.

who have

the true

;

or

in

bear

modern

who is

straight wall- surfaces,

of

the

pierced

mind, that

in

need not

spirit

not in the dress of

hideous

structures,

when they take houses

with

with

flat

parallel lines

where these people are caged in

of windows, their lifetime

mere

are truly brave are

square

or in the

;

a

affectation

the original, and

than

their children are interned

their lessons

is

I

nothing but mimicry,

Modernism

Europeans

as

just

It is

modernise, just as those

;

certainly

modernism

ladies' bonnets, carrying

gruities.

with

the time,

spirit of

One must

literal.

not braggarts.

where

and not

agree

I

modernising

of modernism,

affectation is louder

is

the

While

the

must warn them that

only

your

far as to say, that the spirit of the race

should harmonise

poesy

to gain,

is

your

in

with

are loud in their boast, that they

modernised Japan.

them so

it

sympathy

in

whose

;

They

grow.

have

not

are

national ideals to

men

quite sure that there are

who

nation,

These

are

is

not in their

on them loads of incon-

not

modern,

but

merely

Digitized by

Google


THE

True modernism

European.

not slavery of taste.

and

action, not tutelage It is science,

cation in

life,

reduce

its

aid for

Science,

the whole

cupies

wrong

its

—as

it

of our science

imitation

impossible purposes.

oversteps

region

of

its limits

life,

has

but

else

struggle

ior

existence

is

and

its its

hippopotamus which

does a

appli-

into a superstition absurdly

all it

under European school-

looks so powerful because of

It

ficiality, little

when

freedom of mind,

but not

mere

who

invoking

tion.

—a

is

13

independence of thought

It is

masters.

teachers

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

physical existence,

speaks

Science

but

that

forgets

not merely of the surface.

oc-

fascina-

super-

very

is

the

ot

man's

Man

truly

exists in the ideal of perfection, whose depth arid

measured.

height are

not

science

attractive

has

is

all

the

a -hunting, the

is

that your

some men, because

pity

less

to feel that

Life based upon

of

sport;

is to

it

When

not profound.

your one object

kill it,

to

characteristics

seriousness, but

for

yet

it

feigns

you go

you have the better; chase

the

game and

you are the greater animal,

method of

destruction

is

thorough and

Digitized by

Google


i

RABINDRANATH TAG ORE

4

Because, therefore, a sportsman

scientific.

a

superficial

man,

—

being there to hamper him,

and

killing innocent life

science

with

is

skill

is

that superficial

— he

And

life

of

man.

But even science

and be suc-

and those whose minds are crude enough upon the supposition, that man

to plan their lives is

the

pursues success

It

cannot tow humanity against truth ;

in

and thoroughness, and takes no account

of the higher nature of

cessful

only

successful

is

happy. life.

is

humanity not

his fullness of

merely a hunter and his paradise the paradise

of sportsman, will be rudely awakened in the midst of their trophies of skeletons

struggle

of his nature, in

existence

for

—not

by

him and dwarfing

accepting life,

all

the

is

and

curtailing

do not

for

a

moment

should be unmindful

pons of

that

all

responsibilities

ot

self-protection.

itself,

best

is

but by

of his spiritual

defeat.

suggest,

acquiring

But

For man's

in the fullness

his existence

even through death and I

skulls.

to exist

that

Japan

modern wea-

this should

never be

allowed to go beyond her instinct of self-preservation.

She must know

that the real

power

is

not

Digitized by

Google


THE in.

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

ness

power,

for

and when

;

multiplies

own

cost of his

soul,

Things that are

living are so easily hurt

In

mony

material.

with

life's

Therefore they

easily give

The

man

spiritual ideals,

with his

life

is

fore,

made

which have

and grow with armour

to protect himself from

weak enough

suicide

in

there-

life

are

in

pro-

with har-

the time

are forgotten.

protection

in his

connection

their vital

his growth. is

;

But, un-

not living,

—some of

of steel, inert and mechanical There-

while making use of

covering,

to

then

grow it

be able to

it,

its

man

has to be care-

tyranny.

smaller to

fit

If

he

is

himself to his

becomes a process of gradual

by shrinkage of the

have a firm to

way and

has his true

fortunately, all his

is

built

when

growth, or else

comes they living

nature,

which are

tects itself within coverings,

own

he who

is

it

the

at

his enemies.

fore they require protection.

life's

he, in his eager-

weapons

his

then

even greater danger than

ful

man who

the weapons themselves, but in the

wields those weapons

it

15

faith in the

soul.

