A Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

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Part III, Chapter XXXIII: Summary

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Last Updated March 22, 2023.

At the beginning of Part III, it has been two years since Fielding's departure from India. The story now takes place in the Hindu state of Mau, where Professor Godbole and Dr. Aziz reside. The occasion is the Hindu festival that commemorates Shri Krishna's birthday, and Professor Godbole and his choir are participating in the celebrations. The courtyard of Mau is brimming with Hindu devotees, and various kinds of music can be heard. Amidst this atmosphere, a small band with Europeanized influences is barely noticeable.

Professor Godbole summons his musicians to adopt a novel rhythm, and as they all become enveloped in a feeling of all-encompassing love, the professor recollects an elderly lady he had encountered in Chandrapore. In that moment, he utilizes his spiritual power to transport her to a realm of fulfillment, where even a tiny wasp can find a space. Completely immersed in a state of bliss, Professor Godbole dances on a narrow strip of red carpet.

At this moment, a litter carrying the Rajah arrives, and his attendants help him sit against a pillar. The Brahmin presents a miniature version of the village where Krishna was born, complete with figures involved in the birth story. At the stroke of midnight, a conch shell is blown, elephants trumpet, packets of colored powder are tossed at the altar, and cheers are heard. Sadness disappears, and only pure happiness remains, which cannot be expressed in words or remembered through thoughts.

A paper-maché cobra and a wooden cradle emerge. Professor Godbole possesses the red silk napkin that symbolizes the deity. Godbole transfers it to the Rajah, who sanctifies it, shedding tears. He is then transported and entrusted to his other doctor, Dr. Aziz.

Laughter can be heard and games are being played in the courtyard below. The narrator notes that this form of worship, which is different from Christianity, manages to incorporate joyfulness. Children are selected from the crowd to be embraced and treated like Shri Krishna, and the games persist.

The narrator notes that it is impossible to determine the precise accuracy of this reenactment, but that is unimportant since birth can be interpreted symbolically. Professor Godbole does not consider the difference in religious beliefs between himself as a Brahmin Hindu and Mrs. Moore as a Christian to be significant. He assumes the role of God and loves her in a divine manner. Moreover, he also takes on the identity of Mrs. Moore and implores God to arrive, resulting in a dual transformation.

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Part II, Chapters XXX – XXXII: Summary

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Part III, Chapters XXXIV – XXXV: Summary