When Rabindranath Tagore met Albert Einstein | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 07, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:05 AM, May 07, 2021

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When Rabindranath Tagore met Albert Einstein

What transpired when a poet met a physicist and they participated in a stimulating debate around the fundamental aspects of human existence? The spark of intellectual ingenuity anticipated between Albert Einstein and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore is evident from the conversation between them when Einstein invited Tagore to his residence in Berlin on July 14, 1930.

The two personalities explored their individual reflections on the nature of reality and its relationship to man, while discussing the long-standing friction between the scientific and philosophical visions of reality. 

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Both Einstein and Tagore disagreed upon the existence of any form of divinity isolated from that of the world. However, when it came to the nature of truth and reality, their perceptions took separate routes. Tagore perceived reality as reflections of human consciousness contrary to Einstein's belief, which implies that some truths of the universe exist in their own right and are independent of humanity.

Tagore, who took a spiritual stance in this regard, argued that absolute reality does not exist. Rather, every individual's truth is relative to their own reality. He also believed that truth is limited to human perception and science can only direct us towards those limitations. However, it is only through religious reconciliation and the harmony of a man's consciousness with that of the universe, that one attains the virtue of truth. This essence of the cosmic reconciliation of the collective human consciousness lies at the core of Tagore's endeavours in music, literature, and poetry.

Both Einstein and Tagore believed that the existence of beauty is not possible without an admirer, and requires the sense of value attached to it by man. In this regard, Tagore perpetrated: "Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony which is in the Universal Being; Truth the perfect comprehension of the Universal Mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, through our illumined consciousness — how, otherwise, can we know Truth?"

In this brilliant exchange, Tagore's philosophical perspectives complemented Einstein's scientific beliefs, touching upon the concepts of science, religion, beauty, consciousness, and human existence.


The author is a freelance journalist and a potential political scientist who likes to read poems and write short stories. Write to her at mormeemahtab23@gmail.com.

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