New Delhi, May 9 (IANS) Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's extensive travels around the world, including to China and Iran, left a deep impact on him and his ideals of humanism and a world without barriers is more relevant today, a top official said Thursday.
Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, secretary, economic relations in the external affairs ministry, describing Tagore as a "towering figure who influenced India's leaders who went on to shape modern India", said: "Tagore's philosophy of greater harmony and moderation in world affairs found an echo in Jawaharlal Nehru."
Tagore's 152nd birth anniversary was celebrated Thursday and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) commemorated it with an international conference titled "Rabindranath Tagore - Envoy of India" that has drawn Tagore scholars from the world over.
Tagore's travels to 34 countries "left a deep impact on him, and from an Oriental romantic mystic he came to be identified as a concerned citizen of the world who came to voice the concerns of colonised and oppressed peoples and expressed the passionate desire to be heard," said Chakravarty.
Describing Tagore as "a keen observer of the socio-political life" in the countries that he visited, Chakravarty said the Nobel Laureate was drawn to the broad question of relations between India and the West - of the dichotomy "of a spiritual East and the West as materialistic". "Tagore ultimately came up with the idea of the spiritual unity in man," said Chakravarty.
Former foreign secretary Muchkund Dubey, in his keynote address, said Tagore's travels were part of the "tendency of being a jajabor.. the desire to move around and a desire to see and experience the beauty of life."
Another purpose of Tagore's travels was "a desire to bring peoples and civilisations together, especially the eastern", said Dubey, who is president of the Council for Social Development.
During his visit to China is the early 1920s, "Tagore never extolled India's or Indian achievement.. India's importance for China was implicit in his praise for the eastern civilisation, and this is an area from which diplomats of today can learn," said Dubey.
Tagore favoured the "higher ideology of universalism" as opposed to nationalism and patriotism, which he thought were constricting the higher ideals of oneness of humankind and a world without borders, said Dubey.
Describing Tagore as not just a writer, painter and poet, but "an able goodwill ambassador of India", Rajiv K. Bhatia, ICWA director general said Jawaharlal Nehru's concept of "pan Asianism" through the Asian Relations Conference and the Non Aligned Movement "bear the mark of Tagore's thought".
"Nehru was greatly influenced by Tagore's thought of Asian unity, and the thoughts of decolonisation and racial equality."
He said Tagore was a "great votary of universal brotherhood and advocate of global order where man is not restricted by boundaries of nationalism" and there is need to analyse his ideals on "how India should engage with the world".
The two-day conference has brought together Tagore scholars from all over the world, including from Argentina, Canada, Russia, Greece, Egypt, US, UK, Italy and Bangladesh.
--Indo-Asian News service