Mysticism is mysticism. Mysticism is the endeavour of

Mysticism
is often accepted as a spiritual quest for the hidden truth or wisdom, the goal
of which is union with the transcendent realm. Mystic experiences are said to
be unique for each individual. Yet we find that there is a marked resemblance
between the experiences of mystics, not merely of the same race or cult, but
also of diverse social orders and religions. This paper discusses the concept
and perception of mysticism in the works of the occidental poet William Blake
and the oriental poet Rabindranath Tagore. Born in different lands they seemed to
share a spiritual affinity. William Blake’s works, though largely Biblical in
its imagery, is apocalyptic in style and scope. In Indian mystical thought,
Tagore offers a system in which the theism of the Bhagavad Gita, the metaphysics
of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the mysticism of the Bauls and the philosophical
principles of Vaishnavism and Sufism exist in synthesis. An in-depth study of
their works reveals that, the poetic vision of Blake and Tagore coalesce
notwithstanding the kaleidoscopic divergence by studying their poetic art,
craft and oeuvre, while casting off the cultural tensions and nationalistic
pretensions aside. The most prominent theme in their poetic works is that of
mysticism and transcendentalism. Though their ways of depicting this is very different
and diverse and their symbolism is also at variance, yet their poems bear a
similar thematic purpose, which is mysticism.

Mysticism
is the endeavour of humans to apprehend Reality and experience the ecstasy of being
in communion with God, by means of personal revelation, transcendentalism and contemplation
or meditation on the Divine. It results in the freedom of the mind from the fetters
of the senses and from the ordinary restrictions of social existence through
the avenue of unexpected revelations. The mystic, being initiated into the
mysteries of existence and the esoteric knowledge of the realities of life and
death, aspires for afar, yearns for the inaccessible, and searches for the
ideal heart’s compassion and the desire to know the unknown (Samantaray 2011,
p.39). Through the purgation of bodily desires and the purification of
profaneness of heart and will power, the mystic discovers the illumination of mind,
which enables him to pursue the union with the Absolute, leading to a state of
ecstasy, a state of bliss. The experience, thus, is vividly joyous, finely
intellectual and entirely divine.

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It
is also distinctly personal and evidently universal at the same time, which
sets in a life of reception, transformation, transfiguration and continuous
living in that state of rhapsodic exaltation. The mystic shuts the doors of
fleeting senses and passing passions, and remains self-evident, self-sufficient
and self-luminous. The mystic is essentially a transcendentalist, who
integrates all the forces of mind into a unity and reconciles himself with the
community and with the totality of the experience as a spiritual system. Self
transcendence is a determining feature of all mystical experience. The self is
to be transcended since it is considered to block the mystic from the divine
influx, and to be a barrier to the goal of union with the Divine. Metaphorical
language is also mandatory to give sensible shape to these abstract thoughts,
experiences, and insights. Mysticism is not a mere pursuit of supernatural joy,
rather a highly specialised and active search for the Reality, which is always
an object of exploration culminating in the living union with the One and the
Absolute. As Radhakamal Mukerjee says:

Mysticism
posits eternal values such as Truth, Beauty and Goodness, which are all
infinite, and which transcend any system of human relations, but it finds these
actualized in concrete human situations and experiences. God as Truth safeguards
society’s pursuit of knowledge and broadens the horizon of human concepts,
attitudes and affections. God as Beauty assures the promotion and conservation
of values in the world of art. God as Goodness and Love guarantees man and
society all that is worth maintaining and developing in social life and
relations. God as the Person of Persons conserves the supreme values of
personality in all men and in all human situations. Finally, God as the Transcendent
Being or the Real Self stands for the conjunction of the values of Truth,
Beauty and Goodness. Mysticism…can alone offer ways of accommodation and
synthesis to an individual or community faced with the problems of tension and
conflict of these ultimate values of life (1960, p.9). Mystic experiences are
said to be unique for each individual; yet we find there is a marked
resemblance between the experiences of mystics, not merely of the same race or
cult but also of diverse social orders and religions. Plato, Plotinus, St.
Augustine, Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, John Donne, George Herbert, William
Wordsworth, W. B. Yeats and of course William Blake can rightly be termed as
some of the great mystics of English literature.

Similarly, some of
the litterateurs of Indian English literature like Sri Aurobindo, Toru Dutt, Ramesh
Chander Dutt and Rabindranath Tagore are also mystic poets. The mystic views of
these poets are quite evident in their poetic works. While exploring the
nuances of mysticism, we cannot, therefore, lose sight of the afore-said seers
and visionaries. Blake and Tagore have not basked in instantaneous critical
acclaim. The world has taken its own time to understand and appreciate their
variegated poetry. Max Plowman in his work Introduction to the Study of Blake
(1927), states that Blake is essentially the poet of the human soul – a theme
that shapes all his works. S. Foster Damon’s William Blake: His Philosophy and
Symbols (1924) treats Blake’s mysticism as the key to his thoughts and the
‘raison d’etre’ (reason of existence) of what Blake wrote. The grandeur of
Tagore’s poetry has won over the reticent recalcitrance and, therefore, one has
to wade through a formidable array of critical writings like Sisir Kumar
Ghose’s The Later Poems of Tagore (1961), Mulk Raj Anand’s The Volcano: Some Comments
on the Development of Rabindranath Tagore’s Aesthetic Theories and Art Practices
(1967), Amiya Chakravarty’s A Tagore Reader (1961) to assess, evaluate and appreciate
the status and stature of Tagore as a poet. The search for a supersensible
existence beyond the phantasmagoria of the senses has remained the mission of
these mystic poets. In this paper, the English poet William Blake and the
Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore are taken into consideration, for a comparative
study of their poetic works related to the context of mysticism.