Uma Alladi and M. Sridhar have, in the introduction to their translation of the Telugu novel (1962), highlighted a few historical concerns invoked by the author, Tripuraneni Gopichand. The debate over the need for preserving ‘grandhik' Sanskrit Telugu and ‘vyavaharik' Telugu is dramatised through the oppositionality of the characters of the father-in-law and son-in-law. The mystery surrounding the will of the father-in-law, Pandita Parameswara Sastry, may be connected to the colonial times, sparking off a debate between the Orientalists and the Anglicists.

In the English version, we have very few occasions to listen to the orthodox Pandit. Among the exceptions is the case of his long letter to his son-in-law, read out posthumously by the lawyer to a gathering of relations and ‘friends.' Here and there we can hear him mimicked by his devoted attendant Karnataka Sastry, as the old man lies dying. Apart from that we don't hear actually the two modes to make it a seminal concern of the novel.


Looking then for the other signals, the reader cannot miss the reflective tone that pervades the narration and the diction. For what lingers after one closes the book is a plaintive, somewhat idealistic, search for a plane of living and thinking that will take man to a more constructive existence. The dominant tenor of the novel hence is its ruminations on different siddhantas, ideologies — ranging from Marxism to neo-modern spirituality. It is this tenor that impels the author to devote substantial space to the recapitulation of Sri Aurobindo's advocacy of supramental consciousness as the clue to the future of humanity.


The narration of the protagonist Kesava Murthy's visit to Pondicherry, along with his wife and friends, to have a darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, especially the serene atmosphere, transports us to the hallowed premises. In this and other places, as for instance where the concept of ‘transmigration of souls' is expounded, the prime focus is on expansion of the mind and consciousness. Of course, a lot does happen in the life of Kesava Murthy and Sujata, much of it being calumny which Murthy has to face from his friends who are his ‘adversaries' now. His idealism is sustained by his sattvic spirit, unshaken by relentless character assassination. The somewhat exalted tone of the novel is offset by the troubling question which the translators raise: why does the dying Parameswara Sastry will his property to his son-in-law, instead of to his foster-daughter Sujata, exclusively? Does this suggest the denial of independent agency to a woman? The style and imagery of the English translation — especially the idioms, analogies, and speech rhythms — have the distinct flavour of a south Indian language.

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