From the Jacket:
Talks in China (1925) has been put together from the lectures delivered by Tagore in 1924 in China where he went at the invitation of the Beijing Lecture Association. The poet gave innumerable talks, most of them delivered informally without any written notes. It is interesting to note that his China visit was the most tempestuous of all his foreign trips. He met with organized hostility from the members of the Communist Party and was labeled as a reactionary and ideologically dangerous. Talks in China was dedicated to Susima (indianisation of Xu Zhimo), noted Chinese poet, who acted as his interpreter in China.
About the Author:
One of India's most cherished renaissance figures, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) put us on the literary map of the world when his Gitanjali was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. A poet's poet, he is a maker of not only modern Indian literature but also the modern Indian mind. Myriad-minded, he was a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, essayist, painter and composer of songs. Gandhi called him the 'Great Sentinel'. His world-wide acclaim as a social, political, religious and aesthetic thinker, innovator in education and a champion of the 'One World' idea makes him a living presence.
The Great Indian sage and poet-philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore, will arrive very soon and will meet our students to the number of several thousands. I take this opportunity, therefore, of preparing a welcome for him.
First of all, I want you to understand that all great personalities are many-sided. They are like the seven- coloured Mani, which presents different aspects of brilliance to different observers. You all know that I am fond of treating things from a historical point of view; you know too that I have deep faith in Buddhism. As the proverb says: 'No man can speak three words without disclosing his own craft.' So what I am going to tell you today is but my own impression as a historian and a Buddhist. I cannot give a proper introduction to Rabindranath Tagore, still less can I pretend to give adequate expression to the enthusiastic welcome of all sections of our people.
Rabindranath Tagore has visited Europe, America and Japan. Wherever he goes he receives a tremendous welcome. You will recall that outburst of enthusiasm in the Chien Men Station, on the day he arrived, such a has never been accorded to any other foreign guest, so warm it was, and so sincere.
The meaningless idolatry of hero-worship is common amongst the peoples of Europe and America. We, Chinese, have not yet acquired this fashionable habit. We, who welcome Rabindranath Tagore, may each have our several reasons,-it may even be that, like the Europeans and Americans, some of us are merely hero-worshipping him; but we must all recognize the one great central idea, that he comes to us from the country which is our nearest and dearest brother,-India.
To say that the country of India is our brother is not a mere matter of courtesy to our guest. It has its foundation in history.
In ancient times China did not enjoy that facility of communication which was the privilege of the races bordering the Mediterranean Sea. We suffered from the disadvantage of being shut up in one corner of eastern Asia without any means of communicating with other great races and cultures. The islands in the eastern and southern oceans were populated by savages. America, on the far side of the Pacific, gave no sign of civilization. Beyond our western and northern frontiers there were those barbarous and ferocious races, whose business it ever was to threaten and devastate, but never to help us.
It is well for us to remember that this little privilege of culture, which we possess today, has been handed down to us by our ancestors, who laboured long within secluded boundaries, unaided and single-handed. It is also due to this seclusion of its environment that our culture gives the impression of being monotonous and conservative to an extraordinary degree.
But across our south-western boundary, there was a great and cultured country, India. Both in character and geography, India and China are like twin brothers. Before most of the civilized races became active, we two brothers had already begun to study the great problems which concern the whole of mankind. We had already accomplished much in the interests of humanity. India was ahead of us and we, the little brother, followed behind. But Nature had not been kind. She had placed between us a vast area of unfeeling desert and two great ranges of cruel snowy peaks, which separated us for thousands of years. It was not till two thousand years ago that we were given gradually to know that we had a very good elder brother on the earth.
When did these two great countries begin to communicate with each other!
According to Indian history, King Asoka sent a number of missionaries to propagate Buddhist ideas.
Probablv some of them had travelled as far as China. Our own tradition savs that in the time of the famous Chin Sze Huang (who built the (Great Wall), there were alrcadv more than ten Hindus, who had been to Chang-an and who were Imprisoned and killed by him. Asoka and Chin Sze Huang were contemporaries and therefore this might have been true. But we need not worry over half fairy tales.
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