Friday, April 6, 2012

Chaturanga [1916]

Chaturanga, variously referred to as ‘Four Chapters’ or ‘Quartet’, written by Tagore, arguably India’s greatest literary genius, was published three years after he received Nobel Prize for Literature. Though not elaborate in its length, the novella is incredibly dense in terms of the philosophical overtones, discourses on rationality vis-à-vis faith, examination of the characters’ physical and psychological journeys, and commentary on human nature, tackled herein. As the name suggests, the story is divided into four chapters with each dedicated at exploring the four principal characters dealt with – Jagmohan or Jyathamoshai (meaning, the elder brother of one’s father), a staunch atheist and an enlightened person whose guiding principles of life are rationality, positivism, and social reform; Sachish, who was far more attached to his uncle Jagmohan than his bigoted father, and who traverses the entire spiritual spectrum from atheism to being blind devotee to a religious guru upon his uncle’s tragic death; Damini, a widow whose wealthy husband used to the guru’s disciple, and who becomes physically attracted towards the vagabond Sachish; and, Sribilash, the story’s narrator and Sachish’s cynical and atheist friend, and a practical young man, who joins the religious cult group of which Sachish is a part more out of curiosity than anything else, and who eventually starts falling in love with the enigmatic, impulsive and deeply alluring Damini. Such themes as, internal and interpersonal conflicts, disillusionment, self-destructiveness, spirituality, love, sexuality, social customs, and dogmatism, among others, were covered by Tagore through exquisite usage of words and narrative style, brilliantly interspersed with darkly cynical humour, subtly satirical tone and incisive observations to complement the seriousness and intensity of the tragic ménage à trois.

Author: Rabindranath Tagore
Genre: Classic/Psychological Drama/Existential Drama/Romance
Language: Bengali
Country: India