The dynamics of Yeats-Tagore relationship

William Butler Yeats and Rabindranath Tagore were staunch followers of ‘idealism’, nationalism (for the latter, it overlapped with humanism) and mysticism (for the former, it resonated more with occultism). They first met through William Rothenstein, who fortunately happened to be Tagore’s host when he visited London in 1912 and 1913. The extraordinary friendship that brewed from similarities soon stationed Yeats as the writer of the introduction to Tagore’s Nobel Prize-winning Gitanjali. 

Yeats fondly mentioned in Gitanjali’s Introduction, “A whole people, a whole civilization, immeasurably strange to us, seems to have been taken up into this imagination”. However, the fondness in the foreword came from an unconscious inheritance of ‘Western Imperialism’, which bifurcated into the supreme ‘Occident’ and the savage ‘Orient’. The Post-colonial narratives of Edward Said through Irish Occidentalism and Indian Orientalism keeps surfacing. 

Through his translations of Tagore’s works and by penning Gitanjali’s Introduction, Yeats unknowingly started depicting Tagore as a one-dimensional mystic. This one-way glorification which soon turned humiliating, the literary comradeship devolved faster than expected. The breakage between Tagore and Yeats grew prominent when Tagore shifted from the spiritual to a secular form. Tagore (unlike our thinking him to be a simpleton) was a clever and astute observer of his time and was very clever to find the nuanced crisis, the unfathomable doubt in the West and the desperate search for knowledge. Tagore’s literary pieces then highlighted a ‘religious declination’ and were fast to detail humanism in the world dominion. With the appropriate agency and the rational voice of reaching out, Tagore decided to spearhead the mission of being a global citizen rather than being reduced to a subservient native or, even worse, a mere mystic from the faraway Eastern lands.

Tagore-Yeats’ vitriolic relationship grew utterly unmanageable when frustrated by Tagore’s ‘indigenous’ voice of protest; Yeats went on to declare, “Tagore does not know English, no Indian can know English”. The Orientalist debate and hence, Tagore’s appropriation in the West continued. Interestingly, Mary Lago, if not stamping the idea, admitted the Western perception whereby Tagore was being caricatured as a messenger and a mystic who comes to the West bearing the remedy (spiritual peace from the East) to heal the sectarian and colonial issues of Ireland. With Western’ reductionism’, Yeats not only appropriated Tagore to fit in the cosmopolitan agenda of the West but also tried to erase Tagore’s right to individuality, intellectual and cultural identity. 

The Tagore-Yeats dynamics is equally fascinating when visualized through Tagore’s lenses. Tagore was an intellectual polymath and hence, was aware of the patronizing and paternalistic whims of Yeats. However, keen on being established as a world-renowned individual, Tagore steered past Western Imperialism and showcased it as a promotional one for his cause. Tagore perhaps was lured at the initial stages of the growing literary camaraderie with Yeats in terms of sketching a united world with no binaries of ‘colonizer’ and ‘colonized’. No wonder, once Tagore internalized the brutality of being politicized to feed Yeats’ so-called unifying goals, he soon withdrew. Additionally, while Yeats penned his Autobiographies, he has been seen referring to Tagore many a time and being grateful to the latter for having influenced him. Contradictorily, when Tagore sketched out his autobiography, he did not mention Yeats and definitely, crowning him for being influential was way out of the scenario. 

Conclusively, the Tagore-Yeats dynamics till date remains a debate in understanding and a testimony to the long war of the Occident and the Orient, of the West and the East and of privileged and the sidelined.


Understanding the Rasasutra with illustrations of Karuna rasa

Bharat Muni’s Natyashastra (Treatise on Drama) is an exemplary example of a literary work in Indian literature. Owing to its aesthetic prowess, it is also called the fifth Veda, specifically Natyaveda. With the amalgamation of songs from Samaveda, speech from Rigveda, demonstrating histrionic expressions from Yajurveda and Rasa from Atharvaveda, Natyashastra comprises 36 chapters.

Notably, the sixth chapter details Rasasutra or Rasa theory, an integral part of Drama or Natya. According to Bharata, “Natya is trailokyanukarana” (translated as drama is the imitation of three worlds). Additionally, Natyashastra is the sublime culmination of Vibhava, Anubhava and Vyabhichari Bhavas, which collectively produces Rasa, “Vibhava-anubhava-vyabhichari-samyogad rasa nispattih”. The rasasutra details out the methodology by which each Rasa gets depicted on the stage. Bharata portrays Rasa to be of eight kinds- shringar (erotic), hasya (comic), veer (heroic), adbhut (marvellous), roudra (furious), karuna (pathetic), bhibhatsa (odious), and bhayanak (terrible).

Holistically, Rasa harbours both joyous and sad experiences, and karuna rasa particularly professes a serenity through its melancholy temper. The karuna rasa takes birth from a state of sorrow. Often, this Rasa is misinterpreted and equated to compassion and sympathy. The rasa grows and evolves from the prime determinants of ‘loss’. The sense of loss can be related to the death of near and dear ones, or loss of wealth or property or sudden flight from the native place, thus, loss of home and identity. Specifically, the Determinants or Vibhava, in this case, bifurcates into two: the first one being when the ‘actor’ personally faces a loss and the second one being when the ‘actor’ is informed or hears about an unpleasant episode.

To illustrate karuna rasa, the actor uses the following Consequents or anubhava: crying copiously, consequential shortness of breath, paleness or loss of colour, shivering or drooping limbs, a shattered personality, and a mental state of confusion, memory loss and so on. Amidst the Consequents, the actor can take support of certain Transitory States or vyabhicharibhava like inactivity, inconsolable weeping, loss of voice or clarity in speech, melancholic temperament, anxiety, mild to severe tremors, and blankness (among others).

Contextually, in highlighting real life, it is necessary to display both happiness and sadness. From this viewpoint, karuna rasa stands out as the proper nourishment of life, bringing the flavour of reconciliation and social justice through the Hegelian idea of tragedy. Thereby, karuna rasa as an agency of expression initiates sorrow but binds up everything with happiness and resolution. Conclusively, the true essence of rasasutra emanates through the apt illustrations of karuna rasa on stage.

The Serpent and the Rope as a fine specimen of the East-West encounter

Raja Rao’s The Serpent and the Rope, written in 1960, stands as an irreplaceable monument of love and ‘cultural synthesis’ in Indian literature in English. The novel portrays a string of metaphysical and spiritual questions to cite the narrator’s ‘unattainable’ pursuit for love. Rao blends in the act of Sadhana in his writing, voluntarily stationing him as the Sadhak. The structure of the novel while delineating Ramaswamy’s “uneven chronicle”, hints at sheltering the maha-puranic style of narrative. This novel invests heavily upon Adi Shankaracharya’s Advaita Vedanta, and its philosophy materialises through Ramaswamy’s jnana marga (deciphered as the road of knowledge to attain ‘absolute power’). The struggles hindering this path from the point of Sadhak to Sidha, tests the true consistency of the achiever of truth.

