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Abay’s "Book of Words" as a manifestation of consciousness of Kazakh spiritual culture

Abay’s "Book of Words" as a manifestation of consciousness of Kazakh spiritual culture - e-history.kz

«Abay’s «Book of Words» acquires special significance and relevance in these days, when Kazakhstan is on the threshold of the twentieth anniversary of its independence. We are again trying to understand the richness of spiritual culture, a heritage left to us by our ancestors, analyzed in a small volume, but deep in content, of Abay’s work.

This work is characterized by deep philosophical ideas, moral teachings, humanistic principles, a program of spiritual and moral perfection of man, his reflections on the cognitive abilities and mentality. In this work Kazakh philosopher and poet considered people’s spiritual- moral character and lifestyle that was in crossroad at that time.

And therefore this work can be called «critical conscience» of the era. «Book of Words» is a unique world of the author, aimed at understanding not only the existence of the world, but also to reflect on man’s inner world. It is a dialogue Abay with himself and with us, its readers.

It is organically connected with philosophical thoughts and religious experience, artistic expression and moral instruction, depth of knowledge and inexhaustible sense, wisdom and foresight of the prophet. Considering Abay’s philosophies outlined in the «Book of Words», G.Gachev said that his word similar with meaning of Psalms of David, the Book of Ecclesiastes, Proverbs of Solomon, for combine confession and preaching. / 1 / This book embodied the spiritual world many generations of Kazakhs, expressing identity and worldview of the Kazakh people, who at the crucial moment of history seeks to understand themselves and their place in it. It witnessed the influence of the oral poetry of the Kazakh people and classical literature of the East, spiritual values of Russian culture and philosophical thought of the West.

At the same time, it clearly manifested identity and independence of Abay as a thinker and philosopher. Spanish philosopher and writer Unamuno said, «The whole philosophy of the Spanish in the» Don Quixote «Cervantes» and the same can be said that the whole Kazakh philosophy expressed in Abay’s the «Book of Words».

Kazakh culture has got its justification and continuation in this book. Abay’s «Book of Words» is also an appeal to our consciousness, our conscience, it is a reminder to us about how we live and how to live in bustle and worries of everyday life, we do not forget about the main thing — spirituality. Assessing Abay’s contribution in the development of philosophy, G.Esim writes: «Abay expressed deep philosophical ideas in terms of knowledge of human nature… the first time in the history of Kazakh Abay’s philosophy outlined a vision for the model, the essence of a mature personality». / 2 /

Spirituality is an important feature of the Kazakh culture, which it kept despite of all the difficulties of socio-historical and cultural development. The main theme of the «Book of Words» is a person who has his spiritual world and morality. It is filled with concern that the spiritual and moral values continued to be the basis of human life….

In Abay’s arguments traced two lines. The The first one is directed to reveal the content and essence of spirituality, the forms of its manifestation and significance for each person. The second one considers the actual state of spiritual and moral world of the individual. The first line creates a model like spirituality and shows that spirituality is truly human in man, and constitutes its essence. The other line is a critical analysis of the spiritual and moral character of a real person who brings worries and anxiety in Abay’s soul.

Thus, thoughts about spirituality refracted through the subjectivity of his experience, and they become existential. A.Nysanbaev emphasizes this feature of Abay’s philosophical meditations of the person: «Abay’s philosophy is concentrated expression of the spirituality of the Kazakh people. His work is moaning in pain and worries for the present and future of all the people in a desperate rush painfully seeking answers to existential questions». / 3 /

Spirituality goes to existential area when it asks about the person’s life and his death, the meaning of life, about his own existence in the world. For Abay these questions are fundamental.

The paradox is that the consideration of these existentials happened when he had all that is considered «perfect happiness»: came from a noble family and was rich, respected by all and was recognized as national poet.

Nevertheless, his soul was filled with thoughts on how and why to live, «being sated for everything he found frailty and futility of his actions, made in his humiliation of being. What to do now, how to live the rest of your life? The thing that gives misunderstanding is that there is no answer to question». / 4 / Thinking on these issues, human thought often comes to a standstill when it does not satisfy the traditional answers and it considers them to be insufficient. Even the issues are complex and they have no clear answers.

