The patriarch of classical Indian poetry, Valmiki, was a sage. So also was Vyasa, who wrote the ancient Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata. This heritage was so strong in other Indian languages too that the words ‘poet’ and ‘sage’ become almost synonymous. In modern Indian literature, Rabindranath Tagore is undoubtedly the most celebrated sage-poet. Malcolm MacDonald, in his foreword to Tagore’s book Our Universe, remembers that Tagore first appeared to him resembling an Old Testament prophet. “The handsome figure with shoulder-length hair and a long, fine beard, dressed in long flowing robes, had ...


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