The simplistic infusion of the East-West stirs up very organically; the storyline of this novel aligns well with Tristan and Isolde like characters from the West. Their reunited love voice out through their tragic deaths. Similarly, Ramaswamy, who aimed for spiritual emancipation (and not physical affection or bondage), had to let go of his love, Savithri and consequentially, got trapped in brooding over love. Ramaswamy’s supposed preoccupation gets projected through his obsession with Rilke. On scrutinising the novel’s technique and theme, it becomes imperative to draw parallels between Rao’s novel and Rilke and Gide’s western narrative styles.

Apart from the East-West encounter in terms of narratology, the characters’ names are also significant in bridging the two distinct hemispheres. Savithri’s name was drawn from the Indian epic, Mahabharata, who married Satyavan to protect him from death; comparably, Ramaswamy’s Savithri too insists on possessing the divine qualities of perseverance and companionship. Contextually, Rao had mentioned that inspired by his depiction of Savithri, the German composer Richard Wagner wanted to compose an opera titled Savithri and Ananda, but it ended up being Parsifal. Interestingly, the union of the polar opposite cultures is seen through the metamorphosed characters of the Indianized Madeleine and the Westernised Savithri.

While featuring the dichotomy of Ramaswamy and Madeleine, the confrontation of the Eastern and Western grows more discreet- portraying West as the hub of scholasticism and East as the origin of spiritualism. Rao’s idea of ‘humanity’ relates more to ‘Being’ than to ‘learning’ ideologies. Similarly, Ramaswamy’s journey to Europe too does not urge him to trade his Eastern ethics in return of Western ‘reductionism’ rather stamps his ‘dharma’ more effectively. In Madeleine and Ramaswamy’s greeting, the former showcases herself as the personified French civility and the latter as the personified Indian spirituality. Although, Madeleine revered Ramaswamy as he considered him to be ‘spiritually’ superior to her, but she never worshiped him in terms of the Indian dharma of the wife rather in terms of the rational Westernised concept of ‘perfectionism’.

Prioritising Rama’s constant mission to achieve spiritual liberation, the dichotomy of ‘atman’ and ‘self’ too becomes a confluence of the East-West philosophies. While Shankaracharya’s Advaita Vedanta details out three phases- waking, dream and deep sleep to portray the ‘surrealist’ form of all experiences, the European counterparts however, claim ‘waking’ to be the sole  representative of ‘lived’ experiences. Through Rama, it becomes clearer that to attain ‘selfhood’, one first has to shun his ‘discreet’ identity in order to get subsumed into the Almighty (which is the truest culmination of selfhood).

The homogeneity of the East-West encounter is best perceived through the debunking of the myths concerning ‘distinct’ polarities in terms of male and female or suffering and escape. Having attempted to station the ‘ultimate’ truth of the universe, Rao like Dante and Augustine too goes about undertaking errands through his novel to sketch the ‘spiritual’ and ‘metaphysical’ journey to achieve the same. Conclusively, Rao excels in highlighting the amalgamation of various cultures through his multi-layered novel; with finesse.  

Quest for identity in Anita Desai’s Voices in the City

Anita Desai’s Voices in the City (1965) stands as one of the phenomenal literary pieces in the ever-expanding Indian literature in writing. This novel navigates through the internal meshes of the characters’ identity-formation (or crisis). The identity-making specifically falls on three tiers- identity of being, identity in the immediate society and identity of the ‘vulnerable’ (under
the patriarchal hegemony in here).

Part I revolves round Nirode’s search for identity with regard to his employment status and his petty indulges in life-death discussions. His past experience of closely watching his mother’s infidelity bruises his attempt in love; thereby infusing him with an ardent misogynist look. The consequential misogyny and his dead present with lost communication with family (and the past) comes to an end with the tragic demise of Monisha. It is through his sibling’s death that Nirode truly explores the soul of his identity-making; that is ‘communication and family’.

In contrast to his masculinist narrative, Desai displays the rest of the novel through feminist lenses. Monisha’s quest for identity de-tracks from the conventional norms of societal duties and strives to station a universalised identity through her gendered struggles at her husband, Jiban’s house. The transformation from a daughter to a marital slave, makes Monisha seek a
journey of mortal detachment like the one Nirode (un)consciously possesses. Her identity-making is more about seeking liberation than visibility. From typifying her as Jiban’s ardhangini yet alleging her of Jiban’s income, Monisha’s quest for identity brings to limelight the Indian women’s miserable (marital) life. Interestingly, Monisha’s identity bifurcates into her being a pathetic victim of the regressive society and simultaneously, turning out to be victor in emancipating from the patriarchal hypocrisy through madness and suicide.

Additionally, Amla’s journey for identity extends from economic independence to creating a love relationship with Dharma. Unfortunately, either of her options remain unfulfilled and brews an uncontrollable surge of despair and monotony. However, unlike Monisha, rather than protesting through death, Amla chooses to be resilient with an ambitious dream of becoming an illustrator. The final segment of the novel deals with a counter narrative of Monisha and Amla. Otima, the mother was an iconoclast (both literal and metaphorical) in taking up stances in subverting the patriarchal hegemony. She not only goes on to begin her new life with Major Chaddha after her husband’s death but also bitterly confronts her new found identity through
her (dead) daughter. Thereby, Otima’s quest for identity positions her as a socio-cultural (and mythical – reference to Goddess Kali) revolutionary. Her identity-making becomes a success by pulling down the stereotypical statures of an altruist mother and a submissive wife (read marital slave).

Conclusively, the journeys of all characters to attain the desired identity were different but ironically, stemmed from a basic desire, to be treated as a human being rather than being degraded as an agency to appropriate the irrational society’s ‘so-called’ values.

Auden as a representative poet of his age with special reference to The Shield of Achilles and In Memory of W.B. Yeats

W.H. Auden is one of the greatest English writers who particularly dealt with the fragmented humanity in the post-war era. His poems resonate deeply with the reigning hypocrisy, and loss of faith in the Modern world. In particular, the poems, ‘The Shield of Achilles’ and ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats’ reveal Auden’s concern for the passivity and indifference of the Modern Man in the bleak landscape after the destructive World Wars.

