Leave This Chanting

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Gitanjali is a collection of 103 English poems, largely translations, by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. ‘Leave this chanting’ is the 11th poem in the collection. The poet advises the priests to give up their counting of beads and their singing and chanting of mantras. He also urges them stop the worship of God in a secluded corner of the temple, with their eyes half shut. He sharply states, ‘Open your eyes and see God is not there before you.’ God is not to be found in this way. God lives with the humble and down-trodden like the tillers of the land and path-makers who work hard at breaking stones. He lives with those who toil in sun and shower and whose clothes are soiled with dust. If the priest wants God he must come out of his temple, give up his holy robes and work with the humble tillers of the soil in rain and sun. Tagore thus glorifies the life of the humble labourers and rejects the ascetic way of life. The ultimate spiritual goal of the ascetic is to seek deliverance. This is the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. But God Himself is bound to all of us in chains of love. He himself is not free and He has joyfully bound Himself to the work of creation and to the objects He has created. How can then man ever hope to be free from bondage? He urges the ascetics to leave the ritualistic flowers and incense which does not serve any purpose. According to the poet one can find God not in the temple but with the workers who are working whole day in the dirt and under the hot sun. He asks us what harm is there if you work under the sun and if your clothes become dirt. Even when your clothes are turn out or stained there is no harm because one is going to see the creator. Thus Tagore conveys that participation in the activity of life is essential for the realization of God. This poem ‘Leave This Chanting’ is equally important in World Literature due to his exposing the pseudo-zeal of worshippers everywhere.
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