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Oct 21, 2018

Gandhi for the Post-Truth Age

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Gandhi for the Post-Truth Age
The icon’s legacy is no longer secure, but he anticipated much about our current political moment.
By Pankaj Mishra

Inequality, Gandhi believed, left Western democracies open to totalitarianism.

In 2015, in South Africa, where Mohandas Gandhi lived from 1893 to 1914, a statue of him was defaced by protesters. The following year, the University of Ghana agreed to remove Gandhi’s statue from its campus, after an online campaign with the (misspelled) hashtag #Ghandimustfall charged the Indian leader with racism against black Africans. Compared with other recent targets of political iconoclasts—stalwarts of the Confederacy and Cecil Rhodes—Gandhi seems an unlikely symbol of racial arrogance. Nelson Mandela claimed that Gandhi’s tactics offered “the best hope for future race relations”; Martin Luther King, Jr., held Gandhi up as a model; decades before that, black activists such as Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., and Benjamin Mays were enthralled by the phenomenon of an Indian leading people of color in the campaign against British colonialism in India. Yet Gandhi’s legacy is no longer secure even in his own country. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, cites V. D. Savarkar, a far-right Hindu supremacist who was accused of involvement in Gandhi’s assassination, in 1948, as his ideological mentor. A portrait of Savarkar, who loathed Gandhi for being too soft on minorities, hangs in the Indian Parliament building.

Even some left-leaning writers have recently argued that Gandhi must fall. In “The South African Gandhi” (2015), Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed depict him as a pro-British lawyer, who worked within the country’s white-supremacist politics to promote his Indian compatriots at the expense of black South Africans. In “The Doctor and the Saint,” Arundhati Roy indicts Gandhi for his failure to unequivocally condemn the Hindu caste system, calling him a “Saint of the Status-Quo.” The Marxist critic Perry Anderson, in his scathing account of Indian nationalism, “The Indian Ideology” (2012), charges that Gandhi’s “intellectual development” was “arrested by intense religious belief.”

Some of these reassessments may have been provoked by the halo surrounding Gandhi, which has shone brightly ever since Richard Attenborough’s Oscar-winning bio-pic, in 1982. It was only then that bumper-sticker homilies Gandhi never uttered—“Be the change you wish to see in the world”—were attributed to him. (Donald Trump tweeted one of these fake quotes during his Presidential campaign, in 2016: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”) As Gandhi disappeared into T-shirts and Apple advertisements, it was easy to forget that this big-eared, cuddly icon of popular culture responded to an unprecedentedly violent and unstable period in human history, beginning with the intensification of imperialism and globalization in the late nineteenth century and continuing through two world wars. “Politics encircle us today like the coil of a snake from which one cannot get out, no matter how much one tries,” Gandhi once said. “I wish therefore to wrestle with the snake.” His prolific writings in that turbulent era inspired thinkers as disparate as W. E. B. Du Bois and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Today, Gandhi’s political thought resonates again. In recent years, many scholars have asserted that he has much to say about the issues that make our present moment so volatile: inequality, resentment, the rise of demagoguery, and the breakdown of democratic governance. In several pioneering books and articles, the Indian thinker Ashis Nandy has presented Gandhi as boldly confronting the “hyper-masculine” political culture of his time, which sanctified “institutionalized violence and ruthless social Darwinism.” Writers such as Ajay Skaria, Shruti Kapila, Uday S. Mehta, Karuna Mantena, and Faisal Devji present a radical figure, who, diverging from the dominant ideologies of liberalism, nationalism, and Marxism, insisted on the need for self-transformation, moral persuasion, and sacrifice. The origins of Gandhi’s world view in Europe’s fin-de-siècle culture are also becoming clearer: Leela Gandhi persuasively links her great-grandfather’s outlook to an antimaterialist tradition that flourished in late-nineteenth-century Britain. She sees him as refashioning democracy, in opposition to a widespread striving for the will to power, into a “spiritual regimen of imperfectionism.”

“Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948” (Knopf), the second and concluding volume of Ramachandra Guha’s biography, offers a more conventional account. It covers the most widely known part of Gandhi’s life—the four decades, following his South African sojourn, when he emerged as the leader of the Indian freedom movement. Known as the Mahatma (an honorific meaning “great soul”), he became famous worldwide as a practitioner of nonviolent resistance.

Guha’s previous volume established how Gandhi, born in 1869 into a family of senior administrators in the princely states of Western India, went to Britain at the age of nineteen, to train as a lawyer—the first time he had travelled outside his home region. Afterward, in South Africa, working as a lawyer and a community organizer for the country’s Indian population, he lived in near-total isolation from events in British-ruled India, absorbed by his readings in the Bible, Ruskin, and Tolstoy and his experiments in vegetarianism, meditation, and celibacy. Guha claims that Gandhi, in the first four decades of his life, “may never have spoken to a single Indian peasant or worker (or landlord or moneylender) living or working in India.”

The second volume of Guha’s biography, more than a thousand pages long, begins with an account of how Gandhi, returning to India at the age of forty-five, set about familiarizing himself with his country’s realities, especially its great mass of poor people. Initially, Gandhi hoped to work for political reform as a loyal subject of the British Empire. Once he was exposed to the brutal facts of British rule—most notably, the massacre of nearly four hundred unarmed civilians in the city of Amritsar, in 1919—Gandhi turned resolutely anti-imperialist. In 1920, he launched his first nonviolent campaign against the British, and within a few years he had transformed the Indian National Congress, hitherto a party of upper-class Indians, into a vigorous mass movement. In 1930, he achieved international fame with the Salt March, a protest against a British-imposed tax on salt, which catalyzed civil-disobedience campaigns across the nation.

Four years later, however, Gandhi resigned from the Congress, unhappy with its inability to embrace nonviolence not merely as a politically expedient tactic but as a fundamental duty. From then on, he returned only briefly to active politics, most strikingly in 1942, as the head of an anti-British uprising called the Quit India movement. In the last decade and a half of his life, he preferred to focus on building India “from the bottom up”: he fought against the social practice of untouchability; devised methods of pedagogy and sanitation for rural Indians; and promoted spinning, weaving, and other handicrafts as a superior alternative to top-down modernization in a country largely populated by peasants. A day before he was murdered, Guha writes, Gandhi asserted that “the Congress should be disbanded,” since it had “outlived its use.” Far-right Hindu supremacists had always scorned Gandhi for his rejection of conventional politics; they conspired to assassinate him just as he was trying to calm murderous passions partly incited by them.

Guha’s previous volume maintained, in the face of much accumulating evidence, that Gandhi, in his years in South Africa, was “among apartheid’s first opponents.” It would have been more accurate to say that the young and callow Gandhi failed to recognize the necessity of a broader struggle against racial-ethnic supremacism; in 1906, he volunteered as a stretcher-bearer with British forces as they savagely crushed a Zulu uprising. The new volume likewise shows Guha to be admirably industrious in examining multiple archives, and diligent in his mastery of the arcana of Indian politics, but a bit languid in his analyses. Gandhi appears in his account as a symbol of India’s imperilled secular nationalism, whose “ideas on religious pluralism and interfaith harmony speak directly to the world we live and labour in.” This bland do-gooder has little of the “sublime madness” that Niebuhr identified in the man who wrestled with the snake of politics.