And

Japan must

moral law of existence

assert to herself, that the

Western

Digitized by

Google


1

RABINDRANATH TAGORE

6

whe

nations are following that path of suicide,

they

smothering

are

immense weight of themselves

humanity under

their

organisations in order to ke<

power and hold others

in

Therefore

I

tl

cannot think that

in subjectio

the

imitati<

of the outward aspects of the West, which

coming more and more evident

in

b

is

modern Japan,

essential to her strength or stability.

It is

burde

ing her true nature and causing weakness, whi< will

be

felt

more deeply as time goes

which are being formed by the mode:

habits,

Japanese from their boyhood,

Western

the

life,

prove,

will

if

rom

as

barriers,

the

life

that

has

tl

obstacle to

true

nature.

tl

Ai

What

is

choking the stream th

still

imitation

their

ancie

be deprived of the wat

made her

richness of beauty

not this

serious

own

mountain peak of

history, their tuture will

of

habits of

the children of Japan forget their past,

they stand flows

a

of their

—the

of the alien culture,-

habits

one day,

understanding then,

Tl

on.

culture so fertile wi

and strength.

more dangerous of the

outer

for

Japan

features

of t

Digitized by

Google


THE

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

17

West, but the acceptance of the motive the Western civilisation as her

Her

own.

and her modern tendency seems

politics,

gambling

to incline towards political

win

players stake their souls to

can see her motto, taken trom

her present-day history 41

is,

Help

yourself,

costs to others "

he cannot

see.

men

are

others

strike

The moral man,

that

I

" Survi-

science,

entrance of

motto whose mean-

what

and never heed

it

man,

motto of the blind

is

But those who can so

closely

law, which

is

the

all

the

others.

only a subjective value, but of our

cultivate

patriotism, will

life.

moral

end

And

yourself.

discovery

wonderful

truer,

the

This

truth

is

know

when you

greatest

the discovery of this

himself in

department

see,

that

knit,

blow comes back to

the

man becomes

realises

ously

game.

their

only believes in what he can touch, because

that

of

the

;

—the

which the

in

val of the Fittest," writ large at the

who

social

are already showipg signs of defeat at the

ideals

hands of

ing

force of

truth,

more he has

not

manifested in every

who

nations,

blindness

as

their existence

the in

sedul-

cult

of

a sudden

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

18

and

violent death.

invasions, there

we had

In past ages

had been cruelty and bloodshed,

intrigues of jealousy and avarice, but

the

touched the

soul

these games.

the

of

body,

being free

for

;

participated

in

They were merely

the outcome

of

a

The

ambitions.

individual

they never deeply

people

never

as

people,

foreign

people

themselves,

from the responsibilities of the baser

and more heinous side of those adventures, had all

the advantage of the heroic

disciplines

derived

from

and the human

them.

This developed

their unflinching loyalty, their single-minded devo-

tion to the obligations of honour,

complete of death seats

self-surrender

and danger.

were

and

power of

their

fearless

acceptance

Therefore the ideals, whose

in the hearts of the people,

would not

undergo any serious change owing to the adopted

by the kings or generals.^ But now,

where the vails,

spirit

of the Western

the whole people

is

civilisation

—by

pre-

being taught from boy-

hood, to foster hatreds and ambitions by of means,

policies

all

kinds

the manufacture of half-truths and

untruths in history,

by

persistent

misrepresenta-

Digitized by


THE

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

and the

tion of other races

19

culture of unfavourable

sentiments towards them, by setting up memorials of events, very often

which

false,

humanity should be speedily tinually

brewing

evil

the

of

It is

We

their

own.

