Author's Diction~Vipin Behari Goyal: A Passage To India By E.M.Forster

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Passage To India By E.M.Forster

The Secret Of Indian Caves


A Passage To India By E. M. Forster is a tale of two British ladies who came to India to understand real India and Indians. Like all other Europeans and most of the Westerners they are disappointed, discarded and miserably fail in their mission to the extent that one of them Mrs. Moore is older and less tolerant to cultural shock dies during her return journey. The delineation in the many aspects of the novel such as theme and narration is amazing. The use of motif, allusion and symbol is so strong that what is left after going through novel "what remains is much more than a cluster of impressions, some clear points emerging from a mist of uncertainties” as envisaged by Percy Lubbock in his book “The Craft of Fiction”.

The turning point is in the cave visit by a group of friends. G. L. Dickinson had asked a very pertinent question to E.M.Forster.

“What did happen in the caves?”

It is same as when someone asked Samuel Beckett “Who is Godot?” He said I would have told it in my book, had I known it. It puts a question mark to the omniscience of the author. Sometimes Author can be as innocent as his readers. Forster himself did not knew what happened in the cave. His guess would be as wild as that of his readers. The speculation leads to debate, and obscure often leads to self-realisation which is the ultimate object of the author. When Buddha said “Be your own light”, meant that I have searched some universal Golden Truth, but you will have to search your own truth for salvation. What is the use of writing a book, if it does not help readers to understand the life better?



The visit to the caves starts with a train journey to Marabar Hills, where the caves were located. The train journey in India is an experience in itself. When Gandhi returned from London after his degree in Law, his political Guru, Gokhle advised him to travel the length and breadth of India by train. The rattling noise made by train has a rhythm and rhyme which soon synchronises with torrents of thoughts that come to surface of sub-conscious mind. The sound is catalyst to the train of your thoughts. It simply reinforces your positive or negative thoughts. Both the British ladies felt a listlessness, monotony due to vague, desolated panorama around them.

Mrs. Moore was tired and had no enthusiasm to participate in matrimonial plans of her would be daughter in law, Adela Quest. Adela  was bored and skeptical about her future with Ronnie in India. She was worried that all Anglo-Indian ended up hating Indians after a year. Her husband already had a low opinion about Indians. So far she had seen nothing that would determine the inferiority of Indians. She was advised to keep a distance and never mix up with them. Ronnie was annoyed when she was left alone by Fielding with an Indian after a tea party. She was also introspecting over her prospective relationship with Ronnie.

India has some of the oldest rock formations. Forster travelled India twice in 1912 and 1921. He was impressed by its ancient wisdom. The rocks are the oldest dwelling structures in human civilisation. They are hollow cavities in the mountains. The huge grey elephant and the mountains have an impression of the magnanimity of the nature and the smallness of man. The void of a cave symbolises the void in human life. The huge inflated ego of man have like the mountains have caves that are void, hollow and empty.The void which is offended by any kind of intrusion. The nothingness of eternity is conquerable by silence and solitude. Both the ladies who were skeptical and contemptuous about their surroundings had a terrible experience. The intensity of  the shock is directly proportional to the intensity of repulsion.



The hallucination starts with certain Echoes. The various sounds created in the caves since troglodyte inhabited them had no escape and the resonance caused is usually the echo of the voice of soul. All the sounds merge into the ultimate and the first sound of universe “Aum”. This sound is a combination of three Sanskrit alphabets that represent the Sun, the Moon and Fire. Everything- even nothingness, is transient in nature. This transient nature of her own microcosm hits Mrs. Moore like a thud in a physical form. Every relationship culminates in nullity.

It is immaterial if Adela was raped by Aziz or not. Did she made up the story to attract the attention of people? Was it her tantrum to get rid of her fiancé? Was she prejudiced to the masculinity of Muslim and was disappointed by dispassionate approaches of her fiancé?

The answer is left to the reader to guess. What happened afterwards is unimportant.

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© Vipin Behari Goyal