Ever since the appearance of Geetanjali creating something of a storm in the Western literary world of the day and winning him the Nobel Prize, Tagore came to be projected as a prophet-poet clad in flowing gown exuding the mystic spiritual wisdom of the East. This packaging has impeded a genuine appreciation of his many sided literary accomplishments. It is not widely known that Tagore was as prolific in prose as in poetry. A master stylist of Bengali prose, he was an outstanding novelist, an exquisite short story writer, a great playwright, an indefatigable letter writer. And, Tagore was a very fine essayist.
He was not an ascetic world renouncer or the proverbial inhabitant of the sequestered bower. His supple mind, in fact, was ever keenly sensitive to the things and events happening around him and ever ready to react and respond to them. He wrote on diverse social and political issues that impinged on the lives of people and agitated the public mind. A few of such essays translated into English from original Bengali are being presented here. A sturdy commitment to a deep universalism — the obligation that every human being has by virtue of being human — informs all these essays. This commitment at its core is actually a moral commitment. And, it is this that prompted Gandhiji to call Tagore ‘the great sentinel’.
Readers will find the essays in the collection providing valuable insights into important facets of the myriad mind of Tagore.