TO Rabindranath Tagore religion was what we ought to be and not what we are in order to be justified for the intrinsic vision of fullness and truth. His concept of Dharma pointed to the ?spontaneous efflorescence? of one who aspires to be religious to expand and explore the unending horizon of humankind. From the conceptual point of view, he, therefore, placed man as the focal point of religion encompassing truth, joy, love and other essential components of religion that contribute to the ?poignancy and perfection of man as the embodiment of the All Serene.?
Unlike Western religion, Indian religion, said Tagore, is never a quest for what virtue is and what is vice. ?Indeed, it is a quest for endless joy; a quest in the midst of living one'slife in a disciplined manner.? By discipline he meant continual and sincere cultivation of pure and unalloyed simplicity of the mind, controlled and crystallised in all earnest endeavour. Tagore used to say, ?Samtoshang hridi sangsthaya sukharhi sanyato bhavet?? one who craves for happiness should be restrained by placing contentment upon one'sheart.
In the chapter entitled ?Religion and Functions and Festivals?, Tagore made and directed religion as one'svery way of life? sensible, meaningful and practical in day-to-day activities. In fact, he explored a new dimension of religion in manifold visions?aesthetic, mystical and spiritual?which find apposite manifestations in observations of diverse functions and festivals that are closely related to man and society. That is why Tagore introduced functions and festivals in Viswa-Bharati, the cathedral of religion.
In the chapter on ?Religion and Joy?, Tagore revealed a vision of joy as an inseparable factor of joy. He delved deep into the world of joy with the firm conviction that the world with all its creations signified the rebirth of man in the religion of joy.
In the chapter on ?Religion and Creativity?, Tagore extended the canvas of religion to realisation of oneself in each and all and advocated cultivation of personality best suited to highlight the point of ?I am? to ?Thou art? as the image of the All Serene. His vision of yuktamanav as a fusion of the individual and the Divine self for the well-being of the society crystallised in truth, beauty and goodness.
The book takes the reader into a deep realm where reality and belief merge and where man gets lost in the world of religious beliefs.
(Kalpaz Publications, C-30 Satyawati Nagar, Delhi-110052.)