Kanakagiri Siddhartha

Veyi Padagalu

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I finished my first reading of 'Veyi Padagalu' by Viswanatha Satyanarayana today. 

First reading - because i am going to read it again certainly. While much has been written and said about this brilliant novel, i have a little bit to add.
 
The language, the narrative structure and the imagination are absolutely top class. Easily one of the best i ever read in any language. Who else could have called the cloudy sky of the Varsha Ritu a 'Ratna Garbha', alluding to the lightening that illuminates the night sky! Or describe the last drop of dew that clings to the tip of the leaf the morning after the rain to the ear rings of young girls (Lolaku) ? There are other exquisite expressions, but too many to list here.  
 
The novel is a semi-autobiographical which covers a vast array of subjects like philosophy, tradition, customs, music, dance, education, religion and spirituality. I have been reading a lot of contemporary literature on some of these subjects and during my reading of 'Veyi Padagalu', i have had instances where i was taken aback when Viswanatha expounds on themes that are ever more relevant now, 75 years after the publication of this novel!
 
Some of those themes being:
  1. Loss of ability to make a living by learning traditional art and crafts. 
  2. Decay of agriculture and greed of farmers who want to maximize returns by mono-cropping - remember this was in 1930's - before both Green revolution and One Straw revolution.
  3. Reduced life span of Indians compared to Europeans. It has been explicitly mentioned that it was not the case before the British came and people used to live hale and healthy till 80 years.
  4. The unique argument that criticism of Hinduism is being liberal and criticizing other religions is intolerant!
  5. Difference between Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Speech and how most people surrender their Freedom of Thought!
  6. Self styled God men and occultism (both have been derided)
  7. Proselytization
  8. Feminism and the lack of gender neutral laws
  9. And there are more such!
The discussion on these subjects is thought provoking. For instance, the author describes a village fair where artistes come from various places and perform. One particular performance is that of Artha Naareswara where the artiste dresses up as the combined manifestation of Siva and Parvati with one half of his face expressing the seriousness of Siva and sensitivity of Parvati, both at the same time, while maintaining the respective body language as well! Artistes like him were generously rewarded for to their effort those days and they were able to pass on the art to the next generation. 
 
The story of this novel takes place at a transition time when traditions like the above are dying. The author observes that this and many other forms of traditional knowledge lost the status of 'Education'. Only the education that helped the colonial government was promoted. 
 
Transition is an important theme of the novel and different characters experience it in different ways. The author uses metaphors and magical realism to draw the readers into their lives and experiences.
 
Over all it is an engrossing read and i would recommend every one who can read Telugu to get their hands on it!
 
 
 

Siddhartha's books

A Christmas CarolMidhunamLate Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third WorldThe HobbitThe Emperor of All MaladiesThe Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's RecreationThe Lord of the RingsMan Against MythOne Last Story and That's It
ChowringheeHarry Potter Boxed SetThe Sense of an EndingThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius RamanujanThe AlchemistThings Fall ApartA Time to KillThe Hungry TideSea of Poppies
 
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December 14, 2018

2017 Reading Challenge

Siddhartha has read 0 books toward his goal of 29 books.
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