Summary of Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Where the Mind is Without Fear was included in the volume called ‘Naibedya’, the original poem bears the title ‘Prarthana’ meaning prayer. The poem is a prayer to God. The poem was written by Rabindranath Tagore during the time when India was under the British Rule and people were eagerly waiting to get their freedom from the British Rule. This poem had given a lot of strength to the people who were struggling for India’s independence. It is a prayer to the Almighty for a hassle free nation free from any kind of manipulative or corrupted powers. Go through the summary of where the mind is without fear!

About the Poet – Rabindranath Tagore reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art during the 19th and early 20th centuries. He became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, and he won it for his collection of verses and songs known as Gitanjali. Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms, and also popularised the use of colloquial language in Bengali literature. As a result of this, Bengali literature was now freed from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. Tagore was also instrumental in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa. He is generally regarded as the most outstanding creative artist of the modern Indian subcontinent.

A Pirali Brahmin from Kolkata, his family is said to have emigrated here from its ancestral gentry roots in Jessore. Tagore started writing poetry from the age of 8. At 16 he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha (meaning “Sun Lion”), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. He started writing his first short stories and dramas—and also signing them with his birth name—by 1877. As a humanist, and a strident nationalist, he denounced the Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he produced a vast oeuvre that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs. His legacy endures also in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.


detail analysis

His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays deal with both political and personal themes. Gitanjali (meaning “Song Offerings”), Gora (meaning “Fair-Faced”) and Ghare-Baire (meaning “The Home and the World”) are his best-known works. His works are held in high regard for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India‘s Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh’s Amar Shonar Bangla are both composed by him. The original song of Sri Lanka’s National Anthem was also written and tuned by Tagore.

In 1915, the British Crown granted Tagore a knighthood, but he renounced in protest against the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. At 60, Tagore took up drawing and painting. Successful exhibitions of his many works—which made a debut appearance in Paris—were held throughout Europe. He was likely colour blind to red and green, resulting in works that exhibited strange colour schemes and off-beat aesthetics. His artist’s eye for handwriting was revealed in the simple artistic leitmotifs embellishing the scribbles, cross-outs, and word layouts of his manuscripts.

Tagore’s major works included Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World); and many other literary and art works. He was also a cultural reformer, and modernized Bangla art by rejecting the rigidity of form and style.

Setting and the Mood of the Poem

Initially the poem talks about a longing. The mood that is created is of longing ,wistfulness.The strong patriotic mood takes the poet to a world which will not be subjugated and enslaved. The poet in his  prose poem style uses imagery to take us to a country which is independent ,where the people are free to express their thoughts,ideas,innovations and creations. By the end of the poem the poet creates a mood which is inspirational in nature.The poem then becomes a poem for awakening –awakening from the state of bondage.

Annotation: Meaning of Where the Mind is Without Fear

Please note: N= noun, V=verb, Adj=Adjective, Adv=Adverb, P=Preposition, Pr=Pronoun

Fragments (N): Plural form of the word “fragment”, that is, a small part broken off or separated from something

Narrow (Adj): Limited in extent, amount, or scope

Domestic (Adj): Existing or occurring inside a particular country; not foreign or international

Tireless (Adj): Having or showing great effort or energy

Striving (V): Present participle form of the word “strive”, that is, make great efforts to achieve or obtain something

Stretches (V): Third person singular present tense of the word “stretch”, that is, straighten or extend one’s body or a part of one’s body to its full length, typically so as to tighten one’s muscles or in order to reach something

Clear (Adj): (Of a substance) transparent; unclouded

Stream (N): A small, narrow river

Dreary (Adj): Depressingly dull and bleak or repetitive

Thee (Pr): An older form of the word “you”

Ever-widening (Adj): Constantly increasing in scope

The poem consists of 11 lines in total. These lines are not divided into stanzas. They are divided into meaningful segments for the purposes of this summary in order to make the poem easier to follow and understand.

Where the Mind is Without Fear Summary

Rabindranath Tagore sketches a moving picture of the nation; he would like India to be. In lines 1-2, the poet pledges to the Almighty that his country should be free from any fear of oppression or forced compulsion. He wants that everyone in his country should be free to hold their heads high in dignity. He dreams of a nation where knowledge or education would be free that is education should not be restricted to the upper class only but everybody should be free to acquire knowledge. There should not be any caste distinctions or gender distinction when it comes to education. In the succeeding line,

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

Tagore, in his poem ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ wishes for a world which is not ‘fragmented’ by prejudices based on caste, creed, color, religion or other baseless superstitions. Prejudices and superstitions should not divide the people in groups and break their unity (line 4). He wants a nation where people are truthful, not superficial and words should come out from the depth of their hearts (line 5). The sixth line of ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ talks about the poet yearning for a country where people would strive without getting tired to reach perfection leaving behind prejudices and old traditions. In the next line, line 7, Tagore wants the power of reason to dominate the minds of his countrymen, he does not want the ‘stream of reason’ to be lost amongst outdated customs and traditions and only that can direct the mind towards selfless thoughts and everlasting action.

Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

In the final line of the poem, Tagore asks the ‘Father’, presumably God to awaken his country into such a heaven of freedom.

Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

The poem is patriotic in nature considering the independence and the happiness of the countrymen as the most important factor. If a country lacks such requirements, the countrymen can never be at peace. Consequently, the society will be full of disharmony and social unjust. The poem sends a message that the society should be free from all social evils, only then it can lead to progress. Therefore, Tagore prays to God to create such an ideal society for his motherland. Make sure you go through the critical analysis of Where the Mind is Without Fear.

Central Idea of Where the Mind in Without Fear

The poem was written at a time where Indians were under the British Rule. By yearning for an awakened country where there would be freedom of the mind and the spirit, the poem   invokes deep patriotic feelings among the readers. By praying for a freedom of spirit , education, work the poem actually highlights the condition of the country then –Subjugated, dependent, bound by cast creed, superstitious beliefs and prejudices

Throughout the poem the poet has yearned, prayed, appealed for  a country which would be the “heaven of freedom ”thus giving us ,the readers, a state to aspire for. The poem has always had a global appeal and is relevant   even today. The same yearning continues. The yearning for a world where there would be freedom of the spirit, dignity  ,where people would not cower in fear of subjugation.

Suggested Reading: Where the Mind is Without Fear Solved Questions

Suggest Reading: Critical analysis of Where the Mind is Without Fear.

Suggested Reading: Summary of Where the Mind is Without Fear in Hindi

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113 thoughts on “Summary of Where the Mind is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore”

  1. Lovely summary……..This poem is the strength to not only India that time but also to many normal people…….because even if India is independent now……many people struggle to live in the world……and this poem is a strength to them.

  2. it is extremly helpful for me and those people who are teaching this poem.so,i would like to heartly thanks for providing summary and explanation.

  3. ‘Dreary desert sand of dead habit’ means doing something wrong or lifeless over and over again without knowing the truth and reality of the situation. It becomes boring and the task no longer remains creative and boring. Anyway, the summary is explanatory and interesting….good effort…..

  4. SIGNPOSTS:
    ~The poet wishes that in his country everyone should be fearless and honoured.
    ~He wishes a free country where one can acquire knowledge without restriction.
    ~He wishes that his country should not be divided on the basis of narrow-domestic walls of caste, class, colour, religion, creed and religion.
    ~He wishes that his countrymen should be honest and truthful.
    ~They should strive tirelessly to achieve perfection in all their undertakings.
    ~They should not be led astray by bad habits and thoughts.
    ~Their mind should be led forward towards noble thoughts.
    ~He prays to God to raise his country into the heaven of freedom.

    THE POEM IN DETAIL:

    Lines 1-2:
    In these lines, the poet prays to God that everyone in his country should be fearless. They should be free to hold their heads high in self-respect without having any fear of oppression or compulsion. In his country education should not be the monopoly of the rich and the affluent. The distribution of knowledge should not be restricted by narrow ideas and loyalties. This poem was written by Tagore when India was under the subjugation of the British. The British rule had robbed India of its pride and dignity by reducing it to a subjugated nation. Thus, Tagore dreamt of a country where the people could hold their heads high with pride in knowledge and strength.

    Lines 3-5:
    The poet feels that the world of man is fragmented; it is restricted to small mutually exclusive compartments. The poet prays that the minds of his countrymen should not be engulfed in prejudices based on caste, class, colour, religion, creed, region and narrow superstitions. On the other hand, their minds should be enriched by thoughts and actions, which are worthy and beneficial to the nation. He feels that the words of truth should come out from the depth of the heart and should be spoken courageously in the open for the world to hear. He prays that his countrymen should strive tirelessly to achieve perfection in all their undertakings.

    Lines 6-8:
    The poet prays that his countrymen should work for perfection in everything with the help of reason, leaving aside superstitious rituals. They should not be led astray from their goal in the dry desert of dead habits, that is, in a place where outdated customs and traditions are followed. His countrymen’s mind should be led forward into progressive thought and action, that is, they should be led by the power of reasoning to focus on the future with scientific thought. Tagore wants his country to awake to such a state of sound reasoning and righteous action. He prays to God, that his country should awake into a heaven of freedom.

    THEMES:

    1. A prayer for a Subjugated Nation
    2. Poet’s dream

  5. A remarkable summary and analysis of all the indo-anglian poetry here. Please do update more of them.
    Thank you 🙂
    -from a regular reader of your work.

  6. Great job, but It would be very helpful for me if I could get you in Facebook. I m in class and 10 sometimes I face problems regarding English literature,so I would be very happy if you could help me.

  7. The summary and the poem is very nice.But what Rabindranath Tagore wants or prays in this poem is being successfully managed it.

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