A Passage to India

A Passage to India

A Passage to India Part 3, Chapter 33 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Two years later and hundreds of miles west of Chandrapore, in the Hindu city of Mau, Professor Godbole is involved in a Hindu ceremony awaiting the birth of the god Krishna. Mysteriously, Krishna is both eternal and being born simultaneously; “he is, was not, is not, was.” Godbole is inside Mau’s royal palace, and in the courtyard are huge crowds of Hindus, “whom some call the real India.” There is a cacophony of drums and instruments.
As with the “Mosque” and “Caves” sections, Part 3 of the novel opens with a chapter that describes the setting and sets the mood for the section to follow. The novel leaves Chandrapore for good, and now turns its focus towards Hinduism as a possible source of unity for a free India.
Themes
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Godbole directs a small choir in singing a hymn. The hymn doesn’t even address God Himself, but only a saint. The whole ceremony would seem frustratingly indirect to an outsider, a “muddle… a frustration of reason and form.” On the wall, one of many inscriptions says in English “God si Love.” The narrator wonders if “God si Love” could be “the final message of India.”
Godbole returns as a significant figure now that Hinduism and universal oneness become more important to the novel’s themes. The festival is confused and disorderly, the epitome of the Indian “muddle,” especially represented by the nonsense or misspelled proclamation “God si Love.”
Themes
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Professor Godbole and everyone in the crowd feels blissful and at one with the universe. Godbole briefly returns to the present to straighten his glasses, and he randomly remembers Mrs. Moore at that moment, including her in the endless images of things that make up the united universe for him. Godbole then thinks of a wasp, and he loves the wasp equally to Mrs. Moore, and then he thinks of the stone the wasp sat on, but he is unable to go so far, and he fails to include the stone in his vision of universal oneness.
The peace and love the crowd feels somehow converts the muddle into a mystery, however—this chaotic unity has a meaning behind it, and the meaning is universal love. Mrs. Moore returns again as a figure sympathetic to Hinduism and unity, showing that her spirit still lingers in India. The wasp again symbolizes the lowest of living creatures, but even it is included in Godbole’s vision. And yet the unity is not perfect—Godbole cannot include a stone. Even in Hinduism something must be excluded from heaven.
Themes
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Midnight, the hour of Krishna’s “birth,” approaches, and the crowd grows wilder and more joyful. The Rajah, the ruler of the state—an old, sick man—arrives carried on a litter to see the ceremony. Three minutes before midnight, some models of figures and places from the ceremony’s legend are taken out—they are not idols, but instead are included in order to increase the “sacred bewilderment” of the crowd. The clock strikes midnight and the crowd cheers for the birth of Krishna, who is Infinite Love embodied. There is wild and ecstatic celebration.
This festival will serve as a backdrop for this entire section, and because it is a celebration of the Hindu god Krishna’s birth, it has some optimistic symbolism for India’s re-birth as an independent nation. It is also telling that there has been no mention of the English whatsoever (except for Mrs. Moore). The “sacred bewilderment” inspired by the ceremony is a good encapsulation of muddle and mystery being united as one.
Themes
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The sick Rajah, weeping with joy, is then taken away to see Aziz, who is also living in Mau now and is the doctor attending to the Rajah. In the crowd, the ecstasy gives way to various games, practical jokes, and laughter. Unlike in the usually solemn Christianity, Hinduism sacrifices “good taste” to let there be “fun in heaven.” Godbole recovers from his holy ecstasy and thinks again of Mrs. Moore and the wasp, feeling a kinship to the old woman. He tries to place himself in her shoes, and says to God: “Come, come, come, come.”
Hinduism is the source of the caste system, the ultimate in hierarchical divisions, but it is also the source of this undifferentiated joy and unity, in which even a ruler joins the chaotic crowd. We see that Aziz has followed through with his goals of befriending Hindus and avoiding the English. Christianity is again portrayed as too narrow to encompass all the muddle of life. Once again the mysteries of Hinduism, universal oneness, and Mrs. Moore’s spirit are presented with an invocation to a God who does not come—and yet now the invocation seems more optimistic.
Themes
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