Where the mind knows no fear
Where the mind knows no fear, held high is the head,
Where knowledge is not shackled, where firm palisades
Around every house do not divide the earth
Into small pieces, where words come with mirth
From their source at the bottom of the heart,
Where deserts of rituals do not subvert
The flow of the river of justice, and a man's
Resolve is not shattered by the circumstance,
Where work is led by unfettered currents
In every direction, across the continents
To thousand ways of fulfillment, where You are
The center of all work, thought and pleasure —
Father, with a ruthless blow of Your hand
Make my country wake in that heavenly land.
Naibedya 72 (নৈবেদ্য ৭২)
- The original poem is part of the Bengali book Naibedya (নৈবেদ্য). Like all other poems in that collection, it did not have a title. It was marked as poem number 72. Here I have used the first few words as a title just to help the reader identify the poem.
- Tagore himself translated this poem into English and included it in the collection Gitanjali, for which he got the Nobel Prize in 1913. That translation did not have the metre or the rhymes of the original. I have tried to maintain a metre and used full or half rhymes. So this translation is structurally closer to the original poem than Tagore's own translation. At least, it shows that the original poem was written in the form of a sonnet, like many other poems in his Bengali book Naibedya. Clearly, he was attracted to this form in this phase of his life, although he did not care about a strict Petrarchian structure of rhymes.
- In the second line, Tagore wrote "Where knowledge is free" in his translation. I never liked the word "free" here, because it might invoke the sense in which the word is used in the combination "free education". The Bengali original uses a word that cannot possibly have this other connotation.
- The order of a few of the "where..." phrases has been rearranged to keep the rhyme. This does not disturb the spirit of the poem, in my opinion.
- In the last line, the Bengali original does not have the equivalent of "my country". It says "Bharat" (i.e. India) clearly. However, in the English translation, Tagore used "my country", presumably to make the message of the poem more universal, and I decided to respect his decision.
- I am indebted to Sukanta Chaudhuri, Purab Pal, and Carolyn B. Brown for making critical comments on earlier versions of the translation.