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Van Morrison and Hinduism

In an interview on being asked the question, “There was much speculation about your religious beliefs in the '80s. Did that unduly bother you?”

Van Morrison replied:

Well, what happened is that people would take things I at face value and say, "Oh, he's being a dilettante". What it's really about is that, if you study knowledge, then you really have to study knowledge. You don't just study one thing. You can't just say, "OK, I'm going, to study Hinduism:' If you're going to study knowledge then you have to study the whole field. You need to get an overview and you have to look at the whole picture. That's what people are getting at when they say that my music was about the mystical or that it was about searching for something. That's how it's been interpreted. But, when one studies knowledge, one gets influenced by things. Again, the songs come out of things that you are being influenced by at the time you're studying. For me, that's what that '80s phase is.

Let's see what Hinduism brought to Van Morrison songs.

You know, baby, cause and effect

I got my karma from here right to New York

Van Morrison singing the song Satisfied.

Karma is a Sanskrit term used with some variations in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist philosophies.
Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. The results or "fruits" of actions are called karma-phala. Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward, karma simply deals with what is.

In the song Daring Night ,there is a refrain about the “Lord of the Dance”.

With the Lord of the Dance in the daring night
With the lord of the dance and the great Goddess
Of the eternal wisdom
Standing by the light of the moon in the daring night

Think Nataraja.
Nataraja, Van Morrison and Hinduism
These are songs clearly influenced by Hinduism or Buddhism.

Listening to another of his songs, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, you can imagine that he is singing about Lord Krishna. You could easily be sitting in VrindaVan and listening to Van Morrison.

The coolness of the riverbank, and the whispering of the reeds
Daybreak is not so very far away

Enchanted and spellbound, in the silence they lingered
And rowed the boat as the light grew steadily strong
And the birds were silent, as they listened for the heavenly music
And the river played the song

The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn
The wind in the willows and the piper at the gates of dawn

Krishna, Van Morrison and hinduism
If one uses some imagination Pan, without the cloven hooves could easily be Lord Krishna.But then it could mean a lot more and might be drawing influence from pre-Christian era Pagan religions.
Then there is the song Dweller on the threshold.

According to a Van Morrison website , which quotes the “Collation Of Theosophical Glossaries,” the term “dweller on the threshold” originated with “English mystic and novelist Sir Bulwer Lytton” and represents the “ghosts of the dead men that the present man formerly was.” More specifically, it “refers to the imbodied (sic) karmic consequences or results of the man's past, haunting the thresholds which the initiant or initiate must pass before he can advance or progress into a higher degree of initiation.”

I'm a dweller on the threshol
And I cross some burning ground
And I'll go down to the water
Let the great illusion drown

The burning ground is clearly a Hindu symbol representing death, purification by fire and the coming rebirth. Down to the river, part is about Christian rite of Baptism , which is again about purification, a rebirth of faith. However, he wants to go down to the river to drown the great illusion. Great illusion would be Maya, again a Hindu concept.

In Hinduism, Maya or illusion must be seen through in order to achieve moksha (liberation of the soul from the cycle of death and rebirth). Therefore, Dweller on the threshold becomes a song about a man trying to break out of the cycle of Karmic cycle.

Van has been a Dweller on the threshold for a long time.

In an interview Van Morrison once said, “I've also investigated Buddhism, Hinduism . . . various forms of Christianity, mystical Christianity, esoteric Christianity . . . I don't believe in myths anymore. If I could find a religion that worked . . ."

Images courtesy of Wikipedia


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