Rabindranath Tagore Quotes 1–30 of 117 Quotes

Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941), also known as Rabi Thakur, was a Bengali philosopher, poet, and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

Below are 30 of 117 sourced Rabindranath Tagore quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“I cannot but bring to your mind those days when the whole of Eastern Asia, from Burma to Japan was united with India in the closest ties of friendship...”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Rabindranath Tagore, Essays, Nationalism in Japan, Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2007 p.471, and quoted in A Look at India From the Views of Other Scholars, by Stephen Knapp https://www.stephen-knapp.com/a_look_at_india_from_the_views_of_other_scholars.htm

“The truth comes as conqueror only because we have lost the art of receiving it as guest.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: The Fourfold Way of India (1924); this has become paraphrased as "Truth comes as conqueror only to those who have lost the art of receiving it as friend."

“The idea of the Nation is one of the most powerful anaesthetics that Man has invented. Under the influence of its fumes the whole people can carry out its systematic programme of the most virulent self-seeking without being in the least aware of its moral perversion,-in fact feeling dangerously resentful if it is pointed out.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "Nationalism in the West", 1917. Reprinted in Rabindranath Tagore and Mohit K. Ray, Essays (2007, p. 465). Also cited in Parmanand Parashar, Nationalism: Its Theory and Principles in India (1996, p. 212), and Himani Bannerji, Demography and Democracy: Essays on Nationalism, Gender and Ideology. (2011, p.179).

“In the heart of Europe runs the purest stream of human love, of justice, of spirit of self-sacrifice for higher ideals. The Christian culture of centuries has sunk deep in her life's core. In Europe we have seen noble minds who have ever stood up for the rights of man irrespective of colour and creed.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "Nationalism in the West", 1917. Reprinted in Rabindranath Tagore and Mohit K. Ray, Essays (2007, p. 475). Also cited in John Jesudason Cornelius, Rabindranath Tagore: India's Schoolmaster, (1928, p. 83).

“Does not the voice come to us, through the din of war, the shrieks of hatred, the wailings of despair, through the churning up of the unspeakable filth which has been accumulating for ages in the bottom of this nationalism, - the voice which cries to our soul that the tower of national selfishness, which goes by the name of patriotism, which has raised its banner of treason against heaven, must totter and fall with a crash, weighed down by its own bulk, its flag kissing the dust, its light extinguished? My brothers, when the red light of conflagration sends up its crackle of laughter to the stars, keep your faith upon those stars and not upon the fire of destruction.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "Nationalism in the West", 1917. Reprinted in Rabindranath Tagore and Mohit K. Ray, Essays (2007, p. 489). Also cited in Parmanand Parashar, Nationalism: Its Theory and Principles in India (1996, p. 213-14).

“What India has been, the whole world is now. The whole world is becoming one country through scientific facility. And the moment is arriving when you also must find a basis of unity which is not political. If India can offer to the world her solution, it will be a contribution to humanity. There is only one history — the history of Man. All national histories are merely chapters in the larger one.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "Nationalism in the West", 1917. Reprinted in Rabindranath Tagore and Mohit K. Ray, Essays (2007, p. 492).

“I know how reluctant it makes us feel to give any credit for humanity to the western civilisation when we observe the brutalities into which this nationalism of theirs breaks out, instances of which are so numerous all the world over, — in the late war, in the lynching of negroes, in cowardly outrages allowed to be committed by European soldiers upon helpless Indians, in the rapacity and vandalism practised in Pekin during the Boxer war by the very people who are never tired of vulgarly applying the epithet of Hun to one section of their own confederates. But while I have never sought to gloss over or keep out of mind any of these ugly phenomena, I still aver that in the life of the West they have a large tract where their mind is free ; whence the circulation of their thought currents can surround the world.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "The Way To Unity" (1923) in Visva-Bharati Quarterly, Vol. I. No. 2, July 1923. Reprinted in Sisir Kumar Das, Sahitya Akademi,The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore: A miscellany, 1994, (p. 464).

