Question 1 : Read the extract below and answer the questions that follow.
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection……..”
i) To whom is the poet speaking to ? What is he saying?
Answer : The poet is speaking to God. He is requesting to God to free his country from the shackles of superstitions and prejudices laid down by the age old customs and practices. He is wishing for a nation where everyone within the fold of brotherhood is free to hold up one’s head high and one’s voice can be heard without having any apprehension or fear of oppression. He talks about a nation where knowledge is not restricted by narrow ideas and is free of cost.
ii) Which narrow walls is the poet talking about?
Answer : According to the poet, petty considerations of nationality, caste and creed should not divide the people. Prejudice and superstitions which narrow the mind and divide the people should be a thing of the past. There should be no factionalism in the country. The people must rise above the narrow walls of caste, religion and community. They should remain united.
iii) What does the speaker mean by ‘where tireless striving stretches its arm towards perfection’?
Answer : Through lines lines, the speaker wishes that his countrymen strive towards perfection without getting tired. A country whose people work without laziness is sure to achieve perfection in all fields and aspects. Everyone should be free to toil and work hard for anything they desire either for their own or for the good of the nation.
iv) What kind of freedom does the poet desire for his country?
Answer : Poet desires for freedom of thoughts and habits for his countrymen. He wishes for a freedom from narrow limits set up by the society, from fear and from a world which is broken into fragments. In other words, the poet dreams of a country free from the shackles of foreign rule and from all other obstacles like fear, superstitions, casteism, regionalism, narrow mindedness, imperfection and irrationality.
v) After reading the poem, what do you think about the state of the country at this moment in poet’s eyes?
Answer : Probably, according to the poet, the country is in a state of ignorance and that’s why he desires freedom for his country. He wants his country to move to a state where knowledge is free and individuals are free from the bondage of narrow ideas set up by the society. He considers people to be slave of bad habits that is affecting their life as well as the nation’s life. According to him, the British rule had robbed India of its pride and dignity by reducing it to a ruined nation.
Question 2 : Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow.
“Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
i) Name the poem and the poet. What does ‘dead habit’ refer to?
Answer : The name of the poem is ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’ and the name of the poet is Rabindranath Tagore. ‘Dead habit’ refers to the old customs and practices which are a threat to humanity and modernity. These practices don’t allow human beings to accept new thoughts which can make the world a better place to live in.
ii) What do the above lines say?
Answer : In the above lines, the poet requests God to lead his country to a place where the reasoning faculty is not lost among outdated customs and traditions. The poet does not want his people to dwell in the mistakes of the past or be possessed by it. He wants the country to be led forward by God into the freedom of broadened attitude and mindset. He requests ‘The Father’ to awaken his country into such a ‘heaven of freedom’.
iii) Why are habits compared to desert sand?
Answer : Habits that are dead are compared to desert sand because desert is dry and fruitless. It’s not green and life-giving. Similarly dead habits are not useful for individuals and society. The people must not turn out to be slave of bad habits that can affect their life as well as the nation’s life. Hence, it is better to day away with them.
iv) Do you agree with the poet that our minds should be fearless and free? Give options.
Answer : Yes, I agree that our minds should be fearless and free from the oppressor. It should be free but in a positive way or attitude. A free mind can be both beautiful and harmless. It is upto us how we use it and make of it. A fearful mind cannot express itself truly. If our mind is free we can hold our head high and our voice can he heard without any apprehensions.
v) Why does the poet want freedom for his country?
Answer : The poet wants freedom for his country because being free from the shackles of ignorance and narrow-mindedness would take it to the heights of success and it will create a name for itself in the whole world. Without freedom the people of his country cannot progress and hence the nation will not progress. He, thus, requests God to grant such freedom of mind and body to his country.