Where the Mind Is Without Fear (Gitanjali 35)

by Rabindranath Tagore
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What kind of country is the poet dreaming of in “Where the Mind Is Without Fear”?

In “Where the Mind Is Without Fear,” Rabindranath Tagore dreams of the kind of country that is a “heaven of freedom,” committed to truth, lacking in fear, and filled with courage and healthy pride. This country will allow knowledge to be free, follow reason, and strive toward perfection.

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In his poem “Where the Mind Is Without Fear,” Rabindranath Tagore describes his ideal vision for his country. He dreams of, longs for, and prays for, his country to experience a “heaven of freedom,” and to the poet, freedom means a focus on truth and a lack of fear.

The poet begins with a line filled with courage and pride as he starts to introduce his desire for his country. It should have a mind “without fear” and a head “held high.” Knowledge should be free, literally perhaps as in free education, but also metaphorically as in the ability to learn and grow together in fruitful discussion and continual opportunities.

The poet also longs for unity, for a world not “broken up into fragments” by narrow walls and narrow minds. Yet he also insists that words must “come out from the depth of truth” and that people reach out toward perfection. His ideal country will also travel along the “clear stream of reason” so that it does not get lost in the “dreary desert sand of dead habit.” The mind must be truly free to run into “ever-widening thought and action” based on reason and truth, courage and unity. This, for the poet, is the “heaven of freedom” that his country should have.

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