Tagore – Einstein Conversations [Chapter 4] – 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)

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Chapter 4

On the Nature of Reality

Subjective and objective reality


TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the universal being, must be essentially human; otherwise, whatever we individuals realize as true, never can be called truth. At least, the truth is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic—in other words, by an organ of thought which is human.

According to the Indian philosophy, there is Brahman, the absolute truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words but can be realized only by merging the individual in its infinity. But such a truth cannot belong to science. The nature of truth which we are discussing is an appearance; that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind, and therefore is human, and may be called Maya, or illusion.

Classical Definition of Truth by Aristotle

“To say of what is that it is, or of what is not that it is not, is true.”

In other words, the world provides “what is” or “what is not,”

Relationship of Truth with Humanity

Tagore says the truth cannot be devoid of humanity. He says that even logic arrives at a conclusion by deriving through a proposition which is a human organ i.e. the ears and nose which find the truth is also human.

He says that appearance cannot be a truth. It is a ‘maya’ or illusion.

Subjective and objective reality
Subjective and objective reality


Here we come to the final part. The picture mentions that there is a table in the house.

Einstein says that even if no one is present in the house yet the table remains – Truth is independent of human beings.

Tagore says that if Individual Mind was not there when someone was not present, yet in Universal Mind i.e. the objective truth, remains.

EINSTEIN: We do things with our mind, even in our everyday life, for which we are not responsible. The mind acknowledges realities outside of it, independent of it. For instance, nobody may be in this house, yet that table remains where it is.

TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table is that which is perceptible by some kind of consciousness we possess.

EINSTEIN: If nobody were in the house the table would exist all the same, but this is already illegitimate from your point of view because we cannot explain what it means, that the table is there, independently of us. Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack—not even primitive beings. We attribute to truth a superhuman objectivity. It is indispensable for us—this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind—though we cannot say what it means.

TAGORE: In any case, if there be any truth absolutely unrelated to humanity, then for us it is absolutely non-existing.

EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!

TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the super-personal man, the universal spirit, in my own individual being.



While drawing conclusion, I remember the following lines by the famous French writer Romain Rolland:

“Toujours la pensée de Unite. L’unité des hommes entre eux et avec le cosmos.”

which means

“Always the thought of Unite. The unity of men between themselves and with the cosmos.”

When Tagore says that there cannot be any truth that is not related to humanity, Einstein says that he is more religious than him.

For Einstein, religion meant something blind, something which is not related to humanity but rather a transcendental truth, a truth that bypasses in all ways from human beings, humanity, and thinking. For him, religion is something that cannot be proven in logical and scientific terms.
Tagore opines, that his religion is reconciliation. Note, it is re-conciliation, which is restoration. Does that mean between man and the infinite the relationship existed? Is it something which we have forgot and need to restore?

Tagore’s belief in Adwaita Vedanta is where everything lies within you makes him mark such a comment. His religion is not transcendental, something very humane, something that lies between you and me.
In this context, I have to quote his famous song:

“O boundless! Within bounds, you play thousands of mellifluous tunes.
Within me you manifest in grace, and so do I commune.”  -(8)

This is the most important point. There is nothing outside there, it is all in here.

This is Tagore’s religion, this is his belief.


  1. Jean Christophe – Romain Rolland
  2. An die Freude – Johann Christoph Friedrich (von) Schiller
  3. Einstein, Tagore and the Nature of Reality – Partha Ghosh
  4. The forerunners – Romain Rolland
  5. Lectures from Colombo to Almorah – Swami Vivekananada
  6. Gravity – James B.Hartle
  7. Nicomachean ethics – Aristotle
  8. The physics of information – F.Alexander Bais, J.Doyne Farmer (https://arxiv.org/pdf/0708.2837.pdf)
  9. Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore talk – Albert Einstein
  10. Recursive analysis – R.L.Goodstein



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