TAGORE’S NOBEL PRIZE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH . PROF. S. JAYARAMAN Email:[email protected] com Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 for the collection of his poems entitled Gitanjali. His banquet speech, sent by telegram, was read on his behalf by Mr. Clive, the British Charge d’ affaires. In that very short speech Tagore hinted at the coming together of the East and the West and the brotherhood among strangers. It was only on the 26 of May 1921, in Stockholm, Tagore gave in person, his ‘Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech’.
In that considerably long speech, he gave an account of how the news of his winning the Nobel Prize reached him. It reached him when he was taking a party in a coach to a forest near Shantiniketan, a school established by him. Then he recounted his long secluded life in a boat- house on the banks of the river Ganges. He passed his days in solitude, as he said, “dreaming and giving shape to my dreams in poems and studies. ” He longed to come out of solitude to work for his fellow- beings. He complained that the machine of education had crushed his joy and freedom, while young. So, he made it his object to give freedom and joy to children.
He said that the joyful voices of children were akin to elements of nature and they “sent up humanity’s cries of aspiration to the Infinitive. ” It was in such an environment that Tagore wrote his poems Gitanjali. So, he dedicated the Nobel Prize to the Eastern children and students. Moreover, he had also spent a part of the prize-money for the upgradation of Shantiniketan Tagore said that he was conscious that the present age belonged to the Western man, with his “super abundance of energy. ” The “Divine man with all his powers and aspirations of life was dwelling in the West. ” He was happy that Gitanjali was readily accepted by the West.
He felt that the West had turned its attention to the East seeking the nourishment of its spirituality, “necessary for all Humanity. ” Tagore recalled of the great University that India had during the distant past to which students from different nations came. Perhaps, he meant the Nalanda University. Tagore regretted that, for long, Indian students had been brought up in “utter ignorance of the worth of their own civilization of the past. ” The time had now come for the East and the West to meet. Tagore was happy that he was “able to interpret the voice of the need of the time,” in his writings.
His aim in starting the university, Shantiniketan, was to “to unite the hearts of the East and the West. ” He invited students and scholars from the West to his institution. He also asserted that” the immortal works of our ancestors proclaimed “the religion of unity and sympathy. ”They say, “He who sees all beings as himself, who realizes all beings as himself, knows truth. ”That was why Tagore had gone to Stockholm to invite the West to his University, with the aim of making it a common institution for the East and the West, as a “living … representative of the undivided Humanity of the World”.