Selections from Santiniketan : Night
[raatri - Santiniketan Vol I]

Rabindranath Tagore

Translated from the original Bengali by

Jyoti Prakash Datta


Yesterday, I had not discussed the main point about being asleep at night and being awake by day.

When we are awake our own strength is in play with the energy of the cosmos. Our work integrates with the work of the Great Worker in the Universe. We wonder how our efforts direct themselves in diverse ways according to the world’s needs . At times when we thought our endevaours had reached their end, we are suddenly enthused into working once more. We find new ways in which we can align ourselves to the service of the world.

Like this, our awakened consciousness applies the power of our senses and intellect all around to fulfill itself in many movements, many touches and many rewards for itself.

But the fisherman cannot be throwing his fishing-net all the time. With use, the net soon becomes worn and tattered. It has to be then taken out of use and mended.

When we sleep, the net of our living consciousness is taken out of use. This is the time to repair the broken twines of our net frayed through use during the day. The Being who is awake when we are in restful sleep, determines in our sub-conscious selves how to cast the net on the coming day.

Therefore, once every night we withdraw from all willings of our own and submit ourselves to be rested in the care of the Life of the Universe. At this time there is no difference between Nature and ourselves; we are divested of pride in our ego, at repose in the arms of an abiding peace in the heart of the Universe. When we wake up refreshed, we come to realise that our sleep was not a period of emptiness , for even during the absence of any conscious effort on our part we had renewed our spirit in the stillness which is at the heart of creation. We were like the tree we sometimes see, its leaves still on a windless day.

Just as we submit our lives to Nature every night in sleep so that we may wake up refreshed for the activities on the morrow, it is necessary for us to submit our souls completely to the Great Soul at least once a day. Otherwise, refuse piles up, hurts are not healed, angst accumulates - our inclinations to lust, anger, greed etc. exceed all limits in their revolt against our better selves.

Thus it is necessary for us during the time of our daily worship to suspend all our efforts, calm down all our passions, and thereby seek to establish a harmony with the Great Spirit. If we are able to give Him a free entry into our inner selves, it would be an opportunity for surrendering ourselves intimately to a serenity that instills good health back into our diseased minds and soothes our nerves.

As an outcome of such a personal worship, when we return to take up the many variegated work each one of us is required to express ourselves in, we shall engage in them with a certain solemn unity of purpose which would protect us from giving offense to others at every step. Thereby, all our efforts shall have that balance and all our work shall serve to demonstrate that ineffable beauty which dwells in the wonderful symmetry endowing peace upon all efforts and elegance upon all forces in the Universe. In doing this we shall ensure that the Universe does not ever assume for us the rigours of a scientific laboratory or a giant factory serving industry. By surrendering our ego through worship, we shall be enabled to learn from God the wondrous ways in which He performs His work with subtle efficiency and efficacy. We shall bow down with the prayer "O Mother! may the touch of your presence heal all wounds suffered by the blows received by me yesterday."

If we remember to receive a touch of the Divine at the beginning of each day, our destiny will never come to a dusty end. May we stay tuned to the inspiration of this worship. May our words and acts harmonise like music to make our workplace an abode of joy throughout the day.

Also see: Introduction, In the Morning, Three Storeys


Published in Parabaas April 15, 2004.

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