Understanding Rabindranath Tagore’s Spirituality as Deep Ecology, Deep Anthropology and Political Theology

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Christine Marsh

Abstract

The subject of this paper is the relevance of Rabindranath Tagore’s spirituality to the challenges we face in the world today. Tagore’s mission was ‘to work towards the true union of East and West’. The spiritual worldview Tagore brought to the West from 1912 onwards has been defined by Bengali scholars as ‘the integration of man and nature and God’. This can be expressed in more modern terms as ‘deep ecology, deep anthropology and political theology’, themes that run through the texts of the lectures Tagore gave on his foreign tours. He warned that the machine age would be disastrous for planet and people and urged a return to traditional village based society. He predicted that the dehumanising and destructive modern systems would come to an end, making way for a ‘new chapter in history’. The present crisis of democratic capitalism could lead to disruption or disaster, or else be an opportunity for relocalisation such as Tagore advocated. Movements for world change today focussed on taking responsibility for looking after ourselves and the environment directly through community involvement and decision making could be encouraged and affirmed by association with one of the greatest thinkers of the modern age.

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Author Biography

Christine Marsh

Dr Christine Marsh is an independent multidisciplinary scholar with a particular interest in how land use and land degradation are affected by forms of society and movements for world change. Over the past ten years she has focussed on the rural reconstruction and progressive education projects of the Indian poet and polymath Rabindranath Tagore, and the contemporary relevance of Tagore’s philosophy of world change to building support for the Permaculture and Transition Movements. For ten years she has been Managing Trustee of the internationally recognised information provider Plants For A Future. She contributed papers and articles during the global celebrations for Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary in 2011, and was co-editor of Rabindranath Tagore: A Timeless Mind, which brought together thirty contributions from authors in eighteen different countries. Her MA dissertation entitled ‘The Village and the World: A Political Reading of Rabindranath Tagore’s Prose Fiction’ was followed by her doctoral research and thesis: ‘Towards One World: A Journey Through the English Essays of Rabindranath Tagore’, undertaken at Exeter University. Her monograph Tagore Speaks to the Twenty-First Century was published in June 2016.

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