Nearly a century after Rabindranath Tagore mesmerized his audience at the Assembly Hall of Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelm University, (today’s Humboldt University), his speech has been rediscovered in the University archive.
This speech was given on June 2, 1921. Tagore visited Germany twice more — in 1926 and 1930 when he also met Albert Einstein.
Tagore’s concept of ‘one world’ held his audience spell-bound.
Although India was under a colonial power at the time of the delivery of the speech, the great philosopher that Tagore was, he spoke in a different tenor saying that the idea of freedom to which India aspired, was based upon realisation of spiritual unity. “It is India’s duty to be loyal to this great truth,” he said adding that the country should never allow it to be extinguished by the storm of passion sweeping over the present-day world.
“That is why we must be careful today to try to find out the principle, by means of which India will be able for certain to realise herself. That principle is neither commercialism, nor nationalism. It is not merely self-determination but self-conquest and self-dedication.
“India’s grand achievement which is still stored deep within her heart is waiting, to unite within itself Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian, not by force, not by the apathy of resignation but in the harmony of active co-operation,” the Nobel Laureate said.
Incidentally, the German consulate here, which has circulated the sound clip, has described Tagore in glowing terms as a great Indian poet, a novelist, philosopher and ecologist.