Arguing that Gandhi’s stock should rise, Guha writes that he “is still relevant on account of the method of social protest he pioneered.” This is undoubtedly true, attested by the ubiquity of boycotts, strikes, collective vigils, and other techniques that Gandhi pioneered, or practiced, with world-historical results. Activists fighting for the environment, for refugees’ and immigrants’ rights, and against racial discrimination and violence continue to be inspired by satyagraha, Gandhi’s neologism meaning nonviolent direct action. The aim of satyagraha was to arouse the conscience of oppressors and invigorate their victims with a sense of moral agency. Gandhi’s unique mode of defiance, Niebuhr observed as early as 1932, not only works to “rob the opponent of the moral conceit by which he identifies his interests with the peace and order of society.” It also purges the victim’s resentment of the “egoistic element,” producing a purer “vehicle of justice.”

Certainly, Gandhi, the resourceful activist, the impresario of nonviolent resistance, cannot be expunged from history as briskly as his statues. But there is also a case, which Guha does not make, for seeing Gandhi as far more intellectually ingenious. In “The Impossible Indian” (2012), Faisal Devji, the most stimulating of recent writers on Gandhian thought, calls him “one of the great political thinkers of our times”—an assessment not cancelled out by the stringent account of Gandhi’s fads, follies, and absurdities frequently offered by his critics. Far from being a paragon of virtue, the Mahatma remained until his death a restless work in progress. Prone to committing what he called “Himalayan blunders,” he did not lose his capacity to learn from them, and to enlist his opponents in his search for a mutually satisfactory truth.

Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote. And even Gandhi’s harshest detractors do not deny that he steadfastly defended, and eventually sacrificed his life for, many values under assault today—fellow-feeling for the weak, and solidarity and sympathy between people of different nations, religions, and races.

No one would be less surprised than Gandhi by neo-Fascist upsurges in what he called “nominal” Western democracies, which in his view were merely better at concealing their foundations of violence and exploitation than explicitly Fascist nations were. He thought that democracy in the West was “clearly an impossibility so long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry millions persists,” and as long as legislators act like a “prostitute”—his infamous term for the British Parliament—and voters “take their cue from their newspapers which are often dishonest.”

True democracy, or swaraj, involved much more participation from citizens, he believed; it required them to combine self-rule with self-restraint, politics with ethics. Turning his back on his middle-class origins, he brought millions of peasants into political life. To him, the age of democracy—“this age of awakening of the poorest of the poor”—was a cause for celebration, and he conceived of democracy as something that “gives the weak the same chance as the strong,” in which “inequalities based on possession and non-possession, colour, race, creed or sex vanish.”

People in the West, Gandhi argued, merely “imagine they have a voice in their own government”; instead, they were “being exploited by the ruling class or caste under the sacred name of democracy.” Moreover, a regime in which “the weakest go to the wall” and a “few capitalist owners” thrive “cannot be sustained except by violence, veiled if not open.” This is why, Gandhi predicted, even “the states that are today nominally democratic” are likely to “become frankly totalitarian.”

Many other anti-colonial activists and thinkers also saw Fascism and imperialism as “the two faces” of a “decaying capitalism,” in the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi’s close associate and India’s first Prime Minister. Gandhi’s critique of Western-style politics, however, extended to its underpinnings of political and economic liberalism, and its central assumption: that material progress and industrial expansion could continue without devastating political and environmental consequences.

“Industrialism,” he argued in 1931, “depends entirely on your capacity to exploit, on foreign markets being open to you, and on the absence of competitors.” But intensified competition from Asian and African countries could change everything, he warned presciently, decades before the rise of China and India as capitalist economies plunged once powerful nations of the West into irreversible economic decline and political crisis. Unlike Nehru and many post-colonial leaders, Gandhi derived no satisfaction from the prospect of heavily centralized Asian and African states industrializing and catching up with their Western overlords. He calculated early on the environmental costs of industrial progress by populous countries: in 1928, he wrote, “If an entire nation of 300 millions”—India’s population at the time—“took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.”

For these reasons and others, Gandhi thought that it was not enough to demand liberation from “exploitation and degradation,” as socialists tended to do. In 1925, in an article titled “What of the West?,” he argued that those who wished to “shun the evils of capital” would have to do nothing less than wholly “revise the view point of capital,” achieving an outlook in which “the multiplicity of material wants will not be the aim of life.” Indeed, Gandhi’s critique of modern civilization hinged on what he saw as its refusal to recognize limits. To a civilization shaped by unappeasable human will and ambition Gandhi counterposed a civilization organized around self-limitation and ethical conduct. “We shall cease to think of getting what we can, but we shall decline to receive what all cannot get,” he wrote. “The only real, dignified, human doctrine is the greatest good of all, and this can only be achieved by uttermost self-sacrifice.”

Gandhi baffled many of his colleagues in addition to his enemies, as Guha relates. His unabashed invocation of quasi-religious values in politics and his key value of self-sacrifice are also likely to disconcert many readers today. Such assertions as “Just as one must learn the art of killing in the training for violence, so one must learn the art of dying in the training for non-violence” set him in stark opposition to the utility-maximizing premises of Western political economy. But Gandhi’s radically different conception of the human being, and its relationship with others, gives his ideas an inner coherence. Asked in 1947 by the director-general of unesco to contribute to the then new and growing discourse surrounding human rights, Gandhi retorted that he had “learnt from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved came from duty well done. . . . The very right to live accrues to us only when we do the duty of citizenship of the world.”

At every point, Gandhi still upends modern assumptions, insisting on the primacy of self-sacrifice over self-interest, individual obligations over individual rights, renunciation over consumption, and dying over killing. What were the sources of Gandhi’s relentlessly counterintuitive thought, and what makes it resonate in our time?

Gandhi’s devout Hinduism, his vow of celibacy, and his penchant for wearing a loincloth and spinning cotton made him seem like an Indian mendicant—“a fakir of a type well known in the east,” in Winston Churchill’s contemptuous judgment. In fact, Gandhi, a devoted reader of the Bible, was, as Pope John Paul II once said, “much more of a Christian than many people who say they are Christians,” and the deepest influences on him were largely European and American. Immersed in an Anglo-American countercultural tradition, he counted Emerson, Thoreau, and John Ruskin as his gurus, borrowing from Ruskin the notion of the dignity of manual labor. His emphasis on duty came from Giuseppe Mazzini. Gandhi closely read the gay socialist Edward Carpenter, who stressed the ethical and spiritual dimension of democracy while distrusting its institutional apparatus, especially the centralized bureaucratic state. Living in South Africa, Gandhi corresponded with Tolstoy, who called him his “spiritual heir.” Guha described in his first volume how the Catholic writer G. K. Chesterton helped inspire Gandhi’s main contribution to political theory, “Hind Swaraj” (1909). Gandhi absorbed many ideas osmotically during an era when a range of artists and thinkers, from William Morris to D. H. Lawrence, deplored the condition of human beings in industrial production and their entrapment in the cash nexus, and emphasized interdependence over individualism.

