When Mind Is Without Fears

Sunsets At Mumbai

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.

By Rabindranath Tagore

Libraries and classrooms are best places to fall asleep. Trust me I speak of an experience. Whenever I look at a magnificent library with a rustic look with a tint that speaks of ancient untouched knowledge hidden in its shelves, I think how ecstatic it would be to fall asleep there. I am not sure if it’s because I am a person who has vivid dreams or because my nature is to seek knowledge. These places, seem like a warm hug, a home or more precisely a safe place. My professors and librarians would choose to disagree, but always let me be, because somehow I always knew answers to question in the class or the books I read.

Recently, in one of our team meets in Project Expressions we stumbled upon a topic of school prayers. I didn’t seem to remember mine at all, I just knew it was free from religious ties, one could attach it to any God they please, but the meaning for all remained the same. After hunting through and asking my school friends, I found the answer. It was ‘Where Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore’. I did not remember this poetry for some reason, but my mother told me I would sing this prayer fondly. Apparently, it was my favourite. I chuckled maybe I was asleep in the warmth of the classroom and well-spirited echos when the prayers happened. I was proud that my Irani school was so much more open to diversity in its true form, moreover, it had its priority set, to make their students fearless children of the future. Although that’s where the irony lies. My mind is FULL of fears.

Ever since the discovery of poetry like Vasco Da Gama discovered America, things didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to take things in control. I remember being confident but then my emotions were always at the toss, they were inhumanly organised. Now when I am a softer, kinder and more loving person I grasp fears and negativity too. I believe there’s always a mid-way. And this situation desperately needed one. My everyday life is affected by fears a lot, more than I would like to address. It comes as the first reaction to most things. Although I can get through almost anything if I put my mind to it, you would find me not indulging in anything that would challenge that. My flight and fight mode is on for things that shouldn’t need it. This creates unnecessary previously non-existing hurdles, and more often than not, imaginary ones that will never be a reality. I suffer for things that for 99% of the time will never be a reality. Curse of imagination? Maybe. Or the result of allegedly falling asleep during prayers? We’ll never know.

I am a person whose dream was to build something of her own, even before she realised she could be a writer, she wanted to be a business woman. Fears don’t work at all when it comes to business, there is simple no space for it. My fears and anxiety found it’s way in amplified manner with the unseen pandemic. Now here’s a thing, not once I questioned the capability of the business I was building or the idea behind it, but the self was getting lost in the chaos. Letting my fears take a better part of me affected me on a more personal side. Before this, I have always had things in my control. I knew exactly what I wanted to be; when I wanted to be and where I wanted to be. Same for all aspects in my life, till the point of the pandemic, I now no more had any control or understanding of it. It took a global pandemic for me to stand face to face with my fears. A year through it and still I am nowhere close to being fearless.

Fearless! The word itself is so bold, isn’t it? It isn’t about jumping cliffs or diving in the sky. Most times it isn’t about life and death choices either. It is as simple as not having fear as the first reaction or as something that would hinder a sane reaction. Just like these lines of the same prayer, I sang for nearly 10 years every day…(or slept through most days)

“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”

I always believed, who we are right now, reflections of our personality can be found in the early marks of our childhood. The first book you read, the songs you heard, movies you watched and more… According to that, Where Mind Is Without Fear, is one of the first poetry I was exposed to. How fascinating isn’t it? 20 odd years down the line, it would be one of the strongest and toughest lessons of life that I will have to learn. Today while I work on my perfectionism, I remind myself imperfections create art. While I manage for fear to not be my first reaction, I work on having a clear stream of reason to lead my way. As I move ahead and try to resurrect my dead habit of confidence I know where my mind should be. In the process of thought and action, just like Mr Tagore said and the school taught, I will find the freedom I seek.

2 Comments on “When Mind Is Without Fears

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