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Ch. 37: Nature's Revenge

Here in Karwar I wrote the Prakritir Pratishodha, Nature's Revenge, a dramatic poem. The hero was a Sanyasi (hermit) who had been striving to gain a victory over Nature by cutting away the bonds of all desires and affections and thus to arrive at a true and profound knowledge of self. A little girl, however, brought him back from his communion with the infinite to the world and into the bondage of human affection. On so coming back the Sanyasi realised that the great is to be found in the small, the infinite within the bounds of form, and the eternal freedom of the soul in love. It is only in the light of love that all limits are merged in the limitless.

The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realise that the beauty of Nature is not a mirage of the imagination, but reflects the joy of the Infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it. Where the universe is expressing itself in the magic of its laws it may not be strange if we miss its infinitude; but where the heart gets into immediate touch with immensity in the beauty of the meanest of things, is any room left for argument?

Nature took the Sanyasi to the presence of the Infinite, enthroned on the finite, by the pathway of the heart. In the Nature's Revenge there were shown on the one side the wayfarers and the villagers, content with their home-made triviality and unconscious of anything beyond; and on the other the Sanyasi busy casting away his all, and himself, into the self-evolved infinite of his imagination. When love bridged the gulf between the two, and the hermit and the householder met, the seeming triviality of the finite and the seeming emptiness of the infinite alike disappeared.

This was to put in a slightly different form the story of my own experience, of the entrancing ray of light which found its way into the depths of the cave into which I had retired away from all touch with the outer world, and made me more fully one with Nature again. This Nature's Revenge may be looked upon as an introduction to the whole of my future literary work; or, rather this has been the subject on which all my writings have dwelt--the joy of attaining the Infinite within the finite.

On our way back from Karwar I wrote some songs for the Nature's Revenge on board ship. The first one filled me with a great gladness as I sang, and wrote it sitting on the deck:

Mother, leave your darling boy to us, And let us take him to the field where we graze our cattle.[52]

The sun has risen, the buds have opened, the cowherd boys are going to the pasture; and they would not have the sunlight, the flowers, and their play in the grazing grounds empty. They want their Shyam (Krishna) to be with them there, in the midst of all these. They want to see the Infinite in all its carefully adorned loveliness; they have turned out so early because they want to join in its gladsome play, in the midst of these woods and fields and hills and dales--not to admire from a distance, nor in the majesty of power. Their equipment is of the slightest. A simple yellow garment and a garland of wild-flowers are all the ornaments they require. For where joy reigns on every side, to hunt for it arduously, or amidst pomp and circumstances, is to lose it.

Shortly after my return from Karwar, I was married. I was then 22 years of age.


[52] This is addressed to Yashoda, mother of Krishna, by his playmates. Yashoda would dress up her darling every morning in his yellow garment with a peacock plume in his hair. But when it came to the point, she was nervous about allowing him, young as he was, to join the other cowherd boys at the pasturage. So it often required a great deal of persuasion before they would be allowed to take charge of him. This is part of the Vaishnava parable of the child aspect of Krishna's play with the world. Tr.


Rabindranath Tagore