Tagore: A Life of Giving

Friday’s edition of the New York Times features an article by Eric Weiner about his trip to Shantiniketan, the town where the Bengali poet and activist Rabindarath Tagore (1861-1941) founded a school that still thrives today. The article quotes Tagore’s final poem, which he dictated 9 days before his death.

Today my sack is empty. I have given completely whatever I had to give. In return if I receive anything — some love, some forgiveness — then I will take it with me when I step on the boat that crosses to the festival of the wordless end.

I hope that when my time comes, I too can look back and say “I have given completely whatever I had to give.” I, too, would like to die with my sack of potential gifts utterly spent. Honestly, I do not think I have given enough in my life, which is why my New Year’s resolution is to give more.

The Argumentative Indian by Amartya SenIf you read the Times article and are intrigued by Tagore, I highly recommend Amartya Sen’s collection of essays, The Argumentative Indian. It’s a great survey of Indian culture, and it includes a couple of essays on Tagore, with whom Sen studied in Shantiniketan.