Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Lawrence and Om

Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Lawrence and Om

Article excerpt

The Sanskrit word "Om" (comprising the three-part breath, A, U, and M--the breath-in, the breath-retention, and the breath-out) was perhaps first introduced into literary English by T.S. Eliot at the end of The Waste Land, where the fisher king awaits the sound of water and vivid life. Om is the aural manifestation of the Brahman (the Supreme). It is indeed the Brahman. Also called the "universal" or "primal" sound, it descends on the heart (somewhat equivalent to the Hindu hridaya) and is echoed back to the universe so it may echo back. It is the sound that seeps through everything, known and unknown--the (S.P.Chattopadyaya, The Philosophy of Samkara's Advaita Vedanta (New Delhi: Sarup, 2002). 103) past, the future and the present--and includes both time and space, eternity and immortality, or (as Lawrence would say) "God" and "Atom."

Om refers to the unity of the Brahman, the opposite of ignorance (avidya), a means of attaining barmanhood, the state of sat-chit-Amanda (truth-consciousness-bliss"), defying "all defects and imperfections." It signifies the Supreme Person (Purushattoma), an end of any "free-play of self- beguilement ... [any] playful self-forgetting." It is exactly the kind of selfhood Birkin and Ursula talk about so often in Women in Love and indicates the kind of man Lawrence seems to have had always in mind and perhaps desired Birkin to be (103). This is one of the main reasons why Lawrence's protagonist is so intriguing for the other characters in the novel, including Ursula.

It is interesting to see Lawrence use Om. It has a lot to do with his religious norms and spiritual experiences. He writes about the "Om" being pronounced "from the pit of the stomach"--the second-tier in the configuration of the seven-tier Kundalini, originating in the "Muladhara" and rising, until it culminates in the "Sahasra" on the top of the head. …

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