by Nuala Dalton
When I saw the call for artists by the Tagore centre, I was not long back from my first and long awaited visit to India. I was not familiar with Tagore, but the more I read about him, the more I felt this was a project for me. So many aspects resonated – his breadth of activity in the arts, his love of nature, interest in women’s rights, the practical in tandem with the mystical, his feelings about education, his spirituality, concepts of internationalism paralleled with the importance of national culture & language, connections between traditional culture and political freedom in India as in my home country of Ireland – themes which are important to me as an individual, as a songwriter, as an educationalist and as a traditional musician. His poetry also reminded me of two poets I had loved and been influenced by, Rumi and Juan Ramon Jimenez. I am excited to connect with an artist who was so engaged in the world and I look forward to learning more about him and his work through this project.
My submission for this project is to have an open-ended interaction with Tagore’s work with no pre-defined outcome, based on the following themes:
- music & poetry
- yoga & meditation
I listened to the speech from the student, a young person who had received incredibly high marks in their exams, I heard the hollow ring in their voice of someone feeling lost in the world and
memories of how education had shaped my own childhood returned..along with memories of how academic success provided little response to questions I really needed answers for.
Tagore lamented the brutality of teachers in his era, it was the same in many countries. Yet regardless of the obvious logistics, how positive is it ever to put large groups of children in classrooms all day? Were those teachers who hit those children monsters? Some may have been, but others perhaps merely adults struggling to cope with this modern institutional set-up. I’m drawn to researching the strengths and weaknesses of Tagore’s educational projects.
Meditation & Yoga:
I’m also interested to find out more about Tagore’s spirituality and how it influenced his daily life and work. As my meditation and yoga practice improve, I meet the institutionalised part of me, this lost girl, twisted out of shape, longing to return to early memories of togetherness with nature and time – but so shaped by institutional education, almost unable to be without a to-do list, a calendar, a goal, thinking ahead, analysing, planning, analysing..
As a student and as teacher I’ve experienced the mania of busyness in the education system which exerts a constant pressure on students and teachers away from connection to the self. A giant vortex of busyness in which everyone is intensely active (hyperactive), yet that very over-activity creates a pervasive underlying boredom. Stillness, rest, non-thought are very rare experiences indeed. Lost Time by Tagore:
Music & Poetry:
Tagore began as an artist and turned to education later in life. Art in all forms was at the core of his life. My desire for this project is to avoid analysis, to avoid getting caught up in the trap of my own mind.. In order to reconnect to my own creativity.
Therefore, while I’m currently reading a variety of texts, by and about Tagore, including ‘Rabindranath Tagore. Adventures of Ideas and Innovative Practices in Education’ by Kumkum Bhattacharya and ‘An Education in Happiness. The Lessons of Hesse and Tagore’ by Flavia Arenzi, my work for this project will mostly take the form of songs, poems and instrumental compositions, at various stages of development.