Tim Rogan’s book, “The Moral Economists: R. H. Tawney, Karl Polanyi, E. P. Thompson, and the Critique of Capitalism” (2017), ably reconstructs the first extensive crisis of liberalism, during which Gandhi began to explore how to “revise the view point of capital.” In the late nineteenth century, the process of globalization was as disruptive as it is today. It had started to become clear that, as Rogan writes, “mutual utility—rational, self-interested actors meeting in markets overseen by a night watchman state—was not a sufficient basis for social order.” The social contract was breaking down across Europe, and those disaffected with the “social philosophy of laissez-faire” became vulnerable to authoritarian figures and “conceptions of a strong, unifying state.” Gandhi was thoroughly alert to this dangerous shift, eerily familiar in our own age of polarized, sectarian politics. “The violence of private ownership,” he once said, “is less injurious than the violence of the State.”

The moral economists argued against the political philosophy of liberalism, which saw the protection of life and property as the main impulse of social and political life. R. H. Tawney, a religious socialist, belittled the concept of economic man, and argued for a more exalted notion of human motives. Karl Polanyi, a refugee from Fascist Europe, became convinced that Fascism, “the most obvious failure of our civilization,” was the consequence of subordinating human needs to the market, and he called for “freedom from economics.” Gandhi likewise argued that, “at every crucial moment, these new-fangled economic laws have broken down in practice. And nations or individuals who accept them as guiding maxims must perish.”

Gandhi was obsessed with the dangers to human freedom from hyperorganized states, economic calculus, and technocracies, and he anticipated the many mid-century American and European intellectuals who grappled with the most obvious failure of their civilization: the eruption of barbarism in the heart of the modern West. Gandhi saw the link between European imperialism in Asia and Africa and totalitarianism in Europe decades before Hannah Arendt elaborated on it in “The Origins of Totalitarianism” (1951). He also recognized, well before such Catholic thinkers as Simone Weil and Jacques Maritain, that new conceptions of social interdependence, individual agency, and cosmopolitan responsibility were needed to save the world from the delusions of individualism and collectivism. But, then, Gandhi had a broader experience of the world than the moral economists, the Christian humanists, or even the German refugees from Nazism; he had been forced to assess modern Western democracies very early in the twentieth century, and from the vantage point of their profoundly undemocratic Asian and African outposts.

Most important, he devised a mode of resistance that skillfully infused mass politics with a moral imperative—to end the vicious cycle of violent antagonism and to prepare the ground for mutual toleration. Satyagraha, which presumed a basic commitment to dialogue on all sides, was likely to be impotent against Nazism or any other genocidal ideology. But it remains a matchless political means to reconcile clashing interests in diverse and fractious societies, largely because it accommodates Gandhi’s proto-postmodern view that truths in politics are invariably partial and contingent. A satyagrahi ought to give “his opponent the same independence and feelings of liberty that he reserves to himself and he will fight by inflicting injuries on his own person.” Maritain correctly described satyagraha as “spiritual warfare.” Gandhi claimed that those engaged in satyagraha were “true warriors,” fearless enough to never resort to arms—as opposed to the cowards driven by fear to violence.

This was a new way of achieving moral agency in the most oppressive circumstances. Yet, as Faisal Devji writes, Gandhi was no humanitarian, concerned above all with ameliorating suffering. Rather, “tempting violence in order to convert it by the force of suffering into something quite unexpected” was at the core of his politics. “Mere appeal to reason does not answer where prejudices are age-long,” Gandhi pointed out. “The penetration of the heart comes from suffering.”

All this seems far removed from the rational debates and discussions that we assume are the way to build public consensus and inform government policy in democracies. But Gandhi realized that democratic politics, as the philosopher Martha Nussbaum has pointed out, “must learn how to cultivate the inner world of human beings, equipping each citizen to contend against the passion for domination and to accept the reality, and the equality, of others.” Moreover, a profound philosophical conviction lay behind the communal endurance of pain and the refusal to retaliate. Gandhi believed that society is much more than a social contract between self-seeking individuals underpinned by the rule of law and structured by institutions; it is actually founded upon sacrificial relationships, whether between lovers, friends, or parents and children.

Gandhi could see that public life organized around a morally neutral conception of private interests is always likely to degenerate into ferocious competition and violent coercion. “Unrestricted individualism is the law of the beast of the jungle,” he warned. It undermines social cohesion, and, finally, creates the conditions for what the social contract is meant to preclude: a war of all against all.

As Trump’s trade wars, travel bans, deportations, and denaturalizations demonstrate, an obsession with preserving what one has can quickly lead to depriving others of their human dignity. Gandhi would have recognized immediately that the source of Trump’s power lies in stoking people’s fear that the material interests of their nation, race, or class will not survive unless ruthless measures are taken. He worked for much of his life in precisely such an inferno of existential terrors and predatory fantasies, when cruelty in the name of self-preservation received singularly wide sanction.

It was a man of the far right, consumed by survivalist anxieties about the “Hindu nation,” who shot Gandhi three times in the chest and the abdomen on the evening of January 30, 1948. Gandhi, who built an entire world view based on the nonviolent imperative of self-sacrifice, had looked forward to his assassination. Having survived a previous attempt on his life that same month, he made no effort to improve his security and, the night before his murder, told a close confidant of his wish to receive a “bullet in my bare chest.” His executioner failed to realize that he was merely helping Gandhi to perfect the “art of dying” and to consummate his cosmopolitan duty as a citizen of the world—the sacrifice of oneself for others. Many more of Gandhi’s statues may fall in the present climate of furious revisionism. But the Mahatma will remain, in his sublime madness, a consistently illuminating guide through the labyrinth of rational self-interest, and through our own decaying landscapes of liberalism and democracy. ♦

This article appears in the print edition of the October 22, 2018, issue, with the headline “The Great Protester.”

Pankaj Mishra has written several books, including “From the Ruins of Empire” and, most recently, “Age of Anger: A History of the Present.”

Oct 12, 2018

Rasa Theory

Niyati Pathak

According to Dimock Indian Poetics may be appropriated for Indian Literature. He believes ‘Sanskrit critics have taxonomic approach to the psychology of emotions’. The ‘taxonomic’ involves to more from the ‘personal’ to ‘transpersonal’. There is a highly particular level. It is the level of interpersonal aesthetic delight.

