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Cithipatra, Vol. I, Letter No.16, Shelidah, June 1898. A letter from Rabindranath Tagore to his wife Mrinalini

Bhai Chuti,


     I found your letter when I got back from Dhaka.  I'll go

briefly to Kaligram to tie up some business, and then come to

Calcutta to make all necessary arrangements.  But please, don't

worry yourself needlessly.  Try to bear every occurrence with a

calm, peaceful, serene mind.  This is what I try to do all the

time in the way I lead my own life.  I'm not always successful,

but if you can keep calm, then perhaps - strengthened by our

mutual efforts - I also may achieve peace and happiness of mind.

Of course you are younger than I am, and your experiences have

been much more limited, and your nature is in some respects much

more patient, much more easily controlled than mine.  Therefore

you have less need than I to keep your mind free of emotional

disturbance.  But in everyone's life major crises occur, in which

the utmost patience and self-control are required.  We then

realize how silly we are to complain of trivial, daily

annoyances, petty aches and pains.  I shall love, and I shall do

my best, and I shall do my duty by others cheerfully - if we

follow this principle, we can cope with anything.  Life does not

last long, its pleasures and travails are also constantly

changing.  Wounds, setbacks, deception - it's hard to bear them

lightly; but if we don't, the burden of life gradually becomes

insufferable, and it becomes impossible to fix one's mind on any

goal or ideal.  If we fail, if we live in dissatisfaction and

tension day after day, in constant conflict with our

circumstance, then our lives become completely futile.  Great

calm, generous detachment, selfless love, disinterested effort:

these are what make for success in life.  If you can find peace

in yourself and can spread comfort around you, you will be

happier than an empress.  Bhai Chuti, if you go on fretting over

little things you will do harm to yourself.  Most of our troubles

are self-imposed.  Do not be cross at me for lecturing you

pompously like this.  You do not know the intense concern with

which I am saying these things.  I feel such deepening of my love

and respect for you, such a strengthening of the sympathy that

ties me to you, that the pure calm and contentment that I wish

for you means more than anything else in the world: compared to

it, life's daily troubles and disappointments are nothing.  These

days I look at things with a new kind of longing.

     A woman when young can be unsettled and deluded by love, but

even from your experience you perhaps know that at a maturer age,

admist the extraordinary ups and downs of life, a steadier,

quieter, deeper, more real and controlled love develops.  As her

family grows, the outside world recedes.  So in one respect her

isolation grows - ties of intimacy seal off the married couple

from the world around them.  Our souls are never more beautiful

than when we can draw close and look at each other face to face:

real love begins then.  There is no infatuation any more, there

is no need to see each other as gods any more, unions and

partings do not create storms of feeling any more - but near or

far, in security or in danger, in poverty or wealth, the pure and

joyous light of unqualified trust shines all around.  I know you

have suffered much because of me, but I also know that because

you have suffered on my account you will one day know a greater,

fuller joy.  Forgiveness in love and sharing of troubles are true

happiness; the satisfactions of personal ambition is not

happiness.  These days my sole desire is that our lives should be

simple and straightforward, that all around us there should be

peace and cheerfulness, that our way of life should be

unostentatious and full of bounty, that our needs should be small

and our aims high and our efforts unselfish and our work for

others more important than our work for ourselves.  And even if

our children gradually fall away from the example we have set

them, I hope that we may, till the end, live our lives

beautifully in mutual compassion and total selfless, unambitious

trust.  This is why I have become so eager to take you all away

from Calcutta's stony temple of materialism, and bring you to a

far and secluded village.  In Calcutta there is no opportunity to

forget profit and loss, friend and foe: one is so constantly

troubled by trifling matters that in the end all the finer

purposes of life are shattered into fragments.  Here one is

content with little, and does not mistake falsehood for truth.

Here it is not hard to 'accept with equanimity whatever may come,

happy or sad, pleasant or unpleasant'.