Desert dunes at sunset

Where the Mind Is Without Fear

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 habits;
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

In this poem, initially titled “Prayer,” Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore calls forth an India free from British rule, and beyond that, a divine freedom that transcends physical and mental borders. To contemplate each line can take us into a deeper, more eternal freedom, “Where the world has not been broken up into fragments / By narrow domestic walls.”

Tagore’s poem resonates with meaning across the century. It is part of the human condition to find ourselves imprisoned by fear, limited by our attachment to views, hobbled by our judgments, confined by artificial boundaries, especially in times of uncertainty.

He invites us to inhabit “that heaven of freedom” beyond what we might imagine and beyond the limits of fear.

We invite you to read and contemplate Tagore’s poem. Are there lines that resonate with you? Use them as a focus for a quiet moment, a meditation, or a writing prompt. In what way does his poem speak to you?