To begin with, Auden in ‘The Shield of Achilles’, paints the frightening tapestry of the Modern world through the myth of Achilles’ shield making episode. The legend goes as Thetis, the Sea Goddess and the mother of Achilles had requested Hephaestus to carve a shield for Achilles and Thetis constantly kept an eye on the details. However, in this poem, Auden brews in a Modernistic approach of loss and chaos. He portrays Thetis’ disappointment and anxiety on not finding any details on the shield as requested. At large, Auden being of the twentieth century, strived hard to paint the post-war doom. The shield in the poem depicted the “Barbed wire” enclosing “an arbitrary spot”. The barbed wires can either be connoted to be patches of land snatched away from the civilians in order to serve as the military bases or they can painstakingly highlight the ghettos and the concentration camps formed during the World War II to annihilate the Jews (the Holocaust) and the other vulnerable communities.

The prime reason to use the symbol of Achilles’ shield is not to admire heroism rather to depict the ‘hollowness’ of heroism; hence being satiric to the so called political, intellectual and socio-cultural development of (in)humanity. With the  minute detailing of psychological and psychic experience, Auden resonates with the Marxist despair; the battered proletariats (signifying the common masses) left alone with no hope of development (both financial and psycho-social). This poem in addition to Auden’s ‘The Second Coming’ stagnates him as a representative poet of his age who deals closely with the social issues of the era. Furthermore, although Auden projected the existent destructive forces on earth, yet he constantly tried to bring about solutions. Thus, owing to his scholarship, he was a spiritual physician in addition to an English litterateur.

Auden’s optimism in treating the world of decadence, channels through poetry. Particularly, in ‘In Memory of W.B. Yeats’, he positions pertinent questions with regard to the tangible achievements of the poet-poetry duo. Influenced by The Modernist movement, this poem derails from the traditional pastoral elegy and follows the path to being shaped into a Modern elegy. While delineating upon the themes of death and destruction, he spontaneously raises an alarm as how far can an artistic creation help in reducing the eternal problems of life and humanity. He accepts that even the greatest poetry has little practical effect on history yet the poet struggles all along to achieve a measure of happiness. The poetry aids in providing a temporary detachment from confusion, and tranquillity. He reassures that people can live without poetry as indeed many people do but not without being more lovely, more frightened and more lost. Thus, Auden specifically showcases the human predicament in the hour of despair and urges his fellow people to confront the challenges of a nightmarish life with a degree of hope and confidence. His optimism as he believes cannot entirely put the world on the right track but can surely extend a hand of solace to the sufferers.

This poem very dexterously through the “dead of winter” commemorates not just the unfortunate death of W.B. Yeats but also the tragic slumber of the humanity. He digs deep into the unconsciousness of the people to project their ‘indifference’ not just at the death of the great poet but also at the ongoing demolition of moral ethics. Like the previous poem, even this piece of poetry screams out the duality of interwar and post war (violent) outcomes. Quite interestingly, this poem juxtaposes the human built architectural ‘prowess’ with that of the natural imagery to highlight the degenerating stage of the so called human dominance and individuality. Through the metaphors like “body revolted” and “of his mind were empty”, Auden represents the post-war world being devoid of empathy, compassion and durable intellect.

In the last part of this poem, Auden dramatically refers to Yeats’ allegiance in the Irish Independence Movement and the importance of his literary power. Taking a cue from the literary expertise, Auden remarks that although his poems depict the sad reality of the post war world but his poetry ought not be limited to the melancholic depiction only. Rather, his poems need to be understood as an agency of providing a calming effect on the bruises caused by inhumanity. Thus, Auden encourages his folks to be liberated from the “prison” like life and engage in humanitarian relationships rather than stooping in materialistic pleasures. Conclusively, W.H. Auden constantly depicted the ongoing human tussles in his Modern poems. His poems although featured the harrowing post war world yet were not pessimistic. He toiled both in his literary career and in his life to educate his folks to challenge the traditional and personal dogmas to embrace the right path to humanhood. At large, he also displays that wars are self-destructive and no one can ever emerge as the ultimate victor; thereby, stamping that wars are the invitation to the doom’s day. It is very evident from Auden’s poetry, that he indeed was a representative poet of his time; not in mere reflecting the chaos but also in providing help to mitigate the chaos.

Coleridge’s view on Primary and Secondary imagination with special reference to chapters XIII and XVII prescribed in your course from Biographia Literaria

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the finest Romantic writers and English critics. His literary work, Biographia Literaria (published in 1817) which was initially composed as his autobiography, however, soon got shaped into a critical text; delineating on the lines of imagination, fancy and his criticism of poetry. Quite significantly, Coleridge has referred to German thinkers like Kant, Schlegel and Schelling while displaying his take on the concepts of imagination and his minute critical approach to Wordsworth poetry.

The most striking concept in Biographia Literaria is the Theory of Imagination. At large it combines literary aesthetics with the practical approach. Particularly, in Chapter XIII, Coleridge displays the bifurcation of ‘Imagination’ into Primary imagination and Secondary imagination.

Coleridge circles out Primary imagination as the universal and ‘involuntary’ perception of all humans. Interestingly, he describes that the Primary imagination is the cognitive portal of the ‘external’ world through the sensory impressions. Additionally, he remarks that the mechanics of the Primary imagination is a recurring process that occurs in the finite mind yet delves deeper to shape meaning in the infinite space of “I AM”. More discreetly, this kind of imagination helps to perceive an object or an idea in both forms; ‘partly’ and ‘wholly’. In the holistic perception, the primary imagination further helps in understanding the objective and the subjective domains vis-à-vis promoting the intangible coalesce of the Self and the Nature.

The Secondary Imagination on the other hand is an extended version of the Primary Imagination. It is a conscious agent in perceiving the nuance truth of the universe. Although this kind of imagination is an “echo” of the former imagination, it differentiates itself in the “degree” and also “in the mode of operation”. Particularly, this form of imagination is available only to the artists, thereby, making the artistic creation possible. The Secondary imagination makes use of the raw Primary imagination and re-directs it to create a better meaning of the universe. Owing to this “modifying power”, this form of imagination is termed as “esemplastic”. On the larger canvas, this kind of imagination was projected as a re-unifying agent in coordinating and harmonising the polar opposites found in both domains of life and reality.

