India was another spiritual homeland for Kathleen Raine and she describes what she calls the ‘India of the Imagination’ in her book India Seen Afar. It is for her the Orient, ‘the Golden Dawn’. In the west we have lost our orient – hence we are disorientated.
Raine only visited India in reality when she was over seventy, but for decades before she saw it in her mind as: ‘another country; everywhere and nowhere … universal … the place of every arrival, the term of every spiritual quest … the frontier between this and other worlds. But that frontier too is everywhere, is in ourselves.’
For her India is the goal of the human journey of the soul, and as Raine writes, ‘the soul has an instinct, like animals, for where water is to be found’. Raine said that she had to make a lifelong detour through her work for example of Blake and her own poetry so that she could ‘weave that slender bridge’ … ‘there are no short cuts to our destined times and places.’
Interestingly India (as indeed I also found) is not a comforting spiritual homeland. She writes:
‘Those who make the passage to India can expect no simple answers, no answers at all; rather perhaps to become more aware of the mystery. Those who want answers had better go elsewhere… In India [William] Blake’s dread forms of certainty’, melt away. Certainties are lost, rather than found.’
India is as Raine describes it, rather a state of mind and in this way is a paradox that throws us ultimately back on ourselves, but Indian civilisation and culture does offer and embrace a knowledge of mysticism that has not been really encouraged by Christianity and that has been largely destroyed by Western secularism. Of course she notes that this too could destroy ‘in India the wisdom of ages’, but that before it does the wisdom of mysticism could restore a spiritual vision to the West.
‘Christian Vedanta may indeed offer a way of release to those who are “stuck with” the Church so to speak … no Hindu would after all, ask any to deny the Lord Jesus. India has seen many divine incarnations and has taught that whenever the world’s darkness is greatest, then the ever-living will assume human form to restore and heal the sad soul of the world … In arriving in the India of the Imagination those who wish to do so will find the Lord Jesus already there. Not indeed the fictitious demigod of the Church or the ‘historical’ figure of the seekers for “factual” evidence that He lived, but an aspect of “MY divine life”’.
The India of the Imagination is a homecoming for those of mystical persuasion: ‘for “home”, by whatever way we reach it, is everywhere and nowhere.’