Article by Debojit, Author and Editor-in-Chief at The Sahar Magazine

Self-Portrait By Rabindranath Tagore

Freedom from fear is the freedom
I claim for you my motherland!
Freedom from the burden of the ages, bending your head,
breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning
call of the future;
Freedom from the shackles of slumber wherewith
you fasten yourself in night’s stillness,
mistrusting the star that speaks of truth’s adventurous paths;
freedom from the anarchy of destiny
whole sails are weakly yielded to the blind uncertain winds,
and the helm to a hand ever rigid and cold as death.
Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet’s world,
where movements are started through brainless wires,
repeated through mindless habits,
where figures wait with patience and obedience for the
master of show,
to be stirred into a mimicry of life

Rabindranath Tagore

Fear, when directly looked at, appears to be an abstract thing, a phantom breathing down our spines making sure we are too scared to open our eyes to the truth. It is not real as an arrow or a bullet. But in lands where oppressive and destructive systems like capitalism, patriarchy, caste system and racism rule, fear is an ever-present reality. The most powerful and popular method that these systems use is the imposition of a false moral duty to be agreeable and attuned to the conventions and trends of the systems and figures in power which ultimately propagates through society through a fear of being ridiculed, dismissed and, in the worst cases, outcasted and silenced. Freedom, thus, begins with the claiming back of our right to be responsible for our own thoughts and emotions, the autonomy over the whole of our being, our expression and our relations with ourselves, with one another and with nature, beyond the tricks and deceptions of egoism.


‘Freedom’ is a poem by Rabindranath Thakur that demonstrates the same vision of a world enriched with awakened spirits and freedom of art, knowledge and critical thinking that he immortalised through his life’s work. Poetry is not a medium of daydreaming and romanticism but a flow of complex, multilayered and multifaceted narratives into the comprehensible frameworks of linguistic aesthetics. Poetry makes it possible for complex meanings and narratives to illuminate the space of one’s mind which the mind wouldn’t be able to grasp without either aesthetic representation or relatability, or both, and which other technical and pragmatic forms of language can neither contain nor convey unless one understands the intricacies of language and articulation so well. This can more or less be generalised to other forms of art as well.


Art demonstrates a radical freedom from fear. True art is only possible in the absence of fear. The purpose of art and, therefore, artists are to rebel against habitual beliefs, sentiments and traditions, that are part of any culture, ideology and society, and thus, free people from the grapples of systems that are invisible to the eye made blind to the truth using the privileges and fears these systems accord.


In the fight against these oppressive and destructive systems and what comes after it, it is my belief that art will stand as the only compass to our inner sensibility and rationality to guide us out of cultured habits and instil in us the potential to see the truth.


The challenges that will come on our path are resisting the disillusionment borne out of misguided scepticism, overcoming the loss of self-faith at the hands of culture, transcending egoism and distinguishing it from self-faith, and at last, finding the creative insights hiding in the piles of technicalities, disheartening news, overwhelming data and ever-present uncertainty, ambiguity and mystery in the heart of this frightening world. These creative insights are hard to find, even harder to convey and cannot possibly be realised without a collective effort, but only these revelations can propel us to the innocence and vigour of creativity and deeper sensibility beyond the deadweight of the past.


It will require us to open our eyes to the harsh realities of the world we live in and educate ourselves, to find equanimity in the face of uncertainty, unknowing and ambiguity, and to apply our every creative, philosophical and scientific faculty for the elucidation of deeper, more complex truths, of meaning and narratives that will require the willing readers to actually think and go through serious consideration of their own before they can actually understand it, so that we are not overcome by simplistic and vague concepts and ideals, and can live with integrity, rigour and clarity of perception.


Poetry and other forms of creative writing, thus, become a way for us to relate the personal to the political and remove the illusion of apoliticalness. This is nothing but an effort to bring the art of creative writing and political thinking together and integrate creative freedom with political consciousness. This is not journalism, nor do we claim to have any expertise in that field. This is an independent and collective initiative for a conscious future, equipped with the powers of creative writing, that is open to every conscious and creative mind.