How does India appeal to Whitman in his poem, "Passage to India?"

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

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I think that India, as a concept, represents a type of unifying force whereby all consciousness can find common ground.  Whitman does not specify this in terms of India, as a nation.  Rather, he looks to India as the same type of symbol that Columbus saw it as when he commenced his voyage.  Remember that Columbus lands in what is now called "America" thinking that he landed in India.  It is here where Whitman finds connection and relevance.  Columbus landing in "India" represents a realm where new horizons can be created and where possibilities are endless, as human freedom is expanded beyond measure.  It is here where Whitman sees India as a representation of all that is possible.  The idea of a "passage to India" is one where individuals revel in the capacity of what can be done.  The promises and possibilities of a limitless future lies at the very essence of what Whitman see as "India."  This is something that Whitman sees as transcendent and universal.