Musing Mystic Chords Of Memory

Musing mystic chords of memory
Rabindranath Tagore in London, June 1921

Eight years ago, I mentioned in passing that my paternal grandfather attended a lecture by Rabindranath Tagore at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Between that time and now, I have discovered an account of that evening. I don’t know who wrote it, but it appeared in “The Megaphone,” the student newspaper.

From time to time I have thought of sharing it, but it didn’t seem quite pertinent. I believe Tagore scholars are already aware of the events of this time. But this account is only available as an image, instead of text. I therefore think I am adding something.

Musing mystic chords of memory

Ray and Lillie Cullen Building, Southwestern University

This lecture was the fourth stop in a tour of five cities in five days. The previous day’s lecture was in Denton, Texas, 210 miles away. The final lecture in the tour would be in Shreveport, Louisiana, 310 miles away.

Southwestern University isn’t very well known, but it is the oldest university in the state of Texas. The Ray and Lillie Cullen Building was built in 1900, so it would have been there when Tagore came to speak. Both my grandfather, Frank M. Bass, Sr., and my father, Frank M. Bass, Jr., were Southwestern alumni.

February 22, 1921 issue of The Megaphone, student newspaper of Southwestern University

TAGORE DELIGHTS LARGE AUDIENCE

Noted Philosopher and Poet of India Speaks in University Auditorium

Rabindranath Tagore, the distinguished Hindu singer, read to a large audience in the University auditorium Wednesday evening, February 17th.

This was by far the most notable lyceum number that has been given at Southwestern University and those present were indeed fortunate in having before them such a rare and charming personality.

Tagore is India’s greatest lyric poet and spiritual and patriotic leader. He is a distinguished writer and philosopher. His songs are sung in his native country — and have been for years — even by the smallest children.

The poet caught the attention of the audience the minute he appeared on the platform. His personal appearance was unique and characteristic, although not exactly what the audience had anticipated.

Tagore wore an oriental robe of dark gray, which blended with his flowing hair and beard of the same color. His broad forehead, which verified his intelligence; his dark eyes, full of magnetism; and above all, his pleasant smile, gave him the appearance of an artist, possessing a touch of the divine.

Nor did the attention of the audience waver when Tagore spoke his first word. There was a tone of sweetness in his voice. This sweetness gave it strength, and enabled the poet to carry the audience with him to the very end.

Only fragments of Tagore’s poetry have been translated into the English language. The poet explained that he could not give his English translations the music and melody of the original poems. It was impossible to change the music of them in English meter. This was shown when the poet read several songs in his native tongue. They were full of melody and music which were not quite as outstanding in the English translations.

The national anthem, “Thou Dispenser of India’s Destiny,” was one of the most impressive selections rendered. Tagore read it with great depth of patriotism and feeling. The anthem was full of sincere expressions of the poet’s own heart.

The poem about the caged bird and the free bird was full of tenderness and beauty. In these poems could be interpreted Tagore’s own philosophy.

Tagore proved his ability to get the child’s attitude and viewpoint in the sweet and simple poems about the children. They were expressions of his own heart and he read them in a charming manner. An occasional gesture made the poems more effective for they were brought in during the reading so unexpectedly, yet with an artisticness which produced a pleasing and lasting effect.

Tagore brought the evening’s entertainment to a close by reading a story about Hindu life which proved a very strong conclusion.

One could see the greatness of Tagore through his own songs. Indeed, the poems seemed more like prayers and invocations. They were read in that soft, appealing way which made them even more impressive.

Tagore caused the audience to realize perhaps as never before the greatness of India, for in this Hindu poet was manifested the spiritual resources of India.

To whom do I owe this obligation?

Frank M. Bass, Sr., my paternal grandfather was in the audience at Rabindranath Tagore’s talk at Southwestern University.

Musing mystic chords of memory. The article unintentionally prophesied that “Thou Dispenser of India’s Destiny” would become the national anthem of India. India would not gain independence for another 26 years. But when the Indian Constituent Assembly convened for the first time in August of 1947, the session closed with a unanimous performance of this song. The poem about the caged bird must have been “The tame bird was in a cage“, appearing in The Gardener.

