Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore - an illustrious son of India
The following is the text of the speech made
by National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva
Nanayakkara at the 150th birth anniversary celebration of Gurudev
I feel humbled and honoured at one and the same time to be the guest
on this 150th birth anniversary celebration of Gurudev Rabindranath
Tagore an illustrious son of India and an inspiration for entire Asia
and who left his mark in the world of literature.
I have nothing of my own to offer in speaking a few words about this
great human being except quote Gurudev himself and other eminent
When he wrote that “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awakened
and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.
Gurudev summarized the purpose of life. Like in this instance he did
not cease to find beauty and joy in the great depths of human nature.
These reflections transfigured in the form of poetry and art that he
said came forth from his creative soul.
Freedom the perennial spirit of life in all its colourful
manifestations was a guide to the thoughts of Gurudeva.
He was exposed to knowledge, virtue and all great human ideals with
no distinction made of the new or the old worlds.
But he certainly called on his people not to carry the baggage of
muck though found in the midst of tradition.
For him political liberty, national freedom and individual choice
were all part of the same string of freedom.
He hastened to emphasise that virtue, wisdom or freedom is no
monopoly of any race.
He moved swiftly to respond against even the slightest stifling of
freedom. He rejected domination as a necessary condition of freedom.
He renounced the knighthood given in his honour by the King of
Britain after the cowardly massacre of Jaliyanwala Bag and associated
himself increasingly with the Indian freedom movement.
But he denounced narrow divisions of nationalism which prevented the
brotherhood of humanity.
As for the lyricist and composer he was, let our local artistes
gathered here give their offering in music and song to this great artist
Finally, I take the liberty to recite my favourite poem of Gurudev.
These words had been masterly translated into Sinhala and this melody
and lyrics were sung by our Maestro Pandit Amaradeva who was himself a
disciple of Gurudev Tagore.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the minds is led forward by thee
Into ever widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, Let my country awake