What is the symbolic significance of the Temple’ in A Passage to India?
Ans. The ‘Temple’, the last section of A Passage to India
contains the essence of the novel, love, harmony and happiness. It
shows symbolically the final triumph of the Hindu Temple over the
pre-Hindu Caves of Marabar. If the caves stand for the failure of
mutual friendship in the face of chaos, the temple festival is a living
symbol of unity in love, of coming together of different people, even
former enemies in a spirit of reconciliation. Forster has been able to
invest this larger meaning to the temple because of the symbolic
importance of four crucial scenes of the last section: i) the scene of
the birth of Lord Krishna and of Godbole’s vision, ii) the scene in
which the mystical influence of Mrs. Moore brings Aziz and Ralph
Moore together, iii) the scene of the collision of the boats in which
Aziz and Fielding meet again, and iv) the last ride together of Aziz
Thé last section of the novel takes place in the town of Mau which
is celebrating Gokulashtami—a ceremony in which the worshipper’:
including Godbole, to “love all men, the whole universe” and in
which “the Lord of the Universe” is born. It is two hundred miles
away from the evil Caves of Marabar, and it is the cool season which
is propitious for harmony and peace, and the Hindu Brahmin
Godbole is presiding over the ceremony of Lord Krishna’s birth.
Clearly, we have escaped in space and time from the Marabar hills
and all that they symbolize, and we are now promised intimations of
perfect harmony and reconciliation. While presiding over the
ceremony, Golbole, who stands for the union in the reality of all men,
sees in a vision Mrs. Moore united in his mind with a wasp, and thus
achieves union with the divine. In his worship he makes no fixed
exclusion; everything is a part of the universe which itself is
embraced by divine love. The Hindu Festival is thus a symbol of a
reconciliation of differences not in negation, but in a larger synthesis.
In the next scene, Aziz takes Ralph Moore on the water to show
him the last stage in the ceremony of Mau. He does not know that
Fielding and his wife, Stella, are in another boat nearby. The four
persons have so absorbed in info)Ying the ceremony that they do not
notice the raft, bearing the clay god, which comes and crashes into
the boats. The two boats collide with the raft, and everything and
everyone including the clay god, are plunged into the water. This is a
form Of spiritual baptism, a form of purification, dissolving all
Äh”ståiidings and bitterness in a final reconciliation. Both Aziz
Fielding comes closer again.
Thus the divine muddle of the Hindu ceremony has brought
these former friends„ Aziz and Fielding, together again, yet their
friendship like the unity of India is unstable.
To conclude, the festival of Sri Krishna’s birth with which begins
the last section ‘The Temple’ of the novel, indicates that it is possible
to encompass the order which lies beyond chaos. The festival is a
symbol of the unity in love, of the coming together of enemies in a
spirit of reconciliation.
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