This

is

gigantic

religion

for

all

selfishness

nations else

mities

of the

will not infect you,

you sow around your homes

of protection to

you

imbue the minds abnormal vanity of it

its

to take pride in

begotten

wealth,

defeated nations

for all

ot

its

to

by

world.

Never inflict

and the enwill

time to

a whole

own

best.

from the hands of

a moment, that the hurts you

upon other races

is

the one

as

science, but not this elixir of moral death. for

It

which were born of the

ideals,

can take anything

think

con-

poison-

men, who were our greatest and

holding up

universal

forgotten, thus

very fountain-head of humanity.

discrediting* the lives

the sake of

menace towards neighbours

and nations other than ing

for

be a wall

come.

people

superiority,

with

exhibiting

humiliation

trophies

an

to teach

moral callousness and perpetuate

To

ill-

of

won from

war, and using these in schools in order to breed Âť

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

20

minds contempt

in children's

West where she has a

the

ing

whose swelling its

for others, is imitat-

festering sore,

a swelling of disease eating into

is

vitality.

Our

food crops, which

are necessary for our

sustenance, are products of centuries

and

But the vegetation,

care.

patient

thoughts

easy to get rid of

cess

them

we have

which

into our lives, does -not require

not to transform the

of selection

weeds

of

neglect,

of generations. ;

but

it

is

is

not

by

pro-

It

easy,

and

to ruin your food crops

revert to their primitive

state

let

of wiklness.

Likewise the culture, which has so kindly adapt-

ed

itself

your

to

soil,

—so

human,-— not only needed past ages, but

What

ing.

still

is

intimate with

tilling

life,

so

and weeding

in

needs anxious work and watch-

merely

methods

of

but what

is vitally

modern,

organisation,

—can

human has

and

roots so

dies

when moved from

numerous and its

— as

be transplanted fibres

so

delicate,

reaching,

far

soil

Therefore

afraid ot the rude pressure of the political

of the

West upon your own.

and

science

In

that I

it

am

ideals

political civilisa-

Digitized b)


THE tion,

of

the state

men

SPIRIT

Because

easy

Half a century has been enough

machine

this

no roots

has

it

so dangerously

is

it

21

an abstraction and relationship

is

utilitarian.

sentiments,

OF JAPAN

you to master

for

and there are men among you,

;

whose fondness

for

exceeds their love for the

it

which were born with the birth of

living ideals

your nation and nursed in your centuries. a child, who,

he

in the

Where man Your

the bond of

ed

in the

better than his mother.

is

human

whose

healthy

all

;

life

is

it

flammation of aggressiveness.

upon your

you have

notice.

to

And you

not be taken unawares. gift to

your

you

own

;

an eruptive

in-

when

consciousness

full

The

re-

political

has forcibly burst

It

live,

is

beyond reach

the time has come,

be roused into

the truth by which

uncon-

been nourish-

But a mere

conscious

is

mainspring

relationship, has

depth of a

is

he

at his greatest,

civilisation,

of prying self-analysis. lationship

It is like

excitement of his play, imagines

likes his playthings

scious.

in

handle.

to

so

that

you

ot

may

past has been God's

about the present,

you

must make

choice.

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

22

So

you have

the questions

M

selves are these,

and based our

Have we

relation to

put

to

upon an ignorance of

it

human

nature

where

she builds her national

West

Is the instinct of the

?

your-

to

read the world wrong,

right,

welfare behind the

barricade of a universal distrust of humanity

You must have

"

accent

whenever the West has discussed the

of fear,

possibility

reason of

ot it

the

is

rise of

own

is

an

an Eastern

evil

power be

side she can

of the world trembles.

The

of the

;

by whose

have the exAll

devil.

her arma-

ments and diplomacy are directed upon object.

