Gora is the first work of Tagore that I read. When you read famous authors, somehow all that you have heard, read or known about them tends to influence your opinion. Which is not the case when you read unknown authors.
The story of the book Gora is a piece of fiction that is set in Calcutta around the end of 19th or beginning of 20th century. Protagonists are not people but two sects Hindus and Brahm Samaj. Like all good fictions, this is also written in layers. And the most prominent being the layer of these two sects and its followers. Their strong conditioning that comes from being a part of the sect. The story is very simple but the author goes into great detail in the conversations between the characters who indulge endlessly in discussing the ideologies and what should be done. You almost end up asking “Do these characters do anything other than talking through the day?”
At one level Gora is a simple story of people from different communities falling in love. And the oppression that they have to go through. But at the other end, it highlights all the conditioning that each character lives through and operates from. In the end, when the main protagonist Gora discovers that he is not a Hindu, he suddenly finds himself free from everything. All the conditions that he had put on himself and on the people around him assuming that they are Hindus and hence ought to live like Hindus, suddenly go away. And he feels belonging equally to everyone with no rules to follow. This is when he is ready to embrace anyone. Even the people he would have never touched.
Though there are many angles in the book, to me this was the most important one. When all your conditionings go, that is when you are free in the true sense of that word. Till then you just assume or presume your freedom. And keep interpreting or misinterpreting it.
As with all period works, this work is also a peep into the lives and times at the turn of last century. The way people lived, what they valued and what they did not, the depiction of men and women. There are a couple of characters which are very well etched out. And show that you can be free and independent in your existence, without actually talking about it. Most importantly without actually everyone else to follow your route.
As far as my recommendation is concerned, Gora is a classic, so read it if you like the classics.
Buy this book – Gora by Rabindranath Tagore at Amazon India.