• Parabaas
    Parabaas : পরবাস : বাংলা ভাষা, সাহিত্য ও সংস্কৃতি
  • পরবাস | Rabindranath Tagore | Essay
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  • Selections from Santiniketan : Stregth at Work [shakti - Santiniketan Vol I] : Rabindranath Tagore
    translated from Bengali to English by Jyoti Prakash Datta

    Joy resides at the confluence where the streams of knowledge, love and strength come together. The union of these three streams within us is manifested in bliss - their flowing apart causes our suffering.

    If we are tempted to adopt any short-cuts to this union we shall only deceive ourselves. If we think we can meet the King bypassing the sentry, we shall be met with harassment only, without ever being able to meet the King. If we think we can rise above the Law bypassing the requirement of following that Law itself, we shall come to nothing but grief.

    We come to aquire mastery over a system by following the rules laid down by that system. One is accepted as the master of a household only if he or she meticulously follows the rules of that household.

    That is why I say, it is possible for us to rise above our surroundings while living within them, it is possible for us to transcend work while engaged in work ourselves. This is never possible by permanently renouncing the world to run away from it.

    This is because the way to our salvation lies through following our true nature which is in activity and not through a sense of loss arising from absence of work. Salvation comes from a sense of fulfilment - indifference to life begets only emptiness.

    Therefore, turn yourselves towards the Source of your salvation in whom you would find nothing that is negative - who is for ever manifesting Himself as the everlasting Yea in existence!

    That is why the ancient sages have described Him as possessing a nature which is revealed essentially in action - never in inaction. He is active by His own nature, for there is no one compelling Him to work. Hence, for us too, work comes naturally. We find ourselves engaging our strength in work not merely because of external need to earn a living, but because we enjoy work for its own sake.

    Thus it is that our salvation lies in work itself, for it is through our work that we express our own selves.

    But just as a towline, which normally moves a boat along a river by pulling outwards, can also bind down the boat to a bank by an inward pull, so too the same work which liberates may also bind us down to ourselves. How does this happen?

    When our work gets entangled within the narrow confines of of our own selfishness, it becomes a terrible bind. Then the application of our strength is against any purpose higher than our own selfish motives. It is directed not towards the larger many but the small self. Thus directed, the application of our strength takes us in a direction away from the joy of salvation. A person who is idle, doing no work is simply confined within himself, but he who engages in petty pursuits for self alone undergoes the rigors of being imprisoned in a jail. He toils on a millstone set in the prison of his self without being able to reap any benefit of those toils which remain fruitless for him.

    Therefore, our salvation lies not in desisting from work altogether but in working to direct our efforts away from self alone towards the Great Reality. Then, in whatever work we do, be it small or big, we see that work as integral with activity which sustains the Universe. Work, thus undertaken, does not bind us down to ourselves but promotes truth, welfare and joy all around us.

    Published in Parabaas August 9, 2019
  • Introduction | In the morning | Night | Three Storeys | The All Pervading Presence | The Abode That Ever Abides Within | Stregth at Work | Seeing the Truth | Creation | The One Commandment
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