A Scientific Understanding of Rabindranath Tagore’s Philosophy in Gitanjali as Expressions of Universal Consciousness and the Fundamental Nature of Reality Dependent on Our Knowing or Experiencing of It

Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein, July 14th 1930, Berlin

Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein, July 14th 1930, Berlin

A Scientific Understanding of Rabindranath Tagore’s Philosophy in Gitanjali as Expressions of Universal Consciousness and the Fundamental Nature of Reality Dependent on Our Knowing or Experiencing of It







[1] Savitri by Sri Aurobindo

Gitanjali[1] by Tagore was published in the year 1913, a significant year in the history of sciences and arts and, indeed, in world of culture as well. Niels Bohr came up with quantum theory of the hydrogen atom in the same year following from the result shown by Rutherford’s Gold Leaf Spectroscope experiment that theorized the concept of a nuclear model of atom. Do these events have some degree of non-mechanistic quantum connection between them at David Bohm’s Implicate Level or Order? Does poetry and art meet with science as expressions of universal consciousness? Einstein said “after a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in aesthetics, plasticity, and form”. Do we have a deeper synergy between science and poetry expressed through Tagore’s music as vibrations of an underlying cosmic universal consciousness?

At that point of time in the early 20thCentury, the direction in physics was at the micro-level (sub-atomic level) and an

understanding of that with verifiable experiments and observations in a controlled environment. Bohr postulated that atoms consist of negatively charged particles (electrons) that follow circular orbits around a positively charged nucleus. This verification of electrostatic forces including positive and negative charge distribution

over a matrix together with quantum statistical analysis led to the recognition of hidden forces that operate and govern our universe and creation. Scientists previously thought that the gravitational force was the only operating force in the creation, but, at the microcosmic level or atomic level there are other forces that bind a particle with another, there are electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces that too operate randomly in the creation.  At a cognitive level, there was a need to observe or understand the physical phenomena taking place in the external world so as to fathom the components interacting in such a given system and the laws or principles that prevail to determine such processes.

When Tagore writes “Ah, the light dances,…at the centre of my life…(poem 57)[2] – He is expressing his emotions at the

cellular level, or at the level of the field of consciousness and if we correctly interpret that we find correspondence with the Biocentric view of Dr. Robert Lanza[3] where he ascribed the answer to the observer rather than the observed. Light or photons generate a field, every discreet packet of photons involves a field which has direct impact on the body and the mind. As Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist at CalTech mentioned in one of his talks delivered at the Fermilab in 2013 that every particle is actually a field and the universe is made up of fields so we can understand that. Tagore’s visual impulse of dancing light is psychokinetic in nature and the poetry is a mere reflection of that inner order of the field expressed in word-rhythm through activation of universal consciousness. Tagore dealt with the fabric of reality which is expressed in the particle nature of things when observed, (The Observer Effect in Quantum Physics[4])  reconciling that with wave form of things when un-observed (the classic example of interference pattern of electrons in the double-slit experiment when there is no observer) in his works through hidden symbols that interweave into one grand force by offering his songs (Git-anjali) to that unified matter or pure substance which is nothing but consciousness that precedes all actions in the creation. The effect of light dancing at a biological level or at the level of cellular of consciousness can be understood if we can comprehend what Dr. Bruce H. Lipton said in his book the Biology of Belief that cells receive and process information from signals outside the cell and that the body acts as a receiver of signals from a non-local field of information which is the consciousness field, this was mentioned also by Dr. David Bohm as the “Super-Implicate Order”.

“The sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth… (Gitanjali poem 57)

Each of these expressions, the opening of the sky, the wild wind running across and laughter that passes over terrestrial surface are scientific images understood from the thermal and bio-geochemical cycles that we experience on earth; they are the forces that account for the kinetic movement of the words in a verse; the song is itself a movement having a definite vibration ; a hymn is an offering of prayer to the altar of these unified forces that we try to classify and measure; poetry here is a reconciliatory process of union through the manifested bio-diversity in the universe to explain actions of One Infinite Energy emanating from the Void (The Quantum Vacuum) as we know now after experimental evidence demonstrated that empty space is not really empty but has energy from which the universe came into being 13.7 billion years ago.

Each of these images are not a sum total or summation of collective experience over a period of time, but, rather they are fleeting moments of life in a flux that defines what David Bohm has called the Holomovement- the totality of movement of enfoldment and unfoldment in a process that is as dynamic as life and not static at all.

“The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.

I came out on the chariot of the first gleam of light, and pursued my voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.

It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.

The traveller has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end”.

‘My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said `Here art thou!’