In the first word Abay ponders what to dedicate rest of the life, so it did not pass meaningless, stressing that the question of life’s meaning is not obvious as it seems at first glance. Composition of this question requires rethinking of the own life, the lives of others people reevaluating their spiritual world and values.

In twentieth word he states that wealth cannot be the meaning of life, as it leads to saturation, «bothers him (man) … everything — food, entertainment, panache, parties, company, desire to excel and his wife. Sooner or later discovering the viciousness, the senselessness of all, he is disappointed and loses interest». / 5 / Abay believes that the pursuit of material well-being meaningless, as «everything that exists in the world is unstable», everything certainly is transitory, and indeed human life is not eternal.

In this word Abay emphasizes that only intelligent and spiritually mature people experience satiation of material goods, knowing them and knowing the price «futility and vanity of earthly existence», «befallen of transience and corruptibility earthly joy» and «life itself seems hateful." Once they think about vital questions of human existence and spirituality for their acts a fundamental principle of life. Consequence of reflection becomes disunity and internal duality of the world: «Even though I live do not consider myself alive. I do not know whether the annoyance to people from dissatisfaction with himself, and maybe for some other reason. Externally alive, everything is dead inside. Angry, but do not feel anger. Laugh, but I cannot rejoice. Words spoken by me and laughter do not seem like mine. Everything is strange». / 6 / He was clearly aware of this duality of soul and in other word wrote bitterly," I thought, blessed is he who is stupid and careless «," I saw the Kazakhs (in the sense of people) who pleaded: «Oh! Allah! Make us carefree as babies». / 7 /

Abay cannot be accept the fact that «people are only concerned with one as much as possible to have cattle and acquire with those the honor… to lead an idle life, have plenty of meat, drink mare’s milk, enjoy the beauties, admire horses» and for this they extort and steal from their neighbors. He uses plenty of the black paint for the image of a real person, which is inherent in the cunning and ingenuity, deception and greed, carelessness and recklessness, apathy and laziness, ignorance and stupidity, vanity and arrogance.

Such a person does not care about anything, they are indifferent to spiritual values, mercy and compassion is alien to him, he does not feel shame and conscience does not bother him. Abay compares intelligent and spiritually rich man and man nearby, ignorant and stupid. Examples of such comparisons are found in the teachings of Confucius that «noble man» contrasts «commoner», in «Ecclesiastes» Solomon compares the wisdom and folly. Abay wrote that for stupid person is appropriate superficiality, contentment with «appearance that covers the eyes," and he does not try to «delve into the inner secrets», believing that loses nothing of ignorance.

He always frivolous and spends time on meaningless, worthless thing. He was not restrained. All thoughts and feelings display publicly so becomes the object of human gossip. In their actions they follow others, because «ignoramuses do not live their mind, but follow a crowd».
He is distinguished by arrogance and vainglory. He put his efforts «to be talked about himself as much as possible." Abay is not blind to spiritual poverty and limited the people around him, explaining that the vices and weaknesses of man.

He was the first in the Kazakh philosophical thought comprehensively analyzed human from negative aspect. «Book of Words» is interesting because Abay gives contours of real person living by everyday concerns, striving for success and happiness, «abandoned in everyday life». In this sense, human manifested intellectual independence of Kazakh philosopher, originality and originality of his philosophical doctrine, despite the fact that such images of man have already been created by European philosophers like A. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, who had no illusions about the morality of a person. This is confirmed by the fact that Abay was not familiar with their works. However, it suggests that the philosophical ideas in his formation and development include general trends.

Abay believes that spirituality is the only possible way of true human existence, which constitutes its essence, an internal quality. Abay’s call «Adam bol» («Be a man!») requires submission to all human life spiritual principle that morally he was guided by the voice of reason and conscience. This is due to that all of his arguments were formed not to the outside world, but to understand the inner world. The most important manifestation of the essence of man is self-awareness, a desire to understand their own emotions and thoughts. «Book of Words» is different from other with its deep reflection, author’s oriented reflections on his own spiritual world.