In Chapter XVII, Coleridge stamps the artist’s “conscious will” in adding charm to a universalised mundane affair through the tenets of (secondary) imagination. To elaborate on the works of imagination with special emphasis on Wordsworth’s poetry, Coleridge displays a psychological analysis of literary creation; thus, appropriating imagination in the “acts of the mind”. Additionally, in Chapter XVIII, Coleridge portrays the actual fusion of imagination in literary artistic creation which primarily has just one clause, that is to satisfy and elevate human nature both literally and metaphorically. Altogether, for him, imagination at large was an overlapping domain (like a homogenous chemical compound) of emotions and (un)conscious elements that give birth to a pure and unified entity.

On an extended connotation, Coleridge also tried to differentiate his seminal theory of Imagination from his theory of Fancy. He accepted that both the theories of imagination and fancy took shape only after his acquaintances with Wordsworth and his literary creation (read prowess). While segregating the two domains, Coleridge remarked that Fancy on one hand was the mere mechanical juxtaposition of the random Forms and Ideas floating in the world but on the other hand, he clarified that Imagination was the perfect blending and ‘unification’ of appropriate Forms and Ideas in the world. Thus, Coleridge stationed Fancy as a composition constituting discreet elements with no sign of creative power.

While engaging with Coleridge’s propositions of Imagination (both Primary and Secondary), it is imperative to understand that his theory was replete with philosophical subtlety. The theory impacted not just the psychological aspects of both normative and creative effects of imagination in the literal (es)sense but also in the metaphorical literary sector. Owing to this multi-faceted nature of Imagination, it soon wove together the spiritual ideals with the (temporary) physical and the (superficial) materialistic patches of the world.

Conclusively, Coleridge’s theory of Imagination brought in new avenues of projecting the art and the artist in a world full of emotions. Being an eminent literary critic and an artist, he further displayed a creative approach to project experience in a holistically admirable form through imagination and poetry. Moreover, through this theory of Imagination, Coleridge went an extra mile to bridge the gap between the ultimate Nature and the ‘man-made’ artistic creation, whereby he claimed that the soul of Nature and the soul of Art replenish each other; equal in degree and effect. To recapitulate in a nutshell, Coleridge through the synthesising factor of imagination not only formulated a literary theory but also laid out steps to picture a better human world with better representational artistic reflections.

The symbolic significance of the opening Canto, ‘The Symbol Dawn’ in Savitri

Sri Aurobindo Ghose is an erudite Indian scholar and philosopher. His seminal philosophy, ‘The Life Divine’ is considered to be one of the greatest contemporary treasures in Indian philosophy. Aligning with his philosophy is his poem, ‘Savitri’. This epic poem brings together historical and psychological approaches to literature. The potentiality of the poem was too high and so, many scholars have compared this epic poem to that of Dante’s Divine Comedy. This poem in particular brings to the limelight the legendary duo of Savitri and Satyavan, from the Aranyaka/Vanaparva episode of Mahabharata. To categorically reconstruct the mythical divinity vis-à-vis the contemporary crisis in humanity, Sri Aurobindo had divided the poem into 12 books with further division into cantos.

The opening canto, titled ‘The Symbol Dawn’ is an extremely important segment of the poem. This canto sets the tune in addition to the creation of the philosophical base to build up the philosophical discourse. From the very beginning, the archetypal structure of the poem is being hinted at. Aurobindo believed that the stage of destruction precedes the phase of creation. This idea in turn brewed the denial of death.

In line with this philosophical approach, the Symbol of Dawn projects initially the step wherein the world and the Cosmos is yet to be created. Since an ordered world has not yet been born, episodes of darkness (symbol of ignorance, death, confusion and conflict) reign. At large, this darkness also connotes the existent crisis in humanity in terms of violence and psycho-social cacophony. Herein, Aurobindo thus, speaks particularly of nescience (literal meaning: lack of awareness or appropriate knowledge; contextual meaning: no cosmos has yet been developed by the Divine, so, only darkness prevails).

Contradictorily, this Canto by positing the polar opposite pictures of darkness tries to highlight the symbol of knowledge through the arrival of Dawn. In Rigveda, Dawn is called Usha, which connotes the timeless eternity of the Absolute. Symbolically, light or Dawn refers to knowledge, happiness, and in turn the creation of the universe. In the Vedas, Dawn is a female figure and through this motif, the poet elaborates upon the egoistic portions of the preceding Darkness and the succeeding Light.

Re-constructing the mythmaking or mythopoeic episode, the Dawn is also symbolical of Savitri’s battle against Satyavan’s death hence, paving the path for immortality and the inner consciousness. The preceding darkness and the evil powers connote Savitri’s psychological turmoil and the upcoming dawn is sensitive support for her battle against death and falsities of life. This Dawn through Savitri’s character also projects the poet’s desire to reform the society, thereby, waking the lousy world from its deep slumber of unconsciousness and bad forces.

Moreover, through the mystical dimension in cooperation with the cosmological dimension, Aurobindo shows the poem not be woven with mere words but promotes it as the tapestry depicting the creation of the world. Delving deeper into the versification, each and every word surfaces as a mantra with a discreet spiritual and social order. Interestingly, Ezra pound, a critic of Savitri speaks highly of this poem with respect to the amalgamation of the following three prime divisions; Melopoeia – song or poetry making, Phanopoeia – vision making and Logopoeia- Word making is like composing ‘mantra.’ It is through this unique pairing of the subtle verification and the depiction of darkness, that Aurobindo portrays divinity in darkness as well.

Contextually, Aurobindo upholds the Night as the portrayal of the netherworld. Through this depiction, he juxtaposes elements of the past and the present. This juxtaposition resonates deeply with Eliot (claims that the past should guide the present and vice versa) and Northrop Frye (extending upon the idea that poetry is the artificial image of the poet’s desire). This Canto derives meaning also from the unearthing of the symbolical relationship of Dawn to the evolution of human nature. The Dawn is like the crucial point of self-discovery and intellectual awareness which helps the soul to transcend from the ‘inconscient stage of vulnerability’ to the destination of ‘spiritual wakefulness and emancipation’. Thus, the opening canto in this relation brings together the dialectics of involution (this largely portrays that the spirit is hidden in humanity and divine manifests a word of division and ignorance) and evolution (this shows the unity and the supra-mentalisation of the Divine).

Speaking of divinity, Aurobindo exemplifies that the entire Universe and hence the human race harbours the Absolute rather than a brick-laden temple. The symbolical Dawn is appreciative in debunking the materialistic worship and in return, urging the human race to search for (spiritual) identity through introspection.

Conclusively, the opening Canto of Savitri brings to foray the need to bring together supra-mental consciousness and mystic formulations in order to truly transcend the materialistic life. Thus, Aurobindo insists that people burn down the shackles of ‘fragmented consciousness’ and shun ‘framing and worshipping external deities locked in man-made temples’. It is only through the detachment from such falsities will people march triumphantly to their goal of true ‘internal’ awakening.