The question and the cry `Oh, where?’ melt into tears of a thousand streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance `I am!’’’ – (Gitanjali, Poem 12)

"The step from man towards superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth's evolution"- Sri Aurobindo photograph by Henri-Cartier Bresson circa April 1950

“The step from man towards superman is the next approaching achievement
in the earth’s evolution”- Sri Aurobindo photograph by Henri-Cartier Bresson circa April 1950

The words “leaving my track on many a star and planet” are significant they emphasize the fact that the physical universe came from the blue-print of the thought-force which is the origin of all fields and is an expression of the universal consciousness. The final assurance of the poet about his own existence after meandering through life is full of Vedantic optimism that conscious experience or the qualia grants when one has seized the potentiality expressed in the Maha-Vakya[5] “I am the Brahman”- Aham Brahmāsmi. Brahman or the Void is the Great Self or the Ultimate Ground of Being to whom the collection of songs (poems, Gitanjali) is offered.

Tagore makes this point as clear as daylight, through his dialogue with Albert Einstein whom he met at the outskirts of Berlin in July 1930. Tagore explained to Einstein that the world outside is not independent but dependent on us and he talked about the infinite personality of Man as not someone isolated from the world but one “who 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 and Pauli

Einstein and Pauli

I have taken a scientific fact to explain this — Matter is composed of protons and electrons, with gaps between them; but matter may seem to be solid. Similarly humanity is composed of individuals, yet they have their interconnection of human relationship, which gives living unity to man’s world. The entire universe is linked up with us in a similar manner, it is a human universe. I have pursued this thought through art, literature and the religious consciousness of man”. (From Tagore –Einstein Dialogue published in January 1931 Issue of Modern Review)

So, Tagore was unknowingly laying credence to the Observer Effect in Quantum Physics which was understood by Noble Laureate, Physicist Dr. Brian Josephson of Cambridge University. According to Dr. Josephson – “Tagore is, I think, saying that truth is a subtler concept than Einstein realises”.

Giving importance to the idea of ‘thought’ and the place of the Observer in observation which is the process of measurement as well, Noble Laureate, Chemist Ilya Prigogine, 1984 said ““Curiously enough, the present evolution of science is running in the direction stated by the great Indian poet”.

Tagore’s poetry and the submission of his poetry as an offering to the Eternal Man unveils the “uttamamam rahasyam”or the highest secret of all which is the Purushottama[6] as explained by Sri Aurobindo in his Essays on the Gita. Here, it is a process of self-discovery that leads to realisation (chittasuddhi or purification) which gives the primary bliss of existence.  The invocation to light is an invocation to matter to open the doors of perception (Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception) to cleanse it continually so we can taste the bliss or ‘ananda’ because “the earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last, – God, Light, Freedom, Immortality”. (Sri Aurobindo, Life Divine)

Tagore Painting

Tagore Painting

Poetry here is a finer salutation to the will power or force that has driven man to endless discoveries sometimes astonishing him with awe and inspiration.  But since Tagore offered his songs to the Universal Man, the Observer, to the great temple of these forces – he, in fact, is one of the first modern poets who can be regarded as a symbol of the transcendental nature of the universal faculty since Theoretical Physicist Dr. Amit Goswami[7] said that “the nature of consciousness is non-local, unitive and transcendental”.

Each word when selected from a repository – a kind of quantum hyperspace is therefore ready to actively engage or enter into combination with other words to derive a pattern that can determine the law of conservation of mass and energy.  There is consciousness behind all these- the vowels link with consonants to connect the infinite with the finite, to the open system with closed ones, to the spirit with matter. “A hyphen must connect Matter with Mind” (Sri Aurobindo, Savitri, Book I, Canto IV)

At a physical level, Tagore was trying to express the effect of light in the domain of natural reality-on the great taxonomical bio-diversity of plant and animal life together with inanimate particles like wind, river, earth, gems etc. Each in its own right experiences enlightenment because light is an expression of that consciousness. The core idea of a universal being and the happiness he shares with the internal and external worlds, is a kind of energy conservation, one that is equivalent to quantum psychokinesis that exist in the metaphysical realm of language deconstruction and in the linguistic harmony of image-expressions or montages.

The Romantic Birth of a New World

She was Time, Undivided, Timeless and Unbound/Tagore Painting

Analytically, Gitanjali is an offering of a higher dimension to the creative unity of forces {The Theory of Everything[8]} which physicists are still trying to observe and write down as far as history of science is concerned. This quest for unification of forces in Physics from Newton to Maxwell trough to Einstein and the String Theorists, is a classic example of the philosophical ground of realism that has made man think

and introspect living in environmental stimuli based system of complex processes.

