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(Henry David Thoreau)

  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), one of the great American Philosophers was an ardent follower of Emerson, a wellknown transcentendalist. What Emerson had preached, Thoreau practiced and recorded his experiences in ''Walden'' It is said that the famous book ''Walden'' is not a mere record of exrerience but an experience itself. To solve some of the problems of life not only theoritically but practically, Thoreau built a cabin on the Walden pond which is situated a short distance from Concord,Massachusetts. A lover of Nature, Thoreau, living a life of solitude amidst the trees, birds and lakes, said that he felt so near to God and could experience the Divine in the sublimity of the nature. The two themes of ''Walden'' are the futility of desperate life and the rewards of enlightened simplicity. Thoreau was influenced by Indian scriptures like Bhagavadgita, Upanishads and Harivamsa and he adopted the idea of Hindu Philosophy ''simple living and high thinking''. Living in a thatched hut with bare necessities, Thoreau proved that one can find peace and happiness in life. He said that ''men are unhappy and miserable not because their needs are manifold and nature is antagonistic to them but because they have failed to distinguish batween the luxuries and necessities of life''. ''Walden'' has several chapters wherein Thoreau has explained in details the various factors which are important for humanbeings to lead a peaceful and fruitful life. As the book is the truthful record of experience,it is full of quotable phrases. Some of the important chapters are the Economy Spiritual, Reading, Sounds, Visitors, The Ponds, Higher laws, House warming Nature. Especially the chapter ''The Ponds'', critics say is the absolute axis mundi of Thoreau''s cosmos.This is the best prose written in the 19th century. ''the lake is earth''s eye, looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. The ponds can be taken as the symbol of soul ie the innerself with ever lasting ebbs and flows--physical and spiritual aspects, fineness and permanence contrasting with corruption and impermanence of modern life''. Walden pond is the link to the golden ages and is life giving and invigorating. Thoreau stesses the need of hard work, simple life, giving up of luxuries, respecting nature, cease to be sensual, finding innerself, turn to moral aspect which purifies the soul. This is the most important moral of Walden as a great parable. Thoreau advices " if you have built castles in air, your work need not be lost. That is there they should be, but now, put the foundations under them". ''Walden'' is a ''must read'' for the one who likes to lead a peaceful and happy life. He recommends simplicity but not asceticism. -------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------Abstract by: J. Prabha                       

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