Friday, November 20, 2009

Palli Samaj - Sharat Chandra Chatterjee


Palli Samaj is all about life in rural Bengal.
Ramesh, a native of the village, but bred mostly in the city of Calcutta romanticizes village life. He imagines it must be charming and innocent. But when he revisits his village after many many years, he is simply disillusioned.

He sees that the village society is plagued with politics, persecution of the innocent, rivalry, jealousy, greed, selfishness, family feuds and disharmony between people.

There is the caste system, ostracization and untouchability. The custodians of so-called religion are the most fallen people. People are scheming against one another and preoccupied with schemes to usurp other people’s property.

There are Muslims in the neighbouring villages who are more united than the Hindus (who are divided because of caste), but the Muslims covet each other’s daughters and wives.

There is malaria that has confined people to bed for weeks and months but no one cares to cover up the stagnant ponds which are the breeding grounds of the disease.

He decides to return to the city disgusted with what he sees but is detained by his aunt Bisveshwari who is one of the few good people in the village and has retained her sensibility in the midst of madness.
He tries to help the people there by attending to the causes of the village such as bad roads, dilapidated school, etc, only to find himself in an imbroglio and finally lands in jail.

When Ramesh returns from Jail he sees that the problems have corrected, as if by a strange dispensation of Providence.
What his conscious battle for months could not do was achieved by his going to prison.

Beni, Rama, Ramesh, Bisveshwari are the main characters of the story.

A few noteworthy lines from the book...

Always make fully sure that the fire is out, the debt is paid and the enemy vanquished...

While in city, Ramesh had thought to himself, “if only I can once reach my village, I can escape all these evils. There, religion governs life and society has still preserved its integrity.’
But where was religion alive in these villages? If the very essence of religion has disappeared, why did its putrefying corpse reign supreme? It seemed as if rural society was clinging in desperation to this distorted and decomposing cadaver and in the process, sinking deeper and deeper into slimy degradation. But the most pitiful contradiction of ethics was that the jibes of the villagers were directed at city life – where, they asserted, religion was non-existent!

After raining non-stop for two days, it was just letting up towards the evening...

Whether or not a person is truly worthy can be assessed only when money comes into play! This is the time when no deception is possible and only man’s true nature comes to the fore...

Author observes that there was more unity in Muslim villages. “the manner in which everyone clustered around to help the needy in whatever manner possible was something Ramesh had never witnessed in any Hindu village”...

The disputes and discord that result due to caste differences, are a sign of progress and not the cause. The strife has to come first...

Persecuting the innocent...
If he returned to the city, there would be no hope of any redress t all...

The more we analyse falsehood, it increases in strength. There is no greater sin than increasing evil through one’s own impatient actions...


2 comments:

Satish said...

Can see glimpses of movie " Swades" ..... Guess the movie may have been inspired by this but did not it see it in the credits or it may be a sheer coincidence

Sowmya said...

Satish,

I havent seen the movie Swades!. Will surely watch it now...