what does the rabindranath tagore mean by "dead habit"? in the poem "where the mind is without fear" or " a prayer"
 


In the poem 'Where the mind is without fear', Rabindranath Tagore describes the old customs and rituals as dead habits. He wants us to leave behind all the Dead habits and think rationally. These dead habits disturb a man's thinking and he ends up taking meaningless decisions. therefore, he wants people to think as a rationalist and work towards developing the social and economic state of the country. If people understand this, then India will truly become a free and no longer will be driven by dead habits.   :-)
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Dead habit means old customs, blind faith, superstition, and useless believes
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Rabindranath Tagore sketches a moving picture of the nation; he would like India to be. In lines 1-2, the poet pledges to the Almighty that his country should be free from any fear of oppression or forced compulsion. He wants that everyone in his country should be free to hold their heads high in dignity. He dreams of a nation where knowledge or education would be free that is education should not be restricted to the upper class only but everybody should be free to acquire knowledge. There should not be any caste distinctions or gender distinction when it comes to education. In the succeeding line,

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls

Tagore, in his poem ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ wishes for a world which is not ‘fragmented’ by prejudices based on caste, creed, color, religion or other baseless superstitions. Prejudices and superstitions should not divide the people in groups and break their unity (line 4). He wants a nation where people are truthful, not superficial and words should come out from the depth of their hearts (line 5). The sixth line of ‘Where The Mind Is Without Fear’ talks about the poet yearning for a country where people would strive without getting tired to reach perfection leaving behind prejudices and old traditions. In the next line, line 7, Tagore wants the power of reason to dominate the minds of his countrymen, he does not want the ‘stream of reason’ to be lost amongst outdated customs and traditions and only that can direct the mind towards selfless thoughts and everlasting action.

Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

In the final line of the poem, Tagore asks the ‘Father’, presumably God to awaken his country into such a heaven of freedom.

Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

The poem is patriotic in nature considering the independence and the happiness of the countrymen as the most important factor. If a country lacks such requirements, the countrymen can never be at peace. Consequently, the society will be full of disharmony and social unjust. The poem sends a message that the society should be free from all social evils, only then it can lead to progress. Therefore, Tagore prays to God to create such an ideal society for his motherland. 

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Rabindranath tagore says that dead habits are useless supersuperstitious and blindness believes.
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Dead habit is referred  to here
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Dead habit means where one'sability tothink clearly is destroyed by meaningless tradations
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