But these

the evil

spirit lead

costly rituals

which the West has

come back

let

The

makes her

one

invocation of

of prosperity

furies

of terror, s world,

and goad her

more and more

gives her no rest and

this

upon God

loose

to threaten herself

preparations of

for

through a path

to the brink of cataclysm.

it is

while the rest

ambition of the

to

is

The

race.

so long as

safe,

vital

present civilisation of Europe possession

power,

the

that

this,

help she thrives, held on her

clusive

strong

a

detected

?

frightfillness

forget

into this

;

all else

but

Digitized by

Google


THE

SPIRIT

the perils that she

To

herself.

it,

23

others

and incurs

causes

to

the worship of this

she sacrifices feeds upon

OF JAPAN

other

their

countries

dead

as

and

flesh

of politics

devil

so long as the carcasses remain fresh,

are sure

to

their

by spreading

wide and poisoning the

had

Japan

harmony

self-control

the

all

her

of heroism

wealth

will

take

far

and

pollution

vitality

of

upon

fat

—but they

and the dead

rot at last,

revenge,

She

victims.

grows

of the

feeder.

humanity,

her

and beauty, her depth of

and richness of self-expression

Western nations

felt

no respect

;

for her,

yet till

she proved that the bloodhounds of Satan are not only bred in the kennels of Europe, but can also

be domesticated

in

Japan and fed with man's mise-

ries.

They admit Japan's equality with themselves,

only

when they know

the

key

the

fair

to

open

earth,

dance, in their pillage,

that Japan also possesses

the floodgate of hell-fire upon

whenever she chooses, and can

own measure,

the devil dance of

murder, and ravishment of innocent wo-

men, while the world goes to that, in the early stage of

ruin.

We

know

man's moral immatur-

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

24

he only

ity,

reverence

feels

But

malevolence he dreads.

man which we can

for the

god

i

this the id

is

look up to with pride

?

centuries of civilisation nations fearing each like the

prowling wild beasts of the night

shutting their doors ot hospitality for

purpose of aggression or defence

holes their trade their

making peace

;

hiding

;

ir

state secrets, seer

secrets,

armaments

combining

;

offerings

t

barking dogs of each other with the meat does not belong to them

ing

rest of

ing

humanity

them with to

make

;

their

with their right hands

left,—is

us envious

suspicion,

unctuous will

all

Are we

?

of

its

to

in

dis

while

ro ii

bend our

which

lies

of

its

is

s<

our

minds,

ÂŁ

diplomacy

profession of peace

and

Man ?

C;

when we

ri

and universal brotherhood of

have no doubt

<

the world seeds of fear,

unashamed lies

<

there anything

to the spirit of this civilisation,

broadcast over

down

their feet;

weaker peoples,

to

religion

holding

upon the feebleness

safety only

their

;

upon

races struggling to stand

Digitized by

Google


THE

SPIRIT

OF JAPAN

the Western market to buy in

exchange

aware how

who

the man,

drunkenness

inheritance?

know

am

I

one's self; and

intoxicated, furiously denies his

is

yet

;

foreign product

this

own

our

for

difficult it is to

25

West

the

herself

is

anxiously

thinking of her problems and trying experiments.

But she

is

a glutton,

like

who has

not the heart

to give up his intemperance in eating, and fondly

hope that he can cure

clings to the

mares of indigestion by medicine. ready to give up her the baser passions of

attendant upon

change of

We

is

not

it

;

all

she

of systems, and not

believes only in modification in

Europe

inhumanity, with

political

man

his night-

heart.

are willing to

buy

their

machine-made

systems, not with our hearts, but with our brains.

We

shall

try

them and

build

sheds

for

them,

but not enshrine them in our homes, or temples.

There are kill

;

we

races,

who worship

the

can buy meat from them,

animals

when we

they are

hungry, but not the worship which goes with the killing.

