Einstein and Tagore Converse
(Go to Conversation)
Historical documents and records show that Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein met for the first time in the summer of 1930 near Berlin.
However, the two had met each other through their writings many years ago. And had probably known the other’s soul many centuries before that through their mutual love for beauty, truth, universality and eternity. Einstein won the Nobel Prize in 1921; Tagore had won the Nobel Prize in in 1913.
Yet, each was almost the opposite of the other: Tagore, a poet, grounded in the ancient eastern tradition and Einstein, a physicist, grounded in modern western science. In fact, paraphrasing Dmitri Marianoff, a relative of Einstein present during one of the meetings in 1930, described Tagore as “a poet with the head of scientist” and Einstein as “a scientist with the head of a poet.” (1)
These similarities and differences came to the fore in the conversations during four face-to-face meetings where they discussed various issues ranging from truth and nature of reality; causality, chance and predetermination, to music and the differences between Western and Indian classical music. These conversations can be found in a book titled Einstein Lived Here (2) and some of these websites (1), (3), (4).
These are the documented conversations.
However, surely these two great minds must have had many such conversations in their minds (with each other); conversations that were probably never documented by them or an external observer. Whatever they might have been in their lives, inside their hearts they were both true lovers; and I am quite sure, being the intellectuals they were, they had many stimulating conversations about love (inside their minds at least). One of these conversations, which they may have had with each other (probably imagined), about love and the nature of its origins is given below. Given that this conversation may have happened anywhere between 1915 and 1931 – the years that saw the bloody violence of World War 1 and the Great Depression, both of them may have been influenced by these violent and tragic events as they discussed love and its nature. I am also quite sure that these great minds would forgive the transgressions of a (self-styled) disciple, a puny person who dares to think that he can contemplate what these great minds would have thought or talked in such an imaginary conversation (inside their heads). In short, to think that someone can actually get inside their heads would have been the cause of a great laugh for these two great men. However, the fact that this disciple’s heart is in the right place, exactly where they would have wanted it to be, would have given them much solace.
Dimitri Marianoff (1), who was present during some of the conversations also said that, “..it was as if two planets were engaged in a chat.”
Does it mean that of the two – Einstein and Tagore – one was from Mars and the other from Venus; or did he mean that the conversation was out of the world or that the conversation was completely unintelligible or what did he really mean? Read on…
(E = Albert Einstein and T = Rabindranath Tagore; Dated: Between the years 1922 and 1931)
Mel Gussow. (2001). THINK TANK; Is Truth True? Or Beauty? A Couple Of Thinkers Go Deep. The New York Times, Published: August 18, 2001 http://Www.Nytimes.Com/2001/08/18/Arts/Think-Tank-Is-Truth-True-Or-Beauty-A-Couple-Of-Thinkers-Go-Deep.Html
Abraham Pais. (1994). Chapter 9: “The Indian Connection: Tagore and Gandhi. From the book titled: Einstein Lived Here. Oxford University Press.
Rajan Parrikar. Rajan Parrikar Music Archive. Tagore and Einstein – A Conversation.http://www.parrikar.org/essays/tagore-einstein/
Rabindranath Tagore: In conversation with Albert Einstein. Collected by Avijit Roy.http://mukto-mona.net/Articles/einstein_tagore.htm
Image Reference: http://www.lbi.org/events/lecture-across-cultural-divide-by-paul-mendes-flohr-rabindranath-tagore-albert-einstein-martin-buber/