In the book Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross each chapter begins with one of Tagore's aphorisms.

The author believed no one had more knowledge or understanding of death than Tagore.

Tagore's vision was the one of the Poet, not the Scientist.

His vision was based on his lifelong experience which made him see the deeper meaning of death as well as life.

His encounter with death within his life was, in the end, very revealing to him, almost fulfilling.

Let me show you three ways how Tagore expressed his feelings towards death.

August 7th 1941 - Rabindranath Tagore's final leave



When his sister-in-law Kadambari had gone Tagore was deeply shocked.

[...] 'Yet amid unbearable grief, flashes of joy sparkled in my mind on and off in a way which quite surprised me. The idea that life is not a fixture came as tidings that helped to lighten  my mind. That we are not forever prisoners behind a wall of stony-hearted facts was the thought that kept unconsciously rising uppermost in rushes of gladness. What I had possessed I was made to let go - and it distressed me - but when in the same moment I viewed it as a freedom gained, a great peace fell upon me. The all-pervading pressure of worldly existence is compensated by death, and thus it does not crush us. The terrible weight of eternal life does not have to be endured by man - this truth came over me that day as a wonderful revelation.'

(Rabindranath Tagore - The Myriad Minded Man - page 89)



His father passed away in 1905, while his wife had already gone in 1902. Then his youngest son died in 1907. In a private conversation with C F Andrews he reveals:

[...] 'You know, this death was a great blessing to me. I had through it all, day after day, a sense of fulfilment, of completion, as if nothing were lost. I felt that if even an atom in the universe seemed lost, it could never actually perish. It was not mere resignation that came to me, but the sense of a fuller life. I knew then, at last, what Death was. It was perfection.'

(Letters to a Friend - page 14)


Then again, ten yeas later Tagore once more experienced the fullness of death when his daughter Bela died in 1918. However painful it was: death can be seen and felt in harmony with life itself. In a letter to Rothenstein Tagore wrote:

[...] 'She (Bela) was exceptionally beautiful in body and mind, and I cannot but think that all things that are real in this world cannot afford to  lose the intense reality of her life and yet remain the same. We can only see the one side of truth from the point where we live and miss the meaning of death, but there must be another side where it is in harmony with life, like the setting sun whose meaning is not in its disappearance but in the sunrise in the new morning outside our ken.'

(Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore - letter no. 129)