We

must not

with the superstition,

vitiate

that

our children's minds

business

is

business,

Digitized by


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

26

war

is

that

man's business has to be

war,

politics is

and so have to be

business,

You had your own pulously honest its

products,

more than mere

his

war and

how

;

scru-

grace and strength, their

their

But the

politics.

you can see by

was,

it

where they can hardly

conscientiousness in details,

be observed.

must know

industry in Japan

and true

—by

We

politics.

wave

tidal

of falsehood has

swept over your land from that part of the world,

where business ed

in

never

it

lies

fields,

business,

and honesty

merely as the best

felt

tisements,

with

is

follow-

Have you

policy.

shame, when you see the trade adveronly

not

plastering

the

whole town

and exaggerations, but invading the green

where the peasants do

and the

is

hill-tops,

of the morning of honour

?

their honest labour,

which greet the

first

pure light

so easy to dull our sense

It is

and delicacy of mind with constant

abrasion, while falsehoods stalk abroad with proud

steps

in the

ism, that trusion

name

any

into

of trade,

politics

protest against their

our

lives

is

and

patriot-

perpetual

in-

considered to be senti-

mentalism, unworthy of true manliness.

*

Digitized by

Google


THE And

has come to pass, that

it

who would keep

of those heroes, point

the

men

would

oi

much

court

rather

if

mean

feel

are no

new

ficiency,

at

And

1

dis-

by gaining

has been

this

fight

in dealing with

humiliated

of

is

effect-

But

modern.'

be modern, beauty

all

be modern, the human

selfishness

if

ages ideals

And we must know

inventions.

certain, that

word

than be

defeat

ed by the charm of the word utility

children

their

in

become energetic

and do not

advantage from them.

undiluted

the

their

who even

profit,

honourable, have falsehoods

27

who would disdain to cheat

death,

vulgar

for

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

for

however modern may be the pro-

which

clips

and

man

cripples

sake of methods and machines,

it

for

the

never live

will

to be old.

When

Japan

is in

imminent

ing to realise where she

is

great,

peril of neglectit

is

the

duty

of a foreigner like myself to remind her, that she

has given its

rise to

a

civilisation

which

is

perfect in

form, and has evolved a sense of sight which

clearly sees truth in

beauty and beauty in truth.

She has achieved something, which

is

positive

Digitized by


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

28

and complete.

what

it

mankind,

which

in her,

is

—what

is

for

mere power of

must be reminded, that

rhythm of

life

and of

simplicity, her love

is

it

all

and

Japan

her sense of the

her

genius

her

cleanliness,

for

life

adaptability.

things,

all

all

which only she, of

there,

is

truly valuable

other races, has produced from her inner not from her

know

easier for a stranger to

It is

for

definitc-

ness of thought and action, her cheerful iortitude,

her immense reserve of force in

sensitiveness to her code of honour

of death, which sist

storm

of exploitation

sprung from the shores of Europe

and round the world.

the

gift

by

all

to

be

laws

Such a for

;

incursion

it

of creation

the forces of nature. indifferent

to

circling

round

whose foundation

life.

of immortality

the

re-

has

that

All these qualities are the

civilisation,

the spiritual ideals oi

against

and defiance

have given her the power to

the cyclonic

outcome of a

her

self-control,

its

civilisation

does

and

is

is

has

not offend

not assailed

I feel it is

protection

in

an impiety from

the

of vulgarity of power.

But while trying to

free our

minds from the

Digitized by

Google


Âť

THE

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

29

arrogant claims of Europe and to help

ourselves

out of the quicksands of our infatuation,

we may

go

extreme and blind ourselves with

to the other

The

a wholesale suspicion of the West. of disillusionment

shock of

We

unreal

as

just

is

illusion.

must try

discern our

own danger and

ing unjust

towards the

There

is

wishing

can clearly

it,

without be-

of

pay back Europe

and return contempt

in

her

own

contempt and

for

us

in

of

coin,

evil for

But that again would be to imitate Europe

evil.

in one of her worst features which

her behaviour to people yellow

or

red,

point on which

great,

if

we

in the

treating

caste.

own

not greater,

with

who belonged

whom

brown or

ledge our guilt and

by

danger.

that

always the natural temptation to

first

to that

we

avoid

source

the

as

come

to

normal state of mind, by which

reaction

to

It is really

comes out

in

describes

as

she

black.

And

this

is

a

East have to acknow-

that our sin has been as

when we

insulted

humanity

utter disdain

and cruelty men

a

creed,

particular

because

own weakness, which

we

allows

colour or

are afraid

itself to

of our

be overcome

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

3o

by the it

to

the

West.

the

of

glories

know the Europe which save

effectively

which

is

mean and

is

miseries,

grasping.

