Anandamatam: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee; Translation by Akkiraju Ramapati Rao; Sahitya Akademy, Ravindra Bhavan, 35, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi-110001. Rs. 100.

Written by the celebrated Indian litterateur, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee (1838-94), Anand Matam highlights the intrepid fight of a group of Sanyasis (Sanatans) headed by Swami Satyananda against the British rule. Vande Maataram, the song that served as the clarion call for the freedom fighters, is chanted repeatedly by characters in this novel, which perhaps was inspired by the 1857 uprising.

As famine stalks the country, Mahendranath and Kalyani, a rich couple, flee their village, Pada Chihna, and, on the way, Mahendranath accidentally gets separated from his wife and child. He runs into Bhavananda, who takes him to his guru, Satyananda. At Satyananda's instance, he takes a pledge to join the swami and his men in fighting the British. On an occasion, he and Mahendranath are jailed and it was given to the other sanatans to secure their release. Jeevananda sets up a gun factory at Pada Chihna, as advised by Satyananda, and joins him.

Ultimately, Satyananda reaches Ananda Matam for meditation, and his guru advises Sanatans that, although victorious, they should allow the British rule to continue for some time. With interaction, their strengths could be imbibed while developing spirituality simultaneously.

The translation is competent and reader-friendly.

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