Rabindranath Tagore was pragmatic in his outlook. While Tikal and other radical leaders were being drawn to the course of religious revivalism, Tagore kept himself away from this He was guided by the notion of spiritual humanism. To him ‘Whatever name may have been given to the Divine reality, it found its place in the history of our religion owing to its human character, giving meaning to the idea of sin and sanctity and offering an eternal background to all the ideals of perfection which have their harmony with man’s own soul.”
Tagore’s idea of spiritual humanism is as follows:
Importance of man:
In pursuing spiritual humanism, Tagore put emphasis on man. Man is an end in itself. God is simply a symbol of human perfection to quote him, “The Absolute is the Supreme Man, GOD humanized.” It is the consciousness within a man that makes him’ perfect.
God is nothing but human truth:
To Tagore God is not the absolute truth. He is nothing but the sum total of human truth. To him, this universe is not the God’s universe; rather it is the universe of human beings. It is the human unity that holds the universe together. In his words, “In the large life of social communism, man feels the mystery of unity, as he does in music. From the sense of that unity, men come to the sense of their God.”
No place of selfish individualism:
In case of Tagore’s spiritual humanism, there is a place of narrow and selfish individualism. The perfection what an individual attains is not his personal possession. It is also aimed at the benefit of society. So, selfish individualism is sacrificed at the altar of broader spiritual humanism.
Perfection of man through development personality:
Tagore envisaged that the perfection of man is attained through the development of personality. Man is the architect of his own destiny. His perfection leads him to have a link with infinity. In his words’ – “In knowledge, love and activity, my development will reveal the infinite ….. The veil of imperfection will fall away from our minds, will and action so that we shall even prove our kinship with the infinite; this is the religion of man”. The perfection attained by the man should be applicable to the entire society but not to the individual alone.
Rejection of hedonism and utilitarianism:
In pursuing spiritual humanism, Tagore never put emphasis n hedonism and utilitarianism which seek to attain happiness as much as one can within a short span of me because human being has to quit the world for good within a particular period.
However, Tagore rejected this view. He wanted to be associated with the world to feel; inner charm. To him- “I have no desire for immediate emancipation from this beautiful world. I have greater interest in living among and along with men who are my brethren in this world with the sky, the horizon and the sea.”
Thus, Tagore’s spiritual humanism never accepted God as the Supreme Being in bringing perfection in men. On the other hand, it is human being who by his endeavor gets self-realization and implements it for the benefit of human society.”