Sir Syed as a protagonist of interfaith dialogue

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, born to a privileged family with his maternal grandfather as the Prime Minister under the reign of Akbar II, acquired knowledge from both traditional and contemporary domains. From learning Arabic (most importantly texts like Qutlu, Mukhtasar Mani), Persian (primarily books like Kareema, Amadnama), Mathematics, Logic, and Urdu (Mohammad 1), his receptive mind soon transcended borders to inculcate Western education. His academic prowess and traditional wisdom did not remain bracketed within the world of academia; instead stretched far and wide to inject rationality in the social, political, and cultural spheres.

To bring harmony to the diversity of India, Sir Syed aimed at pure reconciliation. His prophetic vision brought together the rationality and intellectuality of the Western world and the faith and traditions of the Eastern world. He was an ardent promoter of tolerance and scientific consciousness. Contextually, it is instrumental in layering out the aspects of his inherent interfaith idea. His interfaith dialogue emerged not simply in converging the East and West related conduct or to unite the religious customs of the Muslims and the Hindus, but also in collaborating the traditional and the modernistic approaches (in terms of getting balanced education and sieving through dogmatism).

His multi-dimensional personality was instrumental in infusing the Muslim community with a secular outlook and a pluralistic vision. It is misleading to think that Sir Syed’s ideologies were manifested merely from a Muslim standpoint. To make way for a progressive society with equal rights to education and enlightenment, his University (Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College; present-day Aligarh Muslim University) made provisions for Hindu and Muslim students. Likewise, (Khan 108) clearly states that by 1898, the University had students from both communities, with Sir Syed honouring mainly a Hindu student for receiving a first division with a gold medal. His University brought together books on history, religion, science, literature, language, and technology (Khan 114).

Emphasising the unification of all religions, Sir Syed dutifully cleaned up many hovering misconceptions regarding Christians. For instance, in his times, the Muslims believed that eating the food served by the Christians or with the Christians was sinful and was strictly against Islamic law. He penned down a literary piece titled Mohammedans Eating Food with Christians to bring harmony at the communal fronts and blow away the baseless misconceptions. He mentioned clearly in his article that hosting Christians for feasts was ‘not’ unlawful, and he further substantiates the claim from two other commentaries of the Quran, chiefly Maalim and Madarik.

Furthermore, his interfaith vision was based broadly on two premium aspects. Firstly, he accepted and educated his community to believe in one God, which entails that all Gods of the respective religions can guide their followers to eternal salvation. With the idea of one God, he also practised and preached the ‘invisibility’ of the Almighty. No God(s) cannot confine within the concrete walls in the name of ‘worship’. Secondly and more importantly, he wanted to instil in his people admiration for all the religions so that they revere all and hate none (Ramsay 296). Incidentally, his deeds, too, reflected his belief and preaching. Likewise, he engaged with various principles of the Bible through two of his famous writings, namely, Tabyin al-Kalam and Tafsir al-Quran. Upon the publication of these writings, both the religions- Islam and Christianity got accepted as a continuation of singular thought. The basic precepts of both the Holy books were the same. Thus, such a collaboration brought the British and the Muslims on much more amicable terms.

In the quest to achieve the true emancipation of humanity, Sir Syed delineated deeper into the ideas of divinity, virtues, and education, thus, keeping his lenses of rationality and pragmatism always clean and adequate. He believed that the dialectical relation between the intra and the interfaith was way more ambitious than simply being couped up in supporting the contemporary propagandist nation-building idea. Paraphrasing from Glimpses of Indian National Movement by Abel M., he refers to the episode when Sir Syed claimed the two existent communities differed in terms of mere linguistic and religious denotations. The most important conclusion drawn from his statement was that, be it Hindus or be it Muslims, they all had to subsumed into their only identity, that is, they all were Indians. This nationalistic approach was essential to uphold rather than battering the nation with petty religious interventions.

His vast array of periodical associations, particularly Zubdatul Akhbar and Sayyidul Akhbar, showcases his urge to educate his dear countrymen, not in terms of only academic degrees but also in the domain of political awareness. By featuring Sir Syed as the protagonist of the interfaith dialogue, it is essential to look into his views regarding all religions and Islam in particular. Though his contemporary society indulged in orthodox values, he focused on the liberating and the unifying tenets of Islam that subscribe to equal rights, tolerance, and freedom.

Such was Sir Syed’s role in keeping the string of humanity taut and intense that in 1888, the then British Empress, Queen Victoria, knighted him. His words and deeds resonated deeply with the British administration, which wanted to unite Christians, Muslims, and Hindus. In addition to bridging the communal gap between the Hindus and the Muslims, he was instrumental in uplifting the status of Muslims in relation to the British as well. Through discreet examples from The Loyal Muhammadans of India, he seemed to cajole the British that in accordance to their religion, Islam, indulging in bloodshed and warfare (against the colonisers) was unacceptable. Moreover, to level down the rift amongst the orthodox Muslims against Western education, he began a committee to resolve the superficial misunderstandings regarding studying the English language and culture-based curriculum. Beyond the religious and cultural tensions, Sir Syed openly spoke about the visibility of the genders. Likewise, when his contemporaries cited Islamic texts to oppress and domesticate women, he stood against the popularised views. He fought for women to claim their equal status in society, mainly in terms of authority and education.

Sir Syed’s journal The Aligarh Institute Gazette, which was published in 1866, scrutinised the dichotomy between the supposed mannerisms of the ‘colonised’ and their ‘colonisers’. To all the critics who claim Sir Syed to be pro-British, this journal stands out as a testimony to his beliefs that ‘Salaam Alaikum’ was way more respectable and courteous than the foreigner’s ‘How do you do?’ In the series of representative greetings, he further exemplifies that bowing while greeting rather than simply shaking hands unravelled the authentic flavour of a civilised community. In addition to gentility, the greeting also delivered a more extensive meaning with finesse (Kidwai 163). The greeting was capable of extending hospitality and acceptance of the other being. It is true that Sir Syed believed and even wanted his fellow friends to imbibe the scientificity of the West in exchange for the traditional orthodoxy (which mostly brewed superstitions and havoc in the road to liberal ideas). However, he never wanted his mates to forget their roots and their vibrant indigenous culture.

