Spiritual Odysseys of Iqbal and Eliot: A Study of Javid Nama and The Four Quartets, MS Nigath, MG Mudasir

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Content: Spiritual Odysseys of Iqbal and Eliot: A Study of Javid Nama and The Four Quartets Dissertation Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy (M Phil) In English By Mariya Nigath Under the Supervision of Dr Mufti Mudasir Post-Graduate Department of English University of Kashmir, Srinagar Year-2013
CERTIFICATE This dissertation titled Spiritual Odysseys of Iqbal and Eliot: A Study of Javid Nama and The Four Quartets submitted by Mariya Nigath in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Philosophy (M Phil) in English, is an independent and original piece of research work carried out under my supervision. This research work has not been submitted in part or in full, to any university/institute for any degree. The candidate has fulfilled all the statutory requirements for the submission of this dissertation. Supervisor Dr Mufti Mudasir
Acknowledgements Firstly, I offer my sincerest gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Mufti Mudasir for his guidance and encouragement and for being an excellent mentor over the last few years. Without his valuable guidance and patient supervision this work would not have been completed. I am of course very grateful to Professor Lily Want, Head of the English Department, for her thoughtful criticism and invaluable suggestions. Her willingness to motivate me contributed tremendously to my work. I would also like to thank my father for putting up with me during the most difficult times and being a special source of moral support and happiness for me. My debt of gratitude must also go to the non-teaching staff and LIBRARY STAFF at the Department of English for their assistance. Mariya Nigath
Contents
Chapter 1
Introduction Mysticism and Poetry: An Overview
Page No. 1-6 7-28
Chapter 2
Iqbal`s Javid Nama: Journey through Constellations
29-48
Chapter 3
Eliot`s The Four Quartets: Intersection of Time and Timelessness
49-71
Chapter 4
Iqbal and Eliot: Transcending Boundaries
72-94
Conclusion
95-100
Bibliography
101-105
Introduction Mystical poetry is found in all developed literatures of different languages of the world. Depending upon the social, historical and personal background of mystic writers, different variants and traditions prevail in these literatures. However, a common thread which binds all these variants is their longing to find the unity and oneness in diversity and to have a direct experience of the Absolute. Mystical poetry has a unique position in the family of World Literatures because it focuses on internal rather than external realities, inner rather than outer truth, metaphysical rather than physical journeys and spiritual rather than materialistic world. Mystical poets accept the ultimate challenge of describing the indescribable, giving form to the formless. They discuss the experiences pertaining to the transcendental aspect of the reality. Although the East and the West have their distinct forms of mysticism, yet history has provided them many chances of interaction. Iqbal and Eliot are undoubtedly the two foremost poetic of the modern times. Both have successfully employed the medium of poetry for expressing the highest metaphysical truths regarding time, ego and man`s ultimate destiny. It is noteworthy that although both were trained as philosophers, they chose poetry as the primary medium for expressing their ideas. Also, both Iqbal and Eliot represent an idealistic critique of the modern secular thought severed from religious roots and caught up in the vortex of materialism. Both were
passionately engaged with modern crisis of spiritual death and moral decay and despised the worship of the material characteristic of the modern man. Both writers emphasized the need of spiritual rebirth and wrote with a conscious purpose to awaken their respective communities from materialistic stupor. The present study takes up Iqbal`s magnum opus Javid Nama and Eliot`s Four Quartets to examine how they explore various dimensions of the essential mystical experience. Both writers have employed some well-known religious and mystical symbols to tackle the highly elusive concepts of the transcendental and timeless. If Iqbal uses the famous imagery of the ascent or Miraj in Javid Nama, Eliot uses several images to express the theme of timelessness in Four Quartets which is primarily concerned with the theme of intersection of time and timelessness, an idea which is treated in Javid Nama at different places. Both Iqbal and Eliot have tried to uphold their respective mystical traditions besides enriching them with their creativity and spiritual originality. Both have absorbed the spiritual philosophies of cultures other than their own. While Eliot was influenced by the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita, Iqbal uses Buddha and Bartarihari as his spokesmen in Javid Nama. Javid Nama is a description of a spiritual journey made by the poet from the earth through the spheres` of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, to beyond the spheres` and in the presence of God. Eliot asserts that what man has to do is simply to move in the direction of this goal of
timelessness - the still-centre` which is the real destination of all human beings. Both Javid Nama and Four Quartets grapple with the most difficult ordeal of capturing in language the essential mystical experience. The paradox of presenting something which defies language in language is one of the central features of both Javid Nama and Four Quartets. The present study aims to examine the theme of spiritual quest in Iqbal and Eliot with special reference to Javid Nama and Four Quartets. It also compares these works of the two foremost poetic voices of the East and the West and identifies their similarities and dissimilarities. Although both Javid Nama and Four Quartets occupy a significant position in the poetic oeuvres of Iqbal and Eliot, these works have not been subjected to a comparative study so far. Such a study justifies itself especially in the contemporary context when there is a pressing need to identify areas where the Western and the Eastern thought can be shown to meet. The first chapter is an endeavour to probe into various aspects of the relationship between mysticism and poetry and highlights the close connection shared by both throughout the ages. It clarifies the nature of mystical experience explaining how mystical experience inevitably leads to poetry. It is argued that mysticism and poetry originate from the same source of inspiration and hence far from being contradictory they essentially complement each other. Great mystics of almost all traditions have expressed their mystical experiences in poetry because they found it the best medium to express the
ineffable. The second chapter focuses on Iqbal`s Javid Nama with special thrust on Iqbal`s highly philosophical concepts of time, self, love (Ishq), destiny and spiritual odysseys. However, the central focus is laid on the theme of time as it is manifest in Javid Nama. A brief description of the structure of Javid Nama along with the poet`s journey through different heavenly spheres and meeting different personages is also provided. The third chapter attempts to discuss Eliot`s Four Quartets focusing mainly on the theme of the intersection of time and timelessness. This chapter also highlights Eliot`s preoccupations with the Christian idea of sacrifice and atonement and how these themes are employed in the poems. The fourth chapter is an endeavour to compare the two poetic works of Iqbal and Eliot. This chapter shows that despite belonging to different religious and cultural backgrounds, Iqbal and Eliot share many common preoccupations. The domination of the time on man as both the preserver and the destroyer is confirmed by both the poets. Again the pressing need to escape from the vortex of spacio-temporal flux and an urgent requirement for spiritual salvation is felt by both of them. Immortality of the soul and a deep yearning for approaching the timeless is considered by both of them as the noblest purpose of life. This chapter highlights their common emphasis on the need for spiritual rebirth exploring how the boundaries can be transcended. The conclusion sums up the main ideas presented in the thesis and highlights Iqbal`s and Eliot`s contribution to the mystical thought.
Chapter-1 Mysticism and Poetry: An Overview For many readers today, any discussion on mysticism may seem rather quaint given the dominant world view which is based entirely on the knowledge derived from sense perceptions. It is unfortunate that the bias against all that smacks of the supersensible is so deeply rooted in the present-day academia that a work on a topic like this one may seem to call for an apologia of sorts. Yet, one must remember that the literary history of both the Christian and the Islamic worlds can never be approached with a deliberate neglect, let alone disdain, of the mystical aspect which has traditionally remained crucial to literary experience. Apart from the overtly religious poetry of some English metaphysical poets and Persian Sufis, there is a vast corpus of poetry, in both West and East, which is rooted in some form of mysticism. What follows here is a brief outline of the relationship between mysticism and poetry in spite of the deep suspicion towards the former in the current secular age and attempts to demystify` all areas of human experience which purport to be rooted in some higher realm`. For its practitioners, mysticism is an ascertainable way and a practical method by which we validate for ourselves the essential basic truth that there is a soul in man. Mysticism provides an alternate perspective to view reality and hence remains indispensable for those who seek to realize its true meaning. Its
beliefs, insights and experiences are revered even today. Mysticism, at its highest and best, is always and ever the same. In the present era, practical mysticism has brought meaning, comfort and peace to countless troubled souls. The seekers of the modern era still gaze backward into the past, enchanted by its revelations and fascinated by its illuminations. This present return to mysticism is because of men being compelled to discover the sources of truth as science has rigorously perturbed them and shattered the old conceptions of divine interference and robbed them of their faith in the traditional sources of knowledge about ultimate reality and the hereafter. To approach the unseen power, man needs to transcend ordinary consciousness to experience higher states of awareness. Mystical consciousness is one such main state of consciousness, an awareness originating from one`s soul through which man can flee his senses and approach the unseen. It is quite clear from the writings of such established authorities on mysticism such as Evelyn Underhill, W T Stace and William James that mystical consciousness is one of the many possible forms of consciousness. Furthermore, they all highlight in different ways the main characteristics of such consciousness. For Underhill, it is not to know but to be and for Stace it is the result of mystical experience` rather than mystical idea`. Mystical experience is a supra-sensible experience, which acquaints the mystic with realities and states of affair that one can hardly apprehend through sense perceptions. The mystical experience transcends the apparent and the physical and merges into deeper mysteries of the universal
soul. Mystical experiences are awe- inspiring to such a degree that they defy the categorical rationality of the intellect. As per William James mystical experience is an essentially private and subjective matter. In his most seminal work The Varieties of religious experience, William James describes four characteristics of mystical experience. According to him, such an experience is temporary, the individual soon returns to a normal frame of mind, the experience cannot be adequately put into words, and the individual feels that he or she has learned something valuable from the experience. It gives us knowledge that is normally hidden from human understanding and the experience happens to the individual largely without conscious control. Although there are activities such as meditation that can make religious experience more likely, it is not something that cannot be turned on and off at will. Iqbal in his most celebrated work, Javid Nama pines for such a state. In one of his couplets, he hints towards such a state where senses receive message from the external world in an unconventional way. The verse reads: Raushanaznoorash agar gardadrawaan Sautrachu rang deedanmitavaan If its light illuminates your soul, You can see the sound as you see the colour.
