Comment on the representation of Hinduism in A Passage to India.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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On many levels, Forster's depiction of Hinduism and its values are to be seen through the prism of vast difference that its Western counterparts.  This is seen in how Forster depicts Professor Godbole.  Through this character, Hinduism is seen as "accepting" and a type of religious structure where there is total openness and one whose structure is vastly different than its Western contemporary.  The idea of the sound emanating from the caves, "BOUM," helps to accent this.  Such a depiction of Hinduism was unique for its time, in that the book did not show the religion to be something of a savage and indigenous nature.  Yet, its depiction might have actually contributed to its classification of a religion where "anything goes."  This certainly might not have been the intent of Forster in doing so, but his depiction, especially when seen in stark contrast to religions of the West, represents one where individuals come to understand Hinduism as nothing more than a set of values where "everything is accepted."  This overall, and limited view of acceptance, is combined with a depiction that Hinduism is mystical and beyond the reach of the individual, as seen again with Godbole.  While this might be true, it contributes to the idea that Hinduism is perceived to be a value system where there is little in way of tradition and dictum.

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I believe that of the three religions represented in this book (Islam, Christianity, Hindusim), Hindusim is the most positive. Hinduism is the main religion in India. Hinduism is very big on freedom of beliefs which, in this novel, results in the view that people should accept things as they are and not try to hard to change things. Since Hinduism accepts all beliefs, there is more unity among peoples in this religion and E. M. Forster seems to imply in this novel that this is a preferable religion to all others because it unites people and does not separate them. Professor Godbole is the representative of Hinduism in this novel and of all the other characters, he rises above the petty disputes that separate the characters based on culture and religion. I believe that Forster meant to show that Hindusim represents the heart of India.

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