A Visit to a Gnani.. From Adams Peak to Elephanta

Jul 23, 2012 by

             An EXACT reproduction from an original copy of the book  A VISIT TO A GNANI..FROM ADAMS PEAK TO ELEPHANTA by Edward Carpenter first published in 1900. Edward Carpenter (Aug 29 1844- June 28 1929) was an English socialist poet, socialist, philosopher, anthologist, writer and early gay activist. He was an early advocate of sexual freedoms and is said to have had a profound influence on both D.H. Lawrence and Aurobindo, and in fact inspired E.M. Forster’s novel Maurice.On Edward’s return from India in 1891, he met George Merrill, also from Sheffield, and the two men began a relationship and partnership for the rest of their lives. Here is the opening text from A Visit to a Gnani by Edward Carpenter, a true visionary and man ahead of his time.  Remember – he lived during the Victorian ages during the time of Oscar Wilde’s trial in 1895.

“CHAPTER I A VISIT TO A GNANI During my stay in Ceylon I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of one of the esoteric teachers of the ancient religious mysteries. These Gurus or Adepts are to be found scattered all over the mainland of India ; but they lead a secluded existence, avoiding the currents of Western civilisation — which are obnoxious to them — and rarely come into contact with the English or appear on the surface of ordinary life. They are divided into two great schools, the Himalayan and South Indian — formed probably, even centuries back, by the gradual retirement of the Adepts into the mountains and forests of their respective districts before the spread of foreign races and civilisations over the general continent. The Himalayan school has carried on the more democratic and progressive Buddhistic tradition, while the South Indian has kept more to caste and to the ancient Brahminical and later Hindu lines. This separation has led to divergences in philosophy, and there are even (so strong is sectional feeling in all ranges of human activity) slight jealousies between the adherents of the two schools; but the differences are probably after all very superficial ; in essence their teaching and their work may, I think, be said to be the same.
The teacher to whom I allude belongs to the  South Indian school, and was only sojourning for a time in Ceylon. When I first made his acquaintance he was staying in the precincts of a Hindu temple. Passing through the garden and the arcade-like porch of the temple with its rude and grotesque frescoes of the gods — Siva astride the bull, Sakti, his consort, seated behind him, etc. — we found ourselves in a side-chamber, where, seated on a simple couch, his bed and dayseat in one, was an elderly man (some seventy years of age, though he did not look nearly as much as that) dressed only in a white muslin wrapper wound loosely round his lithe and even active dark brown form : his head and face shaven a day or two past, very gentle and spiritual in expression, like the best type of Roman Catholic priest — a very beautiful, full, and finely- formed mouth, straight nose and well-formed chin, dark eyes, undoubtedly the eyes of a seer, dark- rimmed eyelids, and a powerful, prophetic, and with a childlike manner. He soon lapsed into exposition, which he continued for an hour or two with but few interjections from his auditors. At a later time he moved into a little cottage where, for several weeks, I saw him nearly every day. Every day the same — generally sitting on his couch, with bare arms and feet, the latter often coiled under him — only requiring a question to launch off into a long discourse — fluent, and even rapt, with ready and vivid illustration and long digressions, but always returning to the point. Though unfortunately my knowledge of Tamil was so slight that I could not follow his conversation and had to take advantage of the services of a friend as interpreter, still it was easy to see what a remarkable vigor and command  of language the man had, what power of concentration on the subject in hand, and what a wealth of reference — especially citation from ancient authorities — wherewith to illustrate his discourse. “










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