Jothilakshmi.R 1 Dr. G.Meenakshi Sundaram2
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH CSI COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING
KETTI POST, THE NILIGIRIS – 643215 TAMILNADU, INDIA
R.K.Narayan, Raja Rao and Mulk Raj Anand are the harbingers of a new age in Indian English fiction. Raja Raos’ India is philosophical and Anands’ social and Narayans’ is essentially naturalistic. As M.K Naik writes, Narayan is primarily preoccupied with man’s filling of the life-role entrusted to him by tradition and environment
“The impact of life, the material and substance of our thought are the same everywhere, in any state, traditionally India in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas the values remain the same in every village town or city” ,R.K Narayan.
R.K Narayan upholds the old traditional values of life prescribed by the ancient Indian culture and embodied in Indian epics ‘Shastras’ ‘Puranas’ Myths and Mythologies. He presents his concepts of traditionalism through the middle class life of Malgudi an imaginary small town in South India, which forms the background to all his novels. Narayan’s novels show that success and happiness in life lie in the acceptance of the Shastras and the Vedic values. The main purpose of human life is suggested as a journey in quest of self-identify or emancipation from the miseries of life. The main purpose of life is to know the purpose of life (ie) who am I? Why am I here? Ones eternal duty is to known that I am a sprit soul- the real ego.
Indians epics, Upanishads and Puranas are the depositors of ancient values of life and moral codes of conduct. The profound knowledge of Vedas was uttered by Indian sages, seers and saints who were divinely inspired and blessed. They are commonly accepted even today to lead an organized and ideal life.
These epics and Puranas have been the sources of moral teachings to common man and of inspiration to the creative writers. Narayan through his novels he expresses that the values of life preached in our scriptures are still relevant to human life in the present context. The influence of Vedas becomes more pronounced in Narayan’s frequent allusions to Myths, Mythologies, Puranas and epics in his novels in order to show the content and that conflict between good and evil. In the ancient times in which the evil forces are powerful they may be ultimately destroyed by themselves.
Vasu, the taxitermist in the novel, The Man-Eater of Malgudi is the symbol of evil. He is indeed a manifestation of the ‘Asura’ as described in the 16 th chapter of Bhagavad-Gita. He is ugly, ferocious in appearance, amoral by nature and devoid of the sense of gratitude and sympathy. He possesses super human strength and takes cruel pleasure in inflicting pain to others. The novelist has projected him as a Man-Eater. In his novel he says “The man eater is a man, not a tiger, a modern rakshasa” . This expresses the demonic qualities in man which leads to the destruction of the self. Vasu has an insatiable appetite for killing both dangerous and domestic creativity. This is against the Indian philosophy of Dharma.
God incarnates himself from time to time for the redemption of pious souls, for diffusing the light of religion for the suppression of evil through the destruction of evildoers and for infusing love and piety among the people through manifestation of his divine sports on the earth. Vasu plans to kill kumar, the temple elephant .But he is found dead the next morning from
concussion in a mysterious way. Vasu’s mistress Rangi solves the mystery of his death. While trying to kill a mosquito settled on his forehead, he slapped it with all his might and killed himself. Vasu’s fist was meant to batter thick panels of iron rod. He never hit anyone, in spite of any provocation, because he had to conserve all that might for his own destruction. Vasu is the modern counter part of demon Bhasmasura. Both of them are killed at last by the strange powers of their own hands for their unethical, immoral and anti-traditional conduct and character. R.K.Narayan seems to show here that even in the modern age there are Bhasmasuras like Vasu heading towards self-destruction for their evil deeds.
There are plenty of examples in Narayan’s novels to show the religiosity of characters. The theory of ‘Karma’ and life after death are implied in Indian religion. According to Indian religion and philosophy Karma and fate play important roles in human life. The exponents of the theory of karma hold to the view that the present existence of an individual is the effect of the past and its future would be the effect of its present existence.
Raju in The Guide attempts several possible explanations for the movement of events in his life. What he says with a painful self-awareness shows his faith is pre-ordained fate “It’s written on the brow of same that they shall not be left alone. I am such one….” , Rosie in The
Guide believe in Karmic laws according to which everyone has to bear the consequence of his deeds. She thinks that she has led a religious life and she has not deliberately committed any sin. So she will not be punished in the other world. This should be her strong faith in the theory of ‘karma’. When Raju in The Guide is arrested on charge of forgery, Rosie[Nalini] tells him “I felt all along, you were not doing right things. This is ‘karma’ what can we do?” Joy and sorrow, reward and punishment all the results of one’s deeds done in the past. The ‘karmas’ of human beings influence, control and condition their lives. Every action good or bad has its reaction.
Narayan who believes in ancient religion and philosophy has an altogether different view of life and death. He says, ”Perhaps death may not be the end of everything as it seems personality may6 have other structures and other plans of existence, and the decay of the physical body through disease and senility may mean nothing more than change of vehicle”(B).
This shows clearly his faith in the immortality of the soul as well as in life after death. This concept is found us the Bhagavad-Gita in which Lord Krishna says that as after rejecting worn out clothes a man takes up new ones, like wise after rejecting worn out bodies the embodied one(soul) takes up new one.
Narayan’s faith in life after death is quite obvious in his novel The English Teacher in which Krishna succeeds in establishing spiritual contact with the spirit of his dead wife through occultism. Though she does not present herself physically, he feels her presence and talks to her. He comes to know from her the nature and meaning of life and death. In answer to one of his questions she says, “Ours is also a life of aspiration, striving and joy. A considerable portion of our state is taken up in meditation and our greatest ecstasy is feeling the divine light flooding”. Her spirit gives a detailed description of the spiritual world and shows how it differs from the material world. Susilas’ spirit tells Krishna, “When I think of you or you of me I am at your side”. Krishna is fully convinced of the existence of life after death in some form or the other.
In addition to this, Savithri’s fear of torture in the other world in the novel, The Dark
Room and other philosophical musings of other characters on life in Narayan’s novels confirm their beliefs in life after death. The comments of Srinivas on the de-arrangements of Ravi’s mind in Mr. Sampath show his faith in a series of births. When the tiger (Raja) in A Tiger for
Malgudi describes the sufferings of his imprisoned life in the cage of circus, the Master comments “you probably in the previous life enjoyed putting your fellow beings behind bars.
One has to face the reaction of every act, if not in the same life, at least in another life of series of lives. These can be no escape from it”. This shows the masters’ faith not only in present and previous lives but also in the ‘karma’ which affects the shapes of life in general. Thus the concept of Vedas are exhibited in its various forms pervades almost all of Narayan’s novels.
Understanding the supreme goal of all Vedic teachings which ultimately promises eternal life which is without the four fold miseries, namely birth, death, old age and disease. R.K.Narayan tries to drive home this point to a sincere reader through his simple, lucid and genuine characterization. With the help of the most mundane incidents he is able to communicate the highest tenets of the ancient and alive Vedic teachings.
- Narayan,R.K,The Man Eater of Malgudi (Mysore, Indian Thought Publication,1988) All pages
- Narayan,R.K,The Guide(Mysore, Indian Thought Publication,1985) All pages
- Narayan,R.K,My Days:A Memoir(Mysore, Indian Thought Publication,1979) All pages
- Narayan,R.K,The English Teacher(Mysore, Indian Thought Publication,1986) All pages
- Narayan,R.K,A Tiger for Malgudi (London,Penguine Books,1983) 6.www.sacred-texts.com
- www.bhagavatgita.us/bhagavatgita famous comments.htm