A Spoken Silence: Rabindranath and the Ecology of Modern Consciousness

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Assem Shrivastava

Abstract

Rabindranath’s enormous corpus of varied work has been widely un-derstood as that of a poet, a writer, a playwright, a musician and a man of letters. He has only rarely been interpreted as a philosopher, and almost never as an ecological philosopher. Preliminary research shows that he is perhaps India’s first modern ecological philosopher - at growing odds with modernity. The essay argues that Tagore’s perspectives and insights are unique and his intellectual contribution in this area is indispensable to an understanding of the ecological and spiritual implications of technological, industrial modernity. There are few thinkers during the last hundred years anywhere more relevant when it comes to teaching us the significance of how we relate to the natural world (including, needless to add, our very own bodies) and what it tells us about ourselves and the way we have come to live.The focus in this paper is on what we can learn about Tagore’s outlook on the natural world and our relationship to it from a set of letters he wrote to his niece during his years as a young man, looking after his family estate in East Bengal (now, Bangladesh).

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