Mystical consciousness gained by enlightening the soul changes the ordinary consciousness making it possible to see the sound as we see the colour. William Blake writes, If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite (Blake 1790). The surface consciousness which has trained man to adjust himself to the immediate surroundings should not be confused with mysterious something`. Hunger for that something`, is never satisfied by naturalism or intellectualism despite its boastings of being objective in its treatment of the given world. In mysticism, that love of truth which is the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere and takes on the assured aspects of a personal passion. According to Evelyn Underhill: Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools (Underhill 1961:24). As a working definition, we may define mystical consciousness as an awareness emerging from one`s soul. Mystical consciousness is thus one of the deeper and unconventional one. The mystic self turns from the so-called unreal world of senses in order to apprehend and unite itself with the Absolute reality and be eventually possessed by a transcendent life and union with it. Concluding his lecture on general traits of the mystical range of consciousness, William James defines it as follows:
It is on the whole pantheistic and optimistic or at least the opposite of pessimistic. It is anti-naturalistic, and harmonizes best with twice-bornness and so-called other worldly states of mind (James 1960:407). Underhill considers the first in the sequence of the mystic states that awakening of transcendental consciousness which is an intense form of the phenomena of conversion. She defines it as: a disturbance of the equilibrium of the self, which results in the shifting of the field of consciousness from lower to higher levels, with a consequent removal of the centre of interest from the subject to an object now brought into view: the necessary beginning of any process of transcendence (Underhill 1961:176). On the other hand William James sees its simplest rudiment in deepened sense of things when for instance someone exclaims, I have heard that said all my life but I never realized its full meaning until now. He then ranks sudden feeling in the mystical ladder. In one of his pronouncements, he declares: We pass into mystical states from out of ordinary consciousness as from a less into a more, as from smallness into a vastness, and at the same time as from unrest to a rest. We feel them as reconciling unifying states (James 1960: 401). Mysticism becomes a way of personal fulfillment to those who succeed to awaken their latent mystical abilities. Discussing mysticism in the light of his own mystical experience, Al-Ghazzali in his autobiography al-Munqidh min al-
Dhalala (Deliverance from Error), asserts that the first condition for a mystic is to purge his heart entirely of all that is not God. The next key of the contemplative life consists in the humble prayers which emerge from the fervent soul, and in the meditations on God in which the heart is swallowed up utterly. But in reality this is only the beginning of the mystical life, the end of mysticism being a total absorption in God. The intuitions and all that proceed are, so to speak, only the threshold for those who enter. Francis Thompson while commenting on the essence and aim of mysticism says: The core of mysticism is a fact, not an understanding or feeling. Still less is it an endeavour after a something nameless and unattainable. All the mystics know well about what they seek, and that it can be gained or missed according to the fidelity of their own effort. The thing sought is union (Dhar 2002:2). Mysticism in all ages and in all parts of the world is characterized by certain beliefs but all different variants of mysticism which are found in past and present believe essentially in the oneness of Being or unity in diversity. It refuses to admit divisions and oppositions anywhere. The foremost aim of mysticism is to attain union with the divine. It is the seeking of union with, identification with, or conscious awareness of, an Absolute reality, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition or insight. It reveres insight as against erratic analytic wisdom, and privileges esoteric awareness wherein a mystic experiences a peculiar feeling of unreality in mundane things. It bases its belief not on logic and reason but on feeling and intuition. The denial of the
reality of time is yet another important mark of mysticism. For Bertrand Russell, this denial of the reality of time is an outcome of the denial of division; if all is one, the distinction of past and future must be illusory (Russell, Bertrand. 1957). Mysticism believes in the abolition of individuality and surrendering of the self to the Absolute. A true mystic`s soul is in complete harmony with the Absolute. The distinction between good and evil for a mystic is just an illusion and does not exist for him as he views the universe from God`s perspective. The mystic is a seeker who ardently follows the pursuit of beauty, goodness and truth. He stands in sharp contrast to the speculative scientists who generally regard mystical knowledge as unreliable and unworthy of consideration. The mystic on the other hand holds to have seen, or at least glimpsed, a vision of beauty beyond the veil of custom of calculation. Once the vision of beauty, truth and goodness has been glimpsed, the mystic is smitten with a longing for the precious goal. Life for her/him becomes an abstruse search, guided by an inherent mystical instinct. Underhill says, the end which the mystic sets before him on his pilgrimage is conscious union with a living Absolute (Evelyn 1961:73). A mystic believes that everything we see and experience is in reality symbolic of something supreme and sublime. Therefore, mysticism is in reality the poetry of life. Poetry lends itself well to communicate the spiritual experience. Poetry is a negation, an escape from the accustomed prison of day-to-day life and it
demonstrates the course of transcending everyday world. It is a form of linguistic expression which is able to transcend the ordinary limits of linguistic expression. With its power to alter the syntactical qualities of language and engage one`s mind in creatively novel ways, it lends itself to communicate mystical insights. It can be defined as the symphonic, rhythmic, beautiful expression of feelings and emotions where imagination plays a crucial role. Poetry doesn`t only assert that something is true, but it makes that truth more fully real to us. In many religious conventions, the mystical experience is regarded as inexpressible and inconceivable due to its nature of being an otherworldly, spiritual and extraordinary experience. Even then all major religions agree that the mystical experience is best expressible by recourse to the language of poetry. Poetry`s relation with the transcendental goes back even farther than Greeks who called poetry divine madness. In the traditional world there is a unanimity regarding the greater importance of poetry in relation to prose. Poetry is an intuitive and meditative capability to contemplate reality in a more thoughtful manner. From a traditionalist point of view, poetry is linked directly to the transcendental as against prose which is more earthly. Poetry lies at the centre of the transcendental because it is the form that most clearly expresses it. According to traditional doctrines, mysticism and poetry have a common source, the inspiration, and far from being antipodal are actually
complementary. Both poetic and mystical experiences alike rely on intuition, that immediate grasp of the truth, beyond reason or analysis. Both have the same origin which is essentially intuitive, transcendental and synthetic as against all rational and analytical knowledge. In both Eastern as well as Western mystical traditions, poetry is considered as a way of filling the abyss that separates the human soul from the divine. In the 19th century, Romantic poets such as Coleridge and Shelley asserted that inspiration came to a poet because he/she was accustomed to the spiritual and his/her soul was able to experience such visions. Even Plato admitted that the poet writes not through understanding or reason but by inspiration. P B Shelley in his seminal work, A Defence of Poetry assigns mystical poetry with a prophetic power. He identifies poetry with prophecy. Poetry appeals to the soul of man by stirring inner essence which is always spiritual. In all traditions, poetry is highly rated because of these features. All scriptures have a poetic quality to them though they may not be poetry per se. God can be best contemplated through the rhythmic pattern of poetic language. Although poetry has been a reputable art in every community, this is especially so throughout the Islamic world. This is partly due to the conventional Islamic interdiction on representational art. Since portrayal of things and people was largely prohibited, the visual arts tended to concentrate on rich, intricate patterns and calligraphy while much of the Islamic artist
genius emphasized the power of words over visual image. And the Quran itself uses highly poetic language which of course has encouraged many Muslim mystics all over the world to express themselves in a similar poetic fashion. The poetical tradition within Islam, still very much alive today, has given us a wonderful collection of sacred and mystical poetry particularly from the Sufi traditions. But then, we also find a certain anxiety in both Christian and Islamic traditions regarding the legitimacy of poetry. More so, perhaps, in the Islamic tradition. Many looked at poetry with suspicion because of the classical heritage in both Greek and Roman traditions and the Quranic denunciation of the contemporary Arabian poets in Surah 26 entitled The Poets (al-Shu`ara`). However, this Quranic denunciation of Arabian poets was not an outright attack on poetry, rather it was meant for those pre-Islamic poets who through their poetry praised topics of dubious merit such as wine and gambling which was against the new faith of Islam. In fact, there were among the Prophet`s companions poets such as Hassan ibn Thabit. Even Christian fathers discarded poetry and called it the mother of all lies`. Its association with the ancient Romans and Greeks who were considered pagans also contributed to poetry being regarded with suspicion in general. However, exceptions were made to allow some form of poetry like religious and ethical. Therefore, both Islamic and Christian traditions had some reservations about legitimacy of poetry. But in spite of all this, many mystically
inclined religious men wrote poetry in both Islamic and Christian traditions. Poetry for them became a way of expressing their religious devotion and the very essence of the meditative soul, suggesting the capability of words to materialize the spiritual reality. For many, mysticism and poetry belong to the same order of knowledgethe knowledge of heart. Both reflect and illumine each other. The poet and the mystic share a common ground. Both have an instinct for the transcendental and enjoy fleeting glimpses of the mystery that surrounds everyday life. Both rely on intuition, that immediate grasp of truth, beyond reason or analysis. The mystical poet assumes the discipline of bringing experience to birth in poetry, and is often consumed with a prophetic mission to restore for mankind the integrity of the universe. She/he claims to see beyond the surface of the ordinary and penetrates the mystery at the heart of all things. We may define mystical poetry as supernatural, not necessarily animistic, pantheistic or religious in the strict sense, its main concern being the description of the communion with the ultimate. It deals with the most ineffable experience with its central concern being expression of the inexpressible. Though some mystics never poetize their mystical insights, there are many mystics who are poets at the same time. The mystic who is a poet tries to poetize what he has apprehended and experienced. His mystical experience almost inevitably leads to poetry. It is not without reason that the great mystics of the world were great
poets as well. Great mystical poets have used poetical language to capture their ecstatic experiences in words for they are aware of the fact that if they don`t capture it there and then, the valuable insight may slip away from them, may be, forever. Poetry thus becomes an animated expression of the eternal essence of the mystic`s esoteric insights. Much of this poetry deals with the idea of having a mystical insight and there is also poetry which grapples with communication of the mystical experience itself. Undoubtedly, the poetry trying to communicate the mystical experience is the most complicated. But then, articulate mystics dare to relate their experiences through the language of indirection. The mystic poets fail to emancipate themselves completely from the natural dimensions of space and time. Hence the meeting of natural and supernatural creates a paradox. W T Stace deems paradoxality as an essential mark of mystical experience. Moreover, while trying to relate their ecstasies they are hindered, like the rest of the poets, by earth-bound words. However, any adequate expression of this experience is impossible. Any attempt to translate this sublime experience in terms of esoteric symbolism and concrete imagery does not serve much of the purpose because of its dependence on interpretation on part of the reader. Much of the mystical poetry is meant to be reviewed and understood as metaphor. The mystic`s stage of enlightenment shares with sublime poetry the liberating puissance of the abstruse levels of awareness.
