‘At the Himalayas’ by Tagore: Explanation and Vocabulary Class 8 Wind Chimes

‘At the Himalayas’ is written by Rabindra Nath Tagore. It gives a glimpse of his stay in a hilly area and his relationship with his father. Here you would get the vocabulary and glossary based on ‘At the Himalayas’ to help students learn it and understand the lesson. Click here for Q & Ans.

At The Himalayas by Rabindra Nath Tagore

  • Amritsar: A holy city in Punjab, India.
  • Dalhousie Hills: A hill station located in the foothills of the Himalayas.
  • Jhampan: A covered sedan chair carried by bearers, used for travel in mountainous regions.
  • Aflame: Burning brightly, full of color.
  • Terraced hill sides: Slopes cut into steps for cultivation.
  • Spring crops: Crops that are planted and harvested in the spring season.
  • Livelong day: The entire day.
  • Lest: A conjunction used to express fear or concern that something might happen. (e.g., I locked the door lest someone come in.)
  • Gorge: A deep, narrow valley between hills.
  • Cluster: A group of things close together.
  • Hermitage: A secluded place where a hermit lives (a hermit is a person who lives alone for religious reasons).
  • Hoary: White or gray with age.
  • Sages: Wise men, especially those regarded as teachers or holy people.
  • Hoary Sages: Wise old men with gray hair, representing the ancient trees in the forest.
  • Meditation: The act of focusing one’s mind for spiritual or philosophical purposes.
  • Babbling: Flowing noisily.
  • Moss-covered: Covered in moss, a small green plant that grows in damp places.
  • Staging bungalow: A rest house for travelers on a journey, often located at regular intervals along a route.
  • Thirsting heart: A strong desire or longing for something.

Understanding the Figurative Language:

  • Simile: “like a little daughter of the hermitage playing at the feet of hoary sages wrapped in meditation” – This compares the waterfall to a young girl playing at the feet of wise old men.

This section shows the father-son relationship. The father wants the narrator to be responsible but also uses travel as an opportunity to teach him about the world (stars and constellations).

First Paragraph:

  • First Vision: Tagore talks about the advantage of seeing something for the first time. During the first encounter, the mind isn’t aware that there will be many similar experiences in the future. This ignorance allows the mind to give full attention and value to the first experience.
  • Calculating organ: This is a metaphorical term for the mind. A way of referring to the mind as something that calculates and manages resources like attention.
  • Expenditure of attention: This refers to how much mental energy we devote to observing something.
  • Saving expenditure: Once the mind realizes that more similar experiences are coming, it tries to conserve attention and doesn’t value each experience as much. The mind becomes “miserly” or stingy, in assigning value to things it thinks are common.
  • Miserly in assigning values: This means the mind is stingy with how much importance it gives to things it thinks are common or already seen or known.
  • Ceases to be miserly Perception of Rarity: When the mind believes something is rare, it stops being stingy and assigns more value to it. This idea can be applied to how we view familiar surroundings.
  • Seeing Like a Foreigner: Tagore mentions that sometimes, in the streets of Calcutta, he imagines himself as a foreigner. By doing this, he notices many things that he usually overlooks. The familiar surroundings become rich with new details when he pays full attention to them.
  • Hunger to really see (Motivation to Travel): This desire to really see and appreciate things drives people to travel to new, unfamiliar and strange places to understand the world around us.

Key Points

  • First Vision: The unique, undistracted attention we give to something we see for the first time.
  • Conservation of Attention: The mind’s tendency to save effort by paying less attention to things it perceives as common or frequent.
  • Assigning Values: Deciding how important or valuable something is.
  • Perceived Rarity: The idea that we value things more when we believe they are rare.
  • Traveling to See: The motivation to travel comes from a desire to see and appreciate new and unfamiliar things fully.

Second Paragraph:

  • Cashbox: A small container for holding money.
  • Custodian: A person responsible for the care and protection of something.
  • Considerable sums: Large amounts of money.
  • Kishori: The narrator’s father’s attendant, likely someone trusted with handling money.
  • Train me to the responsibility: The father wants the narrator to learn how to be responsible.
  • Staging bungalow: A rest house for travelers on a journey.
  • Reprimand: A scolding or rebuke.