He pointed out that his soul is full of bitterness and frustration because life goes in vain that people live carelessly: «Man is born crying and dies grieving. Living in between these events without tasting the fruits of true happiness, did not recognize until the end of the value and uniqueness given him life, he recklessly burns in it humiliating quarrels and disputes unworthy. Reconsiders his life when it running out». / 8 / Sadness that «darkens our souls, chills the body, binds the will and finally poured the words out of the mouth or the tears from his eyes» joins to these feelings.

Abay seeks to understand the origins and causes of these feelings. He feels sadness of understanding human hopelessness of his life, its worthlessness and insignificance in the future life expectancy. Sadness, as a manifestation of spirituality, is a sign of a finely organized soul.

In the «Book of Words» clearly heard the motif of loneliness. In condition of absorption of human in monotonous and dreary everyday life, when he is busy only their material interests, spirituality care favorites and it did not find a response and understanding from others. The origins of loneliness are rooted in the moral vices and shortcomings of man: «our hidden dislike for each other grow in the open, implacable hostility, we bear malice, sue and isolate» and others «do not wish kindness to the others» and «achieve unity at the cost of cattle», «they do not have business to anyone». Loneliness comes from selfishness, indifference, lack of emotional sensibility and interest in the inner world of another person. The origin of loneliness comes from man’s spiritual underdevelopment or lack of spirituality. The way to overcome loneliness is through spiritual unity of the people: «Unity should be in the minds and not in a common good (i.e., property)», based on the true faith, mind development and approval virtues.

Authentic human existence is inextricably linked with spirituality, manifestation of which is the mind, faith, morality and feelings that do not just coexist, but organically connected and interact harmoniously complement each other. And if they are opposed to each other, we do not agree, then life becomes spontaneous, chaotic and meaningless, and therefore it is easy to be approved by the vices and evil. Spirituality in isolation from human life has no value. It is designed to fill a person’s life meaning, to make it purposeful, intelligent and organized.

Much attention in his work on the process of formation of Abay in human spirituality and in this respect it is of interest nineteenth word in which an exclusive role for personal spiritual experience. Not only instruction, edification, education, example sage-teacher, but also the efforts of the personality are actively involved in the development of the inner spiritual world. And this requires a critical orientation introspection and intellectual independence in understanding the world and its life-world. Spirituality is born of self-knowledge, from a desire to think about the meaning of his life and his mission in the world. Through the understanding of his life, man transcends his actual being, expands the horizons of their spiritual world. Knowing himself person reveals his own spiritual essence.

«Book of Words» is a vivid evidence of high humanism Abaya, despite impartial criticism of man, his spiritual and moral character and lifestyle. «Book of Words» — a reminder to us that life is fleeting, and that in the hectic everyday life, we have not forgotten about the most important thing worth living for. Substance of the ideas of the great thinker and a method of understanding shows that philosophy in the face of the Kazakh Abay developed like Europe and Russian philosophy. His teachings became the forerunner of all subsequent Kazakh philosophy.

K. Nauanova, Ph. D.,

Associate Professor at WKSU named after M. Utemisov


1. G.Gachev, National images of the world. Eurasia space nomad, farmer and mountaineer. M., 1999, p., 273
2. G. Esim Kazakh philosophy. Pyramid in the desert, or the philosophy of love. A., 2005, p., 19–20
3. A. Nysanbaev, Revival of Islamic culture and spirituality in Kazakhstan: problems and prospects / / Eurasian community, 2000, № 1, p., 154
4. Abay «Book of Words» A., 1992, p.8
5. Abay «Book of Words» A., 1992, p.33–34
6. Abay «Book of Words» A., 1992, p.21
7. Abay «Book of Words» A., 1992, p.34.p.15
8. Abay «Book of Words» A., 1992, p.34.p.15