Mysticism and poetry have through the ages maintained a strong bond which becomes a convincing instigation for a sensitive researcher to trace out attributes and points of interest common to both. Poetic language used by a mystic writer engages the mind in a unique way. Genuine mysticism always seeks help from the metaphoric language for its true expression and its representative mystic sips from the elixir of Divine Love by bringing himself closer to the Absolute. He adopts the path of annihilation and after that seeks assistance from the poetic language to communicate his mystical experience. Through the medium of poetry, he is able to transmute and transfigure his sublime experiences into the universal experience shared by one and all. Mirza Ghalib, the famous poet of South Asia has expressed the same belief: Her chend ho Mushade haq keguftego Bante nehe baday-o-sagar kahe beghair Although the discourse is altogether about enjoying glimpses of the Divine but then such discourse is impossible without metaphoric language. Mysticism and poetry share a close relation and it is completely erroneous to see a dichotomy between the two. Helen C White writes: It is not a strange hybrid of poet and mystic who writes a mystical poem. It is not a man who writes first as a mystic and then as a poet. It is not even a mystic who turns over to the poet who happens to dwell within the same brain and body the materials of his insight to be made into a work of art by the competent craftsman. It is rather that the same human being is at once poet
and mystic, at one and the same time, from the beginning of the process to the end (Dhar 1985:5). The poet`s imagination does not differ much from the visionary imagination of the mystic. In their sublime states, both the poet as well as the mystic see the phenomenal world drenched in divine light. Not only this, poetic language enables us as readers to share these insights and beatitude, since mystical experience is bestowed a concrete and animate form. The mystical poet, through poems expresses a wide range of spiritual feelings and wisdom. Through their poems, mystical poets succeed in making the ultimate truths more fully real to us and we as readers are also enabled to catch a glimpse of higher truths. Poetry is the favourite medium of expression for the mystics of all ages and cultures for it is the finest means of verbalizing of the ineffable. It is the language of the soul and not of the erratic consciousness. If acclaimed mystics both in the East and the West have written poetry, it was undeniably because they found it an essential and pertinent medium of expression. In the Muslim civilization, mystical poets like Farid-ud-din-Attar, Hafiz, Jami and Rumi have immortalized different forms of poetry. Mysticism had its greatest impact on Islamic literature in the genre of Persian poetry. Throughout the Persian speaking world, their mystical poetry is quoted at every social, devotional and erudite congregation. Their poetry reflects the esoteric dimension of Islam. S H Nasr asserts that as Sufism is the esoteric and inner dimension of Islam, it cannot be practiced apart from Islam. Their poetry
dominates the whole of the later Sufi tradition in the Eastern lands of Islam. Readers confess that every reading of their mystical works instill blissful flashes of insight thereby acting as the food for soul. These mystical bards have employed different poetic forms ranging from quatrains or rubaiyat and medium length lyrical verse such as the ghazal to long narrative stories in rhyme, known as masnavi. These poetical forms were well suited to the expression of mystical ideas. Their poetic verses often deal with the pain of separation from God, the great joy of union and a deep yearning for divine love and are expressed through incomparable metaphors. Farid-ud-din Attar, one of the famous poets of Persia says: Man nakhaham mal-o-jah-o-tamtaraq Sooz khaham dard khaham ishtiyaq I don`t desire wealth, status, grandeur Burning in divine love and pain is my desire Commenting on the rich poetical literature of Muslim civilization, Anniemarie Schimmel writes: The world of Islam is extremely rich in poetic expression, when we speak of Sufism, we think of the enormous poetical output of the Sufi`s in Arabic and even more in Persian and Turkish verse, as well as in the various languages of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, a literature which has supplied the west with most of his ideas about the characteristics of Islamic mysticism. (Schimmel 1982:12).
Mystical poetry written in the Islamic world shares many things with mystical poetry written in other religious traditions, but in songs written in devotion to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islamic literature has achieved a very unique eminence. Mystical poetry also held an eminent position among the great mystics of the West primarily because of poetry being the best medium for the expression of their profoundest thoughts and their aspirations. Poetry dominated the writings of these mystical poets because mysticism by its very nature aims to move beyond purely rational discourse and learning. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Blake, Yeats and Eliot among many others are some of the most prominent and acclaimed mystical poets whose inmost principle is entrenched in mysticism. Their work is on the whole so immersed in mystical thought that their approach of mind is not fully to be apprehended apart from it. They have crystallized in immortal words the illuminating vision of the world. They all agree in one ardent declaration which is that unity underlies diversity based upon an intuitive or experienced conviction of unity, of oneness in all things and the innate divinity of man. The aim of life is to know God through Love; Love is at the heart of their message and is necessary in the path to reach God. It`s not astonishing that mystics of all traditions place so much importance on poetry. It seems that mystical experience almost inevitably leads to poetry. Mystical experience surpassing human understanding through the ages is
expressed best through poetry. It is in the poetic language that we find the finest and complete expression of mystical thought and inspiration. The most celebrated works both in the Eastern and Western traditions are the poems of the mystics, opening the mind to the divine reality and probing into the realms of invisible.
Chapter-2 Iqbal's Javid Nama: Journey through Constellations Javid Nama is not only the famous poetic work of Iqbal, but it stands out as an extremely enlivening study of extraordinary merit enriching the religious and intellectual literatures of all periods. It is unsurpassed in beauty of diction and sublimity of expression. This appealing piece of literature was published in 1932 around the time when Iqbal was writing his presidential address contemplating the birth of a consolidated Muslim state within or without the British Empire. Iqbal`s passion for landscape is well utilized here in depicting scenery of a spiritual nature wherein he depicts himself as Zinda Rud (a stream full of life). For Iqbal it is the sum total of his life and brings forth his philosophy of time, self, love and intellect, and also reflects his opinions on many modern social philosophies like communalism, patriotism and socialism. Its narrative holds together different fragments of his thought and encompasses the whole range of his poetic expressions. Javid Nama ranks with the greatest works in the Persian language. Its significance can be surmised from the place it holds amongst the modern classics of world literature and its international readership. Powerful characterization also makes this work true to the genre of epic. The didactic message that the poet wants to foreground is put into the mouths of its dramatic personae. It is noteworthy in case of Javid Nama that the main characters are historical personalities. Supernatural elements and other
types of characters are also introduced either by imaginary people or personifications like people of the ideal society of Mars, and Zarvan, the angelic manifestation of time and the personification of India by houris. Although held within the framework of Islamic cosmology and theology, the poem is devoid of religious bias and investigates the comparative merits of great religions with fairness and impartiality. A genuine attempt at interfaith dialogue is also foregrounded. The East and the West are seen approaching each other in this masterpiece. Javid Nama on the whole presents an inclusive study of the Western and Eastern civilizations, though it largely acts as a critique of the modern civilization. Iqbal has given an artistic expression to his enormous interest in the problems confronting humanity at large. In the language of the poet, the plight man has confronted in the modern era is that of the loss of his humanity. Man has reduced himself to the segments of self- interest and the higher wisdom of religion has lost its hold on the conduct of man. Mankind has failed in embracing the good, and has granted an easy victory to Satan, who constantly laments the loss of a realm for one living man of faith. With regard to structure and content, Javid Nama comes within the purview of those works which have been written under the influence of the famous traditions of Miraj, the Prophet Muhammad`s (peace be upon him) nocturnal journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and later ascension to the heavens. Iqbal was deeply influenced by the prophetic ascension and its description in the
Holy Quran as well as in some Sufi accounts. The poem consists of seven chapters out of which six are devoted to different spheres. Javid Nama is a rendering of a spiritual odyssey made by the poet from the earth through the spheres` of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, to beyond the spheres` and in the presence of God. Each sphere is presented to the reader by the personalities pertinent to a particular period of history and these personalities act as the mouthpiece of the poet. Zinda Rud, who represents Iqbal, interacts with many historical personalities, poets, philosophers, mystics, rulers, etc. and seeks answers to his questions. These Questions and answers constitute the essence of wisdom that the poem embodies and exhibit Iqbal`s art of masterly exposition of his understanding of life. Undertaken under the guidance of Iqbal`s spiritual mentor Rumi, the journey becomes a questioning and inquiring pilgrimage conducted by the poet with a belief that its message can be shared and understood by all, and has the ability to redeem the spiritually barren modern man, and, finally, contribute to the establishment of a finer world. The poem opens with a prayer (Munajat) with the poet standing on the sea-shore about evening time, uttering a few verses of Rumi. This makes the soul of Rumi to appear before him. Guided by the spirit of space and time (Zarvan) who is depicted as a double-faced angel, Zinda Rud in the company of Rumi makes his appearance in the firmament of Mercury (Falak- e Atarid) and proceeds right up to the end of the poem. In the earlier stages of the journey, Zinda Rud meets the ancient Indian sage Vishwamitra whose name Zinda Rud
translates as Jahan Dost (friend of world). As the spiritual odysseys unveils itself, Zinda Rud is seen meeting an astonishing variety of figures-Buddha, Zoroaster, Tolstoy, nineteenth-century Muslim thinkers and reformers Jamal AlDin Afghani and Sayid Halim Pasha, the Egyptian Pharaoh, British general Kitchener, the famous mystic Mansur Hallaj, poets Ghalib and Ghani Kashmiri, Nietzsche, Muslim sage and preacher Sayyid Ali Hamadani, Indian scholar Bartarihari, Persian scholar Nasir-i-Khusrau, Tipu Sultan and many others. While passing through the spheres, Zinda Rud`s conversation with all these is very enlightening, encompassing diverse realms of reality and references to different cultures, world views and civilizations. The idea of the diversified realms of reality is present almost in every poetical work of Iqbal but in this work it is most prominently visible. As the spiritual odyssey is about to end, the houris of paradise request Zinda Rud to stay with them in paradise but he refuses to stay. Zinda Rud`s refusal to stay in timelessness throws much light on the fact of how seriously Iqbal took the serial time. Javid Nama is purely Islamic in its theme and goal, though it has incorporated some artistic elements from other traditions also. Written in the form of Persian Masnavi, Javid Nama is marked by the grandeur of its comprehensiveness, its aesthetic form and its interaction with a galaxy of literates and spiritualists of eminence. It opens to the universal through these figures. Through the use of non-Muslim sages like Bartarihari, Vishwamitra and Buddha, Iqbal approaches a universal paradigm in
this poem. It demonstrates the ever visible influences of Indian philosophies on Iqbal and he emerges as a poet of universal values. Javid Nama and its thematic continuity is wide. Iqbal`s stark realism towards the state of affairs is quite evident in this work. The poet is very much realistic in prescribing solutions to the problems faced by humanity in the modern world as he never deludes his followers by beautiful dreamy imaginary worlds; rather he opens their eyes to the harsh challenges put forth by evil and its machinations. The poet endeavours to awaken the dead souls of people. He hints at many places to the spiritual stupor that has engulfed the lives of people, especially the Muslims, and aims at their spiritual regeneration. The poet presents a critique of the East and the West, regarding both as one-sided. The East saw God and did not see the world The West crept along the world and fled away from God. (579-80) Relating the condition of Muslims, he asserts that they have divided themselves into communities and have lost faith, courage and determination and are swiped by the forces of imperialism and communalism. Iqbal attacks imperialism, labels modern civilization as the harvest of irreligious education, materialism, communalism, nationalism and western democracy. Displaying his equanimous temper, Iqbal asserts that communalism, materialism and nationalism lack a higher spiritual urge thus making it impossible to build a new world as the prophets were able to do. Although Javid Nama deals with many
philosophical, social and even political issues, one stands out very clearly from the beginning-the treatment of time. Iqbal`s treatment of time in the poem is undoubtedly one of his lasting contributions to religious and philosophical literature of modern times. He lays stress on creating equipoise between the traditional pantheistic notion that gives all importance to non-serial time, and the serial time, keeping in view the backdrop of the present moment of World History. At the same time, however, Iqbal`s position with respect to time seems paradoxical. At some instances, he is eager to prove the transitory nature of time in order to prepare man for the spiritual flight towards the eternal. These verses from Javid Nama substantiate this point: Grant me that, Lord, even for a single day, Deliver me from this day that has no glow. (29-30) How fair is the day that is not of our days, The day whose dawn has neither noon nor eve! (23-24) I have seen that day of this dimensioned world, Whose light illuminates both palace and street, Came into being from the flight of a planet, Is nothing more, you might say, than a moment gone (19-22) While at some other instances, he strongly stresses on a return back from non-serial time in order to take care of history which is manifest in temporal
moments. After comparing the above quoted verses with the following lines, this paradox becomes quite clear: Though God dwells in solitude and manifestation, Solitude is the beginning, manifestation the end. It is delightful to go on God`s road by caravan, It is delightful to go in the world free as the soul. (847-52) Revive in the breast that fire, which has departed, Bring back to the world the day that has gone. (1775-76) The present age seeks to war with you; Imprint God`s image on this infidel`s tablet! (2389-90) You who seek your goal in annihilation, Non-existence can never discover existence. (2405-06) Highlighting this apparent contradiction S. A. Khundimiri says: Is this highest experience timeless? Iqbal`s position is yes and no both. It is timeless in the sense that human time becomes irrelevant in this experience and therefore it is not wrong to call it timeless. But in deeper sense Time is not irrelevant to it as it happens in time and hence this involment is an experience of time itself. (Khundmiri 1980:43). Apparently it seems as if timeless experience precedes experience in time. The seclusion and manifestation which are the modes to have such
experiences are mentioned in one breath everywhere, signifying that both are equally important aspects of his philosophy of time.