Third Paragraph:

  • Stage: A leg, segment or section of a journey.
  • Got down: Descended from the vehicle (likely the jhampan).
  • Chairs placed for us: The father had chairs arranged for them to sit outside.
  • Dusk: Twilight, the time between daylight and darkness.
  • Blazed out: Shone brightly.
  • Constellations: Groups of stars forming recognizable patterns.
  • Astronomy: The study of stars and planets
  • Astronomical Discourse: A talk or lesson about stars, planets, and the universe.

This passage highlights the special moments Tagore shared with his father, combining relaxation and learning in the serene mountain evenings. It emphasizes the beauty of nature and the joy of learning from a loved one.

This section shows the narrator’s sense of adventure and the awe he feels for the natural world, particularly the Deodar trees.

  • Bakrota: The name of the place where they are staying.
  • Highest hilltop: This suggests a very high and exposed location.
  • Nearing May: May is typically considered a warm month, but here it’s still cold.
  • Shady side of the hill: The part of the hill not receiving direct sunlight.
  • Winter frosts: Frozen dew or ice that forms on the ground in cold weather.
  • My father was not at all nervous: This shows the father trusts the narrator to explore independently.
  • Spur: A ridge of land projecting from a larger mountain range.
  • Thickly wooded with Deodars: Densely covered with Deodar trees (a type of cedar).
  • Wilderness: An uncultivated, wild area.
  • Venture alone: Go on an adventure by himself.
  • Iron-spiked staff: A walking stick with a metal tip, perhaps for support or protection.
  • Lordly forest trees: The Deodar trees are described as grand and majestic.
  • Huge shadows: Highlighting the size and impressiveness of the trees.
  • Towering there like so many giants: Simile comparing the trees to giants.
  • Immense lives: The trees have lived for a very long time.
  • Centuries: Hundreds of years.
  • Boy of only the other day: Metaphor referring to the narrator’s recent childhood.
  • Crawling round about their trunks: Highlighting the contrast between the young narrator and the ancient trees.
  • Unchallenged: Without any difficulty. The trees pose no threat to the narrator.

This section reveals more about the narrator’s experience and his relationship with his father. We come to know the strict routine imposed by the father, including early mornings, religious practices, and Sanskrit lessons. This highlights the disciplined and spiritually rich routine that Tagore shared with his fathe. The narrator seems to struggle with this demanding schedule and longs for more sleep and freedom.

  • My room was at one end of the house: This suggests some separation between the narrator and his father.
  • Uncurtained windows: There are no curtains on the windows.
  • Distant snowy peaks shimmering dimly: This describes the beautiful view of the mountains from the narrator’s room.
  • Starlight: The light from the stars at night.
  • Glazed verandah: An enclosed porch with glass windows.
  • Devotions: Religious prayers or practices.
  • Sanskrit declensions: The way nouns and adjectives change form in the Sanskrit language (memorizing these can be difficult).
  • Excruciatingly Wintry: Extremely cold and uncomfortable.
  • Excruciatingly wintry awakening: This is a strong description of how unpleasant it is to wake up cold.
  • Caressing warmth of my blankets: This emphasizes the comfort of being warm in bed.
  • Prayers: Religious acts of devotion.
  • Milk: This suggests a simple breakfast.
  • Upanishads: Ancient Hindu scriptures dealing with philosophical and spiritual ideas.
  • Chanting: Reciting prayers or scriptures in a sing-song way.
  • Rousing me with a push: The father wakes the narrator up in a forceful way.
  • Before yet the darkness of night had passed: It is still very early in the morning.
  • What an excruciatingly wintry awakening: This emphasizes how unpleasant it is to wake up cold.
  • How should I keep pace with him? Many an older person could not!: The father walks very fast, even faster than some older people.
  • Scramble back home through some shortcut: The narrator gives up on the walk and takes a quicker way back home.

This section shows the narrator’s struggles with the harsh routine, particularly the cold baths and the pressure to drink a lot of milk. He finds ways to cope with the help of the servants and enjoys the freedom of exploring the mountains when he gets a chance.