“According to the Upanishads, the complete aspect of Truth is in the reconciliation on the finite and the infinite, of everchanging things and the eternal spirit of perfection. When in our life and work the harmony between these two is broken, then either our life is thinned into a shadow, or it becomes gross with accumulations.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "Talks in China",1924. Reprinted in Rabindranath Tagore and Mohit K. Ray, Essays (2007, p. 735).

“Those who live in England, away from the East, have now got to recognize that Europe has completely lost her former moral prestige in Asia. She is no longer regarded as the champion throughout the world of fair dealing and the exponent of high principle, but rather as the upholder of Western race supremacy and the exploiter of those outside her own borders.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: "Message From India," The Living Age magazine, July 1, 1930, pp. 518-529. Quoted in Xu Guoqi, Asia and the Great War: A Shared History. Oxford University Press, 2016.

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“Whenever a Muslim called upon the Muslim society, he never faced any resistance-he called in the name of one God ‘Allah-ho-Akbar’. On the other hand, when we (Hindus) call will call, ‘come on, Hindus’, who will respond? We, the Hindus, are divided in numerous small communities, many barriers-provincialism-who will respond overcoming all these obstacles? “We suffered from many dangers, but we could never be united. When Mohammed Ghouri brought the first blow from outside, the Hindus could not be united, even in the those days of imminent danger. When the Muslims started to demolish the temples one after another, and to break the idols of Gods and Goddesses, the Hindus fought and died in small units, but they could not be united. It has been provided that we were killed in different ages due to out discord. Weakness harbors sin. So, if the Muslims beat us and we, the Hindus, tolerate this without resistance-then, we will know that it is made possible only by our weakness. For the sake of ourselves and our neighbour Muslims also, we have to discard our weakness. We can appeal to our neighbour Muslims, `Please don't be cruel to us. No religion can be based on genocide' - but this kind of appeal is nothing, but the weeping of the weak person. When the low pressure is created in the air, storm comes spontaneously; nobody can stop it for sake for religion. Similarly, if weakness is cherished and be allowed to exist, torture comes automatically - nobody can stop it. Possibly, the Hindus and the Muslims can make a fake friendship to each other for a while, but that cannot last forever. As long as you don’t purify the soil, which grows only thorny shrubs you can not expect any fruit.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: “Swamy Shraddananda’, written by Rabindranath in Magh, 1333 Bangabda; compiled in the book ‘Kalantar’.

“There are two religions in earth, which have distinct enmity against all other religions. These two are Christianity and Islam. They are not just satisfied with observing their own religions, but are determined to destroy all other religions. That’s why the only way to make peace with them is to embrace their religions.””

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Original works of Rabindranath Vol. 24 page 375, Vishwa Bharti; 1982.

“When two-three different religions claim that only their own religions are true and all other religions are false, their religions are only ways to Heaven, conflicts can not be avoided. Thus, fundamentalism tries to abolish all other religions. This is called Bolshevism in religion. Only the path shown by the Hinduism can relieve the world from this meanness.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: R. Tagore, `Aatmaparichapa' in his book `Parichaya' http://hindusamhati.blogspot.com/2013/05/thoughts-of-rabindranath-tagore-on.html

“The terrible situation of the country makes my mind restless and I cannot keep silent. Meaningless ritual keep the Hindus divided in hundred sects. So we are suffering from series of defeats. We are tired and worn-out by the fortunes by the internal external enemies. The Muslims are united in religion and rituals. The Bengali Muslims the South Indian Muslims and even the Muslims outside India-all are united. They always stand united in face of danger. The broken and divided Hindus will not be able to combat them. Days are coming when the Hindus will be again humiliated by the Muslims. "You are a mother of children, one day you will die, passing the future of Hindus society on the weak shoulders of your children, but think about their future."”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: From the letter to Hemantabala Sarkar, written on 16the October, 1933, quoted in Bengali weekly `Swastika', 21-6-1999 http://hindusamhati.blogspot.com/2013/05/thoughts-of-rabindranath-tagore-on.html

