To India, My Native Land

Where the nose breathes unhindered and lungs fill up with joy;

Where clean air is free;

Where the tongue craves taste and the stomach eats without concern;

Where food is safe;

Where winter fog envelopes all beings in its mysterious, soft embrace,

Free from the tentacles of its cousin, itchy smog;

Where sunlight, life-giving, source of brightness,

Has not been replaced by Vitamin D tablets and LED lamps;

Where clear streams of water gushing down Himalayan heights,

Have not been polluted by toxic waste and industrial effluents,

Where the world has not been divided,

Between cocooned, paid for life

With managed water, managed food, managed air, managed light that are safe,

And gushing water, unpesticided food, free air, abundant sunlight, that is not;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action;

Into that heaven of salubrity, my Father, let my country awake.

There, I did it! Wrote a poem. But I confess. The words are mine but the form that of  a poem by 1913 Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, fondly known as ‘Gurudev’, titled simply as Poem 35, when it was published in the English version of Gitanjali, by the Indian Society, London, in 1912. Written before India’s independence, it represents the poet’s vision of a new and awakened India. This poem was most likely composed in 1900. The English translation was composed around 1911 when Tagore was translating some of his work into English.

I don’t know whether Gurudev, if he were to see the nation today, would consider his century-old vision articulated in the poem having been fulfilled or not. But I am taking the liberty of putting out this modified version of Gurudev’s poem on the occasion of the 70th Republic Day of India, as my own vision for a new and awakened India.

The title used is the title of  a poem by Indian poet Henry Louis Vivian Derozio in 1828.

The English version of Tagore’s poem:

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 domestic 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 mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Best wishes to all readers on the occasion.