In addition to The Aligarh Institute Gazette, Sir Syed used his periodical Tahzibul Akhlaq to debunk the existing bigotry and sectarianism. Being a modern philosopher, he voted for nationalism rather than paltry ‘nation-building’. He proposed combining spirituality with ardent nationalism, which will ultimately side-line the inter and intra religious and community clashes filled with malice, violence, and hatred. To follow the staircase to truth, sanctity, and peace, he requested his countrymen to look beyond the borders and within. In a way, back in the nineteenth century itself, he eyed upon globalising his people wherein everyone would be duly uplifted by education and cooperation and not be dragged down by narrow religious constraints. To instil the genuine fervour of nationalism, he alluded India to be a beautiful bride. Metaphorically speaking, he considered the two religions and their respective communities as her two deep and lustrous eyes. To maintain the beauty of the bride’s face, just like both the eyes are essential similarly, to maintain the dignity and charm of the nation, both the communities are equally important.

Attempting to ‘realise’ the idea of nationalism and humanism, he persuaded his people to shun the ‘myth’ of cultural supremacy. He suggested cooperation from people of all walks of life but did not want them to adhere to any blind faith. With his clear objective to steer past the suffering of his countrymen, more often than not, he extracted lessons from the past. Likewise, Hafeez Malik remembering Sir Syed’s seminal works upon the 1857 Revolt, beautifully highlights his contribution in documenting the historical event and being a part of it (Kidwai 169). Historical episodes tend to be subjective, associating with the popular views, but contradictorily, his works were objective and uncontaminated by any prejudice. While critically probing into the 1857 revolt, Sir Syed saw it as a consequence of a disgruntled and unnecessary war against the British. Owing to his allegiance to British governance policies and thinking to be bearers of peace and sanity, he was labelled as a ‘kafir’ (translated in English as an ‘infidel’ and contextually, refers to be being an ‘ardent slave’ of the British). His views were neither heard nor understood adequately by his fellow people. He wanted them not to misunderstand the British policies and adhere to their education norms as the latter will be the gateway to the utopic Indian society in particular and the world in general. Amidst the chaotic situation of the revolt and the distrust of his people against him, he kept his mind above petty hatred and ill will. According to him, the revolt also showcased the age-old unity of the Hindus and the Muslims. Initially, he was extremely anxious as the Muslims and the Hindus were pushed to serve in a common regiment, but he stood corrected. The revolt of 1857 glued together the communities rather than picking up any kind of discrimination (Kidwai 178).

It is essential to highlight that Sir Syed’s reliance upon the British was not for some paltry monetary gains. He instead wanted to imbibe the radical thoughts, the independent stature, sensible administrative policies, and coherence in education and living from the British. Time and again, he pressed on the idea of religion and described it as a token of free will and not an agency of oppression or hatred of any kind. Be it Christianity or Hinduism, or Islam; he projected a multicultural and multireligious consciousness. He wanted the British vis a vis his countrymen to understand the unity rather than threading out the differences amongst the religions. Sir Syed was a part of the British administration. Thus, quite naturally fuelling anti-British thoughts could not be accepted on his part, but this could not limit him. He remained bold and fought bravely against the intangible racial intolerance and chauvinistic attitude looming in the coloniser’s dictum. He at once stood true to his country, his faith, and himself. In the timeline of maintaining the pristine interfaith dialogue, he kept his individuality way ahead of a herd mentality.

Being a well-read scholar and a great writer of his times, his impact on education remains noteworthy. The contemporary academic curriculum in the West profoundly influenced him and consequentially wanted to turn Aligarh Muslim University into the Oxford or Cambridge of the East. His visit to the United Kingdom in 1868-69 made him aware of a modernised version of the education system that would eradicate irrationalism and fanaticism. Moreover, he was so impressed by the periodical named Tatler and Spectator that he soon got involved in producing journals like Tahizul-ul-Ikhlaq to broaden the minds of his people in terms of the contemporary political, socio-cultural, and economic trends. From establishing the school at Muradabad (around 1858) to the Scientific society in 1864, his contributions to the scientific temperament to date remain remarkable. The Scientific Society was used to translate the Western books primarily in Urdu and Persian in the broadest terms. This society helped the Indians to access global affairs through the translated books. Apart from the scientificity, the Indian education system too was capable of instilling among the fellow countrymen the need to stand united and practice brotherhood. Through the refined curriculum, he aimed at making his people more responsible towards their community and, in general, accountable for their country. In addition to injecting the discourses of liberty and critical disposition (and not scepticism), he also wanted to free his University from the fundings of the British government. Influenced by the foreign universities, he was convinced that ‘autonomous’ universities would fare way better than those depending on the British government for constant help and support.

The educational institutions established by Sir Syed soon started to promote harmony and cooperation in all spheres. All the more, he was the one who truly accomplished the idea of education being open and accessible to all. From infusing the empathetic nature in his students, his lessons taught them to be great future leaders as well. While discussing his role in the interfaith dialogue, it is absolutely non-negotiable to discuss the curriculum’s ‘route’ and ‘root’ of the academic curriculum. He being a prolific writer, his institutions too reflected his ideals. His institutions had no space for sectarian and communal riots or misconceptions. In addition to the advent of technology and science, his institutions happily provided a seat for literature and cross-cultural debates too. More often than not, Sir Syed’s works were interpreted to be Muslim-centric. Seeing the contemporary situation of suppressing the minority voices, his deeds were and still are very important. The only reason he constantly wanted to uplift the Muslims from drudgery and superstitious darkness was to enjoy the genuine opportunities of the world in terms of academic status, political maturity, and equality. However, it was exemplary on his part not to eulogise the shady parts of the community like harbouring ill will against other religions or towards the government. With a progressive outlook, he aimed and, in turn, with his indomitable spirit, also achieved the sanctity of a united society garnished generously with humanity and tolerance.

Sir Syed’s preaching and deeds aligned with social justice to frame a future dipped in peace and progress. His role was and still continues to be very instrumental in contemporary times as well. However, sadly, India still wreaks with communal distrust, and violence coated with oppression continues in the name of religion. Sir Syed and many of his contemporary scholars have toiled hard to make way for a holistic approach to all available spheres. However, at present, miscreants have butchered present-day India in the name of ‘securing’ their religious stances. With better educational institutions and cultural unity, India will heal from prevalent religious prejudices and social dogmatism. However, all countrymen should work and explore all areas of rational education and try to re-stabilise the interfaith dialogue introduced by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Only in the spirit of true nationalism, by keeping at bay the parochial jargon, will the words and memory of Sir Syed be truly showcased and acknowledged.

Works Cited

Khan, Amjad Abbas. “Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his Pluralistic vision.” Pakistan Vision, vol. 19, no. 2, p. 13.

Kidwai, Shafey. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Reason, Religion and Nation. Routledge, 2021.

