Bhagavad Gita

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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Bhagavad Gita

Postby Junkets » Thu Oct 14, 2004 10:49 am

Have any of you out there read the Bhagavad Gita? I couldn't help noticing in Keats' writing (and Blake's work as well) echoes of a number of passages, not grammatically but in sentiment. I was wondering whether this was mere coincidence, the repetition of some universal 'truth' or whether there is more to it than that. I've been searching for some information regarding Keats and religion, specifically hinduism, and have found very little of use. The theistic stance of Blake and Shelley is well documented, but there's not lot about regarding Keats. Of course I'm not suggesting that Keats was a hindu, but am wondering whether he could have possibly come into contact with this text at any point.
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Postby Saturn » Thu Oct 14, 2004 11:51 am

Haven't read it, and I'm quite certain Keats didn't either.

Shelley was a commited Atheist by the way and Blake was a Christian, albeit in his own mystical and prophetic manner.
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Postby Junkets » Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:29 pm

Stephen, you do amuse me. How on earth can you be quite certain of that fact? You may be quite knowledgeable on the subject of Keats, but I can't imagine there is one person alive in the world today that can be certain of all the books that Keats did or did not read throughout his life.

While reading the Bhagavad Gita I noticed a number of similarities to Keats' theories, especially the 'Chamber of Maiden Thought', which is described clearly and quite accurately in the book and predates Keats by well over a thousand years. I thought it was a surprising yet interesting similarity worth exploring. But, for all I know the book may not have even been translated into English by the nineteenth century.
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Postby Saturn » Thu Oct 14, 2004 2:43 pm

Maybe it wasn't translated, or even barely heard of by that time.

We do actually know pretty much what books Keats did, or didn't read as his life is so relatively fully documented in his letters and correspondence.

If he did read it and it was so influential as you say he was certainly quiet about it, and we do know that when something did really excite or influence him he always wrote enthusiastically about it to his friends - Spenser, Milton, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Chatterton, Dante, Wordsworth (at times) were all enthusiastically endorsed by Keats and echoes of their work can be found everywhere in his poems.

I don't know very much about Blake, so he may very well have read it, knowing his immense spiritual curiosity.

Or I amy be wrong...

“If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed; I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm.”
Marcus Aurelius, Bk. VI, xxi.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Junkets » Fri Oct 22, 2004 1:31 pm

I have discovered that the Bhagavad Gita was translated into English by Charles Wilkins in 1785 and 'through the latter part of the century there was much interest and speculation about the nature of Indian religious art and Brahmin belief'. It is written in a William Blake biography that a 'George Cumberland, no doubt under the direct influence and advice of Blake, had suggested that Greek art itself derived in part from earlier 'Hindoo compositions''. So perhaps it is not so inconceivable that Keats could have come into contact with the Bhagavad Gita at some point, specially when considering Keats' interest in Greek art.
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Postby thenewaustria » Sat Oct 23, 2004 6:18 am

you win

not really
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Postby Junkets » Mon Oct 25, 2004 1:34 pm

er...win what?
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Postby Neelima Nair » Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:16 pm

wats with the gr8 bhagvat gita n keats...weird...but both r nice
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Postby Junkets » Wed Nov 17, 2004 4:07 pm

While reading the Bhagavad Gita I noticed a couple of themes that I speculated were echoed in Keats, and brought the subject up...to no avail. The Bhagavad Gita is an interesting book, I don't really agree with everything it 'teaches', and there were a number of inevitable parrallels with the Bible and what I have so far read of the Koran, but I did enjoy the dicussions on the nature of prayer and transcendentalism (which reminded me of Keats). Oh well The Upanishads are next...
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Postby lupinjr » Wed Aug 31, 2005 8:17 am

Junkets I liked what you said about Keats and hinduism. Its something I myself have been wondering about. THe anguish and pain Keats felt at the transcience of life (especially in the nigtingale) seems such a direct echo of hinduism in many respects. However I think Keats may have reasoned his way into such a conclusion without having come into contact with the Bhagavad Gita or other works.
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Postby Junkets » Wed Aug 31, 2005 3:18 pm

I think you may well be right. But it was something worth investigating, albeit momentarily.
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Postby nightingale » Sun Sep 11, 2005 3:46 pm

Junkets said 'While reading the Bhagavad Gita I noticed a number of similarities to Keats' theories, especially the 'Chamber of Maiden Thought', ' Nice point but if you look at st. Irenaeus' 'vale of soul-making' theodicy you can also find similar themes to those Keats writes about, and that as a relaitively well-knoen Christian work may be more likely to be the inspiration, unless of course Keats thought it up independantly and him, Irenaeus and the Bhagavad /gita all do in fact point to a universal truth. Who knows? but keep searching. It is the purpose of the poet-philosopher to seek the truth of beauty and the beauty of truth. :wink:
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Postby Saturn » Sun Sep 11, 2005 9:21 pm

Here's what Coleridge had to say about originality and influence in poetry; how independent inspiration can be mistaken for ideas already in existence which happen to coincide with the author's own:

“…there is amongst us a set of critics, who seem to hold, that every possible though and image is traditional; who have no notion that there are such things as fountains in the world, small as well as great; and who would therefore charitably derive every rill they behold flowing, from a perforation made in some other man’s tank.”
From the Preface to Christabel.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Junkets » Mon Sep 12, 2005 9:41 pm

St. Irenaeus? I haven't come across him before. I'll have to check that out. Thanks Nightingale.
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Was Shelly really an Atheist?

Postby MonroeDoctrine » Wed Oct 05, 2005 3:02 am

Just because Shelly wrote some stupid essay about Atheism (probably to get out of his University) doesn't mean that he was an Atheist all his life. Its clear that he becomes a lover of Plato, Milton, Christ and Republicanism. Most of the people he considers poets are Christians in his Defense of Poetry. I'll write more about this subject later.
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