“An exhibition and enjoyment that is more like spiritual realization is very much present in Indian Literature,”- K. R. Shrinivas Iyanger

“Our emotions are the gastric juices which transform this world of appearance into the more intimate world of sentiments. On the other hand, this outer world has its own juices, having their various qualities, which excite our emotional activities. This is called in our Sanskrit Rhetoric, Rasa, which signifies outer juices having their response in inner juices of our emotions. And a poem, according to it, is a sentence or sentences containing juices, which stimulate the juices of emotion. It brings to us ideas vitalized by feelings, ready to be made into the life-style of nature” 
Rabindranath Tagore

Introduction:
Rasa is Sanskrit and has many translations in English, the main ones being: essence, juice, nectar, taste, or sap. Rasa is in everything, or I should say… everything has Rasa. Though some things have a higher vibrational  essence, others lower, some even dead. Rasa is the invisible substance that gives life meaning.

Rasa ( relish , passion ) but it is also described  as the state of ecstasy in the union with divine. The theory of Rasa-Bhava establishes a relationship between the performer and the spectator. The model spectator is a Sahrdaya, someone ‘who empathizes with the author.’ Since the success of a performance is measured by whether or not the audience has a specific experience (rasa), the spectator becomes a vital participant in the play. 

Bharata calls human soul as Bhava-Jagat (the world of emotions). Bharata and later authors explain how the Art universalizes emotions making them an instrument of appeal to the spectators. They say that the actor acts as bearer, media and connector of emotions of the character. By conveying emotions the actor step by step opens inner Bhava-Jagat of the character, creates special emotional atmosphere, which can be felt and relished. The actor introduces and involves the spectators into this emotional atmosphere. Thus, emotions of the character are spread through the actor to spectators, who share them collectively, as a group, by relishing the Rasa. Thus emotions are embodied and translated from one person to many.

In Tantra these 9 Rasas are the essence of all of our emotions ;----
Rasa is defined thus: / vibhava anubhava vyabhichari samyogat rasa/  

vibhava— causes or mainsprings of emotion (characters setting season,      background etc)
anubhava — effects of emotions that develop sentiments or rasas (anxiety, anger, depression through which love (the principal emotion) is expressed. Vibhava (determinants or catalysts) bhav

The means by which an emotion is activated are termed Vibhava. There are two kinds of Vibhava – the Alambhana Vibhava – the person or the object in respect of whom the emotion is experienced and whose appearance is directly responsible for the bringing forth of the emotion; and the Uddipana Vibhava – the situation in the environment in which that person or object is placed and which is helpful in intensifying the emotional experience.

ANUBHAVA (CONSEQUENCES)
The outward manifestations brought forth as a result of the Vibhavas are known as the Anubhavas. These are divisible into Vacika – those which can be expressed by words (Vac – “speech”) and the Angika which are expressed by bodily expressions. In Indian drama, for example, the Anubhavas communicate to the audience, the emotions being felt by the characters onstage.
There are also “involuntary emotions” known as Sattvikabhavas: Stambha (paralysis), Sveta (sweating), Romanca (hair standing on end), Svarabheta (changes in one’s tone of voice), Vepathu (trembling), Vaivarnya (changes in the colour of one’s face), Asru (becoming tearful) and Pralaya (fainting).

Vyabhicharibhava    — transitory states—33 in number. Vyabicaribhavas (complementary states)
The Sthayibhava (“permanent mood”) is a major emotion which is developed by a number of minor feelings referred to as Vyabicaribhavas. There are thirty-three Vyabicaribhavas: Nirveda (disinterest), Glani (tiredness), Sanka (apprehension), Asuya (insecurity), Mada (intoxication), Srama (exhaustion), Alasya (lethargy), Dainya (pity), Cinta (anxiety), Moho (delusion), Smrti (recollection), Dhrti (steadfastness), Vrida (shame), Capalata (impuliveness), Harsa (sudden delight), Avega (excitement), Jadata (stupor), Garva (arrogance), Visada (depression), Autsuka (longing), Nidra (sleep), Apasmara (epilepsy), Supta (dreaming), Vibodha (awakening), Amarsa (retstrained anger), Avahittha (deception), Ugrata (ferociousness), Mati (analysis), Vyadhi (sickness), Unmada (temporary insanity), Marana (death), Trasa (panic) and Vitarka (argumentiveness).

For example, the Erotic Rasa arises from the Alambhana Vibhava – presence of the lover & beloved, the Uddipana Vibhavas’ – the atmosphere of the place where the two meet, the call of night-birds; a gentle breeze, the moon, etc.; it gives rise to the Anubhavas – how the lover & beloved express themselves to each other (i.e. holding hands, kissing, embracing); it produces involuntary bodily responses (the Sattvikabhavas) and may give rise to complementary (or transitory) emotional states – the Vyabicaribhavas.

For Bharata, Rasa – the flavour or taste, emerges from from the combination of the various emotional factors in the same way that the distinctive flavour of a cooked dish results from the different ingredients and the manner in which it is prepared.

CAUSE + EFFECTS + TRANSITORY STATES= RASA
Then Bharata speaks about the dominant states:- stayibhava, vyabhicharibhava, and satvikabhava. 

Satvikabhava is translated as temperamental state. Sat is connected with manas.
Stayibhava:- love, mirth, sorrow, anger, energy, terror, disgust, astonishment

vyabhicharibhava:-  discouragement, weakness, apprehension, envy, intoxication, weariness, indolence, depression, anxiety, distraction, recollection, contentment, shame, inconstancy, joy, agitation, stupor, arrogance, despair, impatience, sleep, epilepsy, dreaming, awakening, indignation, dissimulation, cruelty, assurance, sickness, insanity, death, fright, and deliberation.

Satvikabhava:- paralysis, perspiration, horripilation ( goose flesh), change of voice, colour, trembling, weeping and fainting.

4 kinds of histrionic representation— angika, vacika, aharya, sattvika (representation of temperament.
4 styles—        verbal (Bharati)(eloquent)
                         grand (sattvati)
                         graceful ( Kaisiki)
                        energetic ( arabhati)
4 usages—       avanti, dakshinatya, odramagadhi, panccalamadhyama.
2 practices— lokadharmi, natyadharmi.
2 groups of musical notes:- sari ra (body) and vainava ( from vina, instrumental)
3 types of playhouses—oblong, square, triangular.

RASAS EXPLAINED
Rasa is produced from a combination of determinants (vibhavas), consequents (anubhavas) and transitory states. Is there any dristanta for it?

TASTES  results from a combination of spices, vegetables and other articles. Six tastes are produced by articles such as raw sugar or spices or vegetables. So the stayibhava in combination with other bhavas become rasa.

What is the meaning of rasa—it is capable of being tasted- (asvadyate). How is rasa tasted?

It is said that just as  well-disposed persons while eating food cooked with many kinds of spices enjoy its tastes and attain pleasure and satisfaction, so the cultured people taste the dominant states (stayibhava) while they see them represented by an expression of the various states with works, gestures and the temperament and derive pleasure and satisfaction.

We shall now enumerate the Dominant states in different sentiments.

1. The Erotic Rasa
The Erotic (Sringara) Rasa proceeds from the Dominant State of love (Rati) and it has as its basis a  bright attire; for whatever in this world is white, pure, bright and beautiful is appreciated in terms of the dominant state of love (sringara).