Mohammad, Shan. Writings and Speeches of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Bombay, Nachiketa Publications Limited, 1972.

Ramsay, Charles M. “Sir Sayyid and the Religious Foundations for a Pluralist Society.” pp. 288-307.

Peace and Non-violence: A regional façade or a global importance?

The virtues of mercy, non-violence, and love in any man can be truly tested only when they are pitted against ruthlessness, violence, hate and untruth…

                                                                          Mahatma Gandhi (Borman 13)

For the past few weeks, the newspapers have been soaked with the heinous bloodbaths at Afghanistan in the hands of the militant group, Taliban’s. While peace is lingering at the edge of a blood coated dagger, how come the violence and ignorance have not been counteracted by non-violence? Does non-violence mean absolute surrender to the evil cause, or is it a rare (abundantly found yet hardly implemented) panacea?

Peace and non-violence, though uttered in the same breath, does not mean the same. In the simplest terms, peace can be connoted as the ‘utopic destination’, and non-violence is ‘the agency or the route’ to achieve the same. The word ‘peace’ originates from the Latin word, ‘pax’, which denotes a state of adequate mutual understanding (Mayton II 6). In accordance with the Hindu and Sanskrit dictums, peace is connoted as ‘shanti’, which elaborates on the situation of warlessness (both physical and psychological). Peace in the contemporary context features a broader sector of understanding. It includes maintaining harmony with nature, being calm both within and to the societal engagements and creating a stage cleansed of injustice and immoral cacophony. 

In the quest to achieve peace and restore sanctity in society, it is imperative to include the norms of non-violence. And yes! Non-violence is not the weapon of a coward. It is the protest of the ultimate level. To oust away the imperial rule of the British, when Mahatma Gandhi prescribed the acts of ‘Ahimsa’, he did not cling to indifference. He wanted his fellow countrymen to fight with consciousness and not with arms and ammunitions. He even advocated a safe space wherein violence with goodwill was way better than scripted non-violence with a violent mentality. In short, passive aggression is a big ‘no’! 

In the current generation, the dissent amongst the groups or in between individuals is due to an extremist view. People tend to deal in distinct binaries without fathoming the pros and cons of either side. Likewise, India is to date reeling with the issues of caste, creed, gender and sexuality. What is the prime reason behind these episodes of chaos? The most discernible reason is the shortage of inclusivity. Indeed, simply abandoning the idea of discreet dichotomies is not the only way out; people need to come together with a universalised solution. If the situation of solution-hunting is scrutinised, how does non-violence befits the journey of attaining the ultimate goal of peace and harmony?

 In the 21st century, the world has and is still witnessing surges of modernisation. Amidst all the technological advancements, the peace in the social life, mental space and green environment is being destabilised more than ever. This century is a clarion call to bring in non-violence not in mere thoughts but in actions too. Simply conducting peace researches and signing treaties are not enough. The world must be woven together to accept and realise the importance of both the negative and the positive sides of peace attainment. The negative domain of peace and sanity emerges when the violence is limited or has been eradicated. However, the positive sector of spreading peace guarantees the uprooting of the basic potential of violence and hatred (Summy). Indeed, in today’s context, the dialogical means of putting a halt to global violence is feasible but still not entirely functional.  

Additionally, it is incredibly crucial to understand that non-violence does not simply imply tales of ‘no battles’ or guaranteed ‘pacifism’ but also constitutes moral resistance and speaking out loud against the humanitarian crisis. The debate over the contemporary scholarship regarding non-violence is fluid; meaning, it has no set boundaries. To attain peace, the mechanism of non-violence needs to be manoeuvred in a structured manner. Peace in its entirety also means the purest form of social justice. Practising non-violence will help in appropriating the humane self of the world. To station the most remarkable stage of individual identities, peace will dawn upon society. The individualised stability will make way for the proper utilisation of resources, both physical and metaphysical faculties. 

Resonating with Gandhi, the pathways of non-violence entails the accurate realisation of truth. Peace at large through non-violence will help in the absolute emancipation from the burdens of the day to day life. The truth and emancipation herein imply the stepping stone to consciousness and inner awakening. Thereby, peace in actuality is a metaphysical concept and hence, intangible and often misread as ‘invisible or invalid’. At this juncture, one may certainly claim that peace means infusing meaning into human existence. Such a claim will not only be appreciated but also revered. Well, philosophically, the atman voices its agony or expresses its beauty through the tangible body, yet the relation of anasakti (detachment or no attachment at all) continues. Contextually, in the art of surreal self-realisation and introspection, the body steadily tries to minimise worldly desires, de-tracks from anger and consequent violence. Ultimately all these pathways of perseverance merge at the point of moksha or enlightenment (Singh 120).

To this day, Gandhi’s ideological Satyagraha or moral resilience relays a holistic approach that constantly struggles to make a morally upright and cooperative society at all levels of engagements. Globally the importance of non-violence is escalating more than ever. The reason being non-violence, through its tenets of meditative thought processes and actions, can bring about a change in the world. A permanent change, to be precise. The acts of non-violence do not deny the humanistic improvement in the opponent by instigating violence (physical, verbal and mental).

Considering the human tribe to be inherently pristine and rational, Satyagraha (non-violence), in contrast to Duragraha (maintaining constancy in the ill will), is required to resurrect and transform the brewing cruelty into the ethereal fraternity. Meanwhile, peace also refers to a haven that is free from fear and anxiety. To protect this peaceful haven, non-violence is instrumental in showering the earth with compassion. Hailing non-violence as an agency to reach the destination of peace does not reduce it to a mere mechanical process; instead highlights it as a sacred and a much-needed doctrine. This doctrine paves the way to a more humane life protected from the hues and cries of ignorance and ill thoughts when imbibed to its full potential. Seeping in the concept of non-violence is not an easy task, although ironically, it comes naturally to us. In contrast to the global misconception, violence is a mechanised and an imitated behaviour or simply an environment-induced phenomenon. To curb the menace of violence and pick up the flame of non-violence, one needs to be more accountable for their deeds. 

On a personal note, accepting one’s development to be organic rather than forcing it to fit society’s accepted notions can also bring peace. The unchecked tussles within the personal framework repeatedly instigate people to violently attack one’s peers and create a state of disharmony and confusion. With every being aiming at radical necessity and questioning the traditional and contemporary dogma, the world will eventually climb up to the haven of peace and reconciliation. In a way, vouching to maintain peace also extends to safeguarding the sustainability factor of humanity and of the world at large. Conclusively, the safety of peace and practising non-violence is not a regional or an individual game; rather, it is the requirement of the entire world.


