Insights from a Century Ago

Carol A. Hand

A century ago, Rabindranath Tagore began his book, Sādhanā – The Realization of Life, with words of wisdom that we still fail to live by as a world. I wonder why the media continues to feature the words of ignorant, power-hungry fools to reinforce divisions, suffering, and war instead of sages whose simple, elegantly-stated truth can lead us to peace?

“The civilisation of ancient Greece was nurtured within city walls. In fact, all the modern civilisations have their cradles of brick and mortar.

These walls leave their mark deep in the minds of men. They set up a principle of “divide and rule” in our mental outlook, which begets in us a habit of securing all our conquests by fortifying them and separating them from one another. We divide nation and nation, knowledge and knowledge, man and nature. It breeds in us a strong suspicion of whatever is beyond the barriers we have built, and everything has to fight hard for its entrance into our recognition.”

In these times of conflict and austerity, may we contemplate how to live by deeper truths in our everyday lives on this tiny, precious planet in a vast and wondrous universe.

earth image

Photo: Planet Earth

Work Cited:

Rabindranath Tagore (1915). Sādhanā: The Realisation of Life. New York, NY: The MACMILLIAN COMPANY.

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22 thoughts on “Insights from a Century Ago

  1. Interesting to note that Tagore is up your street, Carol. One can only marvel at the penetrating insight in his words, of which the quote here is just one of many examples that can be drawn from his vast body of poems, short stories, novels, dramas, essays, lectures, not to speak of the large number of lyrics, also set to music by himself, which in turn has become a genre of music known as ‘Rabindra Sangith’. Tagore is truly India’s Renaissance man, in the league of Leonardo da Vinci, Abu Al Biruni, Galileo, Castiglione and others. In case you have not, I suggest you read his ‘Gitanjali’, a collection of poems for which he won the Nobel prize for literature…best wishes.. Raj.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for adding crucial contextual details, Raj. I was hoping you would 🙂

      When I was attempting to clean up the documents I’ve saved on my computer – in need of uncluttering like my file cabinets and book shelves – I rediscovered the electronic copy I have of his book. It’s too precious to delete! Given the fact that his writing is so relevant today, 100 years after it was published, it felt important to share, along with a link to download this work for free.

      I appreciate your suggestion for another of his books, Raj, and will certainly read it when I have time this winter.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I would like to add that Rabindranath Tagore isn’t just the Renaissance man for India, but also Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is such a pleasure to hear that there are others like yourselves who like his work, one poem from Gitanjali “Closed Path” is very popular with my great grand mother, she was of Bengali origin and witnessed the partition 1947..
      Thanks again for this wonderful post, Carol.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I so appreciate your comments, Write from the East. Thank you for adding an important reminder about the shared heritage of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and the disastrous consequences of the partition in 1947. I hope readers will visit your blog to read your thoughtful discussions about these issues.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow Carol, beautiful post, Rabindranath Tagore is a treasure! a fountain of wisdom for humanity. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. (As usual)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Hector.

      I agree that Tagore’s work is extraordinary. I’m not sure if you read the comment from Raj, but he provides important background information about Tagore and mentions another of his books. In my reply, I included a link to a free online copy if you’re interested.

      Best wishes to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A good question, Ken. I find it’s easier to simply have no tv and listen to classical music on public radio. It helps keep my hope up and my blood pressure low 🙂 I can stay somewhat up-to-date about what’s happening in the world by being selective about the news sources I skim and the blogs that I follow. But I do still wish media had the wisdom to use more sense in allocating airtime – what they choose to share does affect the world profoundly.


  3. I just looked up his other works-thank you for sharing. It is heart-breaking all the refugees escaping to Europe—- that sad picture of the young child washed up on a shoreline tugs at my heart…..your post makes me think of all this going on in our world today.

    Than you for sharing + I will be looking up his work. I worry about the next generation will they know great writers and thinkers??? I know our generation had to read and explore great thinkers/writers/artists…do the young today?

    His words are so true for today. We just can’t seem to live in peace anywhere and people are building walls to keep each other out:-) A country building walls in 2015 to keep people out….we will never change.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These are challenging times, Robbie. Yes, building walls to keep people out. It’s amazing that scholars have been sharing wisdom for eons, and yet we keep repeating the same mistakes. But there are many of us who still keep doing what we can to raise awareness and breathe kindness into what we do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. I always love to hear from you and read your posts 🙂


      1. Last night before I went to bed, I read a wealthy Egyptian business man wants to purchase an island near Europe that has room for 200-300 thousand refugees. I sure hope they solve the problem and we do not have to keep seeing that poor child washed up on the shoreline-disturbing!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The state of the world is so distressing these days. Houses sit empty while families are homeless, all so bankers can make a profit. Politicians declare war, arms dealers get rich, and ordinary people lose their homes, land, and lives. I think we need to keep trying to do what we can in our own ways. We still need to see the beauty around us and be kind to those we encounter. We never know what effect those simple actions will have in the long run …


  4. So very true I am finding more and more these ancient text that have been shoved under the carpet. Ive not hear of Tagore but will be looking him up also! Thanks again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m grateful to know that you discovered something new, Equality! I’ve posted a link to another of Tagore’s free online books in my reply to Raj in case you’re interested. (Raj’s comment also includes fascinating contextual information about Tagore.)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “I wonder why the media continues to feature the words of ignorant, power-hungry fools to reinforce divisions, suffering, and war instead of sages whose simple, elegantly-stated truth can lead us to peace?”

    That question – in particular the word “why” – is one of the most fundamental of this or any generation, one of the most urgent to think about and try to answer, and when answered fully and honestly brings about the next planetary transformation to a higher moral, spiritual and philosophical level. It’s impossible to overstate the enormity of that question.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think your observations are accurate, Stuart. I believe that specialization began as a result of food cultivation and animal domestication. Reliable food production enabled sedentary communities that could support large populations to develop. Administrators and scribes were needed to keep track to food supplies and other necessary goods that were produced. They weren’t needed in the fields or workshops. They were well supported by workers and could devote their time to building social institutions and technologies that enhanced their power over workers.


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