Debotar Grash: A Poignant Tale of Sacrifice by Rabindranath Tagore
Debotar Grash (The God's Grass) is a short story by Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet and writer from India. It was first published in 1916 in the Bengali magazine Prabasi. The story is set in a rural village in Bengal, where a poor widow named Mokshada decides to go on a pilgrimage to the sea with a Brahmin named Maitra. She wants to take her only son, Rakhal, with her, but he is reluctant to leave his foster mother, Annada, who has nursed him since birth. Annada is also attached to Rakhal and begs Maitra not to take him away. Maitra agrees to let Rakhal stay with Annada until he returns from the pilgrimage.
The story depicts the contrast between the superstitions and rituals of the Brahminical religion and the simple faith and love of the common people. Mokshada believes that by bathing in the sea, she will wash away her sins and attain salvation. She also hopes that by offering her son to the sea god, she will secure his future happiness. Rakhal, on the other hand, is happy with his life in the village and does not understand why his mother wants to leave him. He is afraid of the water and its creatures, which he imagines as cruel and monstrous. He misses his foster mother and her affection.
The story reaches its climax when Mokshada and Maitra return from the pilgrimage with a boat full of pilgrims. They find Rakhal waiting for them at the river bank, eager to see his mother. Mokshada is overjoyed to see her son and embraces him. She then tells him that she has brought a gift for him from the sea god: a bunch of grass that she picked from the shore. She says that it is very precious and that he should keep it with him always. She then asks him to come with her to the boat, where she will show him something more wonderful.
Rakhal follows his mother to the boat, unaware of her intentions. He sees the grass in her hand and thinks that it is ordinary and worthless. He wonders why his mother is so excited about it. He also notices that the other pilgrims are looking at him with pity and sorrow. He feels uneasy and wants to go back to Annada. But before he can do anything, Mokshada pushes him into the water, hoping that he will be accepted by the sea god as an offering. She cries out that she has given her son to the god and that he will be happy in his kingdom.
Rakhal struggles in the water, calling out for his mother and Annada. He sees his mother's face above him, smiling and waving the grass at him. He does not understand why she has done this to him. He feels betrayed and abandoned. He sinks into the depths of the water, clutching the grass in his hand.
The story ends with a powerful image of Mokshada holding the grass above her head, as if it were a crown of glory. She believes that she has fulfilled her duty as a mother and a devotee. She does not realize that she has committed a terrible crime against her son and humanity.
Debotar Grash is one of Tagore's most moving and tragic stories, which exposes the cruelty and ignorance of blind faith and fanaticism. It also shows the bond of love and compassion between a foster mother and a child, which transcends blood ties and social norms. The story is a masterpiece of Tagore's artistry, which combines realism, symbolism and poetic language. ec8f644aee