“A very important factor which is making it almost impossible for Hindu-Muslim unity to become an accomplished fact is that the Muslims can not confine their patriotism to any one country. I had frankly asked (the Muslims) whether in the event of any Mohammedan power invading India, they (Muslims) would stand side by side with their Hindu neighbours to defend their common land. I was not satisfied with the reply I got from them… Even such a man as Mr. Mohammad Ali (one of the famous Ali brothers, the leaders of the Khilafat Movement-the compiler) has declared that under no circumstances is it permissible for any Mohammedan, whatever be his country, to stand against any Mohammedan."”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Tagore, Rabindranath. “Rabindranath Tagore Quotes: 1–30 of 117 Quotes.” Last modified August 5, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Rabindranath-Tagore-quotes.html#15

Quote source: Rabindranath Tagore, Interview of Rabindranath Tagore in `Times of India', 18-4-1924 in the column, `Through Indian Eyes on the Post Khilafat Hindu Muslim Riots http://hindusamhati.blogspot.com/2013/05/thoughts-of-rabindranath-tagore-on.html Also in A. Ghosh: "Making of the Muslim Psyche" in Devendra Swamp (ed.), Politics of Conversion, New Delhi, 1986, p. 148. And in S.R. Goel, Muslim Separatism – Causes and Consequences (1987).

“That which transcends country, which is greater than country, can only reveal itself through one’s country. God has manifested his one eternal nature in just such a variety of forms... I can assure you that through the open sky of India you will be able to see the sun therefore there is no need to cross the ocean and sit at the window of a Christian church. ... “I have nothing more to say,” answered Gora, “only this much I would add. You must understand that the Hindu religion takes in its lap, like a mother, people of different ideas and opinions, in other words, the Hindu religion looks upon man as man and does not count him as belonging to a particular party. It honours not only the wise but the foolish also and it shows respect not merely to one form of wisdom but to wisdom in all its aspects. Christians do not want to acknowledge diversity; they say that on one side is Christian religion and on the other eternal destruction, and between these two there is no middle path. And because we have studied under these Christians we have become ashamed of the variety that is there in Hinduism. We fail to see that through this diversity Hinduism is coming to realise the oneness of all. Unless we can free ourselves from this whirlpool of Christian teaching we shall not become fit for the glorious truths of Hindu religion.””

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Rabindranath Tagore, Gora, translated into English, Calcutta, 1961. Quoted from Goel, S. R. (2016). History of Hindu-Christian encounters, AD 304 to 1996. Chapter 13 ISBN 9788185990354 https://web.archive.org/web/20120501043412/http://voiceofdharma.org/books/hhce/

“Dr. Munje said in another part of his report that, eight hundred years ago, the Hindu king of Malabar (now Kerala) on the advice of his Brahmin ministers, made big favor to the Arab Muslim to settle in his kingdom. Even he appeased the Arab Muslims by converting the Hindus to Islam to an extent to making law for compulsory conversion of a member of each Hindu fisherman family in to Islam. Those, whose nature is to practice idiocy rather than common sense, never can enjoy freedom even if they are in the throne. They turn the hour of action in to a night of merriment. That’s why they are always struck by the ghost at the middle of the day.”.... “The king of Malabar once gave away his throne to idiocy. That idiocy is still ruling Malabar from a Hindu throne. That’s why the Hindus are still being beaten and saying that God is there, turning the faces towards the sky. Throughout India we allowed idiocy to rule and surrender ourselves to it. That kingdom of idiocy – the fatal lack of commonsense – was continuously invaded by the Pathans, sometimes by the Mughols and sometimes by the British. From outside we can only see the torture done by them, but they are only the tools of torture, not really the cause. The real reason of the torture is our lack of common sense and our idiocy, which is responsible for our sufferings. So we have to fight this idiocy that divided the Hindus and imposed slavery on us……..If we only think about the torture we will not find any solution. But if we can get rid of our idiocy, the tyrants will surrender to us.””

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: R. Tagore, ’Samasya,’ (The Problem), Agrahayan, 1330 Bangabda, in “Kalantar”.

