Rabindranath Tagore: “The Stream of Life”

Rabindranath Tagore's Stream of Life
Rabindranath Tagore’s Stream of Life

This poem is from Tagore’s Gitanjali. It is simply titled “Praan” which means “life” in Bengali. The English translation is by Tagore himself.

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Below the fold is a related video. It is Matt Harding’s 2008 dancing video in which the background score is the poem sung by Palbasha Siddique.

I had written about Matt in Feb 2006. Wow, that’s nearly seven years ago. How time flies. Here’s bit from “Dancing at the edge of the world“:

At times one despairs about humanity, what with all the global terrorism, and the rioting, killing, destruction, and insanity inspired by a bunch of marks on pieces of paper. Some semblance of hope appears when you realize that there are billions of people who go about their lives without meaning harm to others, who would rather live and let live and if they can, enjoy the good things that the world has to offer.

Here is a glimpse of one such ordinary human in a little video clip titled Man Dancing.

I found it heart-warming and joyous. An average guy simply doing what he thought was cool. You can tell that he enjoys doing this crazy dancing all over the world. And then there are the positive externalities: you watch the video and it makes you smile for no particular reason. Dance, music, friendship, just plain joie de vivre. It is not high art, it is not heavy with meaning and significance, it is not pre-meditated, it is not produced to change the world, it does not pretend to send a message of global dominance, or complain about oppression. It could cause offense in some parts of the world but in the majority of the world, it is just a guy dancing.

Stop for a moment and think about what makes this possible. An average guy traveling around the world: the commercial airline industry. This could not have been possible a century ago. Next, the technology: a hand-held recording device cheap enough and small enough for an average rich nation citizen. This was not possible even 30 years ago. Finally, the global broadband communications network which brings you the video with the click of a mouse: not possible 20 years ago.

Yes, there is the mindless rage some express on being told about a few scribbles on pieces of paper but then there are billions of others who would express themselves in their own ordinary ways given the opportunity to do so and thus create what is truly extraordinary, truly human.

The background score to that video is an old favorite — Sweet Lullaby by Deep Forest. Here is a trance version of that song.

That’s it for today. Have fun.

Author: Atanu Dey


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