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A Comparative study on the impression of indian philosophy as per culture of r. w. emerson and h. d. thoreau

Author: 
Dr. Mohd Tahir Amin Khan
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

A comparison has been made between Indian philosophy and it's influence on the culture of Emerson and Thorea. John De Crevecour rightly said that America is a man who acts on new principles and ideas. America was ripe for a literature with a new voice, grounded in a nationalism which welcomed many traditions. This new American culture, unique in the cultures of the world, would also be a universal culture. It would speak of humanity's supreme spiritual quest, the quest for self-culture-the full enfoldments of the individual personality based on knowledge of the Self, that transcendental aspect of the individual connected to universal intelligence. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, and other New England Transcendentalist writers between 1836 and 1860, precursors of Walt Whitman, felt that America was in a unique position to develop a literature at once native and universal. They believed America's diverse origins and cultures should be reflected in its own literature and no longer mimic one tradition-the European. Walt Whitman envisioned a unified America at a time when it was being divided by civil war, an America able to harmonize its differences through the power of language and poetry. For contemporary readers it is difficult to comprehend why Whitman believed poetry could be a force for balancing the needs of individuals and society. This article will evaluate Whitman's claims that his language program could unify the self, culture, and Natural Law through the aesthetic experience, a claim supported by the principles of Maharishi Vedic Science. A strong perception runs through Transcendentalist writings that Nature and human consciousness are not two separate entities. Whitman said that the main intention of Leaves of Grass was “To sing the Song of that law of average Identity, and of yourself, consistently with the divine law of the universal” (“Preface,” 1982, p. 1010). The Transcendentalists also seem to have understood that self-referral was the way to attune oneself to the principle of unity in nature, what Margaret Fuller calls the “central soul”: Every relation, every gradation of nature is incalculably precious, but only to the soul which is poised upon itself, and to whom no loss, no change, can bring dull discord, for it is in harmony with the central soul. (1992, p. 312). The Central Soul, or “Over Soul” according to Emerson, is the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal one. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in any hour, but the act of seeing, and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object are one. (“The Over Soul,” 1979, p. 160) Whitman saw this same relationship between the universal and local operating within a culture's language. Because language embodies both cosmic and local expressions of nature, its sound and rhythm rendered in poetry can marshal individual places and spirits into the grand march of national and even universal unity. Among his hopes for the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass was a desire to heal divisions among Americans by reminding them that “The soul of the nation . . . rejects none, it permits all”. To capture the multivalent voices of America, to bind them into one rhythmic pulse, Whitman wrote long lines in an unrhymed, rhythmical speech, creating a new form meant to mimic oral rather than literary styles. He hoped by this informal and direct appeal to reach every American including uneducated labourers. He believed that sincere speech spoken from “a developed harmonious soul” would awaken the power “slumbering” in words to penetrate even closed minds. “The art of art,” he said, “the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters is simplicity”. His poetry would speak with the “insouciance of the movements of animals and the unimpeachableness of the sentiment of trees in the woods and grass by the roadside”. Whitman saw him - self as the nation's “equalizer” who could “vivify” and unify the country with his incant - stations: Chants of the prairies, Chants of the long-running Mississippi, and down to the Mexican sea, Chants of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Chants going forth from the centre from Kansas, and thence equidistant, Shooting in pulses of fire ceaseless to vivify all I will make a song for these States that no one State may under any circumstances be subjected to another State. And I will make a song that there shall be comity by day and by night between all the States (“Starting From Paumanok,” 1980, pp. 273-275)

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