What is the theme of Tagore's poem, "Where the Mind is Without Fear"?

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of "Where the Mind is Without Fear" by Rabindranath Tagore is freedom from colonization and what it takes to achieve that.

Tagore lived in India during British Crown rule of the country. According to the BBC, Britain ruled India from 1858 until 1947. Tagore was born in 1861 and died in 1941. He never lived in an India that wasn't ruled by the British—and yet dreams of what his country could be if it was free, as described in "Where the Mind is Without Fear."

The British rule of India created a system that prevented many Indian people from gaining education or positions of power in the country. Tagore speaks to that when he says:

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

He's aware that his own people are being kept from knowledge—and not because it's the right thing to do. Instead, it's caused by the "dreary desert sand of dead habit" that British rule became in India. 

Tagore believes that education, working together, and "ever-widening thought and action" can change things. That's why he says that the world he describes is "that heaven of freedom" and asks "[his] Father [to] let [his] country awake."

The entire poem functions as a prayer. He's addressing his father, but not the one he was born to. Rather, it appears that he's addressing God and asking that India, his nation, be released into the world he describes. 

kc4u | Student

Tagore's poem,' Where the mind is without fear' is a prayer addressed to a father-figure, presumably God, for an awakening into a heaven of freedom where the mind will be fearless and the head held high, where men will get the freedom of knowledge, where all words issue out from the well of truth, where superstitious beliefs and dead old habits shall not impede the transparent flow of thought, where narrow parochial interests shall no longer separate nations or communities of people.

The poem was written when India was under the British rule and the Indians struggled for freedom. But, for Tagore, freedom was more than merely political; he dwelt on the theme of spritual freedom: freedom of mind, speech, thought, belief, practice & behaviour.

namratagogoi | Student
he poem referred to is a translated version of original Bengali poem of Rabindra nath Tagore. This poem was written in 'Sonnet' rythm ( Sonet is a kind of poetic rythm in which a poem consist of 14 lines and each line consists of 14 letters. ) included in his original collection "Naibedya" ( Offerings to god ) 
Theme or underlying meaning of a particular line of the poem may not be sufficient to understand the theme of the entire poem. The line referred to is the first line of the poem and the poem is named after this. ( The Bengali text of the line : " Chitta jetha bhoi sunnya, uchcha jetha shir"). 
In the poem, the poet prays to the allmighty to bring India (Bharat) in such a heavenly state, where mind is with out fear and our head stand high, where my knwledge is free enough and my world is not fragmented. Oh, allmighy ! you being the source of all our joy, bring the new awakening by removing all the odds, cruelly. 
expert-eng | Student

Tagore's poem, "Where the mind is without fear" is a pre-independence poem, where the poet earnestly prays to God to awake his countrymen (Indians) to the realization that they need to live in a free and united country. He wants his countrymen to enjoy being citizens of a free nation, where they can lead their lives with honour. He dreams of a nation where people would not be superstitious or believers of blind faith; rather they would be enlightened and knowledgeable. He wants the people to be honest and hard-working. Only then, the nation can hope of achieving success. Reason has to overpower blind faith. People must open-up themselves to accepting new thoughts and ideas and work upon them. Thus the nation would be successful.