Hence the Erotic sentiment has been so named on account of its usually being associated with bright and elegant attire. It owns its origin to men and women and related to the fullness of youth.

It has two bases: union (Sambhoga) and separation (Vipralamba), of these two, the Erotic Sentiment in union arises from determinants like the pleasure of the season, the enjoyment of garlands, ornaments, (the company of) beloved persons objects (of senses), splendid mansions, going to a garden, and enjoying [oneself] there, seeing the [beloved one], hearing [his or her words], playing and dallying [with him or her]. It should be represented on the stage by consequents such as clever movement of eye, eyebrows, glances, soft and delicate movement of limbs and sweet words and similar other things. Transitory states in it do not include fear, indolence, cruelty and disgust. [The Erotic sentiment] in separation should be represented on the stage by consequents such as indifference, languor, fear, jealousy, fatigue, anxiety, yearning, drowsiness, sleep, dreaming awakening, illness, insanity, epilepsy, inactivity, [fainting], death and other conditions.

2. The Comic Sentiment      
The comic (hasya) sentiment has as its basis the Dominant emotion of laughter. This is created by determinants such as showing unseemly dress or ornament, impudence, greediness, quarrel, defective limb, use of irrelevant words, mentioning of different faults, and similar other things. This (the comic sentiment) is to be represented on the stage by consequents like the throbbing of the lips, the nose and the cheek, opening the eyes wide or contracting them, perspiration, colour of the face, and taking hold of the sides. Transitory states in it are indolence, dissimulation, drowsiness, sleep, dreaming, insomnia, envy and the like. This (sentiment), is of two kinds; self -centred and centred in others. When a person himself laughs it relates to the self – centred (Comic sentiment), but when he makes others laugh it (the comic sentiment therein ) is centred in others.

It has six varieties of which I shall speak presently.  They are: Slight Smile (Smita), Smile (Hasita), Gentle Laughter (Vihasita), Laughter of Ridicule (Upahasita), Vulgar Laughter (apahasita) and Excessive Laughter (Atihasita). Two by two they belong respectively to the superior, the middle and the inferior types [of persons].

To persons of the superior type belong the slight smile (Smita) and the smile (Hasita), to those of the middle type of Gentle Laughter (vihasita) and the Laughter of Ridicule (upahasita) to those of the inferior type the Vulgar Laughter (apahasita) and the Violent Laughter (atihasita)

3. The Pathetic Sentiment
Now the Pathetic (karuna) Sentiment arises from the dominant state of sorrow. It grows from Determinants such as affliction under a curse, separation from dear ones, loss of wealth, death, captivity flight)[ from one’s own place], [dangerous] accidents or any other misfortune. This is to be represented on the stage by means of consequents such as, shedding tears, lamentation, dryness of the mouth, change of colour, drooping limbs, being out of breath, loss of memory and the like. Transitory states connected with it are indifference, languor, anxiety, inactivity, insanity, epilepsy, fear, fainting, sadness, dejection, illness, inactivity, insanity, epilepsy, fear, indolence, death, paralysis, tremor, change of colour, weeping, loss of voice and the like.

4. The Furious Sentiment
Now the Furious (raudra) Sentiment has as its basis the dominant state of anger. It owes its origin to Raksasas, Danavas and haughty men, and is caused by fights. This is created by determinants such as anger, rape, abuse, insult, untrue allegation, exorcizing, threatening, revengefulness, jealousy and the like. Its actions are beating, breaking, crushing, cutting, piercing, taking up arms, hurling of missiles, fighting, drawing, of blood, and similar other deeds. This is to be represented on the stage by means of consequents such as red eyes, knitting of eyebrows, defiance, biting of the lips, movement of the cheeks, pressing one hand with the other, and the like. Transitory states in it are presence of mind, determination, energy, indignation, fury, perspiration, trembling, horripilation, chocking voice and the like.

5. The Heroic Sentiment
Now the Herioc (vira) sentiment, relates to the superior type of persons and has energy as its basis. This is created by determinants such as presence of mind, perseverance, diplomacy, discipline, military strength, aggressiveness, reputation of might, influence and the like. It is to be represented on the stage by consequents such as firmness, patients, heroism, charity, diplomacy and the like. Transitory states in it are contentment, judgement, pride, agitation, energy (vega) ferocity, indignation, remembrance, horripilation and the like.

6. The Terrible sentiment
Now the Terrible (bhayanaka) sentiment has as its basis the Dominant state of fear. This is created by Determinants like hideous noise, sight of ghosts, panic and anxiety due to (untimely cry of jackals and owls, staying in an empty house or forest, sight of death or captivity of dear ones, or news of it, or discussion about it. It is to be represented on the stage by consequents such as trembling of the hands and the feet, horripilation, change of colour and loss of voice. Its Transitory states are paralysis, perspiration, choking voice, horripilation, trembling, loss of voice, change of colour, fear, stupefaction, dejection, agitation, restlessness, inactivity, fear, epilepsy and death and the like.

7. The Odious sentiment
Now the odious (bibhatsa) sentiment has as its basis the dominant state of disgust. It is created by determinants like hearing of unpleasant, offensive, impure and harmful things or seeing them or discussing them. It is to be represented on the stage by consequents such as stopping the movement of all the limbs, narrowing down of the mouth, vomiting, spitting, shaking the limbs [in disgust] and the like. Transitory states in it are epilepsy, delusion, agitation, fainting, sickness, death and the like.

8. The Marvellous sentiment
The Marvellous (adbhuta) Sentiment has as its basis the dominant state of astonishment. It is created by determinants such as sight of heavenly beings or events, attainment of desired objects, entrance into a superior mansion, temple, audience hall (sabha), a seven – storied palace and (seeing) illusory and magical acts. It is to be represented on the stage by consequents such as wide opening of eyes, looking with fixed gaze, hooripilation, tears [ of joy] perspiration, joy, uttering words of approbation, making gifts, crying incessantly ha, ha, ha waving the end of dhoti or sari, and movement of fingers and the like. Transitory states in it are weeping, paralysis, perspiration like. Transitory states in it are weeping, paralysis, perspiration, chocking voice, horripilation, agitation, hurry, inactivity, death and the like.

 Bhava and Rasa
Bharata says that which can be relished – like the taste of food – is rasa: रस्यते अनेना इति रसः (अस्वादायत्व)

According to Bharata, the playwright experiences a certain emotion (bhava). The director of the play should properly understand the idea and bhava-s of the character and convey his knowledge and understanding to the actors. The actors perform their parts using their own vision and experience, but they should follow the main idea and key bhavas emphasized by the director, Sutradhara. 

The term bhava means both existence and a mental state, and in aesthetic contexts it has been variously translated as feelings, psychological states, and emotions. In the context of the drama, bhavas are the emotions represented in the performance. 

