Nationalism, Patriotism, Cosmopolitanism: Tagore’s Ambiguities and Paradoxes (Part I)

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review


The American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Certainly, Tagore was above this puerile mindset. He was never concerned about perceived inconsistencies in his work, as his mind was large and dynamic and given to multiple viewpoints. It was also free to evolve with time, an important consideration for Tagore as freedom of thought was vital to him in his search for truth. In his interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia, he stated, "Opinions are constantly changed and rechanged only through the free circulation of intellectual forces and moral persuasion." This freedom and the possibility of mutation of existing ideas led to occasional disparities and incongruities in his views. In a letter to his friend Pramatha Chaudhuri in January 1885, Tagore acknowledges the presence in his mind of a constant tension between "two opposing forces [that were] constantly in action" and which worked like the "swing of the pendulum." Isaiah Berlin saw this push and pull tendency in Tagore's imagination – of not giving in to one side of the argument but considering both and trying to tread "the difficult middle path" – as "the rarest form of heroism."
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationThe Daily Star Bangladesh
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2020


  • Tagore
  • Bengali literature
  • Nobel Laureate
  • Nationalism
  • Cosmopolitanism


Dive into the research topics of 'Nationalism, Patriotism, Cosmopolitanism: Tagore’s Ambiguities and Paradoxes (Part I)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this