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Walled-in: Soul in nature, Henry David Thoreau in the light of the Bhagavad-Gita Unknown Binding – 1 Jan 1971

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  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: CSA Press (1 Jan. 1971)
  • ISBN-10: 087707089X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877070894
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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The author reviews Thoreau's book, "Walden," in the light of the philosophical teachings of Bhagavadgita. In the chapter "Pond in winter," Thoreau states that "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita." Later in that paragraph, "The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred waters of Ganges."In these expressions Thoreau tries to find a spiritual renewal and a revival of faith. The "Walden" is described in 18 chapters like Gita, which develop incrementally the theme of becoming the whole man; spiritually awakened and in tune with one's greater self.

Man is haunted for centuries by the question, who am I on an absolute scale? The Vedic scholars in ancient India were debating and experiencing the truth about consciousness. By the process of elimination of each part of a man's body, like I am not my foot or arm or head, or face or whatever is limited, but I am only conscious of these things, but not limited to the scope of any of them. In Vedic tradition, it is possible for one to be fully developed and in control of individual consciousness to detach himself from a particular body and relocate in another. In this case the initial body devoid of consciousness is no longer a man. Then at what point does self conscious begin and where does it end? For example, the eyes are an integral part of consciousness but eyes themselves do not constitute a man. Thoreau, by eliminating the philosophical format, guides the reader to the soul that is in quest for self realization in the world of Maya. Thoreau is a prophet who had the same identity crisis as his better known contemporaries like; Emerson, Whitman, Channing, Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The influence of Gita in the life of Henry David Thoreau 15 Mar. 2011
By Rama Rao - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The author reviews Thoreau's book, "Walden," in the light of the philosophical teachings of Bhagavadgita. In the chapter "Pond in winter," Thoreau states that "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmological philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita." Later in that paragraph, "The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred waters of Ganges."In these expressions Thoreau tries to find a spiritual renewal and a revival of faith. The "Walden" is described in 18 chapters like Gita, which develop incrementally the theme of becoming the whole man; spiritually awakened and in tune with one's greater self.

Man is haunted for centuries by the question, who am I on an absolute scale? The Vedic scholars in ancient India were debating and experiencing the truth about consciousness. By the process of elimination of each part of a man's body, like I am not my foot or arm or head, or face or whatever is limited, but I am only conscious of these things, but not limited to the scope of any of them. In Vedic tradition, it is possible for one to be fully developed and in control of individual consciousness to detach himself from a particular body and relocate in another. In this case the initial body devoid of consciousness is no longer a man. Then at what point does self conscious begin and where does it end? For example, the eyes are an integral part of consciousness but eyes themselves do not constitute a man. Thoreau, by eliminating the philosophical format, guides the reader to the soul that is in quest for self realization in the world of Maya. Thoreau is a prophet who had the same identity crisis as his better known contemporaries like; Emerson, Whitman, Channing, Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson. But among these men, Thoreau was forerunner as practitioner; he was more like a Vedic seer or a rishi meditating deep in the woods seeking knowledge. Thoreau attempts to discover himself as a sage peering through the cosmos in search of soul and consciousness. He insisted that knowledge without experience or action is a false knowledge.

The yoga and Sankhya schools of philosophies argue for the distinction between the spirit (Jiva, Purusha) and matter (Prakriti, a-jiva), a departure from Vedanta that teaches absolute monism. The resolution of this dichotomy is illustrated in Gita; likewise, Thoreau discusses in "Walden." Atman is Brahman, the biggest secret is that there is no secret; no one is withholding the information. There are exercises and practices leading to the right track. Beneath all disparity, there is unity, and all inspired truth is one truth but it plays different games (Maya).

In chapter 9, Thoreau brings the reader into his innermost meditations and illustrates the path of consciousness and the power of words and traditions. He reveals growing uneasiness and admits doubt to his original certainty. He detects that the "paver" is nature herself and that the soul rather than being "free" in nature is really "Walled-in." Thoreau goes through a kind of metamorphosis as he struggles through the winter and born again in spring in a higher spiritual state. He sounds elated as he sees the truth in Krishna's words "For the man who has once asked the way to Brahman (un-manifested pure spirit) goes further than any mere fulfiller of the Vedic rituals; by struggling hard, and cleansing himself of all impurities, that yogi will move gradually toward perfection through many births, and reach the highest goal at last." This follows from another Krishna's statement that "To achieve this certainty is to know the real meaning of the word yoga. It is breaking of contact with pain. You must practice this yoga resolutely." Thoreau was a great believer in these words. Comparing "Walden" with the Bhagavad-Gita is that the latter is about what a yogi should be doing, and the former is what one did and what he thought about it.

1. Walden: 150th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the American Classic
2. Bhagavad Gita: Its Feeling and Philosophy
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