Bhava is that which becomes (Sanskrit root “bhoo”, “bhav” means “to become”); and bhava becomes rasa. In Natya Shastra it is said, that bhavas by themselves carry no meaning in the absence of Rasa’’. नहीं रसदयते काशीद_अप्यर्थः प्रवत्र्तते.”?Forms and manifestations of bhavas are defined by the rasa. It is therefore said, Rasa is the essence of art conveyed. 

Rasa is the emotional response the bhavas inspire in the spectator (the Rasika or Sahrudaya). Rasa is thus an aesthetically transformed emotional state experienced by the spectator. Rasa is accompanied by feelings of pleasure and enjoyment. Such emotions tunes perception of the spectators, they create atmosphere of empathy, make people more sensitive, help to open mind and heart to understand the idea and message of the play. 

Rasa is associated with palate, it is delight afforded by all forms of art; and the pleasure that people derive from their art experience. It is literally the activity of savoring an emotion in its full flavor. The term might also be taken to mean the essence of human feelings. 

Rasa is sensuous, proximate, experiential. Rasa is aromatic. Rasa fills space, joining the outside to the inside. What was outside is transformed into what is inside.

As Bharata asserts, “सत्व. . . is [something] originating in mind. It is caused by the concentrated mind. The सत्व is accomplished by concentration of the mind. It’s nature cannot be mimicked by an absent-minded man.” 

The Natya Shastra calls  सात्त्विका अभिनय the “Spirited” modes of abhinaya, but the best explanations link it to Stanislavsky’s “Magic ‘If’” and “Sense of Truth.” This allows the actor to convince himself the circumstances are real to the character, even though, as the actor, he knows they are not. 

1. 1Love/Sringara… It is the ultimate Rasa. The king or queen emotion that heals anything. It frees the ego and connects us to devotion. When you appreciate beauty it connects you to the source of love. It is the creative play between Shiva and Shakti, sun and moon, yin and yang. The purpose of the universe it to experience this divine love. This love exists in everything. It is within each one of us and radiates out to the cosmos.

 2.1. Joy/Hasya… This Rasa connects you to your humor, laughter, happiness and contentment. It is the extension of what you feel within love.

3.1.Wonder/Adhuta… Curiosity, Mystery, Awe. When you become fascinated with the idea of life. It is your playfulness and innocence. You enter into complete appreciation and become an explorer or adventurer. It is magic!

4. Courage/Vira… Bravery, Confidence, Pride. When you call upon your the Warrior that lives inside you. It is strong and vibrant

5. Peace/Shanta… Deep calmness and relaxation. When you become still and quiet. In peace you become so full that you are empty. You will not find peace anywhere but within.

6. Sadness/Karuna… When you can experience sadness and connect it back to the cosmos, you then experience compassion. Compassion is what connects us all. Through compassion we can relate deeply to each other. When ones sadness is truly experienced around a situation it can give a sense of completion. Grieving is a key aspect in healing.

7. Anger/Raudra… In anger we go into the fire. One moment of anger can destroy lifetimes of good merit. Respect anger. When anger isn’t honored it can bring up irritation, violence, hatred. Feel the anger. Let it move through you. Breath into the fire.

8. Fear/Bhayanaka… Doubt, Worry, Insecurity. When we live our lives in fear, we shut down completely.

9. Disgust/Vibhasta… self pity, Loathing, self hatred. Only through a loving emotion can you heal and appease disgust but bhakati rasa is the one which is revered most as all first 6--rasas can be attained  through भक्ति रस .how to taste the nectar of bhakati rasa the following methods has been  advocated----Bhakti is a Sanskrit term that signifies an attitude of devotion to a personal God that is similar to a number of human-human relationships (difference is that in bhakti relationships is soul-Supersoul, soul-God) such as beloved-lover, friend-friend, parent-child, and master-servant.

These nine principles of devotional service are described as helping the devotee remain constantly in touch with God.

Rasa means relish also --here is an example ---here is a discription by using an apple .you get an apple and from the outside the apple can look beautiful, shiny , red but then from inside that apple may be sour , mushy and disappointing .now , on the other side , you take an apple and take a bite , juice flies from the corners of your mouth , and the crisp sound cracks in your ears . the sweetest most lovely taste fills your mouth and little joy spreads throughout your body . it got the right amount of essence or rasa from the sun , the moon , the stars , the rain , the earth and was picked at the right time and eaten also at the right time therefore exploding with the  juice or nectar . this is the high vibrational rasa of apple.

So , all these rasas are in the human body for that matter in all the living kingdome and for that matter in universe also but man being man has to learn to keep the energy of all these rasas in balance  so as to enjoy the fruit of life and  enjoy the ecstatic experience of  भक्ति रस for the growth of soul / union of soul ~~ the main purpose of human life .

Natyaveda or Natyashashtra were divided into four parts:
1)Art of effective speech or recitation
2)Art of music
3)Art of acting and
4)Rasas

With the science or theory of which the Natyaveda is concerened,primarily presents Rasa,and the three acts are the means of its effective presentation.thus,it is an organic whole.so the Natya is divided into two parts mainly:Rasa & Presentation of Rasa.

The presentation of Rasa can be done in four ways:
1)Angika (Acting consiting part of body)
2)Vachika (Acting of speech organs)
3)Sattvika (The art of involve oneself in character and feel it which adds involuntary expressions & gestures.
4)Aharya (The other supportive create atmosphere for play. Sthayi bhava and vyabhachari bhava are the two types of bhavas.Rasas sre engendered from the combination of these three elements. Vibhav,Anubhav,Vyabhichari bhav and Sanyog are essential for Rasa. In brief let`s glimps on it:

Vibhav:it has two elements.
1)Alamban (It is the means of expression of feelings through which feelings reaches to the viewer.
2)Udipan (They are the events happens in the drama and the stage decoration as well as the atmosphere created by musis,light effect on the stage and depiction of the atmosphere through words in text.

Anubhav:it is the physical changes due to the rise of an emotion.these changes are voluntary as they can be produced by an effort of the will.they are called Anubhavas.
Vyabhichari Bhav:these are transient emotions.they are like waves,which rise from the ocean of the basic mental state and subside into the same.

