Dr Praveen Kumar Sharma/ Indian and Western Literary Outlook: A Journey into Human Brain

Dr Praveen Kumar Sharma

Assistant Professor

Department of English

Lovely Professional University


However oriental and occidental zeitgeist seem to be heading towards different destinations but a meditative and reflective analysis of literary products of respective origin, challenges this bland proposition. If parallels are drawn between two cultures, there is enough evidence to be optimistic and confident of universality of human longings.

This paper assays to obliterate subtle differences between two approaches to human experience by reinventing and revisiting some representative writers of two points of views.

Keywords:  Human Experience,  Human Longings, Oriental, Occidental, Psychoanalysis.

There are various ways of approaching and assaying to comprehend creative endeavours of human brain. Our brain is nothing more than its capacity to receive and interpret impressions which it receives through experience; the projection of world as it receives, it is done through this experience only.

The most conspicuous rendezvous of eastern and western thinking is brain mapping of objects of study. Societies and evolution of different cultures on the globe have one thing in common, that in every culture literary scientists have assayed to interpret inner working of human brain.

A comparison and parallel study of prominent oriental and occidental investigation into human brain would facilitate to reflect on this proposition.

The objective of making a parallel investigation can be achieved by drawing parallel between two schools of thought (oriental and occidental).For primary analysis two groups are proposed.

Group E represented by                                         Group W represented by

  1. Sri Lal Shukla                                                                              1. Virginia Woolf

2. Prem Chand                                                                                  2.   James Joyce

  1. Faniswar Nath Renu                                                            3.Charles Dickens

4. Dharam Veer Bharti                                                             4. Salman Rushdie

5. Agyaya and Shashi Deshpande                                       5.V.S. Naipaul

Each of the writers in both of the group has observed and investigated a particular class of people and their social mores and the genesis and triviality of these mores. Each writer has observed and investigated a particular class of people with unique demographic identity.

Some pristine revelation manifest, when classes picked by writers of two groups for study are studied. While faniswar Nath and Sri Lal Shukla on pastoral cultural codes, PremChand and Dharamveer Bharti reflected on pastoral as well as semi urban and urban class. Agyaya with an element of autobiography to his characters represent a class of intellectuals.

Identical to this, occidental writer have their demographic choice of study. In case of Dickens, reflection is made on a range of classes.V.S.Naipaul has his characters from different classes and quite same is the case with other writers of second group.

Diversity of classes of two groups may lead the parallel study of two groups to altogether different horizons but on the contrary are reduced to a unity when analysed on the theory of Psychoanalysis, Marxism or feminism.

We certainly have some empirical and aposteriocal manifestation of creativity, which qualifies this proposition. Tour deforce in this regard could be Rag Darbari by Shri Lal Shukla and Mystic Masseur by V.S.Naipaul.In Mystic Masseur By virtue of serendipity leaves a mark on the readers and at the same time there is an intense understanding of human longings. Most interesting aspect of this study is that the penetration into the human brain is beautifully intense and desperation for power, identity and voice remain same round the globe. It is amazing to observe precision in understanding of societal structures and mores of two different societies by the writer of two groups, yet there is sameness in resultant effect of creativity.

What give birth to literary product is an interplay of human emotions and individual and collective suffering, despair and triumph of human longings.

Protagonist in Rag Darbari, Vadya ji and Protagonist of The Mystic Masseur, Ram Sumer have one advantage to their side, they understand common man’s vulnerability and rules that govern society.

‘He was a good listener. People poured out their soul to him and he didn’t make them feel uncomfortable. His Speech became flexible. With simple folk he spoke dialect. With people who looked pompous or sceptical or said  ,Is the first time in my life I come to anybody like you, ‘he  spoke as directly as possible, and his deliberate delivery gave weight to what he said and won confidence.’(The Mystic Masseur, 128-129)

‘We all have kept our opposition by choice .This is the principle of democracy.’(Rag Darbari, 40)

Perhaps as His Holiness Sri Ravi Shankar says that know the rules properly so that you could break them properly, protagonoist understand it spiritually but apply to manoeuvre and exploit the rules to heir interests. Here cultures are thousand miles apart yet dominance has same face.

In continuation of tryst of two views, one more comparison between Shashi Deshpande and Virginia Woolf produces effective results. Protagonist of Virginia’s ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and Shashi Despande’s ‘The Dark Holds No Terror’ keep on journeying into past and regretting

‘I had it too once, this desire to win to excel, to be better than the others .When did I lose it?’(The Dark Holds No Terror,46)

“An offering for the sake of offering, perhaps. Anyhow, it was her gift. Nothing else had she of the slightest importance; could not think, write, even play the piano. She muddled Armenians and Turks; loved success; hated discomfort; must be liked; talked oceans of nonsense: and to this day, ask her what the Equator was, and she did not know.
All the same, that one day should follow another; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; that one should wake up in the morning; see the sky; walk in the park; meet Hugh Whitbread; then suddenly in came Peter; then these roses; it was enough. After that, how unbelievable death was!-that it must end; and no one in the whole world would know how she had loved it”

Psychoanalytic feminists believe that the psychic development of women is influenced by a patriarchal and male dominated social system, Hence, psychoanalytic feminists argue that gender is not biological but is based on the psycho-sexual development of the individual, Although many psychoanalytic feminist theories are based on the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, they have developed their ideas from a feminist perspective that is opposed to Freud and Lacan’s phallocentrism.

