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Symbolic significance of the 'Temple' in A Passage to India


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 and Fielding.

The last section of the novel takes place in the town of Mau which is celebrating Gokulashtami-a ceremony in which the worshippers, including Godbole, try 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 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.
symbolic significance of the 'Temple' in A Passage to India

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 are so absorbed in enjoying the ceremony that they do not notice the raft, bearing the clay god, which comes and crashes into the boats. The two boat collide with the raft, and everything and everyone including the clay god, are plunged into water. This is a form of spiritual baptism a form of purification, dissolving all misunderstandings and bitterness in a final reconciliation. Both Aziz and Fielding come 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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