  • English lessons: The narrator has additional lessons after his Sanskrit studies.
  • Icy-cold water: The water for the bath is extremely cold.
  • Temper: To make something less hot or cold by adding something else.
  • Jugful: The amount of liquid that a jug can hold.
  • Permission: The father’s approval is needed for anything (even slightly warming the bathwater).
  • Unbearably freezing baths: The father tries to motivate the narrator by telling stories of his own difficult experiences.
  • Another penance: This suggests the narrator views some of these activities as unpleasant tasks or punishments.
  • Penance: Originally referred to an act of self-denial or suffering undertaken as an expression of sorrow for sin or wrongdoing. Here, it’s used more loosely to describe something difficult or unpleasant that is forced upon someone.
  • Fond of: Liked something very much.
  • Quantities: Large amounts.
  • Inherit: To receive something from a parent or ancestor.
  • Capacity: The ability to hold or do something.
  • Unfavourable environment: This could refer to the cold climate or the pressure to follow the strict routine.
  • Grievously wanting: A strong way of saying the narrator has very little appetite for milk.
  • Together: The father and narrator drink milk at the same time.
  • Throw myself on the mercy of: To plead with someone for help or understanding.
  • Human kindness (or frailty): The servants are kind (or perhaps unable to resist the narrator’s pleas) and make the milk drink more bearable by adding foam.
  • Goblet: A fancy cup.
  • Flesh and blood: This is an idiom meaning a human being who cannot endure too much.
  • Outraged morning sleep: The narrator is very tired because he was woken up so early.
  • Revenge: The lack of sleep earlier in the day is now catching up with the narrator.
  • Toppling over with uncontrollable drowsiness: The narrator is extremely sleepy and can barely stay awake.
  • Pity on my plight: The father finally feels sorry for the narrator’s situation.
  • Let me off: The father allows the narrator to stop the lesson.
  • Sleepiness was off likewise: As soon as the pressure is off, the narrator is no longer so tired.
  • Ho! for the mountains: This is an exclamation of excitement. The narrator is finally free to go explore the mountains.

This section reveals the father’s philosophy of raising children. He believes in giving his son freedom to make his own choices, even if they are wrong, because he wants him to learn and develop his own values. He sees blind obedience as meaningless and wants the narrator to truly understand and love the truth.

  • Staff in hand: Carrying his walking stick.
  • Wander away from one peak to another: The narrator freely explores the mountains.
  • Did not object: The father allows the narrator this independence.
  • Independence: The father values the narrator’s ability to make his own choices.
  • To the end of his life: This emphasizes that this was a consistent approach by the father.
  • Objected: The father did not try to control the narrator’s actions.
  • Repugnant: Disgusting or offensive.
  • Taste and judgment: The narrator might have done things the father disliked or considered unwise.
  • Stop me: The father could have prevented the narrator’s choices.
  • Prompting to refrain: The desire to stop the behavior should come from the narrator himself.
  • Passive acceptance: Simply following rules without understanding them.
  • Correct and the proper: What the father considers to be the right way to behave.
  • Love truth with our whole hearts: The father wants the narrator to genuinely understand and value truth.
  • Acquiescence: Simply agreeing or obeying without real understanding or belief.
  • Empty: Meaningless or worthless.
  • Strayed from: Deviated from the truth.
  • Found again: It’s possible to learn from mistakes and rediscover truth.
  • Forced or blind acceptance: Being made to believe something without understanding or questioning.
  • Effectually bars the way: This prevents the narrator from ever truly understanding the truth and truth based progress or advancement.

This passage highlights the respect for independence and the value of truth in Tagore’s upbringing. Instead of imposing truth from the outside, Tagore’s father encouraged his children to love truth deeply and to find it from within themselves.

Tagore’s father likely believed that independence fosters growth, self-discovery, and a deeper understanding of truth. Our own personal experiences of feeling an internal sense of right and wrong should guide our actions or decisions.

This section reinforces the father’s approach to parenting. He encourages the narrator’s adventurous spirit and allows him the freedom to explore and learn from his experiences, even if they involve mistakes or hardship. He leads by example and trusts the narrator to find his own way.