“My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Gitanjali (1912):
Gitangali at Wikisource 28

“I thought that my invincible power would hold the world captive, leaving me in a freedom undisturbed. Thus night and day I worked at the chain with huge fires and cruel hard strokes. When at last the work was done and the links were complete and unbreakable, I found that it held me in its grip.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Gitanjali (1912):
Gitangali at Wikisource 31

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“The smile that flickers on baby's lips when he sleeps — does anybody know where it was born? Yes, there is a rumor that a young pale beam of a crescent moon touched the edge of a vanishing autumn cloud, and there the smile was first born in the dream of a dew-washed morning.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Gitanjali (1912):
Gitangali at Wikisource 61

“In this playhouse of infinite forms I have had my play, and here have I caught sight of him that is formless.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Gitanjali (1912):
Gitangali at Wikisource 96

“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 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 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.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Source: • Source: Wikiquote: "Rabindranath Tagore" (Quotes, Gitanjali (1912):
Gitangali at Wikisource)

“All the great utterances of man have to be judged not by the letter but by the spirit — the spirit which unfolds itself with the growth of life in history.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life (1916) Preface

“The meaning of the living words that come out of the experiences of great hearts can never be exhausted by any one system of logical interpretation. They have to be endlessly explained by the commentaries of individual lives, and they gain an added mystery in each new revelation. To me the verses of the Upanishads and the teachings of Buddha have ever been things of the spirit, and therefore endowed with boundless vital growth; and I have used them, both in my own life and in my preaching, as being instinct with individual meaning for me, as for others, and awaiting for their confirmation, my own special testimony, which must have its value because of its individuality.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Quote source: Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life (1916) Preface

“The human soul is on its journey from the law to love, from discipline to liberation, from the moral plane to the spiritual. Buddha preached the discipline of self-restraint and moral life; it is a complete acceptance of law. But this bondage of law cannot be an end by itself; by mastering it thoroughly we acquire the means of getting beyond it. It is going back to Brahma, to the infinite love, which is manifesting itself through the finite forms of law.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Source: Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life (1916)

“Want of love is a degree of callousness; for love is the perfection of consciousness. We do not love because we do not comprehend, or rather we do not comprehend because we do not love. For love is the ultimate meaning of everything around us. It is not a mere sentiment; it is truth; it is the joy that is at the root of all creation. It is the white light of pure consciousness that emanates from Brahma. So, to be one with this sarvānubhūh, this all-feeling being who is in the external sky, as well as in our inner soul, we must attain to that summit of consciousness, which is love: Who could have breathed or moved if the sky were not filled with joy, with love?”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Source: Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life (1916)

“Of course man is useful to man, because his body is a marvellous machine and his mind an organ of wonderful efficiency. But he is a spirit as well, and this spirit is truly known only by love. When we define a man by the market value of the service we can expect of him, we know him imperfectly. With this limited knowledge of him it becomes easy for us to be unjust to him and to entertain feelings of triumphant self-congratulation when, on account of some cruel advantage on our side, we can get out of him much more than we have paid for. But when we know him as a spirit we know him as our own. We at once feel that cruelty to him is cruelty to ourselves, to make him small is stealing from our own humanity...”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Source: Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life (1916)

“Man is not entirely an animal. He aspires to a spiritual vision, which is the vision of the whole truth. This gives him the highest delight, because it reveals to him the deepest harmony that exists between him and his surroundings. It is our desires that limit the scope of our self-realisation, hinder our extension of consciousness, and give rise to sin, which is the innermost barrier that keeps us apart from our God, setting up disunion and the arrogance of exclusiveness. For sin is not one mere action, but it is an attitude of life which takes for granted that our goal is finite, that our self is the ultimate truth, and that we are not all essentially one but exist each for his own separate individual existence.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

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Source: Sādhanā : The Realisation of Life (1916)

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Bruce Lee Conor McGregor John Wooden Michael Jordan Mike Tyson Muhammad Ali Vince Lombardi Yogi Berra

