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The “Class of 1861”: Rizal, Tagore

The “Class of 1861”: Rizal, Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)
Freeing Minds.” The seminar

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that was “an attempt to highlight

life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
the significant contributions

—Rabindranath Tagore, (1861–1941) made to child education by Dr.

In 1912 poet and esotericist W.B. Yeats wrote an intro- Rudolf Steiner in the West and

duction to Gitanjali, a translation of poems by Ra- Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

bindranath Tagore. He said in part, “I have carried the in the East, with both great

manuscript of these translations about with me for days, personalities having been born

reading it in railway trains, or on the tops of omnibuses and in 1861. For this occasion, the

in restaurants, and I have often had to close it lest some Waldorf book by Torin Finser

stranger would see how much it moved me. These lyrics School as a Journey was trans-

which are in the original, my Indians tell me, full of subtlety lated into Bengali, the language of Tagore’s Bengal (India) 

of rhythm, of untranslatable delicacies of colour, of metrical as well as the national language of Bangladesh... In January 

invention, display in their thought a world I have dreamed 2007, the Tribeni (three streams) Waldorf School of Dhaka 

of all my life long. The work of a supreme culture, they yet opened its doors to the first kindergarten group.”

From Gitanjali:
appear as much the growth of the common soil as the grass 
When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart 
and the rushes. A tradition, where poetry and religion are 
would break with pride; and I look to thy face, and tears 
the same thing, has passed through the centuries, gathering 
come to my eyes.
from learned and unlearned metaphor and emotion, and 
All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one 
carried back again to the multitude the thought of the 
sweet harmony—and my adoration spreads wings like a 
scholar and of the noble. If the civilization of Bengal remains 
glad bird on its flight across the sea.
unbroken, if that common mind which—as one divines— 
I know thou takest pleasure in my singing. I know that 
runs through all, is not, as with us, broken into a dozen 
only as a singer I come before thy presence.
minds that know nothing of each other, something even of 
I touch by the edge of thy far spreading wing of my song 
what is most subtle in these verses will have come, in a few
thy feet which I could never aspire to reach.
generations, to the beggar on the roads.”
Drunk with the joy of singing I forget myself and call thee 
Tagore’s communion with conscience seems to have
friend who art my lord.
been continuous. It was said of him that “all the aspirations 

of mankind are in his hymns.” He founded and fostered Joś Protasio Rizal (1861-1896)

Visva Bharati university with funds from his 1913 Nobel 
Another exceptional individual born in 1861 is the 
Prize as a “world center for the study of humanity.” He is 
national hero of the Philippines, Joś Rizal, a medical doctor 
featured in the recent volume The Spirit of Modern India: 
and ophthalmologist, poet, writer, sculptor, painter, educa- 
Writings in Philosophy, Religion, and Culture edited by Robert 
tor, and social reformist. His death by firing squad set off 
McDermott and V. S. Naravane.
the nationalist revolution against Spain. He spoke many 
Aban Bana in Anthroposophy Worldwide reported that the 
languages, studied at universities in Madrid, Paris, and 
first Waldorf school in Bangladesh arose from a seminar on 
Heidelberg, and gave an address in German to the Berlin 
Tagore and Rudolf Steiner in 2003, “Creating Culture,
Anthropological Society in 1887, age 25, on his native

18 • being human

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