Professor Godbole is a friend of Fielding’s, as he teaches at the college. Aziz also has a pleasant relationship with Godbole, although there’s a current of tension in it, as Aziz is Muslim and Godbole is Hindu, and India’s religious conflict nearly rivals its colonial one. Godbole’s true thoughts and feelings toward Aziz and the English are often difficult to parse, as he always acts with grace and politeness, often remaining silent and allowing others to lead in both political and personal discussions. As a Brahmin – a priest and spiritual leader of Hindus – Godbole does not get involved in the political tensions of Chandrapore, including Aziz’s trial. His belief in the divinity and oneness of all humans is antithetical to taking sides in a conflict. However, despite his relative passivity, Godbole is a significant character, because he is the only major Hindu presence in the novel.

Although Forster is skeptical of all faiths, Hinduism interests him, and he presents it in the novel as a possible solution to India’s – and perhaps the entire world’s – problems. In Hinduism, the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta claims that every being contains the spirit of God, so humans and animals essentially share one soul. Although it requires the loss of the individual, Hinduism provides a path to love and understanding through a unified, universal consciousness. This idea is alien to the atheists, Christians, and Muslims of the novel alike, and it’s challenging for characters like Aziz and Fielding to conceptualize such a way of living. Therefore, Godbole’s philosophy stands out amongst all the others in A Passage to India as being entirely unique compared to Western and Abrahamic beliefs. Unlike atheism, which can lead characters such as Mrs. Moore to sink into nihilism, or Christianity, which has clearly not helped the British to love their neighbors, Hinduism in the novel is shown to result in a greater sense of love and community. Godbole takes center stage in a chapter that describes in detail the celebration of Krishna’s birth, giving the reader a respite from the tragedy and pain of Aziz and Fielding’s dissolving friendship. During the celebration, Godbole imagines both Mrs. Moore and a wasp, finding equal love for them both. The Hindus of Chandrapore, in the throes of religious ecstasy, share a moment of such immense joy that it almost feels unreal when juxtaposed with the resentment, misunderstandings, and loneliness that make up the bulk of the rest of the novel.

That said, while Godbole is undoubtedly one of the novel’s more goodhearted characters, and Forster is clearly intrigued by the influence that non-Western philosophies like Hinduism might have on humanity, neither Godbole nor Hinduism is fully presented as the authoritative voice on hope or love. Godbole simply represents one of the many identities of India, and while it is a fascinating one, it, like all the others, ultimately does not provide a fix-all solution to the muddle of India, nor does it elucidate the mystery of India. Indeed, Godbole’s non-individualistic mindset leads him to distance himself from human affairs, and he’s disinterested in the outcome of Aziz’s trial, which is understandably upsetting to Fielding. While his beliefs can be critiqued like any others, Godbole serves to challenge the notion that Western, Abrahamic thought and culture are automatically right or better, and to hint that other philosophies may provide a route to building understanding and unity between people. Godbole’s presence in the novel also takes on a greater significance when considering that Mahatma Gandhi, the Hindu activist who led India to its independence in 1947, had already gained extensive fame and visibility at the time that Forster was writing A Passage to India.