Tagore – Einstein Conversations [Chapter 1] – On The Nature Of Reality

Einstein Tagore | Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute

Tagore – Einstein Conversations

A critical evaluation

(Image Credits: Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute)


Chapter 1

On The Nature Of Reality

Tagore – Einstein Conversations is a series of articles about the meeting of Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein. Rabindranath Tagore visited Einstein’s house in Caputh, near Berlin, on July 14, 1930. The discussion between the two great men was recorded and was subsequently published in the January 1931 issue of Modern Review.

TAGORE: You have been busy, hunting down with mathematics, the two ancient entities, time and space, while I have been lecturing in this country on the eternal world of man, the universe of reality.

EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the divine isolated from the world?

TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of Man comprehends the universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the truth of the universe is human truth.

EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe — the world as a unity dependent on humanity, and the world as a reality independent of the human factor.

TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.

EINSTEIN: This is a purely human conception of the universe

 

Elucidations

We start this conversation by observing with a fundamental question: Is the divine independent of humanity? Or it can be understood that – there is a table in the room. When I am not observing the table, does the table exist? Basically, we are discussing Schrodinger’s cat.

The fundamental question: What is reality? Does reality exist? In simple terms, Schrödinger stated that if you place a cat and something that could kill the cat (a radioactive atom) in a box and sealed it, you would not know if the cat was dead or alive until you opened the box, the cat was (in a sense) both “dead and alive”.

This is used to represent how scientific theory works. No one knows if any scientific theory is right or wrong until said theory can be tested and proved.

Tagore says that no – Nein. Nothing is true other than humanity. The word “subsume” means to include something or someone as part of a larger group. Tagore says that there is nothing other than humanity that cannot include divinity.

“Whatever song you have given in this world, (1) 
Shall I bind it in my life.”

Tagore further opines

“Concealed, you were in the heart!
Imperceptible, I cannot see
Elsewhere, I looked hither, thither
Never I looked within me.”  (2)

So, even in God-realization Tagore has found humanity. God was not anywhere else but within my heart only. So, it is humanity only that subsumes everything.

“On a stormy night when my doors fell apart
I never knew, My Lord! You cameth.”  (3)

So, when God came to my door, I was unable to notice. Everywhere, God-realization eludes mankind. But, note that it was I or the humanity which is important.

In the next part, Einstein says that there are 2 concepts of Nature:

  1. A universe that is independent of humanity
  2. A universe that is dependent on humanity

Tagore disagrees. He says that everything is in harmony with man. When everything is in harmony with mankind, divinity is realized.

Without me My Lord! High above
Futile would have been your love  (4)

This is what Tagore tries to propose in this discussion.

Romain Rolland in his Nobel prize-winning book “Jean Christophe” expresses his view which is worth mentioning. While Tagore explains the concept of harmonizing the eternal Truth and he says “Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony”. Rolland says:

See Also | Godel and Einstein – A Walk Towards Eternity

“J’enrevienstoujours, écrivais-je, au besoin de donner à cesépopéeshumaines un dénouement analogue à celui que jeprojette pour mesdrames de la Révolution : – les passions et les haines se fondent dans la paix de la nature. Le silence des espaces infinis entoure l’agitation humaine;elles’yperdcommeunepierre dans l’eau.

Toujours la pensée de l’Unité. L’Unité des hommes entre eux et avec le Cosmos…”

 

 “I always come back, I wrote, to the need to give to these human epics a denouement analogous to the one I project for my dramas of the Revolution: – Passions and hatreds melt into the peace of nature. The silence of infinite spaces surrounds human agitation; she is lost there like a stone in the water. Always the thought of Unity. The unity of men between themselves and with the Cosmos …”

 

Romain Rolland then quotes the following lines from An die Freude, Ode to Joy written in the summer of 1785 by German poet, playwright, and historian Friedrich Schiller.

“Seidumschlungen, Millionen! DiesenKuss der ganzen Welt! “

“Be embraced/entwined, millions! This kiss of the whole world! “

So, Tagore later points out:

“What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the super-personal man.”

 

References of Tagore’s song

Gitabitan Integrated version. Third Edition, 2004, July, (1. Page 108, 2 Page 21, 3 Page 75, 4 & 5. Page 95)