Benares Essay 1926 Written By Aldous Huxley {Full Summary}


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“Benares Essay 1926” {Full Summary}

Benares Essay 1926 Written By Aldous Huxley
Benares Essay 1926 Written By Aldous Huxley

Written by Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was a child of a prominent intellectual family in England. he published his first debut novel, ‘Yellow Chrome‘ which brought him his first taste of success.

The author is a rationalist. He is a disbeliever in faith, superstition, and herd mentality.

When he looks at the scenario at the Ganges, he sees a bleak future for India, if Indians continue to invest their time, money, and energy in blind acts of faith and fear.

According to Aldous Huxley, the Hindus have a very unscientific explanation for the eclipse. The Hindus believe that a serpent was slowly swallowing the Sun.

The Sun a symbol of the light of heaven was nibbled at gradually by the enemy….the serpent. He considers the Hindus’ blind belief about the eclipse as superstition.

He says that the sun located millions of miles away is capable of taking care of itself.

It doesn’t require millions of Hindus to gather on the Ganges, after going through a tiresome journey, to save it.

At the time of the eclipse, people on the lowest steps of the Ghats threw themselves into the water and began to wash, gargle, tell their prayers, blow their noses, spit and drink.

Policemen were controlling this crowd while million people were waiting to have a dip on the steps.

While the crowds were swelling on the sacred Ghats to have a dip in the river after the eclipse, the author notices a different scenario happening on the less crowded and not so holy Ghats.


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A princess was carried in the palanquin by six palanquin bearers in uniform. The palanquin was curtained in a glittering cloth of gold.

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A barge whose windows were hung with scarlet curtains comes floating at the water’s edge.

It is slowly placed down and a make-shift passageway made of canvas ensures that the princess and her escorts make their way into the barge without attracting public attention.

The description brings to mind the famous poem of Sarojini Naidu “Palanquin Bearers‘ and also Shakespeare’s description of the golden barge in Cleopatra,The barge she sat in was burnished gold“.

The princess and her escorts had to satisfy themselves by having a dip in the water that collects at the bottom of the barge while the ‘less fortunate‘ women had a dip in the unclean waters of the Ganges.

The author wants to highlight the irony of the situation. The common factor here is unclean water.

The only difference here is that the elite (rich and important) people have a dip in the unclean water in a sheltered place and the commoners have it in the open.

He says maybe the commoners use cleaner water than the stagnant water in the barge.

The river Ganga is also a leveler. People of all castes, states, socio-economic statuses are bound by faith and come to the Ganges to fulfill their individual needs.

The author also quotes the example of the bull and the beggar- A line of beggars sat in the narrow lanes leading from the Ghats to the open streets.

They had a begging bowl that received grains given as alms by the pilgrims. At the end of the day, it was sufficient to satisfy the hunger of the beggar.


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The author noticed a sacred bull appear from the archway, make its way to the bowl of a sleeping beggar and finish off the grain and make its way out while the beggar continues to doze.

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The author connects this incident to the entire belief system, the faith, and the superstitious nature of Indians.

He says animals, unlike humans, are not gifted with intelligence. They have time to satisfy their physical needs and they do so.

They eat, drink, sleep, mate, fight when they need to, and once their desire is fulfilled, they are satisfied, they move on.

But humans who are supposed to be far more intelligent than animals cloud their existence with unscientific superstition.

This is shown in their beliefs. He feels the same time and energy can be utilized in transforming the country.

He sees a bleak future for India if Indians continue to invest their time, money, and energy in blind acts of faith and fear.

Religion is exploiting the vulnerable millions and disallowing them to think rationally (reasonable and logical thinking) and use their scientific temper.

This is what leads him to say that if he had been an Indian millionaire, he would set up an atheist mission.

The author says, in India time and again we have proved that there exists a force beyond scientific facts.

A lot of our religious practices, which appear to be unscientific to the westerner, do have a scientific reason behind them.

As for progress, Indians have progressed in every conceivable area in spite of our superstitions and blind faith.

We introduced Ayurveda, Yoga, several theories in Mathematics, Science, and Astrology.

Hinduism is driven by faith; it is a way of life. It disciplines us and has kept us together.


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Benares Essay 1926 Written By Aldous Huxley In 300+ Words

In the essay writer describes the Indians’ belief towards the solar eclipse and superstitions.

The solar eclipse was about visible from Benares, but it needed more than smóked glass to see it.

The writer came to observe it. On a particular day the city of Benares, a pilgrim place was crowded with a big population, millions of people from all over the country come there to save the sun from the serpent.

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He expresses his surprise at the Indian’s ability to seé the eclipse that was taking place at a far-off place like SUMATRA.

He surprises the desire of Indians to save the sun from the clutches of the evil serpent.

He feels pity for the woman of royal families as they were not as free as common people to take a holy dip in the sacred waters.

The time of climax came, at last, the eclipse was to take place suddenly the brahmins started sitting in a line like cormorants chanting and singing.

Later the author felt extremely sorry for poor India when he came into the city of Benares placed with beggars. He saw a sacred bull eating away the rice from one of the sleepy beggars.

The writer says that being stupid ánd having no imagination, animals behave more sensibly than men. But they are happy.

When the whole of mankind was engaged to influence gods for their benefit the bull came with timely care and ate away the rice given to a beggar in charity.

The writer says that to save the sun, millions of Hindus will assemble on the bank of the Ganges.

How many would assemble to save India? Much of their energy is wasted in stupid superstitions.

Huxley says India will never be free until the Hindus and the Moslems give up all their superstitions and try to realize their own state of life.


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