Skip to main content

Gujarati classic Saraswatichandra, an accomplished literary work, now in English

Govardhanram Tripathi
By Rajiv Shah
India's pioneering literary classic in Gujarati, “Saraswatichandra”, is finally available in English. Translated by well-known Gandhi expert Tridip Suhrud, who has been instrumental in implementing one of the most ambitious projects of digitizing the entire Gandhi heritage, Suhrud terms the late 19th century novel by Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi as ranking among the “most accomplished literary works” of India.
Running into four volumes, Govardhanram began writing the novel in 1885, with its last, fourth part having been published in 1901. Running into 1,700 pages, Suhrud told Counterview, he translated the classic, because “for 128 years we in Gujarat had not done so", despite the fact that “it is the most important literary work of Gujarati language.”
While the first volume is out and has been published by Orient Black Swan, the other three volumes – which are at the editing stage – will be out over the next about one and a half years. The first volume runs into 408 pages, and all the four volumes would be in around 2,200 pages.
Insisting on the need to share the best of Gujarat with the world, which is what he has done, Suhrud, talking with Counterview, quotes top Gujarati litterateur and Gandhian Manubhai Pancholi "Darshak" as saying that "in the great celebration that is India, Gujarat has two gifts to offer: Mahatma Gandhi, and the jewel among books 'Sarasvatichandra'."
Tridip Suhrud
Mahatma Gandhi, who made a careful reading of “Saraswatichandra”, wrote about it thus: "To the first part he gave all his art. The novel is imbued with aesthetic delight; the characterisation is matchless. The second part depicts Hindu society, his art went deeper in the third part, and he gave all that he wished to give to the world in the fourth part."
One who has been writing on Govardhanram Tripathi since 1994, Suhrud – who is right now director of the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, and has served as faculty at the National Institute of Design (NID) and the Dhirubhai Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DAIICT) – had earlier translated a non-fiction earlier, Narayan Desai's “My Life is My Message”, running into 2000 pages and four volumes. It is a biography of Gandhiji for the period 1869 to 1905. Desai was Gandhiji's secretary.
Suhrud says, among the reasons why he translated Gorvardham's work because the author was “among the most accomplished literary figures of all times in modern India”, who could be placed “alongside Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.”
He adds, “Not many recognise this as in absence of translation (not even in Hindi) of the novel such judgements become difficult. Kavi Nanhalal wrote Saraswatichandra could be compared with Goethe and Victor Hugo.”
Giving details of Saraswatichandra and Govardhanram in the introduction to the first volume, Suhrud says, “Each part has a distinct thematic content, has its own cast of characters and has different beginnings and ends.” Though revolving around protagonist Saraswatichandra's love towards Kumud and her sister Kusum, the novel gives a distinct impression of Gujarat society under the “increasing influence of the East India Company in the affairs of the native states”. 
Cover of the translated novel
In fact, Suhrud says, the novel is “one of the most severe indictments of native states in the literature of that period”, and Govardhanram “depicts a polity based on personal interests, plagued by widespread erosion of morals and values. Oppressed by the existential reality of the joint family, bitter about the nature of patriarchal society.”
One also finds in the novel, suggests Suhrud, “minute descriptions” of the then society, include the “reality” of a daughter-in-law as it existed in a Hindu joint family in the latter half of the 19th century, alongside its “strengths and fragilities”, as seen by Gorvardhanram. Much of it reflection of the upper sections of society of Central Gujarat to which Gorvardhanram belonged.
Ironically, such description came despite the fact that Govardhanram had a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards the British rulers. Says Suhrud, Gorvardhanram believed the British rulers were “clever”, “selfish aggressors”, “disinterested” and yet “benevolent helpmates.”
---
For question-and-answer interview with the translator, click HERE

Comments

TRENDING

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

Is coal import dependence of more than 50% by 2047 of any relevance to India?

By Shankar Sharma*  I have read the article " Building Resilience in India’s Power Sector " by N Vedachalam, released by the Observer Research Foundation, with a lot of interest. I expected it to provide few useful recommendations to our authorities in charting out a sustainable pathway to green energy transition much before the climate catastrophe push our communities to the precipice. But I am sorry to say that the overall discussions or the message implied in the article disappointed me. I was expecting the article, coming from an engineer with past experience in the power sector, to discuss the much needed recommendations to put the power sector on a sustainable developmental pathway. But I could notice mostly technical jargon and a lot of statistical information, which may already be available in the public domain.   The article also seems to have simply accepted what some of the official agencies seem to have indicated as inevitable for the power sector in our country;

Older than Delhi, no other school may have witnessed so many vicissitudes as this one

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed*  Behind every book there is a writer or writers. Are the books written for the personal gratification of authors? Is the purpose utilitarian, educational or to gain public ovation? There are writers who publish books because they are inspired by a purely disinterested and fair-minded pursuit of knowledge and to clarify the issues that agitate them and society. The book under discussion   is a masterstroke on the life and times of not only an institution at Ajmeri Gate, Delhi — Anglo Arabic School — but about the complex relationship between the school and the cajoled Muslim community. Just while you are at Ajmeri Gate, supposedly, the border of Old and New Delhi, barely a few meters from the cacophony and the chaos outside the New Delhi railway station, lies an island of serenity — a school much older than New Delhi, with a wholesale machine tools market on its West, a road leading to Rajiv Chowk (Connaught Place) on the East and colourful confusion of rickshaws,

Government 'fails to take up' Indian migrants' unpaid wages issue with other countries

By Rafeek Ravuther, Chandan Kumar, Dharmendra Kumar*  The migrant workers were one of the most vulnerable sections during the pandemic. India experiences large-scale movement of migrants internally and internationally. After the outbreak of the pandemic, migrant workers continued to face injustice especially in getting wages in expedited manner. In the international context, India, the home of 9 million cross-border temporary labour migrants, carried out the largest repatriation exercise ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. Even though the Indian government addressed the immediate requirement of repatriation, it failed to understand and recognise their post-arrival grievances, like back wages, social protection etc. Recently many workers were deported from the middle- east region. Amidst the establishment of grievance mechanisms such as Consular Services Management System (MADAD) and helplines in Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK), the unresolved grievances remain high. The number of unresolv