Its manifestation shines with the light of the Attributes, Its solitude is lit up by the light of the Essence. Reason draws life towards manifestation, Love draws life towards solitude. (305-8) Solitude and manifestation are perfection of ardour, Both alike are states and stations of indigence. What is the former? To desert cloister and church; What is the latter? Not to walk alone in paradise! Though God dwells in solitude and manifestation, Solitude is the beginning, manifestation the end. (843-48)
Keeping in view such subtleties, Iqbal could not afford to ignore the role of serial time at any stage of the spiritual flight of man from time to timeless:
Again one must gaze on the past and the future;
Ho, rise up, for one must think anew.
Love carries its load on the she-camel of Time;
Are you a lover? You must make your mount of evening and (1681-84).
morn
And:
The first is in need of day and night,
The second- day and night are but its vehicle. (291-2) Time is undoubtedly a central concept in Iqbal`s philosophy. From various accounts we know that the tradition la tasubbu ad-dahr (don`t vilify Time for Time is God), had a lasting impact on Iqbal. Iqbal took this prophetic word for a denotation of that overpowering reality of which time and space are only aspects. In a meeting with Bergson in France, Iqbal conversed on this with him. Iqbal expressed his concern on Einstein`s assertion that there did not exist any absolute time. Bergson fully agreed with Iqbal`s view point on the existence of Absolute Time which he called pure duration` (Fatehpuri 2009:304-305). In his yet another famous poetic work Baal-e Jibreel (Gabriel's Wing), Iqbal avers: Haqiqat mei rooh -i abad hai zamana Time is the essence of eternity Even in Javid Nama, Iqbal is very mindful of the existence of serial time. He takes it seriously and nowhere does he deny it. For Iqbal, serial time is the very possibility through which man can attain his goal. In Javid Nama, he is seen navigating through all the physical, political and social realms projecting them as essential to men. As men perfect their self, they can cast off the manacles of serial time and thus gain a measure of non-serial time. Both serial as well as non-serial time is thus important to Iqbal.
Iqbal`s way of dealing with time is fascinating for he brings a measure of objectivity which is quite exceptional. Following the Islamic concept, Iqbal firmly believes that time is not damned but it is the very possibility through which man can attain his goal. Denying the idea of fall of Adam or the Christian idea of original sin, Iqbal considers the arrival of human beings on earth as a glorious event and not an event signifying human sinfulness, since Adam was designated by God to be His viceregent on earth. This cosmos exists in order to make possible the emergence and perfection of the self. Iqbal in The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam asserts: The Fall does not mean any moral depravity; it is man`s transition from simple consciousness to the first flash of self-consciousness... (Iqbal 1989). Iqbal in Javid Nama as well as in other works aimed at self-affirmation. For him, the basic fact of human life is the absolute and unassailable consciousness of one`s own being. He aimed to preserve the self at every cost. The basis of life is the development of self which occurs as human beings gain greater knowledge of what lies within them as well as of the external world. Iqbal`s philosophy of self` permeates through this work at different levels. This philosophy is essentially concerned with motivating human beings to fight against all odds which hamper their growth and development. The self is more important than all existence and is regarded to be the outcome of love on pilgrimage:
Think upon self, and pass not fearfully through this desert, For you are, while the substance of both worlds is - nothing. (769-70)
He still holds that most perfect self is one which does not lose individuality in the presence of God:
If you remain fast before this Light, count yourself living and abiding as God. (247-48)
And:
I have fastened on myself my gaze, that though the beauty of the beloved Fills all the world, I am left no time to contemplate. (2143-4)
The test of self is to remain steadfast in difficulties. Iqbal advocates action and endless struggle against adversity. Satan, the arch-enemy of man becomes a positive force which helps man realize his potential and contribute to the development of his self:
The self becomes more mature through suffering
Until the self rends the veils that cover God. (829-30)
Whosoever ignores self in this world, losses the significance of life because the chief aim of man in this world is to discover self:
Every moment every heart in this ancient convent Discourses, albeit secretly, for the self; Whoever has not taken his share of its fire Has died in the world, a stranger to himself. (2273-77)
And:
Drunk with vision` means discovering one`s self, Shining like a star in the night-season: Not to discover one`s self is to not exist, To discover is to bestow self on the Self. (2969-72)
The issue of destiny is discussed against the backdrop of selfhood. Man with a strong self can make his destiny with his own hands:
Come, let us change the rule of heaven,
let us change fate by revolving a heavy measure of wine; (2157-2158)
Iqbal lays stress upon the fact that man has to be a co-worker with God, developing all his good qualities in struggle with the satanic forces. For Iqbal, becoming a partner in satanic endeavours is a disgrace, while fighting it adds to man`s grace. Satanic forces need to be overcome; otherwise man will fall short of his goal of being God`s vicegerent on the earth:
Earthlings have gambled away the coin of selfhood, Not comprehending the subtle meaning of destiny. Its subtlety is contained in a single phraseif you transform yourself, it too will be transformed. (1959-62)
Iqbal passionately believes that human beings are the makers of their own destiny and that the key to destiny lies in one`s character. He believes that the destiny of human beings lies beyond the stars`. He constantly refers to the Quranic verse, Verily God will not change the condition of people till they
change what is in themselves` (Surah Raadh). He teaches an active and optimistic approach towards life. His aim is to instill and arouse a spirit of strong will and determination in men thereby condemning defeatism and passiveness. Iqbal also reacts strongly against the age old view of bifurcating body from soul. He sees no impassable gulf between matter and spirit, nor does he see human beings as a mere episode or accident in the huge evolutionary process. The whole cosmos is there to serve as the basis and ground for the emergence and perfection of the self. You who say that the body is the soul`s vehicle, Consider the soul`s secret; tangle not with the body. It is not a vehicle, it is a state of the soul; To call it its vehicle is a confusion of terms. (379-82) In the verses quoted above, Iqbal attempts to reconstruct the traditional mysticism of the East as well. The concept of the annihilation of self in the Divine Self is denied by him. Iqbal asserts that God is one of the witnesses of existence of the developed self. However, the journey towards God as maintained by mysticism in general is not denied. Rather, what is condemned is to be satisfied at the lower stages of mystical journey: The true believer will not make do with Attributes
The Prophet was not content save with the Essence. (251-2) To keep the scope for mystical development open for ever, he proclaims: The self-strong man reckons the sea as but a pool, Seeing that the Signs of God are infinite Where, traveler, can the high-road end? (2100-03) Iqbal holds the view that there are immense possibilities for the growth of human self simply because the capabilities of omnipresent God are unlimited. There is no end to the upward journey of self. Starting its flight from the serial time, self can reach a stage where it can even dominate the serial time: If you remain fast before this Light, Count yourself living and abiding as God. (247-48) It is here that he rejects the age old pantheistic view of ultimate goal of human self with regard to union with God. Instead of getting lost in the ocean of timelessness, the self which Iqbal revers has to remain fast in the presence of divine light and has to retain its individuality. It has to return back from the timeless realm so as to play a crucial role as a vicegerent of God and to fulfill God`s design in the temporal realm. Hence, Iqbal asserts that man can reach a stage where his self manifests itself to him with all its profundity. Love (Ishq), is yet another and most important concern of the poet. It is the source of strength to the self. For Iqbal, a heart full of love and passion is the requirement of the traveller on the mystic path. Religion itself loses its
essence without love. The self immersed in the ocean of love has the courage to rise to the level where it can be face to face with the infinite. It enthrones man on the highest seat in the whole creation: Whoever falls in love with the beauty of Essence, He is the master of all existing things. (173-4) And again: Love is the authority and manifest proof, Both worlds are subject to the seal-ring of love; Timeless it is, and yesterday and tomorrow spring from it, Placeless it is, and under and over spring to it; When it supplicates God for selfhood All the world becomes a mount, itself the rider. (339-44) The main aim of Iqbal`s poetry apart from presenting a critique of various maladies entrenched in societies is of harmonizing love and reason, faith and knowledge, time and timeless. Through the glowing flash of his poetry, Iqbal gave a message of love for action and a spirit for endless struggle against all forces that hamper the growth and development of self. Love, self, immortality of the soul, time and timeless are not the hackneyed words in his poetry but valuable aspects of his philosophical thought which reveal the whole range of his poetic moods and expressions.