  • Grand Trunk Road: A historic highway in India and Pakistan.
  • Peshawar: A city in modern-day Pakistan.
  • Bullock cart: A simple cart pulled by oxen.
  • Fancy: A strong desire or wish.
  • Scheme: A plan or proposal.
  • Supported the scheme: No one else agreed with the narrator’s idea.
  • Doubtless: Likely or certainly.
  • Urged against it as a practical proposition: There were many reasons why this was not a good plan in reality.
  • Discoursced on it: Talked about it at length.
  • Splendid idea: The father surprisingly thought it was a great plan.
  • Travelling by railroad was not worth the name!: The father felt traveling by train wasn’t a real adventure.
  • Observation: The father’s comment about trains.
  • Proceed to recount: The father then went on to tell stories about his own adventures.
  • Adventurous wanderings on foot and horseback: The father describes his own exciting travels.
  • Peril: Danger.
  • Not a word to say: The father didn’t mention any potential difficulties.
  • As he allowed me to wander about the mountains at my will: Similar to how the father allowed the narrator to explore the mountains freely.
  • Quest for truth: The narrator’s search for knowledge and understanding.
  • Left me free to select my path: The father allows the narrator to choose his own way of learning.
  • Deterred: Discouraged or prevented.
  • Making mistakes: The father doesn’t try to stop the narrator from making mistakes.
  • Encountering sorrow: The father doesn’t try to protect the narrator from sadness.
  • Held up a standard: The father set a good example.
  • Disciplinary rod: A symbol of punishment or strict control. The father doesn’t use punishment to teach the narrator.

This section shows the emotional bond between the father and son. While the narrator missed home, he also shared his experiences with his father through letters. The father, in turn, used these letters as a teaching opportunity and valued proper communication. Finally, the chapter ends with the narrator returning home, presumably having learned and grown from his time in the mountains with his father.

  • Talked to my father of home: The narrator frequently expressed his longing for home.
  • Hastened to show it to him: He eagerly shared any letters from home with his father.
  • Verily believe: The narrator is truly convinced.
  • Means of giving him many a picture: By sharing letters, the narrator provided a window into his life back home, something the father wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.
  • Elder brothers: The narrator read letters from his older brothers to his father.
  • His way of teaching me how I ought to write to him: This was the father’s indirect way of teaching the narrator proper letter writing for communication with him.
  • Outward forms and ceremonial: The father valued proper etiquette and formalities in writing.
  • After I had thus spent a few months: After spending several months together.
  • Sent me back home: The time in the Himalayas comes to an end, and the father arranges for the narrator to return home.
  • Attendant Kishori: The narrator travels back with the trusted attendant, Kishori.

Key Points:

  • Communication with Father: Tagore frequently talked to his father about home, showing a strong connection and desire to share his experiences with him.
  • Sharing Letters: Whenever Tagore received a letter from someone at home, he would hasten to show it to his father. This allowed his father to gain insights into happenings at home through Tagore’s eyes.
  • Importance of Letters: Tagore’s father valued the exchange of letters as a means of maintaining a connection with family members and staying informed about their lives.
  • Teaching Through Letters: Tagore’s father allowed him to read letters from his elder brothers as a way of teaching him how to write properly. This demonstrates his father’s emphasis on outward forms and ceremonial aspects of communication.
  • Family Communication: Tagore and his father maintained a strong bond through frequent communication, even while Tagore was away from home.
  • Sharing Experiences: Tagore eagerly shared letters from home with his father, providing him with a window into family life.
  • Teaching Through Example: Tagore’s father used the exchange of letters as a tool for teaching Tagore proper writing etiquette and communication skills.

Explanation of “outward forms and ceremonial,”:

When Tagore’s father mentions “outward forms and ceremonial,” he is referring to the proper etiquette and formalities involved in writing letters. In other words, his father valued the correct style and tone of correspondence. By allowing Tagore to read letters from his elder brothers, his father was demonstrating the importance of following these formalities in communication.

Tagore’s father believed that understanding and adhering to these outward forms of communication were essential for showing respect and maintaining proper relationships. Therefore, by guiding Tagore in this manner, his father was instilling in him the values of respect, propriety, and effective communication.

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