Borman, William. Gandhi and Non-Violence. State University of New York Press, 1986.

Joseph, Siby K., and Bharat Mahodaya, editors. Contemporary Perspectives on Peace and Non-violence.

Mayton II, Daniel M. Nonviolence and Peace Psychology. Springer, 2009.

Singh, Jai S. “Gandhian Jurisprudence of Non-violence and Global Peace.” Indian Journal of Public Administration, vol. LX, no. 1, 2014.

Summy, Ralph. “Understanding Nonviolence in Theory and Practice.” Peace, Literature, and Art, vol. 2.

This paper has received the First position in the National Paper Presentation competition jointly hosted by Mahatma Gandhi University and Sevagram Ashram, 2021.

A critical appraisal of Robert Browning’s Rabbi Ben Ezra

Rabbi Ben Ezra is one of the finest philosophical dramatic monologues penned down by the renowned Victorian poet, Robert Browning. Itwas first published in 1864 in his poetry collection, Dramatis Personae. The scholarly philosophical tunes in the poem get set by a 12th-century scholar Abraham ibn Ezra; the narrator.

    The poem begins with a warm welcoming gesture wherein the readers are invited to hop on to the journey of ‘old age’. The very opening, Grow old along with me!/ The best is yet to be”, sets the beat for the upcoming verses. The poem in the lines to come tries to showcase the intrinsic beauties of experience and maturity underneath the wrinkled face of old age. The beginning phase of the poem beautifully upholds the fact that youth is just a temporary episode before entering the permanent domain of wisdom (old age).

    Often when people dwell in their youthhood, they seem to connote themselves as seemingly immortal; they shun old age and even death. Perhaps, the prime reason for side-lining old age lies in the fact that the wintry days bring in a paralyzed state of life with flickering vigour and adventure. This idealistic connotation of life gets refuted here in the most pragmatic manner.

Robert Browning uses his optimistic philosophy as an agency to cater to his readers the true meaning of life. The poem dutifully upholds the idea of life being an amalgamation rather than a formation of discreet episodes. To strengthen his arguments, he reflects back on the relation of mankind to their Almighty (or the Maker). Through the thread of divinity, the poet relays the missive that, humans are means in God’s ultimate dream, and thus, they should keep toiling hard to repair their imperfections to achieve their true purpose in life.

Through various imageries and metaphors, the poem highlights and eventually glorifies the failures in man. The poem in particular and life on the larger canvas is all about the intentions and about the experiences gathered rather than the end result. The poet constantly hammers to “Strive”, “Learn” and to “Dare” (Strive, and hold cheap the strain; Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!), to sharpen one’s qualities as he believes that partnership must indeed be hard-working and vigorous, for he sees life as a tremendous, almost overpowering effort of growth which continues even past one’s last breath. It is very evident that the poet has faith in life after death. Thereby, pleads his readers to work harder each day, as when their souls approach the portal of death, they can fight valiantly at the greatest battle of all.

The poem though exemplifies the insights of old age, in the due process, it however does not belittle the youth. Rather, the poetical piece puts under the limelight that the youth is transient so vesting too much in the strength of the bodies (and not in the mind and soul), will in turn reduce them into mere “brute”. To make the mankind aspire for the highest place in God’s heaven, the corporeal frame needs to be shed off.

In this duality of youth and old age, comes the true significance of the paradox that lies deep within the Rabbi’s philosophy. The poet when on one hand, urges his readers to appreciate both success and failure and encourages them to rectify their ‘imperfections’, on the other, rather ironically, states out blatantly that the struggles of life hold little meaning since life is but our soul’s first step to the journey to eternity. With the wider perspective of life and death, the significance of the paradoxical old age and youth too surfaces. Robert Browning very dexterously shows on one side that youth operates through the idea of carpe diem, constantly, and tries to transcend the limits of the body, while on the other, the old age brings with it patience and complicity.

So to say, the narrator and thus poet, brews the beauty of togetherness and the capability to appreciate every episode of one’s life, come what may. It is true that the youth will fade, but on the brighter side, it will be replaced with wisdom and insight of age, which recognizes that pain is a part of life. More so, by placing misery and joy at close quarters, appreciating the latter becomes all the more worthwhile, “Be our joys three parts pain!”

In the cycle of life, the poet also corroborates that though with age, the realization of pain comes hurling down, yet with the wisdom of  that same age will help the people stay afloat. In a way, though in a surreptitious tone, the poem preaches that the present needs to accepted with it’s beauty and flaw, and should not let it overwhelm the possibilities of future. In this realm of continuity, the poet happens to lean more upon the old age. To substantiate his claim, he days that age can only be more attractive as it recognizes the beauty of youth’s yearnings and not get attracted to the “plastic circumstance”. With the guidance of either of the ages, the sanctity and purpose of life will bloom admirably. In a way, by seeping in the idea that no part of our life or the universe can exist in isolation, the poet persuades his readers to accept this limitation so that they can be content and patient while nearing death; which is not an end but a release to a greater sphere where our soul may continue to grow.

“Ay, note that Potter’s wheel, That metaphor!” This metaphor primarily has been used by Robert Browning to counteract Edward Fitzgerald’s pessimism and hedonism which has been featured in the latter’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1859). This profound metaphor sums up the doctrine of the poetical piece- By referring to God as the potter who shapes the clay (man) on the wheel of life, the heavenly purpose of human’s existence has been dealt with here in. With the help of  this metaphor, the poet brings about a distinction between the Victorian idea of old age (whereby, the old body is shown to harbour anxiety and disease and thus, becoming “heaven’s consummate cup”) and the Jewish connotation of old age (whereby, the old body is a vehicle of knowledge and experience which helps to transcend the earthly life into the eternal bliss).

To justify the lacunas of life, the poet reminds the readers that it is the gruelling pain (which is inflicted by God on purpose) that strengthens and shapes one’s character. Just like Gold gets purified by fire, similarly, the man’s soul too gets purged by the sudden jolts of failures and miseries. In addition to the pain, in the journey of life, the plebians of the world needs to enjoy their time as well. No doubt in the due course of this life cycle, death will darken the door but soul will evade it’s arrest.

Thereby, the poem positions the notions of immortality of soul and God, side by side, the ephemeral episode of life, “Time’s wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure”. Through a string of opposites, Robert Browning thus, exemplifies that with the subtle age, people will not only be hardened enough to combat against all oddities but with the additional maturity will also humbly be able to accept truckloads of success.  This heterogeneity in life with the beauty of youth and with the patience of old age will help to recede from their life’s journey without an act of regret whilst they gather up the spiritual abilities to begin their second phase of their journey.