Manana Kvataia


The Paradigm of Logos and Vazha-Pshavela’s Phenomenon

The study of the aspects of Vazha-Pshavela’s perception of the world and creative impulses requires a multifaceted approach because Vazha is recognized as a creator of a new cosmogony that takes origin from the deepest layers of the Georgian mythology. A unique talent of the creator blends well with vast erudition: the poet had a profound knowledge of the heritage of both old and his contemporary thinkers. “The showing of Vazha-Pshavela’s distinctiveness implies taking into account all the themes and motifs directly related to his name…The peculiarity of his attitude to inner and outer worlds is to be characterized, i.e. the essence of  the vision inherent in Vazha’” (Kiknadze 1966:1).

According to Husserl, the study of “pure phenomenon” implies the revealing of the system of universal existences determining the essence of the subject or phenomenon. (Ratiani 2008:84). It seems to him that one of the valuable ways of obtaining phenomenon is methodological doubt that aims at definition of not “beings” and “existence” but “the essence” itself (phenomenological epoche). The study of Vazha’s phenomenon implies the approximation to its “essence”.

Tamaz Chkhenkeli holds that Vazha-Pshavela is the most enigmatic persona and at the same time, self-sufficient phenomenon not belonging to any schools and trends (Chkhenkeli 2009: 11).

The study of the cult of Vazha, more precisely, his perception of the world and creative enigma started with the lecture delivered by G.Robakiadze in 1909 when he coined the poet with “urmenshen glance” a “piece of Georgian genius”, and determines his phenomenon with the formula: “logos – that is the beginning of Vazha-Pshavela’s genius”.

In the above mentioned lecture the write noted: “Vazha-Pshavela’s creative cognition is certainly mythological… The phenomenon of nature and poet recognized each other during their mystical encounter… Nature to him is a living being with her amazing harmony” (Robakidze 2005: 184-185).

While evaluating Vazha-Pshavela’s phenomenon attention should be paid to Robakidze’s original thesa: “Logos is the beginning of Vazha’s poetic genius! Without logos his poetic word would be just a “colored word”. This is clearly evidenced in his poem “The Snake-Eater”, real personification of Georgian spiritual energy, its best fruit”. This thesis is explained by the author in this way: “Miraculously transformed Mindia started to understand the languages of nature “each creature is alive real and in his creative imagination the world is unfolding as a living body where each part is filled with its own sense where each monada has its own language”  (Robakidze 2005: 184-185). Hence, the conclusion is as follows: Mindia is a part of a creative Logos; he is a man with special powers but not individualist in Nitzsheian understanding but religious universal. He joins the world soul, in communion with the universe and feels with acute sense. Mindia is a real genius of Nature; he learned the world and loved it. And according to Leonardo da Vinci’s enigmatic quote “love is born of great knowledge of the thing loved”.

The reason of Mindia’s tragedy is also his “heightened sensitivity” and the world is evil by itself and one man cannot rescue it. Mindia accepted the world and immediately there appeared a danger: in the soul of the hero appeared in the family environment there is a terrible contradiction between narrow personal and super-personal (Divine), he gradually subordinates the life, love fades away and he loses his special bond with the natural world, the power of knowledge because according to St. Paul’s word, love and knowledge is one and the same thing. In Robakidze’s conclusion Mindia’s guilt is not only his personal blame but the whole society is guilty of this.

Oswald Spengler once said that there is no Logos in history, it is the “flow of the event and nothing more”, which is not shared by Grigol Robakidze: “If there is no Logos then there is no history itself. The history is not an ordinary change. It is an event and in the event reason is a must” (Robakidze 1989:38).

The writer explains Vazha’ unusual phenomenon also by such understanding of Logos. Myth is considered to be the fundamental principle of the poetry of the Pshavian genius, a myth which for its part is also the basis for renovation of the internal culture and endurance. According to Levi-Strauss myth is always as a sequence of past happenings. At some point these happenings create constant structure which is very timely both for the past and for the present and future. Thus, myth has a double structure: historical and Super-historical, or timely and timeless (Chkhenkeli 2009:23). Myth is not a free invention, it is the picture of the world given in a compressed form and this picture reflects world pattern within it. We consider that universal concept of Logos is to be regarded in such context.

