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Lawrence and Om.

The Sanskrit word "Om" (comprising the three-part breath, A, U, and M--the breath-in, the breath-retention, and the breath-out) was perhaps first introduced into literary English by T.S. Eliot at the end of The Waste Land, where the fisher king awaits the sound of water and vivid life. Om is the aural manifestation of the Brahman (the Supreme). It is indeed the Brahman. Also called the "universal" or "primal" sound, it descends on the heart (somewhat equivalent to the Hindu hridaya) and is echoed back to the universe so it may echo back. It is the sound that seeps through everything, known and unknown--the (S.P.Chattopadyaya, The Philosophy of Samkara's Advaita Vedanta (New Delhi: Sarup, 2002). 103) past, the future and the present--and includes both time and space, eternity and immortality, or (as Lawrence would say) "God" and "Atom."

Om refers to the unity of the Brahman, the opposite of ignorance (avidya), a means of attaining barmanhood, the state of sat-chit-Amanda (truth-consciousness-bliss"), defying "all defects and imperfections." It signifies the Supreme Person (Purushattoma), an end of any "free-play of self- beguilement ... [any] playful self-forgetting." It is exactly the kind of selfhood Birkin and Ursula talk about so often in Women in Love and indicates the kind of man Lawrence seems to have had always in mind and perhaps desired Birkin to be (103). This is one of the main reasons why Lawrence's protagonist is so intriguing for the other characters in the novel, including Ursula.

It is interesting to see Lawrence use Om. It has a lot to do with his religious norms and spiritual experiences. He writes about the "Om" being pronounced "from the pit of the stomach"--the second-tier in the configuration of the seven-tier Kundalini, originating in the "Muladhara" and rising, until it culminates in the "Sahasra" on the top of the head.

The movement refers to the ascent of breath and concentration from the base of primal matter to the rarefied region of what the Samkhya-Yoga philosophical school calls akasa (ether). We see Lawrence's clear notions about Indian philosophy and metaphysics. It inspired him to live his life fully and protected:

... it is tiring to go to any more tea parties with the Origin, or the Cause, or even the Lord. Let us pronounce the mystic Om, from the pit of the stomach, and proceed.

There's not a shadow of doubt about it. The First Cause is just unknowable to us, and we'd be sorry if it wasn't. Whether it is God or the Atom.

All I say is Om! [emphasis author's]. Introduction", Fantasia of the Unconscious (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin, 1971. 20).

These are profound statements. No amount of effort can bring about the experience. It is far from any cerebral reaction to the Supreme. Rather, it refers to dissolution of all cosmic pluralities--a state of being, a trance-like state, a matter of realization and feeling, stillness as spontaneous and intimate as a long meditation. It is a state in which the Cause, the Origin and the Effect exist in an unidentifiable combination. The ancient Indian "rishis" or seers are believed to have lived constantly inside its limitlessness. Lawrence's "clarities" only indicate that there were times when Lawrence himself did.

Bibhu Padhi, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, India

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Author:Padhi, Bibhu
Publication:Notes on Contemporary Literature
Date:Jan 1, 2014
Words:541
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