“The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, and it scatters gems in profusion…” (Gitanjali, Tagore)

“The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, and it scatters gems in profusion…” (Gitanjali, Tagore)

In terms of consciousness, Tagore was experimenting with

language, with emotions that process image formations at the sensual level to accompany the experiential learning at a universal level. It was the closest linguistic demonstration we have of the Rutherford’s Gold Leaf Experiment (1911) that showed the backscattering and deflection of alpha-particles when shot through a gold foil.

Tagore expresses this as ‘gladness without measure’ or the ‘flood of joy’ – a state of infinite being (akin to microscopic model of Hubble’s expanding universe), a sense of micro-gravity experience in a certain time frame of consciousness. In poem 62, he says, “My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame and place them before the altar of thy temple”.  The temple is located as the nucleus of the atom where mass is concentrated, it’s the seat of the ‘Purushah’[1], the Brahman, the supreme Reality of Man, which is divine, and the Shakti[2] or the electrons orbits around it with a half-integer spin.

“The same stream of life that courses through my veins night and day runs through all the world and dances in rhythmic measures”. (Poem 61)

It’s this same stream of life that dances in rhythmic measures that Tagore talks about is what is referred by scientists as the ‘quantum-entanglement’, a state when a change in a particle affects all other particles irrespective of distance and time between them.

From a linguistic point of view, we can say that words affect words as they are connected to the psyche that generates emotions from an experiential time, – it is the consciousness of the indivisible particles that triggers the change so the dance takes uniformity of thoughts in a singular vision to adjust its cognitive settings to take innumerable snapshots from reality to compose simultaneously the songs or hymns that make Gitanjali what it is an ‘offering’ to itself and to the great alter of these forces.

When we learn to explore events in history, we find that two separate events are readily interconnected in time through the underlying descent of consciousness in matter and at the same time through the cyclical process of ascent of consciousness that conjoins with the earlier to transfigure human civilisations for a better living. This is simply the evolutionary biology at work through consciousness in the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore and through the path breaking scientific works of Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Einstein, Satyendranath Bose, C V Raman, Pauli, Dirac et al.

Rabindranath Tagore Painting Untitled

Rabindranath Tagore Painting Untitled

Whether it is poetry or science or art or architecture the underlying truth remains the same and we posit reiterating Sherlock Holmes “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. And the truth is “what the Upanishads say: “from joy does spring all this creation, by joy is it maintained, towards joy does it progress, and into joy does it enter. It means that God’s creation has not its source in any necessity; it comes from his fullness of joy; it is his love that creates, therefore in creation is his own revealment”. (From Sadhana-The Realization of Life, Tagore) Tagore’s ideas were radical because he mentioned to Einstein that the world out there was not independent of our experience of it but rather it is not and modern science like quantum physics and bio-centrism makes it clear right from the onset. Thus it can be said that finest poetry like the Gitanjali or the Vedic verses are integration of the laws of the universe as manifested through consciousness because “Consciousness is the ground of all being”. (Dr Amit Goswami)

Joy Roy Choudhury, 2015-03-14 ( Article in Science and Scientist Conference Nepal 17th & 18th April 2015 organized by Bhakti Vedanta Institute, Princeton)



  1. Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore, 1920 Edition
  2. On the Nature of Reality, Albert Einstein in Conversation with Rabindranath Tagore published in January, 1931 issue of Modern Review
  3. “The Self-Aware Universe- An Interview with Dr. Amit Goswami” by Craig Hamilton, What is Enlightenment? (Spring-Summer 1997)
  4. Savitri, Essays on Gita, Life Divine by Sri Aurobindo
  5. Pilot Wave Theory, Bohmian Metaphysics, And the Foundations of Quantum Mechanics Lecture 8 by Dr. Mike Towler, TCM Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  6. Existence of Thought Force and its Characteristics by Dr. Dhananjay Pal American Journal of Physical Chemistry, Science Publishing Group
  7. Consciousness- A Hyperspace View by Dr. Saul-Paul Sirag
  8. The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce H. Lipton
  9. Biocentrism by Robert Lanza, MD with Bob Birman
  10. The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley
  11. A Computable Universe by Sir Roger Penrose, Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, UK

[1] Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore 1920 Edition

[2] Poem 57 from Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore

[3] Biocentrism by Robert Lanza, M.D. with Bob Berman

[4] The Observer Effect tells that there is no reality until that reality is perceived

[5] The Great Sayings of the Upanishads

[6] Supreme Being or Supreme Purusha

[7] “The Self-Aware Universe – An Interview with Dr. Amit Goswami” by Craig Hamilton. What is Enlightenment? (Spring-Summer 1997)

[8] TOE is the Master Theory or Ultimate Theory that explains and links together all physical aspects of the universe

[9] Self or Consciousness or Universal Principle or the Cosmic Man

[10] Primordial Cosmic Energy

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