Moreover, psychoanalytic feminists believe that gender inequality comes from childhood experience, which means men learn to believe themselves to be masculine, while women come to regard themselves as feminine, Thus, men hold the power and women are subordinated to them; lacking a phallus, a metaphor of phallocentrism and a symbol of social power, woman is considered nothing but a womb, intended for the reproduction of the species. Henceforth, their asymmetrical position in society impacts on women’s psychic development in insidious ways.

For this reason, some feminists suggest that the way for both men and women to achieve a balanced social position is to encourage women to search out their own subjectivity as they are without a sense of subject in patriarchal logic, if women find no outlet for their repression; it will percolate through their mind and soul. Hence, psychoanalytic feminists think that the origin of oppressed women’s sufferings is rooted in their mind and soul.

Like most psychoanalytic feminists, Luce Irigaray believes that the plight of the female in search of her subjectivity can be revealed by utilizing a methodology derived from psychoanalysis. Irigaray alleges that women’s traditional association with matter and nature has sacrificed their subjectivity. On the other hand, women can become subjects if they assimilate male subjectivity, which would result in women having an equal social position with men. Irigaray goes on to argue that women are not given a proper place in a patriarchal world because of the male ideology underlying our whole system. She thinks Freud’s and Lacan’s theories are based on a phallocentric bias which serve to confine female sexuality within phallomorphic parameters. Their theories make female subjectivity look like a deformed or insufficiently developed form of male subjectivity. From this perspective, Irigaray believes that men are subjects (e.g., self-conscious) and women are “the other” of these subjects (e.g., non-subjective or objects), which results in a male-dominated society.

Irigaray makes use of the mythological story of Orestes’s matricide to illustrate the status of women effaced by patriarchy. According to Irigaray, true social change will occur only if society challenges its perception of nature as unthinking matter that exists only to be dominated and controlled. Thus, women must acquire subjectivity. In so doing, both men and women would have to reconfigure their subjectivity in order to come to terms with themselves as equal in nature and society, which would be characterized by the coexistence of “two sexes, two bodies, two forms of desire” (Grosz 169), and two subjectivities, male and female.

The choices made. Two protagonists struggle the same to come to terms with present, they have a surreal vision of future since it is projected through past, experienced in present and envisioned in future.

Thus different two cultures might be, impressions received by the individual have same effects and manifestation. The impressions of experience which keep the two protagonists captive to their own selves is same and ultimately they are painted the same by the literary scientists.

A subtle difference between two approaches of eastern and western thinking may be observed with respect to subjectivity and objectivity. In some cases this difference is easily traceably.Agyaya seems to be more subjective to experience than Naipaul and Rushdie.

Subjectivity and objectivity appear to be losing isolated identities and turn identical. At the consummation of literary expression ,Two theories of subjectivity and objectivity appears to be susceptible to one interpretation only and ends up in tracing the human brain’s response to experience. At this stage it would be naïve to disintegrate two approaches and in totality they are one identity and any argument to challenge this proposition appears to be synthetic.

It could be considered an avant garde approach if narrative genius of Prem Chand and intellectual exuberance are put in one category and dexterity and acumen of minute detailing of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf are put in other.

The writers of two categories have deep penetration into their respective meteir, while Prem Chand Philosophies with incidents like Sharad Chand ,Agyaya is a brutal force and serves philosophy stemming out of subjective brain. ‘Nadi Ke Dweep’, ‘Shekher Ek Jeevni’ are apt example of it. The impressions of inner brain of the protagonists are introduced to the reader at the very outset. James Joyce is very sensitive to minute details and equally copious in narrating them. Such details are reflected with peregrination of the story.

“There is always a separation between the man who suffers and the artist who creates; and greater the artist the greater the creation ”( Shekhar Ek Jevvni -1, 8)

It’s the savoir fare of Agyaya and quixotic protagonist of Sharad Chandra that is experienced in the odyssey to human brain and all endeavours which are sometimes clinical and at other times sensitive tend in the same direction with unfinished agenda to explore human capacity to mother intricate emotions.

There is untamed potential to draw parallels between east and west with different angles. Two cultures deserve to be explored simultaneously and to discover their respective characteristics of notion of beauty of experience.

                                            Works Cited

 Naipaul,VS.The Mystic Masseur.London:Pan Macmillan Ltd London,2001

Deshpande,Shashi. The Dark Holds No Terrors.New Delhi:Penguin Book India,1990

Shukla,Shrilal.Raag Darbari.New Delhi:Rajkamal Prakashan NewDelhi,1983

Agyeya.Shekhar Ek Jeevni.  Delhi:National Publishing House New Delhi,2009

Agyeya. Nadi Ke Dweep.New.New Delhi:Rajkamal Prakashan NewDelhi,2015

Woolf,Virginia.Mrs Dalloway.London:Hogarth Press London,1925









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