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'There is No God in the Temple': Rabindranath Tagore's Poem 'Deeno Daan' Goes Viral a Century Later

Image credits: File photo/Twitter.

Image credits: File photo/Twitter.

A poem by Rabindranath Tagore, written over a century ago, went viral as Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down the first bricks of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

"It’s not empty, It's rather full of the Royal pride.

You have bestowed yourself, oh King, not the God of this world."

The above lines are a loose translation of India's first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's poem 'Deeno Daan.' The title of the poem, which can be assumed to mean, 'Donating to the destitute,' has been making the rounds on social media since August 5.

August 5th marked a historic day in India when Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid down the first bricks of the much-contested Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The ceremony was marked with much fanfare and celebrations. The celebrations were in the middle of a pandemic that has gripped the world. On the same day, deaths from Covid-19 in India crossed the 40,000 mark, the fifth highest in the world, even as the country recorded its biggest single-day surge in fatalities at 918 on Wednesday, with the count crossing 900 for the first time.

Meanwhile, many on social media found parallels between Tagore's poem and the Ram Mandir ceremony.

Posted first on Facebook by Banojyotsna Lahiri, an alumna of Presidency University and JNU, she explained how the poem was written exactly 120 years ago, according to the Bengali calendar.

Tagore's original date mark is at 20th of Shravan, 1307, which happened to fall on August 5th of this year.

The poem talks about a sage, who tells a king that the temple he has built with "two million gold coins," does not have god inside. The king is enraged, calls the sage an atheist, and asks if such a grand temple could be empty. The sage replies that it isn't empty - it's filled with the king's pride.

The sage then reminds the king it was the wrong time to have spent his riches in building a temple in the same year that the people of his land were struck by a calamity, and came begging at his door, only to be turned away by the king.

The sage also talked about how God communicated his disbelief at the situation, wondering how the same king who "could not provide shelter to his own homeless subjects/Does he really fancy of giving me a home?"

A loose translation of the poem from the original Facebook post is below.

Following this, the poem went viral on social media, with many finding similarities between our times of coronavirus. Many lauded Tagore and pointed out that reading the poem at this time will 'send shivers down your spine'.

'Deeno Daan' is part of Kahini, an anthology of poems by Tagore written in 1900 (Bengali year 1307), according to The Telegraph. The date for the poem, however, cannot be exactly determined, as the Bengali calendar date recorded may be different from the present date, and sometimes the date at the bottom of Tagore's poems isn't accurate.

The poem has gone viral over a century later and that just means one thing: Tagore never gets old.

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