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How do contrasting opinions survive, when the world is one?

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Walking Alone, Living Together

 By Medha Tiwari

Dehradun, 12 Nov: The International Literature and Arts Festival, which is hosted by the Valley of Words, Dehradun, every year over the past six years, is filled with interesting activities and sessions for everyone. One of the multiple events that took place on day one of the festival on Saturday was a conversation on the book Tagore and Gandhi: Walking Alone; Walking Together.

VoW awardee Rudrangshu Mukherjee sat down to converse with Satish Aikant in an event chaired by Ira Pande. Ira Pande expressed her gratitude to be sharing a stage with, in her words, “such great scholars, not just in terms of their reputation but in terms of the work they’ve done”. She also said, “When scholars like these two write books, they write it for other authors.”

Satish Aikant commenced the conversation by quoting Polonius in Hamlet, “We are blessed twice, and been blessed twice to have twice the grace,” while addressing his co-panelists. They talked about the two contrasting personalities that Tagore and Gandhi were by first quoting Nehru, “No two persons are so different from one another.”

Tagore was an aristocratic artist turned democrat who represented the cultural tradition of India, whereas Gandhi was more of a man of the people with independent vision, and he represented the other ancient traditions of India.

During an hour-long session, the duo covered everything, from the very first time Gandhi visited Tagore at Shanti Niketan to the last time he visited the place after Tagore’s death. Their differences in ideas were visibly sharp from the very first time they interacted, but the book contains Gandhi’s speech after Tagore’s death, “I find no such difference between us,” he said.

They gently touched the topics from Gandhi being an unknown figure in India rising to fame as a unique freedom fighter. Rudrangshu Mukherjee’s knowledge on the subject turned it into an intriguing session. The author’s keen interest in the subject made it so much more enjoyable for the audience.

The conversation was a reminder for everybody that there can be differences but there can also be resolutions, and we ought to find those resolutions in life. During this conference, the author talked about the two personalities that differed on many aspects of life, but certainly found a way of walking together.