Works Cited
(aesthetics), R. (2018, March 30). Wikipedia contributors. (W. contributors, Ed.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Oct 8, 2018

John Donne

BY: Niyati Pathank
John Donne was born into a Catholic family in 1572, during a strong anti-Catholic period in England. Donne’s father, also named John, was a prosperous London merchant. His mother, Elizabeth Heywood, was the grand-niece of Catholic martyr Thomas More. Religion would play a tumultuous and passionate role in John’s life. (biography.com)
Mysticism is a term so irresponsibly applied in English that it has become the first duty of those who use it to explain what they mean by it. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1911), after defining a mystic as "one who believes in spiritual apprehension of truths beyond the understanding," adds, "whence mysticism (n.) (often contempt)." Whatever may be the precise force of the remark in brackets, it is unquestionably true that mysticism is often used in a semi-contemptuous way to denote vaguely any kind of occultism or spiritualism, or any specially curious or fantastic views about God and the universe.
The word itself was originally taken over by the Neo-platonists from the Greek mysteries, where the name of μύστης given to the initiate, probably arose from the fact that he was one who was gaining a knowledge of divine things about which he must keep his mouth shut (μύω = close lips or eyes). Hence the association of secrecy or "mystery" which still clings round the word.
Two facts in connection with mysticism are undeniable whatever it may be, and whatever part it is destined to play in the development of thought and of knowledge. In the first place, it is the leading characteristic of some of the greatest thinkers of the world—of the founders of the Eastern religions of Plato and Plotinus, of Eckhart and Bruno, of Spinoza, Goethe, and Hegel. Secondly, no one has ever been a lukewarm, an indifferent, or an unhappy mystic. If a man has this particular temperament, his mysticism is the very centre of his being: it is the flame which feeds his whole life; and he is intensely and supremely happy just so far as he is steeped in it.
Mysticism is, in truth, a temper rather than a doctrine, an atmosphere rather than a system of philosophy. Various mystical thinkers have contributed fresh aspects of Truth as they saw her, for they have caught glimpses of her face at different angles, transfigured by diverse emotions, so that their testimony, and in some respects their views, are dissimilar to the point of contradiction. Wordsworth, for instance, gained his revelation of divinity through Nature, and through Nature alone; whereas to Blake "Nature was a hindrance," and Imagination the only reality. But all alike agree in one respect, in one passionate assertion, and this is that unity underlies diversity. This, their starting-point and their goal, is the basic fact of mysticism, which, in its widest sense, may be described as an attitude of mind founded upon an intuitive or experienced conviction of unity, of oneness, of alikeness in all things. From this source springs all mystical thought, and the mystic, of whatever age or country, would say in the words of Krishna—
There is true knowledge. Learn thou it is this:
To see one changeless Life in all the Lives,
And in the Separate, One Inseparable.
The Bhagavad-Gîtâ, Book 18.

This fundamental belief in unity leads naturally to the further belief that all things about us are but forms or manifestations of the one divine life, and that these phenomena are fleeting and impermanent, although the spirit which informs them is immortal and endures. In other words, it leads to the belief that "the Ideal is the only Real. (Spurgeon, 2004)
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burne, and make me new.

John Donne (1572-1631) was the main practitioner of Metaphysical poetry. He made his name as a love poet, his imagery often being passionate and sensuous, but later turned his talents to religious poems, hymns and sermons. In his religious verse he used the same techniques he had developed in his love poetry. In this essay I shall examine two of his religious poems, 'Holy Sonnet (Batter my Heart)', and 'A Hymn to God the Father.'
Religious Poet
The intensity of Donne’s feeling and the inner conflict is reflected in his religious poetry. His religious sonnets and songs are intensely personal and sincere. Donne was a Catholic by birth. He felt humbled and persecuted like other Catholics of his age. Religion, for most of the people, was a matter of accident.
Those who liked antiquity and tradition turned to Rome, those who disliked formality and ritual turned to Geneva. But, religion should be, according to Donne, a matter of deliberate choice, made after careful study and consideration. Many of the principles Rome did not stand his intellectual inquiry. It is difficult to fix the precise date of his conversion. It is, however, Convenient to assume that by 1598, when Donne entered Sir Thomas Egerton’s service, he must have embraced the Church of England. Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, could never have employed a distinguished Catholic for important public duty.
Donne’s conversion to Anglicanism greatly influenced his poetry. Grierson calls this conversion, a “reconciliation, an acquiescence in the faith of his country—the established religion of his legal sovereign”. Probably, the Renaissance spirit, leaning towards nationalism, was partly responsible for Donne’s change of faith. But the conversion caused Donne some pangs and heart-searching. Dr. Johnson says: “A convert from Popery to Protestantism gives up so much of what he has held as sacred as anything that he retains; there is so much laceration of mind in such a conversion, that it can hardly be sincere and lasting”. Undoubtedly, Donne felt this laceration of the mind and this conflict between the old and the new faith. “Show me dear Christ thy spouse so bright and clear”. There was also the other conflict in Donne—the conflict between ambition and asceticism, between the prospects of civil service and the claims of a religious life. But after a number of years, Donne continued to retain a soft corner for Catholics.
Main Aspects of Donne’s Religious Poetry
Donne was essentially a religious man, though he moved from one denomination to another. His spirit of rational faith continued throughout his life. The following are the main aspects of Donne’s religious poetry:
(i) Conflict and doubt
As a man of the Renaissance, he could not but question the assumptions and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. Being born in a particular religion is one proposition and being convinced of the Tightness of one’s faith, is quite another. As he was sceptical of the religious dogmas of the Catholic Church, he adopted the Anglican faith, but even so his mind was not at peace. He could not reconcile the inner conflicts and as such he prayed for God’s mercy and grace, so that he might be able to build his faith on a sound foundation. In his A Hymn to God the Father, he ultimately arrives at a firm faith. It is perhaps the culmination of his spiritual quest.
(ii) Note of introspection
The metaphysical clement which is so evident in his love poems, finds expression of an inner heart searching. He digs deep within himself in order to measure his sincerity and devotion to God and above all his consciousness of sin and the need of penitence. His fear of death—Donne must have seen many of his friends on their death-beds and their last struggles—makes him repent for his past follies and hence his prayer to God for His mercy and compassion. The Holy Sonets particularly maybe regarded as poems of repentance, and supplications for divine grace. Donne’s intention is not to preach morality or to turn men to virtue. Grierson writes in this connection: “To be didactic is never the first intention of Donne’s religious poems, but rather, to express himself, to analyse and lay bare his own moods of agitation, of aspiration and of humiliation, in the quest of God, and the surrender of his soul to Him. The same erudite and surprising imagery, the same passionate, and reasoning strain, meet us in both”.
(iii) The themes of his religious poetry
Donne found the contemporary world dry and corrupt. He felt that its degeneration would lead to untold human misery. The main theme of his religious poems is the transitoriness of this world, the fleeting nature of physical joys and earthly happiness, the sufferings of the soul imprisoned in the body and the pettiness and insignificance of man. Above all, the shadow of death is all pervasive and this makes him turn to Christ as the Saviour. Even so, his metaphysical craftsmanship treats God as ‘ravisher’ who saves him from the clutches of the Devil. Though Donne regarded the world a vanity of vanities, he could not completely detach himself from the joys of the world and there is a turn from other-worldliness to worldliness. However, we cannot doubt the sincerity of his religious feelings and his earnest prayer to God for deliverance. His moral earnestness is reflected in his consciousness of sin and unworthiness for deserving the grace of Christ He uses the images of Christ as a lover who will woo his soul.
(iv) Parallelism with love poetry
There is a great similarity of thought and treatment between the love poems and holy sonnets, though the theme is different. The spirit behind the two categories of poems is the same. There is the same subtle spirit which analyses the inner experiences like the experiences of love. The same kind of learned and shocking imagery is found in the love poems:
Is the Pacific sea my home? or are
The Eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar.
All straits (and none but straits) are ways to them.
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Ham, or Shem.

