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Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man

Samskara A Rite for a Dead Man Made into a powerful award winning film in this important Kannada novel of the sixties has received widespread acclaim from both critics and general readers since its first publication in

  • Title: Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man
  • Author: U.R. Ananthamurthy ಯು. ಆರ್. ಅನ೦ತಮೂರ್ತಿ A.K. Ramanujan
  • ISBN: 9780195610796
  • Page: 102
  • Format: Paperback
  • Made into a powerful, award winning film in 1970, this important Kannada novel of the sixties has received widespread acclaim from both critics and general readers since its first publication in 1965 As a religious novel about a decaying brahmin colony in the south Indian village of Karnataka, Samskara serves as an allegory rich in realistic detail, a contemporary reworMade into a powerful, award winning film in 1970, this important Kannada novel of the sixties has received widespread acclaim from both critics and general readers since its first publication in 1965 As a religious novel about a decaying brahmin colony in the south Indian village of Karnataka, Samskara serves as an allegory rich in realistic detail, a contemporary reworking of ancient Hindu themes and myths, and a serious, poetic study of a religious man living in a community of priests gone to seed A death, which stands as the central event in the plot, brings in its wake a plague, many deaths, live questions with only dead answers, moral chaos, and the rebirth of one man The volume provides a useful glossary of Hindu myths, customs, Indian names, flora, and other terms Notes and an afterword enhance the self contained, faithful, and yet readable translation.

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      102 U.R. Ananthamurthy ಯು. ಆರ್. ಅನ೦ತಮೂರ್ತಿ A.K. Ramanujan
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      Published :2018-07-02T01:54:20+00:00

    1 thought on “Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man

    1. If one believes that life is complicated then death comes with its own share of ramifications. No matter how much we read or learn, the eternal truth that claims to render understanding about every situation and ensures answers to every possible question remains nothing but an illusion, which when shatters brings out a whole new set of predicaments. U.R. Ananthamurthy’s novel Samskara revolves around such perplexities and presents an allegorical enquiry into the nature of word Samskara, its va [...]

    2. Your idea that only men of 'Goodness' can reach salvation, isn't that only a form of hopelessness? Doesn't it mean the disappointment of a human hope, desiring a thing and not getting it? In men of 'Darkness' there's no desire of salvation in the first place. How can such clods feel disappointed by not getting what they don't want? No one can say, 'I'll become a "Man of Goodness"'; one can only say truly 'I am a "Man of Goodness"'. Only such natures crave and hunger for the Lord's grace.I came t [...]

    3. As A K Ramanujan, the translator, says in the Afterword, Samskara is a story where the erumpent individual tears the archetype of the Brahmin. It is perhaps the best Indian novel in an indigenous language that I have read. One could bemoan the fact that the characters, except the central one of Praneshacharya, are two dimensional caricatures, but isn't that the condition of an allegory? The novel is allegorical and it is profound, and was in certain ways meant to be an initiation for the Modern( [...]

    4. An interesting novel. I liked it a lot, even if I couldn't fully appreciate the tangled webs of Brahminism, the Indian caste system generally, or the many tiers of the Vedic religion. The "Introduction" and "Afterword" of the translator A. K. Ramanujan helped a lot. He also provides notes, but I thought them too specific to ritual and myth rather than helping to explain the interplay of characters and motives.The translator's notes and explanations along with an interview with the author help a [...]

    5. The novella’s pace is almost electric, as the events that flow from the starting, startling event gather pace and just keep going. Samskara’s story, structure, and masterful use of allegory are mesmerising, and the afterword, as well as the author interview in the Oxford Perennial edition, are incredibly helpful. Glad than a book of this importance in the Indian literary canon is receiving the care it is due.

    6. I tried to read this a few years back and got stuck on cultural confusion (not knowing what the basic plot elements are about, can really make a novel tough going) and gave up a third of the way through. On this reading I found it somewhat easier, and by the halfway point was thoroughly hooked. I've also been reading Joseph Campbell, so I was very aware of some of the classic elements in this story: the unison with the opposite, the crossing of the threshold, the return to the community. The mai [...]

    7. Now I do get that the focal point for the author was decaying brahminism, but I find it sort of morbid that all women characters in the novel are either dismissed by other male characters as dead fish or seen as so "ripe" that a man wouldn't be responsible for acting on his sexual impulse. The epidemic theme could have been elaborated, but the author plays out the whole tension of the novel through the protagonist's sexuality. So while sex is seen as an affirmation of life, and the path for spir [...]

    8. Paper on the Novel 'Samskara'The Quest after Divinity:Praneshacharya and Putta in ‘Samkara’I. Introduction. U.R. Anantha Murthty’s ‘Samskara’ was first published in 1965 and it was made into a film in 1970. Since then, it had created a lot of controversy in academic and non-academic circles. The theme of the novel is the story of a decaying brahmin agrahara in the old Konkan region.The title of the novel ‘Samskara’ has different meanings. According to ‘A Kannada- English Dictiona [...]

    9. Problem is not with the book, translator is not entirely at fault here either, it is just that I am not part of the targeted audience. I might not know the Kannada language, but I am not an alien to the setting - where this story takes place. The place is only a few hundred miles away. We, South Indians, share same customs, caste intricacies, religion and beliefs to a greater extent. Instead of bringing forth a missed out experience, this dry, textbook translation only glares with a lose of eloq [...]

    10. I read the book shortly after Ananthamurthy passed away. I heard so much about him after his death his ideas, the controversial responses to his ideas, people's opinions of him, a spectrum of different kinds of comments about him, his life, his work. I had to read his work and decide for myself what I felt about him and if I needed to have opinions that are so strong. I'm in fact speechless with admiration for this man that I know now through Samskara. It asks some of the most intriguing questio [...]

    11. Samskaara ===========Samskara is a landmark kannada novel written by U.R. Ananthamurthy, a pioneering writer, critic and intellectual. This was the first Kannada novel I was going to read. I wasn't sure how much I was going to understand though the presence of an English translation by A.K. Ramanujan proved to be very handy. Before I get into the novel, a thing about translations. Despite A.K, who is well versed with the land, culture, lifestyle there is a gap the translation can't bridge - that [...]

    12. It's true that reading Indian literature in translation is radically different from Indian literature composed in English and often with a foreign audience in mind. This novel is beautiful and powerful, but also quite hard to comprehend if one hasn't lived in India, I suspect. The nuances and issues that emerge around caste and what it means to be a brahmin are quite complex. That said, it is beautifully rendered by author and translator alike.

    13. 3.5/4 stars, but it just feels so forgettable I gave it 3 stars.Some parts of the book were amazing - existential questioning, the journey of Acharya, the foil of Putta with Acharya, and the ending. Some parts were OK - the supporting characters were fun to read about but were underdeveloped, the women were especially flat and one-dimensional, and the one who wasn't was chased out of the book.Some parts were not good - The flow of the book was stuttered. Some parts felt unnecessary and difficult [...]

    14. I enjoyed this book. Naranappa an apostate Brahmin dies suddenly. A debate ensues about where and when to bury him. In the mean time a plague goes through the village, and vultures roost on the roofs.

    15. When all that you believe and have studied and treasured for decades fails to answer your most desperate plea for help and guidance, what happens next? In the classic African novel 'Things Fall Apart,' writer Chenua Achebe's protagonist, the once mighty and proud Ogonkwo, finds nothing left to call real and good and honorable, but for the tree upon which he hangs himself. For the Brahmin hero in Ananthamurty's story, the answer is found in the bittersweet reality of form and passion as he gives [...]

    16. Praneshacharyah is a righteous man, by the standard of his caste and creed, a pious Brahmin who’s religious and moral attainments have gained him wide fame. He is the leader of a colony of other Brahmin, mostly rather unlikable people as people tend to be. Far the worst of them is Naranappa, a blasphemer and troublemaker, whose death throws the community into chaos. Though he turned on his caste, violating constantly the tenants of his faith, still Naranappa was a Brahmin, and before his corps [...]

    17. This book tells the story of a decaying brahmin village that is pulled into a quandary of what to do about a brahmin who died. This particular brahmin rebelled against the orthodox ways of the village and flouted his indiscretions in the face of the other brahmin. However, since he was never excommunicated, only another brahmin could perform his last rights. The Archaya, young head of the brahmin village, agonized over what to do, but without explicit instruction from the books he didn't know wh [...]

    18. After reading this book, I can fully understand why this book created such a controversy at the time it was released. I remembered, that Vijay Tendulkar faced a similar acerbic criticism, when he had written, on similar lines against Bhrahmin Orthodoxy in Ghashiram Kotwal.The story exposes the shallow understanding of 'Dharma' of the hypocritical Brahmin society, in great detail. The central theme of the book is that when societies fail to understand and interpret Dharma, in the context of the t [...]

    19. When all your lifelong beliefs and principles crumble down around you, what do you do? This novel examines the situation from a respected Brahmin's perspective. The death of Naranappa throws up more challenges to the Great Learned sage Praneshacharya than he ever posed in his rebellious life. Through the turmoil posed by the sudden turn of events in his life, the sage must decide whether to live a life of repentance or to shed all fear and to redeem himself. "The novel ends, but does not conclud [...]

    20. I read it in a Tamil translation by Sadasivam. A thought-provoking work which depicts the fall of Brahmin society through the death rites of a Brahmin rebel.Some profound questions and unmasking of some hypocrisies make this novel a modern Indian classic.

    21. I picked this book up because it's required reading for a course I'm taking, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is. It's a great story about old vs new, religious vs secular, and rediscovering one's self.

    22. Admittedly, I can't remember most of this book. However, one of my favorite quotes comes from this book: "Only the form we forge for ourselves in our inmost will is ours without question."

    23. Before commenting on specifics, I should point out that much kudos is due (and was given when originally published) to Mr. Ananthamurthy for writing this book on a group of people who were unknown to many India, and whose culture is now largely forgotten. The author did a wonderful job of quickly creating tension and complex characters, and you feel you're in the middle of the action within the first page or so.This book had natural appeal to me personally as I myself am of the Madhva Brahmin cu [...]

    24. "Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man" by U.R. Ananthamurthy is an masterful Indian novella sitting at the bridge between a realistic work and an allegory. Written originally in Kannada (a South Indian language) and translate by A.K. Ramanujan, the work deals with the relationship between religion and the experience of life as lived. The work can be read by someone with less of a background in Indian religions but a familiarity with Indian society helps. The edition by Oxford India Perennials does in [...]

    25. Samskara means ‘the last rite’, ‘preparation for any rite or ceremony’, ‘preparation of mind’ and other things as per the use. This fictional tale of a high caste Brahmin’s small and tightly guarded (in civil terms) settlement. There are around 10 houses over all in this settlement and the story starts with the death of an ‘Anti-Brahiminical Brahmin’ of the settlement. He has blood relations with many and had spoiled the so-called pious environment of the settlement by drinking [...]

    26. A wonderful translation, 3.5 stars is what I would like to give this really. AK Ramanjuan's translation reminded me of Raja Rao's book, Kanthapura - a classic in its own right. While I haven't read the original in Kannada, the quality of this translation probably does it full justice. As much as I loved the writing, my issue is with the content itself - given it's largely a philosophical exploration, I don't think it goes far enough. As AKR himself says in the afterword, there is no resolution. [...]

    27. Synopsis : An agrahara is shaken by the death of a rebel brahmin and seeks guidance on his last rites, "samskara". It is a tangled web of a wide range of characters, their inner struggles and expectations, pretenses, greed and the society/ caste systems that governs it all. Even though the story itself is less relevant in today's time, the questions it poses (beyond the basic "what is brahminism?") - about identity and choices we make to lead our lives in a certain direction and the role societi [...]

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