Especially close is Vazha to the antique, namely, Heraclitus’ conception of the universe according to which the universe is a harmonic unity in the light of cosmic logos, everything is flowing inside it, things and other substances transfer into each other and logos remains the same, i.e. the dynamic world maintains stability and harmony just in the logos.

According to Sergi Danelia Vazha unfolds original picture of the proto reason. In this respect only the writings of the first philosophers of the antique Greece can compare. “As the whole nature consists of life, clearly, it is accompanied by change. Life is in continual change... Nothing is stable in nature. Everything is changing. “Panta rei” ("everything flows") this what Vazha could have said like Heraclites. However, the similarity between Vazha and Heraclitus goes even further. Both Heraclitus and Vazha are aware that the change of these things is based on the contradiction between the phenomena. Everything is involved in a round dance of this universal clash” (Danelia 1998:22).

The Brockhaus-Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary gives an opportunity to trace the transformation of the notion of “logos” in various epochs (Brockhaus and Efron 1908: 900-992). In ancient Greek, logos meant 'word', but this meaning gradually extended to include other concepts such as speech, thought, and reason. The establishment of this notion is ascribed to Heraclitus of Ephesus.

Following his doctrine the whole nature is arranged in accordance with the “true reason”, and Logos is a reasonable foundation of the world. For the Hellenists the actual reality is deceitful. In contrast to them Heraclitus accepts the reality not as an absolute deceit but as a great enigma that has its own solution, its own word. With it the truth is the life itself which is in a continual motion, is born, formed. For Heraclitus the eternal life is a supreme Law for each being. God (the Absolute) transfers from the opposite to opposite by himself. Fight as well as harmony internally characterizes God, the proto of the things and that is why it appears in them. Everything exists and does not exist. Each subject changes, each moment of the visible existence is already a passed moment. Everything moves, our feelings, perceptions too. Our consciousness, our bodies move and change. The rate of inevitable change one time accumulates, other time scatters things, at one and the same time everything is created and destroyed, comes and goes away. The death of one man is followed by the birth of another man. There is no contradiction without clash, and without contradiction there is no harmony.

Beyond the visible contradiction, senseless of the nature, catastrophe, human passions fight stands the Absolute, superhuman reason, elevated over each human notion. The enigma of the world has its own word according to which everything is created, moves because it differentiates everything and harmonizes. We should learn from the nature: understand mystic harmony in visible contradiction, hidden harmony. We should seek in nature its law, its logos. In Heraclitus we first find the understanding of world Logos, i.e. word that includes in itself the first reason and reasonable ground. Logos, for Heraclitus, means the world order, the base of things, which solves the enigma, i.e. it is reason, opinion of the world. This is reason, truth and at the same time necessity, fatal law which defines the motion of the world; it is almighty and manages everything. It is at one and the same time division and peace, but the world is a supreme truth which brings in order all things. Each deviation, each unlawful action is punished by it. This is the law or order created by nobody, which is and will be always and conditions the world life in its flow. Nobody can hide from these firelike Logos. Along with evolution of the reason, world outlook the notion of logos became more and more abstract.

Materialistic panlogism of Stoics made the “philosophy of the antique notion” more complicated. He was criticized by Epicureans and skeptics, who undermined the principles of Stoic panlogism. God identified with the materialistic world, is not God. Logos identified with unconscious material is not logos. The actual reality as it exists is not identified with our notions. The criterion of true knowledge is neither feelings nor reasoning. There was one step to the philosophy of faith from here.

This religious philosophy was developed mainly in Alexandria where the western religious study met the ideas of the religious ideas of the east. Philosophy of faith regarded as true gnosis in announcement.