— and

despair faith in

of

its

humanity

defeat

is

from the depth of mit that there

itself

blind

When we

truly

It

mind

is

is

greatest, its

and

To

we

lose

calls

if

out

We

in the

strength,

it

new

are

must ad-

of

women and

being crushed, and whose mechani-

cal necessities are ignoring

and human,

life

West which

struggling unobserved against the hugeness

children

of

suffering.

to

destruction.

a living soul

faced with

is

only possible, brings

be

to

the result

the organisations under which men,

to

easy

is

is

is

we

from the Europe

pessimism

the power which

substitute

great and good,

ourselves

building theories while the

is

to

judgment when one

in one's

unfair

human

when

try

another weakness which makes

for

can

we

sight of power, that

— the

soul

laws that are spiritual

whose

sensibilities

refuse

be dulled completely by dangerous habits

of

whom

it

heedlessness in dealings with races lacks natural sympathy.

The West'

for

could

nevei

have risen to the eminence she has reached,

if

Digitized by

Google


THE

her strength were or

brute,

heart

of

merely

the

from

the

her hands upon the world,

of the

divine

injuries

—and

31

strength

The

machine.

the

suffering

is

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

in her

inflicted

from

this

by

pain

of her higher nature flows the secret balm which will bring healing to

those

Time

injuries.

after

time she has fought against herself and has un-

done the chains, which with her own hands she

had fastened round

helpless

limbs

;

and though

she forced poison down the throat of a great nation at the point of

herself

woke up

sword

for

gain of money, she

withdraw from

to

it,

to

wash

This shows hidden springs

her hands clean again.

of humanity in spots which look dead and barren. It

proves that the

deeper truth

which can survive such liness,

ideals.

and

is

It

not greed,

in

her

career of cruel

but

nature,

coward-

reverence for unselfish

would be altogether

unjust, both to us

to Europe, to say that she has fascinated the

modern Eastern mind by the mere

exhibition

her power.x. Through the smoke

cannons and

ot

of

dust of markets the light of her moral nature has

shone bright, and she has brought to us the ideal

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

32 .

freedom, whose foundation

deeper

lies

and whose province

conventions

social

tlian

I

of ethical

of

activity is world-wide.

The East has

<

instinctively

even through

felt,

her aversion, that she has a great deal

from Europe, not merely about the power,

but

about •

learn

materials

source, which

inner

its

to

mind and of the moral nature

man.

of

is

of of

Europe

been teaching us the higher obligations of

has

good above thoie of the family and the

public

and the sacredness

clan,

ot

which makes

law,

society independent of individual caprice, for

it

to

all

continuity of progress,

men

ot

all

positions

things Europe has held

tyrdom and achievement,

won our deep

false,

for

all

!

minds

centuries of

liberty

And

mar-

of conscience,

us where she

with

our

because

respect, she has

—dangerous

along

justice

Above

life.

thought and action, liberty in the ideals

of art and literature.

gerous

in

high before our

the banner of liberty, through

liberty of

secures

and guarantees

is

Europe has

become so dan-

turbulently

like

poison

best

food.

when There

it

is

weak and is

served

one safety

Digitized by

Google


THE

SPIRIT

we hope

us upon which

for

that

that

is,

we can

33

may

*we

count,

her violent encroachments

own

ried her

and to

she has ever car-

and put her

we

and gauge her degrees of

falls

by which we can

failure,

for

;

standard of perfection, by which

can measure her

tribunal

and

claim Europe herself, as our

our resistance to her temptations

ally, in

is

OF JAPAN

to

call

her before her

shame,

own

—the shame which

the sign of the true pride of nobleness.

