Dear CR: The Bhagavad Gita elaborated concepts found in the Upanishads -- the ocean of life and the boat of salvation are Upanishadic tropes. However I am not downplaying the Gita's influence on Eliot's poetry. Diana

From:  cr mittal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:  "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
To:  [log in to unmask]
Subject:  Re: TSE: The Duality of Being
Date:  Tue, 26 Sep 2006 08:42:04 -0700

All the same, here is a glimpse of ancient Indian thought
which is at the heart of Hindu philosophy of life. It does
throw a flood of light on the topic under discussion.
Incidentally, there is a remarkable parallel between
the image of boat here and in 'Damayata' (TWL).
I always thought this was the source of his image.
There is an elaboration of this image  in the
subsequent pages of The Bhagavad Gita which
matches Eliot's.

Diana Manister <[log in to unmask]> wrote:  
Dear CR, I am sending this in large type because I do not yet have plain text.
Eliot said that the Gita was the "next greatest philosophical poem to the Divine Comedy" but in Kearns' words "Eliot indicated that he thought of the Upanishads primarily as religious rather than philosophical texts." This difference is significant.
While the Gita informed much of his work, the Upanishads also engaged his imagination, especially its tropes of light vs dark, its paradoxes and oppositions such as youth vs age, night and day, etc. Eliot drew on a narrative in the
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad for The Waste Land  (the story of Prajapati.) He drew on the Vedas and Upanishads, not the Gita, for his understanding of the physical power of sounds which he employed in the "Shantih" passage in TWL.
Kearns writes: "Eliot returned to the Upanishads again and again, convinced that these texts partook of a common logos, expressed a wisdom available to all, one the West could profit from."
Recall that Eliot studied selected portions of the Vedas and Upanishads in the original in his courses at Harvard. The Vedas are the oldest works of Indic literature. Diana


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