New Delhi: The Ganges had become polluted and shackled in Kolkata because the river had not been treated like a companion or friend but more like a slave, felt Nobel Laureate poet, author and thinker Rabindranath Tagore.
The literary genius, who left the hustle and bustle of Kolkata and set up the Vishva Bharati university in serene Shantiniketan in Birbhum district for imparting education in close contact with nature, also wrote passionately about his displeasure over the degeneration of environment forced by man`s greed. His writings had the recurring theme of man`s relation with water, the mother earth, flora and fauna.
Tiny nuggets like these about the great bard`s thoughts on nature have been projected in a new exhibition organised here by the Government of West Bengal. "Rabindranath-er Poribesh Bhabona" (Rabindranth`s Thoughts on Environment) is a collection of photographs, graphics and excerpts from Tagore`s poems, essays, lectures and memoirs which relate to his ideas about and vision of nature, ecology and sustainable development.
The exhibition, inaugurated at Muktadhara Art Gallery by Principal Resident Commissioner of West Bengal Bhaskar Khulbe on September 3, is set to go on till September 7.
"Tagore was a nature`s poet. He was intrigued by the simple and eco-friendly lifestyle of our village folks. This prompted me to work on his vision," says Arunendu Bandopadhyay, an environmentalist who has been following Tagore`s works and writings on nature and has been trying to bring them into a modern perspective through paintings and performances.
Bandopadhayay has compiled the excerpts and photographs for the exhibition, which is an endeavour of the Information and Cultural Affairs Department of West Bengal.
Among the early environmentalists in India, the thoughts and ideas of the great thinker-philosopher are more relevant today in the context of apprehensions about global warming and worldwide movements for the protection of environment, including the earth summits as well as the deliberations on combating climate change.
"Tagore was known to have noted how the power of man can conquer the power of nature, but only for a short time. It ultimately results in destruction. I wanted to bring that out," says Bandopadhyay.
In Tagore`s Visva Bharati, conservation of nature has always been an integral part of education.
"We had classes under the trees, while most of us were sent outside to learn basic techniques of conservation of nature, by observing it," says Dwaipayan Dutta, a former student of Visva Bharati university, who believes in the philosophy espoused by Tagore.
"This collection of Tagore`s writings and photographs provides a glimpse of what Tagore`s perspectives were about nature and mankind and this is aimed at further spreading his message and ideas," said an official from the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs which has organized the exhibition.