But our fear

that the poison

is,

powerful than the food, and what

to-day trary

;

may for

not be the sign of health, but the conit

may

be temporarily caused by the

upsetting of the balance of evil

has a

sure to lose

its

Our

life.

fascination,

fateful

dimensions which are it is

colossal,

when

—and

centre of gravity,

disproportion, the mischief which its fall

may be beyond

Therefore faith

and

may be more

strength in her

is

I

fear is that it

assumes

though at

by

it

its

last,

abnormal

creates before

reparation.

ask you to have the strength of

clarity of

mind

to

know

for certain, that

the lumbering structure of modern progress, riveted

by Jhe

iron

bolts

of efficiency,

which runs

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

34

upon the wheels of ambition, cannot hold togeCollisions are certain to occur

ther for long.

heavy to choose it

upon organised

has to travel

it

own

its

A

dislocated.

day

will

too

lines, it is

course freely

come, when

and once

;

off the rails, its endless train of

is

for

;

vehicles

it

is

will fall in

a heap of ruin and cause serious obstruction the

traffic

of the world.

even now?

this

Do we

Does not the

to

not see signs of

voice

come

to us,

through the din of war, the shrieks of hatred, the waitings of despair, through the

the unspeakable

up of

churning

which has been accumulat-

filth

ing for ages in the bottom of this

civilisation,—

the voice which cries to our soul, that the tower of national selfishness, which

goes by

of patriotism, which has raised

son against heaven, must

weighed down by

crash,

kissing the dust,

when

thers,

up

its

faith

its

its

totter its

own

and

with a

fall

bulk,

light extinguished ?

the red light

name

the

banner of trea-

its

flag

My brosends

of conflagration

crackle of laughter to the stars, keep your

upon those

destruction.

stars

and not upon the

For when

this

fire

conflagration

df

con*

Digitized by

Google


THE mmes

OF JAPAN

SPIRIT

and dies down, leaving

itself

35

memorial

its

in ashes, the eternal light will again shine in the

East,

—the

East which has

been the birth-place

And who

of the morning sun of man's history.

knows

if

day has not already dawned, and

that

the sun not risen, in the Easternmost horizon

Asia?

my is

And

once again

destined

I

it is

voice

easy

any

for

rishis,

whole

the

illumine

excluding,

•

me

in

idealist

bustling

this

urchin

to It

know what a

I

athletic

these

lost their dignity

raise

it-

and

time,

fling

against stick

will

to

the

noise

day,

risk

all

re-

one runs

crowds to be styled

when

days,

thrones

have

and prophets have become an

when

anachronism, is

too feeble to

from the consideration of

from the vigorously

when, one

is

never to be washed away, effectively

coat-tail,

voices

to

unpractical/

street

the epithet of

spectable persons.

an

ancestor

,

know my

above the uproar of

self

my

as did

offer,

to that sunrise of the East, which

salutation

world.

me my

I

of

the sound of the

standing

that

drowns

Yet

market-place.

on

the

all

outskirts

of

Digitized by

Google


RABINDRANATH TAGORE

36

Yokohama town, modern

with

bristling

miscellanies,

watched

I

your southern sea, and saw jesty

among your

Fujiyama growing like

pine-clad

its

display

of

the

sunset

in

its

peace

and ma-

hills,

—with

the great

faint against the

own

a god overcome with his

golden horizon, radiance,

music of eternity welled up through the

and

silence,

I

felt

the lyrics of the

that the sky

dawn and

—the

evening

and the earth and

the dayfall are with the

poets and idealists, and not with the marketsmen robustly

contemptuous

of

after the forgetfulness of will

remember again

all

his

that

sentiments,

own

heaven

is

modern

for

that,

man

always in

touch with his world, which can never be

doned

divinity,

aban-

good to the hounding wolves of the

era, scenting

human

blood

and howling

to the skies.

Digitized by

G



CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT

RETURN

LOAN PERIOD HOME USE

1

4

2

3

5

6

ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS month loans may be renewed by calling 642-3405 6-month loans may be recharged by bringing books to Circulation Desk Renewals and recharges may be made 4 days prior to due date 1

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW APR" K

11981

APR 2 4 BETD

OEC

1

MAR

3

0

200

1981

0 1981 •

1

o

'

"?

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

FORM NO.

DD6, 60m, 12/80

BERKELEY,

CA 94720

Digitized

by

Google




Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.