Where The Mind is Without Fear

My wife tells me I should know this poem (also known as Tagore’s Patriotic Prayer) by Rabindranath Tagore. She says that it is (or was) part of the school curriculum and would have been taught to us in school (she should know, she is a teacher). I have no recollection of it being covered in class, at least in the traditional manner poems were usually taught in my school – What is the central meaning of the poem? What does the poet mean when he says…?, etc. Maybe, not teaching something was a way of incorporating flexibility into the curriculum. Pity, as I would rather have read the works of Tagore than some of the other poets that I do recall reading in school.

Nevertheless, I reproduce this poem for its inspirational qualities. Here Tagore describes all the qualities (fearlessness, knowledge, unity, truth, utilitarianism, reason, and progress) that I think heaven would possess. In the last stanza, he states that these qualities represent his vision for his motherland (metaphor for India striving to become heaven on earth).

Let us reaffirm our commitment towards Tagore’s dream. The best place to start Indian transformation is in our schools and our institutions of learning, by instilling in ourselves and our children these exceptional qualities. What better way to honour a great visionary who was also an eminent educationalist!


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.

Rabindranath Tagore

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