I recall my grandfather sharing on more than one occasion how he was impressed by the magnanimity of Tagore.  My grandfather grew up in small towns in Texas. I believe he may have been the first person from India my grandfather had ever seen.  I am pleased to have but one degree of separation between myself and Rabindranath Tagore.

The final lines of “Thou Dispenser of India’s Destiny” are:

Thou dispenser of India’s destiny.
Victory, victory, victory to thee.

When I think of these lines, I recall these lines from the fourth and final verse of the national anthem of the United States, “The Star-Spangled Banner:”

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just, 
And this be our motto–“In God is our trust.” 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

For both India and the United States, it took a little time between the time the national anthem was written, and the time it became the national anthem. All I know is one day there will be an anthem for a unified humanity.

Musing mystic chords of memory. I feel as if I am discharging some obligation by sharing this account, paying some unpaid debt. But what? And to whom? I’m not quite sure. All I know is that I am following my deepest inclinations, and it never hurts to offer gratitude.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

What Is Religion? Why Is it Necessary?

What is Religion?

I am pleased to announce the publication of the book “The Pure Religion,” a publication of the New Message from God. This book is Book 8 in Volume 1 of the New Message from God, the previous books being

What is religion? Why is it necessary? I take joy and encouragement that the teachings of the New Message from God are becoming available to the public. A large project is underway of making the entire New Message from God available to the public. I have written about this project here and here. Five years ago this was only a dream. Now it only seems to be a lot of work.

What do you mean “as revealed to?”

What is religion? Why is it necessary? Some people will notice the words on the cover, “As Revealed To Marshall Vian Summers.” Each chapter is a revelation that was received at a certain time and place, sometime between 2007 and 2014. Marshall writes of his experience of receiving a revelation here. Some of the revelations in this book were already available to the public, such as “Religious Fundamentalism” and “Religious Violence.” The chapters in this book are:

What is religion? Why is it necessary? I consider the publication of this book to be another step forward in the progress of the New Message from God in the world. It is currently only available in English. I believe it will one day be available in the languages of the world.

What is religion? Why is it necessary? If you read this book, you might find out.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.

Let Her Name Be Enrolled Among The Respondents: Mary Lee

Let her name be enrolled among the respondents

As new religious movements go, the Worldwide Community of the New Message from God is a little flock. It doesn’t happen very often, but from time to time a member of our community leaves this world. I offer gratitude for her life.

She gladly embraced necessity

Let her name be enrolled among the respondents. I first met Mary at the 2012 Encampment of the New Message from God. During one of our small-group sessions, she asked me “What could take you out? [of your relationship with the New Message from God and its Messenger]” Part of me was thinking about my answer, but another part of me was experiencing her dedication and determination.

I didn’t chat with Mary very much in the following years. It’s not like we were avoiding each other. She was working on something, and I was working on something. I am not aware of the details, but I know that Mary invested a lot of time, energy and devotion into the progress of the New Message from God. This investment goes back many years.

She was thoroughly used up

Let her name be enrolled among the respondents. I was informed in December of 2019 that Mary was ill. I had no idea of this, because Mary had been actively participating in our weekly online chats. She seemed to me to be the same dedicated and determined Mary I knew. She died peacefully on December 31, with many friends thinking of her and praying for her.

I believe that Mary fulfilled what George Bernard Shaw hoped for:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

Let her name be enrolled among the respondents

In Islam, Aṣ-ṣaḥābah (Arabic: الصحابة‎, “The Companions”) were the companions of the Prophet Mohammed who had seen or met him, believed in him at the time when he was alive and also died as Muslims. I consider Mary to be one of the Sahabah of the New Message from God. There aren’t enough of them to have a name for them yet. Sometimes the word “respondents” is used to describe people who embrace the New Message from God. All I know is that somewhere, on a golden scroll in a holy place, are the names of the Sahabah of the New Message from God. Mary’s name is on that list.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! We are students and advocates of the the New Message from God. We are members of a worldwide community. We seek to assist the world in successfully navigating difficult times ahead. We seek to assist the world in successfully emerging into a greater community of intelligent life. You will also find some poetry. Find out more about us here. Contact us here.