Chapter-3 Eliot's The Four Quartets: Intersection of Time and Timelessness Four Quartets is an artistically consummate and supernal triumph of Eliot`s poetic oeuvre in which spiritual and poetic augmentation appears to be closely allied. It is the finest expression of Eliot`s spiritual vision and is undoubtedly his greatest philosophical masterpiece and his crowning achievement. Even Eliot calls it his tour de force. Eliot`s religious conversion to the Anglican Church in 1927 had a far-reaching impact on the rest of his career resulting in the Christian meditations of Four Quartets. Published separately from 1936 to 1942 and in book form in 1943, Four Quartets are considered to be the poet`s best expression of his deep knowledge of philosophy and mysticism. This work secured him the 1948 Nobel Prize in literature. The reading public, highly impressed by Eliot`s elegant style, praised his ingenuity of form and his departure from his earlier works. The Eliot of Four Quartets emerges as a more confident and philosophical speaker than the earlier Eliot as depicted in his previous works. Four Quartets are the undertaking of a more mature and spiritually attuned poet displaying a mature language consciousness. It presents a multitudinous awareness of reality, revealing Eliot`s vision as a poet who aims at universality of cultures. The overall structure of Four Quartets is that of a journey involving personal, poetic and religious aspects of Eliot`s own life. Four Quartets begin with an epigraph of two fragments from Heraclitus. They mean:
Although the word (logos) is common, yet most men live as if they had a private insight of their own and The way up and the way down are the same. Each of the Four Quartets has five movements and each is titled by a place name ­ Burnt Norton (1936), East Coker (1940), The Dry Salvages (1941) and Little Gidding (1942). The four interconnected poems are very artistically linked to each other and shaped into a cohesive whole through Eliot`s use of a large variety of ideas and symbols. Helen Gardner rightly observes: When we read Four Quartets we are left finally not with the thought of the transitory Being who beheld this vision,` nor with the thought of the vision itself, but with the poem, beautiful, satisfying, self-contained, self-organized, complete (Gardner 1950: 185). The titles of the four poems are the names of places linked to the poet`s subjective experiences and to his family`s past. Each quartet takes its name from a particular locale and symbolizes for Eliot a spiritual state. Burnt Norton is the name of a ruined country mansion in Gloucestershire to which Eliot paid a visit in 1934. East Coker is a village in Somerset whence Eliot`s family migrated to America. The Dry Salvages are a small group of rocks off Cape Ann near Gloucester, Massachusetts, a locale that evokes both Eliot`s ancestors and his early years in and around Boston. Little Gidding is a village in Huntingdonshire visited by Eliot in 1936 where an important religious community was founded in the 1620s by the Anglican monk Nicholas Ferrar. These geographical titles, however, symbolize significant stages in Eliot`s
journey of spiritual self-discovery. Burnt Norton, for instance, represents individual moorings over the complex and concrete present of actualities, a temporal existence which is open to unexpected apprehensions of timeless reality. F O Matthiessen sums up the main concern of Eliot in Burnt Norton as follows: The chief contrast around which Eliot constructs this poem is that between the view of time as a mere continuum, and the difficult paradoxical Christian view of how man lives both in and out of time`, how he is immersed in the flux and yet can penetrate to the eternal by apprehending timeless existence within time and above it (Bergonzi 1969:94). In East Coker, Eliot meditates on existence by introducing its temporal realms of cultural heritages, of family and the depths of history. Eliot continues his reflection on time into history with the beginning maxim, In my beginning is my end`, and towards the closure of the poem the implications of family and history are coalesced in the line, Home is where one starts from`. As per F O Matthiessen, Eliot here: is also thinking in religious terms---in my beginning is my birth, is implied my end, death; yet, in the Christian reversal of terms, that death can mean rebirth , and the culminating phrase of East Coker` is In my end is my beginning` (Bergonzi 1969:95). In Dry Salvages, he grapples with the existential meditation further, changing the focus from historical community to the individual consciousness
of the immediacy of death. And in the last section of the poem Little Gidding, Eliot presents reconciliation between time and timelessness. Morris Weitz observes: Little Gidding`is the grand recapitulation of the whole of the quartets, so far as time is concerned, although the emphasis is now on the active or positive way of salvation. Detachment from things, persons and places is the right goal of man. It is the condition which arises through reflection on the nature of history, for history is a pattern of timeless moments`; and no people can deny its ultimate significance and meaning which is God and His benevolent relation to the world (Bergonzi 1969:152). In these poems, Eliot concerns himself with some important themes like time and eternity, language and divinity, man`s relationship with the divine, death, existence, tradition and history, Christian idea of sacrifice and atonement .Furthermore, the poems also demonstrate a complex connection between drawbacks of language and those of mystical experience. This explicit relationship is expressed best in Burnt Norton and East Coker. The poems illustrate the poet`s struggle with the inadequacy of language to express mystical thought. In Burnt Norton, Eliot disregards the benefits of human language to state the mystical truth: Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place Will not stay still (section V) In East Coker, Eliot finds himself once again thwarted by the intolerable wrestle/ with words and meaning. In the same poem he says: Trying to learn to use words and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a difficult kind of failure (section V) Eliot struggles with what he considers as an inevitable conflict regarding language. The poems, filled with religious allusions, blend Christian theology with allusions to Eastern texts, Western literature and works of many mystics. The poems are filled with religious images beyond those common to Christianity, landscape imagery and traditional images. Landscape images like the river and the sea is used to describe the meeting of the time and timeless. The rose garden is the key image in the poems. Eliot had used this image in much of his poetry. This image symbolizes those temporal experiences which reveal most emphatically the immanent character of the ultimately real. It symbolizes those moments that describe the meeting of the eternal and the temporal. Eliot brings together a number of images that are used many times throughout the poem, for instance, the yew tree with its association of graveyards and hence paganism and death, and dance with its association of beauty, power and harmony. The image of fire is yet another crucial image used in the poems. The image of fire is an implicit part of the established spiritual
diction common to all religions. It symbolizes spiritual illumination and transformation specifically through the recognition of suffering. Eliot develops the fire and rose imagery of the Four Quartets to a crucial resolution of painful purgation and divine love at the end of Little Giddings. And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one (section V) Many critics including James P. Sexton discuss how every section of the Four Quartets alludes to holy days of the church. They claim that Burnt Norton suggests Ascension Day as the black cloud carries the sun away (Burnt Norton). The sun becomes a pun for son. East Coker alludes to Good Friday, the day Christ was crucified. In the same poem Eliot refers to the wounded Surgeon, again alluding to Christ. The Dry Salvages becomes a suggestion of the Annunciation, the day that Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would bear the son of God. Finally, Little Gidding refers to the Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostle. There are many references to the Pentecost in Little Gidding: The dove descending breaks the air With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare The one discharge from sin and error (section IV) Besides church holy days, the poems also designate four elements: air, earth, water and fire respectively. Strong and arresting imagery and the layer of symbolism add to the brilliance of the poem and illustrate how it presented a primary achievement for Eliot. Eliot in the poems attempts to describe eternal reality by searching it in the mortal time and they have rightly been described as a series of meditations upon existence in time (Gardner 1959:44). Four Quartets divulge Eliot`s understanding of incarnate human consciousness as involving in the timeless meaning of spiritual truth in which he develops images that stir up feelings of the spiritual not present in the words themselves. According to Craig Raine, the Four Quartets presenting: the moment in and out of time are the most successful attempts at the mystical in poetry since Wordsworth`s spots of time in the Prelude- themselves a refiguration of the mystical. (Raine 2006:113) Eliot presents the idea of time in its physical and spiritual sense. In its spiritual sense time entails eternity and in its physical sense it entails transiency. The self-conscious poet stands outside his temporal experiences in order to find in them a metaphor for the atemporal he has not experienced. Eliot emphasizes
the need of understanding the nature of time and the order of the universe so that mankind is able to recognize God and seek redemption. However, the central theme of the Four Quartets is the existing dichotomy between time and timelessness and the unity in Christ through the Incarnation. But then Eliot also suggests that even spiritually mortal mankind needs the enchainment of sequential time in order to enjoy the possibilities of redemption from the constriction of time. In Burnt Norton, Eliot avers: Time past and time future Allow but a little consciousness. To be conscious is not to be in time But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden, The moment in the arbour where the rain beat, The moment in the draughty church at smokefall Be remembered; involved with past and future. Only through time time is conquered. (Section II) Through Eliot`s greatest philosophical work we see the vision of a man who firmly believes in a spiritual unity. Like Heraclitus, Eliot has made a paradoxical statement that at first seems impossible - a blending together of two extremes, time and timelessness, but then we can`t deem his theory of time as
Heraclitean. Eliot`s theory of time is closer to neo-Platonic philosophy. Morris Weitz in one of his seminal essays writes: Eliot`s theory of time is neo-Platonic, not Heraclitean. It is essentially an Immanence doctrine according to which the Eternal or Timeless is regarded as the creative source of the flux or temporal. This is not to say that Eliot denies the reality of the flux, in some Parmenidean fashion. He is no dualist, pitting the reality of the eternal against the illusion of the flux. Instead, the flux, with all of its many ordinary experiences, is taken as real but its reality is derived from and sustained by the more ultimate reality of the eternal. The flux is not an illusion, but it is an illusion to regard it as the only reality (Bergonzi 1969:142). The absolute, therefore, is immanent in the relative. Temporal time becomes a necessary prelude through which we can enter the higher realms of timelessness. Thus, for Eliot the gateways to salvation lie within the temporal experience. But then time for Eliot is no healer. The recognition of timelessness is advised as the only means of redemption from the shackles of time. We only need to recognize its significance and strive for it rather than become mere victims of death in life situation. This idea is central to Eliot`s play Murder in the Cathedral where his immanence theory of time is worked out. Thomas Beckett, Eliot`s mouthpiece in the play, says: It is not in time that my death shall be known It is out of time that my decision is taken
Murder in the Cathedral represents Eliot`s concept of the intersection of time and timelessness as rooted in the Christian idea of sacrifice, an idea which finds its most consummate expression in Four Quartets. Eliot views the coming of Christ as the most important event in history. The temporal and the eternal, human and the divine, time and timeless intersect in Christ`s death which provide new meaning to temporal happenings in history. Through the image of rose and dance which recur in the series, Eliot symbolizes those moments that represent the meeting of the time and timeless. Even the circularity of language used by the poet points towards the infinite circularity of the spiritual absolute, a level of life where the two extremes of time and timeless are indistinguishable. Eliot is here giving voice to the orthodox Christian idea of Incarnation in which God entered human flesh and died in that flesh. In the poems this idea affirms not just the timeless but highlights the complicated paradox of the intersection of time with timeless, thus providing meaning to a purely temporal realm. The entering of timeless into time creates the paradox of still point which is present both inside time and outside of it. Therefore, the death of saints at the temporal level is for the salvation of men and for the glory of God for it is willed by God. It is the ability of surrendering to God`s will and eschewing all sorts of desires. Detachment, desirelessness and love are thus the means and the way of redemption from unredeemed time into a state of timelessness. Eliot asserts that in the realization of Christ`s sacrifice for mankind is an individual capable of being saved. Christ preached his followers to give up everything at
the materialistic level so as to follow God. The symbol of wheel is used in the play to express this. Just like all the spokes of a wheel coordinate with the centre of the wheel for its smooth functioning, in a similar manner men should surrender to the God`s will so as to carry forward the designs of God. Through the metaphor of wheel, Eliot also depicts the intersection of temporality and eternity. Hence, Eliot`s immanence theory of time finds its best expression in Four Quartets. Four Quartets is a positive declaration of Eliot`s Christian values and the poet has deployed images and motifs that are Christian in inspiration. Critics of Four Quartets have paid enough critical attention to Eliot`s debt to Oriental mysticism and its relations with Christian traditions. The use of Oriental ideas, especially of Bhagavad Gita lends a universal appeal to the poem. Kristian Smidt rightly observes that Eliot in Four Quartets deftly manages to reconcile Christianity and Hinduism without offending against either (Smidt 1961:228-29). In the opening lines of the third section of Dry Salvages, Eliot directly refers to the Bhagavad Gita: I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant Among other things- or one way of putting the same thing This direct allusion to Bhagavad Gita and Hinduism attests to Eliot`s deep knowledge of it and also alludes to a deliberate parallelism between Oriental and Occidental ideas. In the third section of the Dry Salvages, Eliot mentions how Krishna instructed Arjuna on the battlefield. Eliot`s references to the ideas
of Hindu philosophy and Bhagavad Gita are whole hearted. He himself regards Bhagavad Gita as the next great philosophical poem to the Divine Comedy. Eliot found many prominent parallels between the words of Jesus and the words of Lord Krishna. The idea of redemption through grace is as basic to the principles of Lord Krishna as it is to Christianity. Hindu philosophy and Bhagavad Gita revealed to Eliot different way of putting the same thing. His assertion in Burnt Norton that to be conscious is not to be in time, is fundamentally Vedantic and seems to have been borrowed from Bhagavad Gita which clearly depicts knowledge (consciousness) as the best way to selfrealization or unity with God-the still center. The idea of inner freedom from the practical desire (Burnt Norton) and of action without the desire for reward are also borrowed from the Bhagavad Gita. Moreover, there is in Four Quartets a recurring denouncement of unredeemed time which is expressed in Burnt Norton as: Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and after (section V) Besides, Eliot also avers, that time is no healer (Dry Salvages). This picture of the world- in-time is quite similar to the Gita's representation of the spheres of maya, the all comprehensive deceptiveness which ensnares us in the finite. Redemption is not possible without transcending this realm of maya, which can be attained only by desirelessness, humility and love. Eliot believes
in total surrender and devotion to God achieved through detached action and correct knowing. Through total surrender and detached action, grace of God is achieved. In Four Quartets, turns of phrase and verses echoing the Unknown Author of the Cloud of Unknowing, St. Julian of Norwich, and St. John of the Cross are easily noticed. Bergson`s mystical philosophy and Evelyn Underhill`s impact on Eliot is also evident in the poems. They are the most important expression of Eliot`s mystical dimension and cannot be understood without a reference to Christian thought and tradition. Being an Anglo-Catholic, Eliot asserts that the blood and body of Christ are the means by which the faithful receive Christ`s life in themselves and participate in his suffering. The meaning of suffering and death and our meaning as mortals is to be found in it. It lends meaning and pattern to time. And the intersection of timeless and time lies in his Incarnation. Apparently positioning timeless and time, he is basically drawing a close relationship between them. Eliot further meditates on how mankind is affected by the original sin and ways for atonement of its sins. Being a staunch believer in Christian doctrines, Eliot believes that since both time and humanity are fallen, they need to be redeemed. It is possible only when time intersects with timeless and in the final intersection which lies in the incarnation of Christ. In the Incarnation of Christ, God becomes man and redeems time as well as humanity. Incarnation thus leads to the divine spiritual infusion into earthly activity.
