Rabindranath Tagore's poem Govinda's disciple is a moral fable that deals with the relation between Govinda and his disciple Raghunath. It is a subtle critique of materialism that goes by in the name of spiritual respect.
Raghunath wants to impress his spiritual master by gifting him two extremely precious bangles to display his reverence for his master but Govinda throws one of them into the water of the river beside. Raghunath dives deep into the water, desperately trying to revive the bangle but the flow takes it afar, outside his reach. In the evening, when he finally comes back to Govinda and asks him where did it go, Govinda throws the other one into the water, saying it has gone there to be precise. This is how he teaches a lesson to his disciple and makes him realize that he was only satisfying his ego and not showing real selfless regard for his guru.
Rabindranath Tagore’s poem Govinda’s disciple is a moral fable that deals with the relation between Govinda and his disciple Raghunath. It is a subtle critique of materialism that goes by in the name of spiritual respect.
‘Govinda’s Disciple’ brings into focus the master-disciple relationship and shows us how the master teaches values through living examples of painful experiences. Govinda Singh, one of the founders of Sikh religion, sitting on a rock on the bank of river Jumna teaches his disciple Raghunath the importance of material renunciation to achieve divine life.
The disciple presents a pair of gold bangles to his master. The master is not pleased at his disciple’s gift. He wants to teach his foolish disciple that attachment to this metal is a serious impediment to divine blessing. A disciple who seeks divine life is expected to possess detachment from the material world. The master lets one of the bangles roll down into the river. The panic-stricken disciple jumps into the water to recover the lost bangle. The master spent the time reading scriptures. As the daylight faded, the disciple came up and begged his master to help him spot the direction where the bangle fell to make yet another attempt. To his shock, the master obliged him by throwing the other bangle to the same direction where the first one fell.
This is how he teaches a lesson to his disciple and makes him realize that he was only satisfying his ego and not showing real selfless regard for his guru. What is left unsaid is more eloquent and effective. The abrupt end gives the reader a powerful message.
I think that one can examine the imagery used to describe the bangles the first time the guru examines them when given by the student. An example of personification could be seen when the diamonds “darted shafts of light.” The implication here is that the diamonds have come to life, reflecting the severe love the student holds for the bangles, almost to value them more than anything else. When Tagore writes that “it slipped from his hand and rolled down the bank.”, in this figure of speech, the idea of the object holding value is something that brings out how the student viewed the object, explaining why he was destined to lose it.