The Conch ( Shankha ) belongs to Tagore ‘ s 1916 collection of poems, Balaka ( Wild Gees ) . The poem may be likened to Pancajanya , God Krishna ‘ s conch in the Mahabharata , since the poem is a clarion call to have a spiritual fight from physical and mental inertia to a life of action and participation . According to William Radice , this poem “is a call to a self, a people or even a World that have ignored Krishna ‘ s Words , has let this conch – the symbol of the ideal of fight , since heroes in Indian epic rally their troops by blowing conches – lie neglected in the dust” . As noted by the poet ‘ s biographer Prabhat Kumar Mukhopadhyay , the poem was written from a sense of uncanny trepidation in the poet ‘ s mind about his sense of remorse for not having performed any duty towards the greater humanity .
Critics are , infact , cohesive in considering the poem as a mystical , allegorical and inspiring one . A conch in Indian culture and civilization is regarded as a holy object , related with ritual , legend and even warfare . Blowing a conch shell indicates the beginning of Some holy ceremony . In ancient times it was blown to call the warriors to war . The blowing of the conch symbolises the call of to God . The poet is deeply hurt to see such a conch grovelling in the dust , and calls upon the warriors , singers and doers to charge into action to restore this object of divine grace to its proper altar :
Charge into action ! Do not falter !
How can we let your inspiring conch stareup at us from the dirt ?”
Tagore is often heard expressing his desire to take rest from the strife of life , but he has also often changed his mind because of his sense of duty felt from within . In The Conch says how he was willing to follow a path of prayer and repose in the Almighty ‘ s lap for the rest of his life . But at that very moment the sight of the degradation of God ‘ s sacred conch tolls him back to life as he scened to hear the blow of the conch . In almost Shelleyan spirit “Make me thy lyre ” , the poet strikes a personal note as he prays to God for restoration of his youth and attainment of a “fiery energy” so that his “life – fire leap into ecstasy ! ” when skies with dawning enlightenment will raise “ Terror in rernotest dark” . He is determined to seize and carry aloft your conch of victory . Once the sense of duty has dawned in the mind of the poet , he can slumber no more . He hopes to get some companions , knowing well that others will remain inactive with weeps and sighs and some others will simply sleep . But it is time for God ‘ s conch to joyously thunder ” and so it will .
The poet is ashamed as he thought of sleeping earlier. Now it is time to take up the armour and prepare for the battle, and he is ready to take all the “blows and hurts unflinchingly”. His determination is to restore the fallen state of the conch:
” My heart shall drum redress for your injuries;
I shall give all my strength, win back your conch and make it BOOM .”
Tagore composed “The Conch” at the age of fifty – five, with his energies failing. From personal tragedies of life, namely the deaths of his wife and his youngest son, he was lacerated in heart and was seeking a escape from life. But suddenly he heard his inner self calling him to the holy duty of bringing the people out of their narrow circles of life by blowing the conch. Infact, longing for serenity and longing for action are equal impulses in Tagore and in keeping with the teachings of the ‘Gita’ the poet here aims to reconcile the two.