Sir J. C. Bose on “Poetry and Science”

(Sir J. C. Bose was a great admirer of poetry and he had a close friendship with Rabindra Nath Tagore. It is interesting to perceive poetry from the lenses of Sir. J.C.Bose. He also explains the relationship between poetry and science, imagination and truth. At the times, when words like “interdisciplinary” & “transdisciplinary” were not even discovered by the scientific community and the knowledge was divided into specializations, Bose was discussing the oneness of truth.)

A poet can see this world as a formless one from the point of view of their hearts. They talk of having light within. Where the vision of another ends, it also does not obstruct the vision of their knowledge. The affairs of that formless territories resonate in different sounds in the poetry. The path of a scientist may be independent, but in poetry, there is a unity of its cultivation. Where the light of sight ends, even there they follow the light, from where the power of hearing reaches the absolute limit of the notes, they ascend on the vibrating voice. The secrets in the past of light, scientists are appointed to question them and express the rare answers by making them capable of being presented in man’s language.

This mysterious world of nature has many palaces and innumerable gates. Ecologists, chemists, biologists, etc. enter a palace through different doors. It seems that they have a special place in the same palace and there is probably no other activity in the palace. That’s why they divide the non-living plants separately at the level of self-consciousness. This division is shown to be scientific observation; I do not believe that. In the separate rooms- no matter how many walls are there to accommodate different types of facilities but the owner of the castle is one. Every science will discover this truth in the end, saying that everyone has been traveling on different paths. Wherever every path meets together, there is absolute truth. Truth does not exist in fragments by being divided into infinite oppositions within itself. That’s why, I see every day that life, chemistry, nature, and others are expanding by collapsing their limits.

In the same way, both the scientist and the poet have come out in search of unexpressed unity. The only difference between them is that the poet does not think of the path, and the scientist does not neglect the scientific path. The poet always has to be self-defeating, and self-control is difficult. But the poet’s poetry cannot extract evidence from the midst of his feelings! That’s why he has to use the language of metaphors. He has to use the word “like” in everything. 

A scientist has to follow such a path, where one has to walk in solitude with self-control in the difficult path of observation and testing. He is always cautious, thinking that don’t let your own mind fool itself or confuse it. That is why the mind has to move in tandem with the outside at every step. Where two directions do not meet, he does not accept anything coming from one direction at that place.

The reward is that he cannot ask for more than he gets, but he gets that much, and he never undermines the possibility of getting more.

But it is undoubtedly a difficult path. Through this path, scientists walk in the direction of an infinite mystery. By succeeding in the middle of such an astonishing state, the rays of invisible light, the obstacle of matter from the front in the way, at once nullifies and where matter and energy stand united. Suddenly, it is taken by surprise at the sight of an unimaginable state as soon as the curtain is removed, then for a moment, he forgets his normal self-control and exclaims, “No dilemma! it’s just that.”

-Sir J. C. Bose in a lecture at Bangla Sahitya Parishad.

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