The Christians believe that the world is Christocentral because the word (Logos, Christ) is God. Judaism and Christianity consider the Bible “Lord’s word”, “Sacred Book”. According to the Islam Koran is also the word of God, announced by Mohammed; the same is Torah and the Book of Psalms. The concept of Logos is similar to Dao. Dao is a nature, objective world, path also the sense of things and phenomena. Dai is what moves the things, its path is enigmatic.

Vazha-Pshavela was familiar with the heritage of famous philosophers of different epochs. This is also evidenced from his memoir literature. According to A.Salaridze, Vazha had studied Heraclitus, Socrates, Plato, Epicure, Bacon, Kant, etc. philosophers. Another scholar Akaki Papava even wrote about his relation to Nietzsche. Grigol Robakidze who once met the poet in Valerian Gunia’s editorial office of the magazine “Nishaduri”, acknowledges the poet’s philosophical attitude.

The literary critics of the 20th century due to conjuncture reasons oftentimes passed by the true essence of Vazha-Pshavela’s world outlook, sometimes the mixing of notions and terms took place. Here we would like to consider some established scholars. A Dimitri Benashvili writes: “Unlike Mindia Vazha, based on the laws of nature, arrives to the conclusion that one law works in the indefinite kingdom of nature and men’s life which is called “great law” of the motion of material (Benashvili 1961:489). The scholar is forced to prove the atheism of Vazha-Pshavela.

There is a remarkable work by Sergi Danelia “Vazha-Pshavela and Georgian Nation” in which we read: “Vazha treats the nature as manifestation of the life... The whole world is alive. It is entirely knitted from life. Death is illusory”. (Danelia 1998:20). At the same time the prominent philosopher tries to prove Vazha-Pshavela’s heathenism.

Lela Tetruashvili compares Vazha-Pshavela’s and Goethe’s weltanschauung and remarks: “For both creators the universe is perceived as one, alive, phenomenon of demiurge “with independent value” both as “something” and “somebody” (Tetruashvili 1982:4).

To our mind, in the above stated works the characteristics of the concept of logos are clearly shaped, though there is no direct mentioning of them.

The evidence of the approximation to Vazha-Pshavela’s true roots of world outlook is T.Sharabidze’s book “Christian Notifs in Vazha-Pshavela’s Creativity” in which correct conclusion is made: “Folklore and myth is a material for Vazha-Pshavela’s artistic thinking and Christianity is his weltanschauung” (Sharabidze 2005:92).

The concept of Logos is the central tenet of Christianity. It is given in the beginning of St. John's Gospel. By our observation Vazha-Pshavela is close to antique as well as Christian understanding of the logos. One of the keys to his multifaceted and the most complicated world outlook is a concept as indicated by Grigol Robakidze as early as in 1909.


Benashvili 1961: Benashvili D. Vazha-Pshavela – Creator and Thinker. Tbilisi: “Sabchota Mtserali”, 1961.

Brockhaus-Efron 1908: Brockhaus-Efron. Encyclopedic Dictionary. Vol.17, Moscow-Petersburg:1908. (In Russian).

Danelia 1998: Danelia S. Vazha-Pshavela and Georgian Nation. Tbilisi: “Khronograph”, 1998.

Kiknadze 1966: Kiknadze G. Vazha’s Phenomenon. Jubilee Collection dedicated to Vazha. Tbilisi: TSU publishing, 2009.

Tetruashvili 1982: Tetruashvili L. On Vazha-Pshavela’s and Goethe’s ideological world outlook. Tbilisi: “Metsniereba”, 1982.

Ratiani 2085: Ratiani I. Phenomenological Criticism. In: Georgian writers on Vazha-Pshavela (compilers: I.Evgenidze and L.Minashvili). Tbilisi: 2005.

Robakidze 1989: Robakidze G. Oswald Spengler (publication was prepared by A.Chkhikvishvili). J.”Sabchota Khelovneba”, 1989, #1.

Sharabidze 2005: Sharabidze T. Christian Motifs in Vazha-Pshavela’s Creativity. Tbilisi: 2005.

Chkhenkeli 2009: Chkhenkeli T. Tragic Masks. Tbilisi: “Memkvidreoa”, 2009.



Volume 5, Issue 2


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature