Introduction

In this poem from Gitanjali, Rabindranath Tagore advocates that God is not to be found in temples. Instead, we can find God in dusty fields and roads along with the men who are working hard to build them. Therefore, the poet asks us to open our eyes and get rid of our superstitious beliefs and see where God truly is.

About the Poet

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) symbolises all that is decent in Indian civilisation. He was a multifaceted personality. He was a-poet, playwright, prose-writer, painter and a musician. His book ‘Gitanjali’ won for him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Dr. Radhakrishnan said about Tagore: “His poetry is a light that fills the mind, a song that stirs the blood and a hymn that moves the heart.” Most of his works were initially written by him in Bengali and later he translated them into English.

Theme

The theme of this poem is finding God.

Stanza 1 – 2

Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads!
Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut?
Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!

He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path maker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower, and His garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like Him come down on the dusty soil!

The poet tells us to leave chanting and singing and telling of beads as a way to reach God. He asks us whom we worship in the lonely dark corner of a temple with all its doors shut. It surely cannot be God, so he tells us to open our eyes and see that our God is not before us in these temples.

The poet says that God is where the tiller is tilling the hard ground and where the path maker is breaking stones. He is with them in sun and in rain, his clothes covered with dust. Therefore, God is with the hardworking but underappreciated people who help build our society. The poet tells us to put off our holy mantle and come down to the dusty soil like God.

Stanza 3 – 4

Deliverance?
Where is this deliverance to be found?
Our master himself has joyfully taken upon him the bonds of creation;
He is bound with us all for ever.

Come out of thy meditations and leave aside thy flowers and incense!
What harm is there if thy clothes become tattered and stained?
Meet him and stand by him in toil and in the sweat of thy brow.

The poet asks where deliverance is to be found. He says our master, or God, has himself happily taken upon the bonds of creation- he is bound or connected with us forever.

The poet tells us to come out of our meditation and leave aside our flowers and incense. There is no harm if our clothes become tattered and stained. So, we should meet God and stand by him in toil and in the sweat of our brow.