Humans, allured by deceptive technologies, are not able to comprehend the Logos (Christ or the word). Redemption for Eliot is firmly bound up with Christ, and he very often employs the words Christ and God in the Four Quartets. But then he uses images like the wounded surgeon in East Coker, the virgin`s shrine on the promontory in Dry Salvages, and the dove in Little Gidding. For him, the final intersection not only redeems time but it redeems the entire humanity. Thus during the moment of incarnation, Christ does not destroy time but redeems it from its fallen state. It is in time that the Incarnation and the moments in the church and the rose garden are experienced. Therefore, Incarnation is the end of time which is already present to time in and through time itself. The Incarnation is a crucial point for Eliot revealing his perspicacity into a surmounting whole. In the Incarnation of Christ, all the shortcomings of man`s declined existence are blown-away, all belligerences and differences are resolved. Incarnation is for Eliot the supreme moment in and out of time. Eliot further says that only through time, time is conquered. It implies the redemption of clock-time or the time in which events take place. Eliot is trying here to highlight the point that it is by conquering and defeating time that the intersection with eternity and redemption of time is achieved. For example, in Dry Salvages he further substantiates this view that in the intersection of timelessness and time, the past and future/ are conquered and reconciled. Again, in Burnt Norton, Eliot says that redemption is not only an escape from the enchantment of past and future, but also escaping from the influences that
lead to redeemed time. In the last section of Dry Salvages, Eliot again grapples with the problem of time and timelessness. He contemplates on man`s degradation and man`s inability to apprehend / the point of intersection of timeless/ with time. This degradation and incapability to apprehend the point of temporality and eternity is also represented by the poor dancers of East Coker: Keeping time, Keeping the rhythm in their dancing As in their living in the living seasons The time of the seasons and the constellations The time of milking and the time of harvest The time of the coupling of man and woman And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling Eating and drinking. Dung and death (section I) This picture of the repeated denouncement of unredeemed time can be transcended only by achieving humility and desirelessness. Eliot believes that through human aspiration and divine grace these points can be realized. And the fact is that although Grace is unconditional, men should embrace a lifetime`s death in love which relies on self-surrender and selflessness. The self has to surrender itself to the divine for all time, and then only can it experience the unattended/moment, the moment in and out of time (The Dry Salvages).
Through self- surrender and negation, a unified consciousness devoid of any internal contradictions comes into being. Little Gidding (the last poem), starts with an image of winter and summer being united. Thus it is a poem of resolution. The preceding quartets deal with issues related to eternity and time whereas Little Gidding deals with the reconciliation of both. Here Eliot exclaims: What we call the beginning is often the end And to make and end is to make a beginning The end is where we start from (section V) Eliot reminds us how we are captured and determined by time, by the apprehensions of the future and the burdens of the past. But then he also offers the solution. He asserts that redemption from the tyranny of time is possible only when we experience living and timeless moments. Thus during moments of eternal transcendence and graced ecstasy, an individual understands the divine stillness that permeates the structural movements of all things. Eliot calls it the dance, the divine emptiness enveloping all. Through these moments, we apprehend both the unity and distinctness of the time and timeless. In Burnt Norton, Eliot says: At the still point of the turning world Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point,
There the dance is, but neither arrest nor movement... ...Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. I can only say, there we have been; but I cannot say where. And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time. (Section II) Eliot says that only rare persons, whom he calls saints, are capable of apprehending these timeless moments. Saints through their right action, selfsurrender and selflessness apprehend these moments. Though their right action is accompanied with suffering, they remain committed to sacrifice the temporal belongings and that too with humility. Their being is capable of meeting with the timeless achieved through a continuity of right action. They attain The inner freedom from the practical desire/ The release from action and suffering, release from the inner/ And outer compulsion (Burnt Norton). In Little Gidding a timeless moment is reached where there is no conflict between time and eternity. The images of the fire and rose symbolize this reconciliation. All manner of things shall be well When the tongues of flame are infolded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one (section V) Eliot`s two suggestions, first to fare forward (The Dry Salvages) and the other to be still and wait without hope, (East Coker) are fused together in
the declaration that All manner of thing shall be well/ By the purification of the motive (Little Gidding). This is symbolized by the double feature of the hallmark of fire, signifying God`s purifying fire and the fire of his love- the rose. Thus, in the last lines of Little Gidding, eternity redeems time whether it be through timeless moments, or through Incarnation which is the absolute redemption. Eliot views time as continually linked together in inner accomplishment by the Incarnation, by the still point of the turning world, which conciliates the strength of time through time, making obvious the inner fulfillment that Incarnate God functions in the world. The still point thus leads towards salvation. It stands both out of time and in time and presents a blissful state of spirituality and freedom from suffering and desire. Four Quartets is ultimately read not only as a significant spiritual document but also the supreme artwork as well.
Chapter-4 Iqbal and Eliot: Transcending Boundaries Iqbal and Eliot are two modern poets representing two separate, yet very similar in many aspects, types of worldviews, which manifest themselves in their philosophical positions regarding time, self, salvation, mystical experience and religion despite their different their cultural and academic backgrounds. This chapter attempts to highlight Iqbal and Eliot`s common and unique concerns and discuss their concepts of time, love, self, consciousness, mystical experience and salvation. To begin with, both were engaged in the paradox of spiritual growth of man vis-a-vis time, thus redefining their positions in the light of temporal and timeless aspects of reality. The tension, subtlety and contradiction involved in such a discourse were handled by both of them in a delicate fashion. On the one hand, both agree that the origin of the temporal is sacred or divine as all time is eternally present; on the other hand, the flight from it to timeless and eternal is held to be raison d'кtre of man by both. For being eternally present, Eliot declares time to be irredeemable. However, he recognizes the fact that all experience is possible only within time, making it an important agent in the realization of truth. The meeting of temporal and eternal is symbolized by the metaphors of rose-garden and river in Eliot while the divine origin of time is affirmed by both of them in many verses. Eliot in Burnt Norton, says:
Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future, And time future contained in time past. If all time is eternally present All time is unredeemable. (Section I) At another place in Burnt Norton, he says: Time past and time future What might have been and what has been Point to one end, which is always present. (Section I) This concept of unity of time has its roots in Eliot`s mystical studies and his devotion to the tradition of Christianity which condemns time as an outcome of the Original Sin. Regarding the nature of time, Iqbal takes a different view and associates with it many important elements such as love, reason and self. He tries to present time as omnipresent. At many places he refers to the Prophetic tradition which forbids vilifying time as time is identified with God Himself. In Javid Nama, he asserts: Love is authority and manifest proof, both worlds are subject to the seal-ring of love; timeless it is, and yesterday and tomorrow spring from it, placeless it is, and under and over spring from it; (339-342)
Such pronunciations have many parallels in Eliot`s idea of love which is believed to be omnipotent. As per B M Mishra, love for Eliot being: The prime source of all movement, manifests itself in Incarnation. Incarnation is due to God`s love for the world. Mediating between unbeing and being, God as unlimited Love, appears in the form of Incarnation (Mishra 2003:187). Eliot will have no difficulty on theological front in emphasizing love, as God and love mean the same thing in Christianity. In East Coker, Eliot says: Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter. Old men ought to be explorers Here or there does not matter (Section V) Similar views are expressed in Burnt Norton: Love is itself unmoving, Only the cause and end of movement, Timeless, (Section V) Thus, yesterday and tomorrow spring out of love which is the cause and end of movement and the prime motive behind whole cosmos. Unlike Eliot, however, Iqbal doesn`t raise love and God to the same pedestal as love is only one of the dimensions of God in Islam, though a very important one. Iqbal seeks to unify love with time and associates time with the states of soul. On the one
hand, he tells us it is the state of our soul, on the other hand, he declares time to be forged by reason without any independent existence. Time exists as long as man conceives it to be existing. In Javid Nama, Iqbal says: Open wide your eyes upon Time and Space, for these two are but a state of the soul. Since first the gaze advanced on manifestation the alternation of yesterday and tomorrow was born. (369-372) The soul encompasses in it the existence of time and space. Reason, however, unable to understand this subtlety, is adamant to lay the foundation of time even in eternity, failing to see its origin in the soul. Exposing the shortsightedness of reason, he says in Gulshan-i-Raz-i Jadeed: Reason lays the foundation of Temporal even in eternity, And like thread fastens the Time on itself, I did not see any trace of Time in my Conscience, I created month, year and day on my own Your month and year is not worth of a particle of barley, Take a dip in the meaning of How long did you stay However such negation of independent existence of time should not lead us to generalize the idea beyond the true context of such statements. Iqbal was very careful about his dealings with time. Like many opposite forces faced by
man like Satan, he found in the odds of temporal world sources for the upliftment of soul. Thus salvation is possible only by overpowering time. Eliot, like Iqbal, realized the importance of the temporal even in experiencing the Ultimate Reality because all experience is possible only in time. Bernard Bergonzi rightly observes that:
Eliot does not mean that time (or space) is relative, or that the temporal is the ultimate reality. Rather: that within the flux the choice is always the same, either death or God; and that, if we deny God, Who is the Timeless, the Eternal, all experiences are the same in their value, that is, they are all worth nothing. Living and dying, action and cessation, murder and creation- without any fixed reference to God are of equal insignificance (Bernard 1969:141142).
