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"A Passage To India" By E. M. Forster Is Not A Political Novel

1272 words - 5 pages

Yes, I agree with EM Forster that A Passage to India is not a political novel. Instead, it explores the vastness of infinity and seems (at first) to portray nothing. In those two words alone, `infinity', and `nothing', is the allusion of wondering, and wandering spirits. The title, A Passage to India, evokes a sense of journey and destination. When we string these two ideas together the novel begins to reveal itself as a garland worn in humble tribute to India. With this garland around his neck, Forster also pays homage to the Shri Krishna consciuousness as expressed through the Hindu religion. The clumsy attempts of the two great religions of Christianity and Islam to understand India represent forster's own efforts, and the journey he makes to India is tracked throughout the novel.

The characters in the novel hold a relationship with the title. They each make a journey towards self-realization and for some (Adela, Mrs Moore, Aziz) the price of passage proves painful and disturbing. The culmination of their despair is highlighted by the expedition to the Marabar caves. The Marabar caves are significant as a destination. What they are destined for proves to be nothing or so it seems to Mrs Moore and Adela. If Nothing, nothing attaches to them, and their reputation for they have one - does not depend on human speech [chapter 12], then, according to the Brahman (Hindu transcendent) Dr.Narayan Godbole, there is something there - there is a presence. In his conversation with Fielding in chapter 19, after the arrest of Dr. Aziz, Godbole explains how absence implies presence. The reference to `nothing' is found again in chapter 12 where; `nothing' would be added to the sum of good and evil, and again in chapter 14 where `nothing' embraces India and `nothing' has value. The notion that absence implies presence prompts us to wonder about the presence in the caves and "Boum" is the sound as far as the human alphabet can express it, or "boum", or "ou-boum" [chapter 14] is what we hear. That sound heralds in the idea Krishna consciousness in the novel.

Regardless of whether lofty poetry (knowledge), or `tongues of angels' (goodness), or `mad, hitting or gasping'(passion) is given voice in the caves, the sound remains "ou-boum". This alludes to `om' which is the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Beyond Birth and Death, McPherson's Printing Group, Australia, 1972,p.16] Therefore, the Marabar can be seen as nature's way of paying homage to the personality of the Supreme Godhead. Likewise it can be seen as one of the omnipotent Krishna's dhama or abode which descend when he does. "He manifests himself in that particular land" is what Swami Prabhupada explains. Thus, the caves can be seen as a definite shape of the consciousness or personalityof Krishna - the presence which Godbole refers to.


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