What is the presentation of Islam, Hinduism and Christianity in A Passage to India.

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

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Forster presents all followers of religion as capable of being more inclusive in A Passage to India.  

Forster shows that the people who practiced the dominant religions in India focused on exclusion. He address this in his metaphor of the wasp and how some creatures "had" to be excluded.  Forster uses this to describe followers of all religions in India.  Forster suggests that all followers of religions have to "be more" by including everyone.  Forster uses nature as a symbol to communicate this inclusion:

The sky settles everything—not only climates and seasons, but when the earth shall be beautiful. By herself she can do little—only feeble outbursts of flowers. But when the sky chooses, glory can rain into the Chandrapore bazaars or a benediction pass from horizon to horizon. The sky can do this because it is so strong and so enormous.

"The sky settles everything" is an important idea when looking at how Forster shows religion.  He sees that each religion wishes to include.  However, it is the people who "believe" in these religions that are doing the excluding.  For example, Forster sees Christianity as inclusive.  However, the British who embrace it use it to silence other people, namely indigenous individuals.  Hinduism and Islam both preach tolerance, but followers of each use it to separate themselves from one another. Forster sees religion as part of the natural world.  The problem becomes the people who use religion to exclude others.  

At the end of the novel, Fielding and Aziz are divided by the paths that diverge.  This might be a good symbol to describe Forster's view of religion.  It is the natural world that encompasses us.  Religion is like "the sky" that embraces everyone.  However, the people who use it to support their own power or keep others out of it are like the path that diverges and separates people.  Forster suggests the followers of the three major religions as needing to be more truthful to their spirituality in accepting more people.

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