The nuance which differentiates them, however, is that Eliot wants to free himself from the clutches of time like an escapist while Iqbal tries to use it as an instrument for the development of his self. He agrees that freedom from time conceived by reason is necessary for the growth of man, however, he recognizes time as a vehicle in the path which can serve, if not allowed to dominate, the self:
Are you a lover? Proceed from direction to directionlessness; make death a thing prohibited to yourself. (349-350)
And:
Boldly ride upon space and time,
break free of the convolutions of this girdle; sharpen your two eyes and your two ears-- Whatever you see, digest by way of the understanding. (355-358) Eliot on the other hand true to his Christian roots, conceives of all time as eternally damned and hence tries to look for salvation by breaking free from its yoke. We find this idea in Burnt Norton: Time past and time future Allow but a little consciousness. To be conscious is not to be in time But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden, The moment in the arbour where the rain beat, The moment in the draughty church at smokefall Be remembered; involved with past and future. Only through time time is conquered. (Section II) To be conscious is not to be in time; Eliot tries to suggest ways to get rid of the fetters of time. His prescriptions show clear Vedic influences on him. He tries to resolve the issue with time by preaching meditation and inaction. So selfnegation is the pinnacle of spiritual accomplishment. J K Sharma rightly observes that:
Eliot recommend the cultivation of a state of vacuity so that the self weaned away from desires and distractions may have a glimpse of its true being. Then it will be enabled to perform right action (Sharma 1985:85). The impact of Bradley, who developed the concept that individualistic centres of life are not real and appearances are deceptive, is also visible in him. In Dry Salvages, Eliot asserts: But to apprehend The point of intersection of the timeless With time, is an occupation for the saintNo occupation either, but something given And taken, in a lifetime's death in love, Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender. (Section V) The role of senses in reaching the Ultimate Reality is negated and solitude and inactivity is applauded, an idea which lies at the centre of the concept of Nirvana in Buddhism or some extreme forms of Persian mysticism. Eliot in Burnt Norton, says: Descend lower, descend only Into the world of perpetual solitude, World not world, but that which is not world, Internal darkness, deprivation And destitution of all property,
Desiccation of the world of sense, Evacuation of the world of fancy, Inoperancy of the world of spirit; This is the one way, and the other Is the same, not in movement But abstention from movement (section III) Iqbal as well as Eliot had tremendous belief in the importance of religious injunctions in the actualization of the aim of conquest of time. For Eliot, the Incarnation and Sacrifice has special importance for it. Incarnation though important is half-hinted and half-guessed. All remedy of temporal flaws lie in realization of this important incident. He expresses this idea in Dry Salvages, as: The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation. Here the impossible union Of spheres of existence is actual, Here the past and future Are conquered, and reconciled. (section V) On the other hand, Iqbal relates many Prophetic traditions for this purpose. For him the event of the Prophet`s Ascension and the Prophetic tradition I have a special moment with Allah serve as hints for susceptibility of time to subjugation. As he puts it in Javid Nama: If you wish that I should not be in the midst,
recite from the depths of your soul I have a time with
God.` (427-428)
The ineffability of the experience with timeless is quite clear by the expositions given by both Iqbal and Eliot in which they juxtapose the mutuallyopposed ideas which is impossible in temporal settings. On examining the two excerpts, one from Burnt Norton and the other from Javid Nama, the complex and inexplicable nature of the timeless becomes evident:
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from
nor
towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.(section II)
In the following lines, the juxtaposition of opposites if not interpreted pantheistically is perplexing to common comprehension:
I was drowned in the contemplation of Beauty, which is constantly in eternal revolution; I became lost in the heart of creation till life appeared to me like a rebeck whose every string was another lute,
each melody more blood-drenched than the other. We are all one family of fire and light, man, Sun and Moon, Gabriel and houri. Before the soul a mirror has been hung, bewilderment mingled with certainty; today`s dawn, whose light is manifest, in His Presence is yesterday and tomorrow ever present. (3507-3518) However, an important difference is that Iqbal experiences the Absolute to be in a state of eternal evolution, contrary to Eliot`s vision which is static. Yet both of them perceive it to be the source of all time. In the passages quoted above, in His Presence is yesterday and tomorrow ever present and Where past and future are gathered are perhaps expressions of the same idea. Iqbal tries to escape from dualistic approaches to reason and intuition, declaring that reason has a role in approaching the Ultimate. Eliot, on the other hand, is altogether suspicious about reason. However, Iqbal is critical of the idea of selfsufficiency of reason which is to be complimented by intuition or revelation. Both, therefore, emerge as critics of reason as it came to be understood in postEnlightenment philosophy. Their refusal to subjugate human beings wholly to the reign of reason is basically a response to modern scientism and rationalism. They are critical of those who try to uphold rationalism on the plea that it is the only objective approach to reality. Both Eliot and Iqbal are aware of the
dangerous consequences of such extreme versions of modern rationalism which are responsible for atheistic materialism and ultimately for the moral degeneration of man in the modern age. Iqbal could not even tolerate rationalism in the genius scholars of historical past of Islam like Razi or Avicenna. Eliot has depicted his pain about moral degeneration of modern culture and its loss of faith in the spiritual values in all his major works. Wasteland and Gerontion try to highlight the hollowness of modern culture and meaninglessness of routines of man with sheer material interests. Regarding Four Quartets, J K Sharma avers that: Quartets is a spiritual document of profound significance, in a world emptied of basic values in its mad race for power and technological advance (Sharma 1985:71) However, Iqbal in spite of all his antagonism to rationalism could not help finding the place for reason` in an attempt to reconstruct Islamic religious thought like most Muslim reformers in the modern age. Rationalism is condemnable only when it is devoid of spiritual concerns. Reason also is on the path of reality although it is not bold like love. So in Javid Nama, he explains his viewpoint in the following way: Reason likewise hurls itself against the world to shatter the talisman of water and clay; every stone on the road becomes its preceptor,
lightning and cloud preach sermons to it. Its eye is no stranger to the joy of seeing, but it possesses not the drunkard`s boldness; (309-314) Eliot, on the other hand, is more ruthless about his criticism of reason. He declares that knowledge gained through experience has little value. The following excerpt from East Coker could be interpreted as a sarcasm of rationalism. There is, it seems to us, At best, only a limited value In the knowledge derived from experience. The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies, For the pattern is new in every moment And every moment is a new and shocking Valuation of all we have been. (section II) Regarding the mystical experiences and practices, Iqbal is not contented to accept spiritual repose to be the end of such endeavour. Any attempt for a complete abandonment of the world is attributed to Satan. A reference can be made to the dialogue between Satan and Zoroaster in Javid Nama. Satan tries to delude him by emphasing the futility of being conscious about temporal changes and advises him in these words: Now rise, and nestle in the nest of Unity,
Abandon manifestation and sit in retirement!(819-820) This emphasis on the temporal led Iqbal to believe and preach another postulation about mystical consciousness. It is an extension of normal consciousness. Pragmatic aspects of human experience are intertwined with metaphysical ones in his system of thought. Ascension is an upheaval in consciousness: Your near and far spring out of the senses; what is Ascension? A revolution in sense, a revolution in sense born of rapture and yearning; rapture and yearning liberate from under andover. This body is not the associate of the soul; a handful of earth is no impediment to flight. (387-392) The word sense` in the preceding lines should be read in the meaning of consciousness. Iqbal believes that the prophetic consciousness and mystical experience are of the same nature. A prophet and a mystic, however, differ in pragmatic aspects of their experiences. A prophet puts his experience and knowledge to the test of time. (Lecture Five, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam). Eliot also asserts that the business of saint is like Jesus, to overcome temptations, apprehend the point of intersection of time and timeless and strive for further union. In this connection, the protagonist saint in Murder in the Cathedral is a befitting example.
Both Iqbal and Eliot try to evolve new dialectics which could give due place to religious dogmas in mystical consciousness of man. Iqbal mainly does not roll out any tension` which would develop in personality as a result of sustaining reason and love in the process. As a moralist trying to revise the Christian culture and tradition and foreground their importance in mystical journey, however, Eliot is not clear on this front as he could not realize the way to the importance of being conscious with the affairs of the secular world. No need to mention that the exemplary way of practicing Christianity is ascetism. So, he sometimes feels the world to be a place of disaffection` which is engaged in time before and time after in a dim light` and also declares that to be conscious is not to be in time`. In Burnt Norton, Eliot says: The detail of the pattern is movement, As in the figure of the ten stairs. Desire itself is movement Not in itself desirable; Love is itself unmoving, Only the cause and end of movement, Timeless, and undesiring Except in the aspect of time Caught in the form of limitation Between un-being and being. (section V)
However, ascetic tendencies in Iqbal could be found only in some unique phases of his creative activity when shadow` dominates the persona`, borrowing the terms from Jung. In other words, when Iqbal plunges deeper in poetry and lets his unconscious to communicate itself freely, he too may seem to be ignoring the immediate. But he did not make such ecstatic experiences part of his poetic message. However, all these are different shades of his thought which organizes itself around a pivot viz. selfhood. Iqbal had his own innovations regarding the perception of self and possibilities of its growth. He denies the notion of self-negation or annihilation vehemently and is an ardent preacher of self-affirmation. Iqbal, like Eliot, does not like man to be dominated by the temporal. However, he could not afford to overlook its importance at any level forcing him to declare it a mount on which man has to ride to reach his goal and to perfect his self. S A Khundmiri writes: The Perfect Man, the viceregent of God, according to Iqbal is the Rider of Time in whom that which is hidden in the realms of possibilities comes to light. The Perfect Man, who represents the highest Egohood, is the conqueror of time. He does not seek a flight from Time like his Counterparts in Indian tradition. This conquest of Time is done through Time and not outside it, Iqbal agrees with Eliot. It does not mean for Iqbal the negation of time as such but emancipation from the serial time and enjoyment of pure duration` (Khundmiri 1980:23).
