‘Aslan And Universalism’

When I first read the ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ as a young boy I must confess that I did not read them as allegory- being childishly ignorant of the author’s intent. ( According to C.S. Lewis “The whole Narnian story is about Christ..).’  Instead I enjoyed the series as simple stories of fantasy and adventure.

During a pre-release interview for the film version of ‘The Voyage Of the Dawn Treader’ Liam Neeson, who voices Aslan caused something of a stir when he said that Aslan does represent a Christ-like figure but also symbolises for him Muhammad, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.

As a Baha’i I certainly share Neeson’s sentiments. I remember when watching ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ a few years ago how taken I was by Aslan as a representation of the universal self- sacrificing spiritual teacher- reminding me of Bahá’u’lláh in chains in the Shah’s dungeon or the crucifixion of Christ on Calvary. (This is of course a recurring motif in classical religions- for example the sacrifice and rebirth of Osiris). I was also struck by the image of winter being rolled back by a spiritual spring-time – a common theme in the writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá who wrote

Just as the surface of the material world becomes dark and dreary, the soil dormant, the trees naked and bare and no beauty or freshness remain to cheer the darkness and desolation, so the winter of the spiritual cycle witnesses the death and disappearance of divine growth and extinction of the light and love of God. But again the cycle begins and a new springtime appears. In it the former springtime has returned, the world is resuscitated, illumined and attains spirituality; religion is renewed and reorganized, hearts are turned to God, the summons of God is heard and life is again bestowed upon man.

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