Similarly in his treatment of divine love, the poet uses sexual images in holy situations. As for example:
Betray kind husband thy spouse to cur sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild Dove
Who is most true, and pleasing to thee then
When she’s embraced and open to most men.

Critical survey of Donne’s religious poetry
There are two notes in Donne’s religious poems—the Catholic and the Anglican. The Progress of the Soul leans towards Catholicism and it records the doubts and longings of a troubled subtle soul. The following lines show the working of the mind and are full of bold and echoing vowel sounds:
O might those sights and tears return again
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent.
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourn with some fruit, as I have mourned in vain;
In mine Idolatory what showers of rain
Mine eyes did waste? What griefs my heart did vent?
That sufferance was my sin; now I repent.
Cause I ‘did suffer I must suffer pain.

The Progress of the Soul, though written in 1601 was published after his death, in 1633. Ben Jonson called it “the conceit of Donne’s transformation.” Donne describes his theme in the very first stanza.
I sing the progress of a deathless soul
Whom Fate, which God made, but doth not control
Pla’d in most shapes; all lines before the low
Yok’d us, and when; and since, in this I sing.

He describes the soul of heresy which began in paradise (in the apple) and roamed through souls of Luther, Mahomed and Calvin and is now at rest in England:
The great soul which here among us now
Doth dwell, and moves that hand, and tongue and brow,
Which as the moon the sea moves us.

Donne moves from the aesthetic to the ethical plane of existence. His curiosity about the microcosm and his scepticism find expression here:
There’s nothing simply good, nor all alone,
Of every quality comparison,
The only measure is, and judge, opinion.

The poem was written soon after the inner crisis and his conversion:
For though through many straits and lands I roam,
I launch at Paradise and I sail towards home.

The psychological problem finds its solution in a spiritual reintegration. The Divine Poems include ‘La Corona’ and six holy sonnets on Annunciation, Nativity, Temple Crucifying, Ressurrection and Ascenstion. Donne seeks divine grace to crown his efforts:
But do not with a vile crown of frail bays,
Reward my muses white sincerity,
But what thy thorny crown gain’d, that gives me
A crown of glory, which doth flower always.

The other, group of sonnets also entitled Holy Sonnets contains 19 sacred poems. They belong to the period of doubt and intense inner struggle which preceded Donne’s entry into the Church of England. Here is a mood of melancholy and despair.
This is my play’s last scene here heavens appoint.
My pilgrimage’s last mile. (Sonnet VI)
Despair behind and death before doth caste
Such terror and my feeble flesh doth waste.

In sonnet II, Christ appears as a lover and Donne as a temple usurped by the Devil.
Myself a temple of thy spirit divine
Why doth the devil then usurp on me…

In Sonnet III, Donne is sincerely repentant for his past sins:
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourn with some fruit, as I have moum’d in vain….
No ease, for long, yet vehement grief hath been
The effect and cause, the punishment and sin.

In Sonnet IV, Donne compares himself to a felon charged with treason, and yet he cannot resist conceits. Christ’s blood, though red, will whiten the souls stained and polluted with sin.
Oh make thyself with holy mourning black
And red with blushing, as them an with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white.

Sonnet V shows Donne’s Renaissance-spirit–his wander-lust:
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new lands, can write,
Power new seas in ruined eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly.

Donne prays sincerely for pardon for his misdeeds:
Teach me how to repent; for that’s as good
As if thou hadst seal’d my pardon, with thy blood.

The pilgrim-soul is not afraid of death.
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so.

In Sonnet XIII, Donne brings forward the argument that because beautiful women have liked him in his youth, so Christ, the Incarnation of Beauty, should be kind to him:
No, no; but as in my idolatry,
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pity, foulness only is
A sign of rigour: so 1 say to thee.

In Sonnet XVII, Donne refers to the death of his wife which has now made him turn his attention to spiritual attainment:
Since she whom I lov’d hath paid her last debt
To Nature, and to hers, and my good is dead.

In Sonnet XVIII, Donne expresses his desire to see the true church (England, Rome, Geneva) undivided, because it is indivisible. The bride of Christ is the mistress of the whole world.
Who is most true, and pleasing to thee then
When she is embrac’d and open to most men.

The Hymn to God, written during his serious illness in 1623, is a sincere prayer to God to receive him in His grace:
So, in his purple wrapp’d receive me Lord,
By these his thorns give me his other Crown,
And as to others’ souls I preach’d thy word
Be this my Text my sermon to mine own,
Therefore that he may arise the lord throws down.

The Divine Poems contain a vivid and moving record of a brilliant mind struggling towards God. Truth, is the goal but there are hurdles and temptations in the way. Donne is not afraid of analysing the appalling difficulties of faith. The vacillations, the doubts, of this imperfect but sincere man are reflected in all their passion. Donne’s aim is not didactic or moral; he wishes to lay bare his own moods, his aspirations, his sins, his humiliation in the quest of God. He is the most sincere and introspective Anglican poet of the seventeenth century. He had experienced the intensification of religious feeling mentioned in the holy sonnets. Walton writes: “His aspect was cheerful and such as gave a silent testimony of a clear knowing soul, of a conscience at peace with itself. His melting eye showed that he had a soft heart full of noble compassion, of too brave a soul to offer injuries and too much a Christian not to pardon them in others.” W.B. Yeats, a mystic poet, writes of Donne, “his pedantries and his obscenities, the rock and loam of his Eden, but make us the more certain that one who is but a man like us all has seen God!”
Conclusion
Some critics question use of the metaphysical method in holy sonnets and religious poems. Grierson, however, justifies use of the metaphysical method in these serious poems. He writes: “Here, he recaptures the peculiar charm of his early love verse their best, the unique blend of passionate feelings and rapid subtle thinking, the strange sense that his verse gives of a certain conflict between the passionate thought and the varied and often elaborate pattern into which he moulds its expression, resulting in a strange blend of harshness and constraint with reverberating and penetrating harmony. No poems give more…the sense of conflict of soul, of faith and hope snatched and held desperately….”
Donne’s religious poetry cannot be called mystical poetry. Donne does not forget his self as the mystics do. His is always conscious of his environment, of the world in which he lives and of his passionate friendships. As such his religious poetry lacks the transparent ecstacy found in great religious poetry. Helen White writes in this connection: “There was something in Donne’s imagination that drove it out in those magnificent figures that sweep earth and sky, but whatever emotion such passages arouse in us, Donne was not the man to lose himself. In another world beyond the release of death, he hoped to see his God face to face, and without end. But he was not disposed to anticipate the privileges of that world in this, nor even in general try to do so… The result is that in most of the mystical passages in both his poetry and his prose, the marvellous thrust into the ineffable is followed by a quick pull-back into the world of there-and-now with its lucid sense-detail and its ineluctable common sense.”
Donne’s holy sonnets are deservedly famous and are remarkable. They embody his deeply felt emotions in a language reflecting conscious craftsmanship.


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