Iqbal has an evolutionary view of human self which has unlimited scope to develop itself. In an exposition to his theory of self, he referred to Bradley`s view regarding the deceptive appearances of individual centres of life and maintained that individual centres are greatest truth of life and not deception. He also rejects the pantheistic view of losing individuality in the Absolute. He wants to make the whole creation as well as God to bear witness about his existence. Whether you be alive, or dead, or dying-- for this seek witness from three witnesses. The first witness is self-consciousness, to behold oneself in one`s own light; the second witness is the consciousness of another, to behold oneself in another`s light; the third witness is the consciousness of God`s essence, to behold oneself in the light of God`s essence. If you remain fast before this light, count yourself living and abiding as God! (239-248) It is noteworthy that such a long celestial journey is finally rewarded by the Divine in the form of a simple but precious advice and that is advance your selfhood`: You have been in the world dimensionate,
and any contained therein, therein dies. If you seek life, advance your selfhood, drown the world`s dimensions in yourself. You shall then behold who I am and who you are how you died in the world, and how you lived. (3613-3618) This is why, at yet another place, he uses some traditional metaphors of mystics which they use for accessing the Divine, for selfhood as if man`s own self is his most wanted beloved: not to discover one `s self is not to exist, to discover is to bestow the self on the self. Whosoever has seen himself and has seen naught else has drawn forth the load from the self`s prison; the drunk with vision` who beholds himself deems the sting sweeter than the honey. (2971-2976) Eliot, like Iqbal, also feels a strong need to liberate the self from different bondages. The fetters of lust and greed are the greatest hurdles in the development of self. Like Iqbal he also believes that the chief aim should be to fulfill God`s design on this earth. He carries forward the traditional concept of self-sacrifice which in no way goes contrary to the overall thought of Iqbal as he also appeals for martyrdom which is a kind of sacrifice in Islam. In East Coker, Eliot seems to appeal for putting efforts in the way of self-fulfillment:
In order to arrive there, To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by away wherein there is no ecstasy. In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance. In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession. In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not. (section III) For Eliot purification of motive` is important which will make all things well. Love should be extended beyond desire for this purpose. Attachment to self, to things and to persons can help to reach goal if done properly. The ideal way of worshiping is to devote oneself completely to God in worship. Eliot in Little Gidding, says: you would have to put off Sense and notion. You are not here to verify, Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity Or carry report. You are here to kneel Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more Than an order of words, the conscious occupation Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying. (section I)
It is thus clear that Eliot and Iqbal, in spite of having many differences, are at core united as long as both are deeply concerned with the spiritual and moral barrenness of the modern culture. There is no doubt that both of them give central place to divine love and are preoccupied with the issue of immortality of human soul through its contact with timeless and eternal. Both have been serious about the reality of time and about its role in shaping the destiny of mankind. Both had raised themselves above the barriers of culture and region to reach the universal paradigm although they mostly use religious tradition as mediums to express their ideas. Adherence to their religious traditions does not render them parochial in any way so as to exclude useful notions or ideas beyond their respective religions. It is in no way astonishing to see them transcending boundaries.
Conclusion In this work an attempt has been made to study Iqbal`s Javid Nama and Eliot`s Four Quartets in a comparative mode with the aim of showing their contribution to the contemporary mystical thought. It has focused on the idealistic approach to reality represented by these poets utilizing their faculties of imagination to capture their spiritual odysseys in the two poetic masterpieces. Despite their belief in the power of imagination, neither conceived of poetry or art to be the substitute of religion. Both argued that some modern ideas of replacing religion with poetry and arts are erroneous. Eliot criticized Mathew Arnold`s views on this issue and his essay Religion and Literature makes this sufficiently clear. Iqbal was always anxious of his position as a poet and repeatedly said that his poetry is merely a means to convey some truths. Both, therefore, want to find justification for poetry within their respective religious traditions and neither regards it as a saviour of some kind or substitute for anything else. In this way they differ from most romantics for whom poetry was a substitute for religion. This study has also discussed the concepts of time, love, selfhood, and mystical experience in the two works of the poets. It has shown that poetry has been the best medium for expression of mystical ideas and experiences throughout the ages, both in the East and the West. The most celebrated works both in the Eastern and Western traditions are the poems of the mystics, opening the mind
to the divine reality and probing into the realms of invisible. Both poetry and mysticism lay much importance on the inner life of man and both alike rely on intuition, that immediate grasp of the truth, beyond reason or analysis. Both poetic and mystical experience have the same origin which is essentially intuitive, transcendental and synthetic as against all rational and analytical knowledge. Mystical consciousness could convincingly be regarded as one type of human consciousness among many other types. The discussion has served the purpose of explicating some essential aspects of the mystical experience and presenting it as the common legacy of knowledge shared by men. In this connection, Four Quartets was seen as one of the modern texts which attempts to fuse different themes directly or indirectly associated with mysticism. The Christian philosophical notion of intersection of time with timeless as manifested in the Incarnation is the core theme in the Four Quartets. Eliot views the coming of Christ as the most important event in history. The temporal and the eternal, human and the divine, time and timeless intersect in Christ`s death which provide new meaning to temporal happenings in history. It was highlighted that Eliot urges his readers to escape the temporal in order to reach the still point which according to him is the cause of all movement manifested in temporal events. The recognition of timeless is thus advised as the only means of redemption from the shackles of time. Christian faith of atonement and Incarnation are instrumental for achieving this end.
Javid Nama, although having a broad thematic spectrum, was also seen to have depicted a similar theme, especially ideas such as the development of self in time and its eventual immortality. Iqbal, like Eliot, does not like man to be dominated by the temporal. However, he could not afford to overlook its importance at any level forcing him to declare it a mount on which man has to ride to reach his goal. Iqbal is very mindful of the existence of serial time and nowhere does he deny its importance. In Javid Nama, he is seen navigating through all the physical, political and social realms projecting them as essential to humans. As humans perfect their selves, they can cast off the manacles of serial time and thus partake of the blessings of infinity. Iqbal seems to be aiming at self-affirmation, rather than self-negation. For him the basic fact of human life is the absolute and unassailable consciousness of one`s own being. This philosophy of self is essentially concerned with motivating human beings to fight against all odds which hamper their growth and development. It was found that Eliot and Iqbal differ in their respective approaches to the problem though in essence they are united. Both agree that the origin of temporal is sacred and the flight from it to timeless is the main focus for both. Eliot carries forward traditional mystic notion of self-surrender and tends rather towards an attitude of withdrawal from time altogether. Iqbal, on the contrary, evinces an attitude of engaging with time rather than escaping it and accepting the challenges posed by history, an attitude due to his understanding of Islam`s affirmative stance towards time. He conceives of time as the necessary
condition for the growth of self while Eliot, owing to his faith in the Original Sin, regards it as inherently damned. The difference in Eliot and Iqbal can also be seen in their notions about ultimate reality; for Eliot it is like a still point in the wheel which is the cause of all movement. Iqbal never accepts any still point or stillness to be the end of human destiny as it would have been against his philosophy of selfhood - a philosophy firmly rooted in the need for dynamism and action. Despite all these differences, salvation and immortality of man is still their common concern. Both are agonized by the spiritual and moral degeneration of man in the modern age and suggest remedies of similar nature for such problems. Despite drawing inspirations from their respective religious and cultural frameworks, they seem to have a common take on the nature of the human problem in the present age. No doubt, their works are full of allusions and references to their respective poetical and mystical traditions resulting in some differences on the surface but the essence of their thought is strikingly similar. In addition to this, both have been very inclusive and open-minded to accommodate ideas from other cultures in an attempt to reach a universal goal. While Eliot`s reliance on both Hindu and Buddhist thought is well-known, it is also important to note that Iqbal too presents Indian sages such as Gautam Buddha, Vishwamitra and Bhartarihari in Javid Nama as important sources of wisdom. It is in this sense also that Iqbal and Eliot, in addition to their shared sense of the spiritual/religious approach to the phenomenon of modernity, can be said to have transcended the boundaries separating them.
BIBLIOGRAPHY primary sources Eliot, T S. The Four Quartets. London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1944. Iqbal, Mohd. Javid Nama. Trans. A J Arberry. London: The Macmillian Press Ltd, 1966. Secondary Sources Bergonzi, Bernard. T S Eliot: Four Quartets. Great Britain: The MacMillian Press Ltd, 1975. Bhat, A R. Iqbal's Approach to Islam: A Study. New Delhi: M/s Islamic Book Foundation, 1996. Cooper, John Xiros. T S Eliot and the Ideology of Four Quartets. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Dhar, A N. Mysticism in Literature. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 1985. _________. Mysticism Across Cultures: Studies On Select Poets And Saints. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 2002. Fatehpuri, Farmaan. Iqbal Sab Ke Liye. Delhi: Educational publishing house, 2009. Gardner, Helen. The Art of T S Eliot. New York: E P Dutton, 1959.
_________. The Composition of Four Quartets .London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1978. Ghazzali, Al. Deliverance from Error. Trans. R J Mccarthy. Boston: Twayne, 1980. Goring, Rosemary. Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth editions Ltd, 1995. Iqbal, Mohd. The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Lahore: Iqbal Academy, 1989. James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience-A Study in Human Nature. London: Longmann Green, 1952. Kearns, Cleo McNelly. T S Eliot and Indic Traditions. England: Cambridge University Press, 1987. Kenner, Hugh. The Invisible Poet: T S Eiot. New York: McDowell Obolensky, 1959. Khatoon, Jamila. The Place of God, Man and Universe in the Philosophical system of Iqbal. Karachi: Iqbal Academy, 1963. Khundmiri, S A. Some Aspects of Iqbal's Poetic Philosophy. Srinagar: Broca`s Press, 1980. Maroof, Mohd. Iqbal's Philosophy of Religion. Lahore: M / S Print Expert, 2003.
Mishra, B M. The Poetry of T S Eliot. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers And Distributors, 2003. Rajan, B. T S Eliot, A Study of His Writing by Several Hands. Great Britain: Routledge, 1971. Rampal, D K. A Critical Study of T S Eliot. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers And Distributors, 2003. Reed, Daniel and Tim Horton. Aesthetics, Beauty, Mystics and Romanticism in English literature. New Delhi: 2010. Russell, B. Mysticism and Logic. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1957. Schimmel, Annemarie. As Through a Veil. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. _________. Gabriel's Wing. Lahore: Iqbal Academy Pakistan, 1996. Sharma, Jitendra Kumar. Time and T S Eliot- His Poetry, Plays and Philosophy .New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd, 1985. Smidt, Kristian. Poetry and Belief in the Work of T S Eliot: Routledge, 1961. Spencer, S. Mysticism in World Religion. London: Penguin Books, 1963. Underhill, Evelyn. Mysticism .New York: E P Dutton, 1961. Vahid, S A. Iqbal: His Art and Thought. New Delhi: Vanity Books, 1988. W T, Stace. Mysticism and philosophy. London: The MacMillian Press, 1960.
Online Sources http://www.jstor.org// http://www.Questia.com// http://www.bookos.org// http://www.worldwisdom.com//

MS Nigath, MG Mudasir

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