Authors

Alan Watts Albert Camus Anne Frank Ayn Rand Barack Obama Benjamin Franklin Bill Gates C. S. Lewis Carl Jung Carl Sagan Charles Bukowski Che Guevara Donald Trump Dr. Seuss E. E. Cummings Eckhart Tolle Edgar Allan Poe Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway F. Scott Fitzgerald Friedrich Nietzsche George Bernard Shaw George Carlin George Orwell Goethe Groucho Marx Haruki Murakami Helen Keller Henry David Thoreau Hunter S. Thompson Isaac Newton J. K. Rowling J. R. R. Tolkien Jane Austen John Green John Muir Jordan Peterson Kahlil Gibran Karl Marx Kurt Vonnegut Lao Tzu Machiavelli Mark Twain Maya Angelou Neil deGrasse Tyson Oscar Wilde Rabindranath Tagore Ralph Waldo Emerson Roald Dahl Robert Frost Rumi Shakespeare Stephen Hawking Sylvia Plath Theodore Roosevelt Thich Nhat Hanh Tony Robbins Voltaire Walt Whitman Winston Churchill Zig Ziglar

Businesspeople

Al Capone Bill Gates Coco Chanel Donald Trump Elon Musk Henry Ford Kanye West Michael Jordan Oprah Winfrey Richard Branson Steve Jobs Thomas Edison Walt Disney Warren Buffett

Coaches

John Wooden Tony Robbins Vince Lombardi Yogi Berra Zig Ziglar

Comedians

Charlie Chaplin George Carlin Groucho Marx Mae West Mitch Hedberg Robin Williams Will Smith

Explorers

Christopher Columbus Marco Polo Theodore Roosevelt

Fictional Characters

Albus Dumbledore The Joker Peter Pan Rocky Balboa Yoda

Inventors

Benjamin Franklin Elon Musk Leonardo da Vinci Nikola Tesla Thomas Edison

Military Leaders

Abraham Lincoln Adolf Hitler Alexander the Great Che Guevara Genghis Khan George Washington Julius Caesar Napoleon Sun Tzu Theodore Roosevelt Winston Churchill

Musicians & Singers

Beyoncé Bob Dylan Bob Marley Drake Ed Sheeran Eminem J. Cole Jimi Hendrix John Lennon Justin Bieber Kanye West Kendrick Lamar Kurt Cobain Lana Del Rey Lil Wayne Michael Jackson Taylor Swift Tupac Will Smith Wiz Khalifa

Philosophers

Alan Watts Albert Camus Aristotle Ayn Rand Confucius Dalai Lama Friedrich Nietzsche Henry David Thoreau Karl Marx Lao Tzu Machiavelli Marcus Aurelius Noam Chomsky Plato Ralph Waldo Emerson Socrates Thomas Jefferson Voltaire

Poets

Charles Bukowski E. E. Cummings Edgar Allan Poe Emily Dickinson Friedrich Nietzsche Henry David Thoreau J. R. R. Tolkien Kahlil Gibran Rabindranath Tagore Ralph Waldo Emerson Robert Frost Rumi Shakespeare Walt Whitman

Politicians

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Abraham Lincoln Adolf Hitler Alexander the Great Arnold Schwarzenegger Barack Obama Ben Carson Benjamin Franklin Confucius Donald Trump Eleanor Roosevelt George Washington Hillary Clinton Isaac Newton John F. Kennedy Julius Caesar Machiavelli Marcus Aurelius Michelle Obama Napoleon Nelson Mandela Ronald Reagan Theodore Roosevelt Thomas Jefferson Winston Churchill

Polymaths

Benjamin Franklin Goethe Leonardo da Vinci Rabindranath Tagore Thomas Jefferson

Religious & Spiritual

Buddha Dalai Lama Gandhi Jesus Martin Luther King Mother Teresa Muhammad Osho Pope Francis Swami Vivekananda Thich Nhat Hanh

Scientists

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam Albert Einstein Aristotle Isaac Newton Leonardo da Vinci Marie Curie Neil deGrasse Tyson Nikola Tesla Stephen Hawking Thomas Edison