The Incredible Godmen and the Indian Literary Renaissance


  • V.R.N Prasad


But what went ye out for to sec? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold they which are gorgeously apparalled, and live delicately, are in king's courts. But what went ye out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. As always the passage to India has been more than a physical pathway. More often it has been an intellectual journey or a spiritual odyssey. Walt Whitman in his poem rhapsodically celebrates the digging up of the Suez Canal as an opening of a new avenue for metaphysical quest and making the scriptures of India and the wisdom of its sages accessible to the West. E.M. Forster in his novel presents the mystique of the orient and the inscrutable complexity of its life through suggestive symbolism and unresolved experience that is beyond the range of ordinary comprehension or expression. Birds of passage have passed through India deriding it as an Area of Darkness or a Wounded Civilisation or even a Continent of Circe. But, there have been others, more serious minded perhaps, who have undertaken a pilgrimage to savour not only the sights and sounds of an exotic land but also study and unravel the arcane wisdom of the Vedas and the Upanishads, the Puranas and the Gita, and establish contact with the innumerable holy men and women who continue to perform not only astounding miracles but also preach the tenets and eternal verities of the perennial philosophy. Paul Brunton, Howard Murphet, Arthur Osborne and the pioneers who established the world headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar near Madras bear testimony to the vibrant spiritual concerns that still condition the life of this ancient land.