Rabindranath Tagore's Achalayatan (1912) presents an arena of conflicting faiths.
Built on a stony resistance to the naturalness of life, Mahapanchak's 'Achalayatan' representing a quest of dry wisdom, turns into a petrified land of illusion and immobility. On the other hand, the Sonpangshus are work addicts to the extent that they mistake work for the end and not the means, while the Darvaks remain happy with their simple, unquestioning, selfless devotion.
All three fail to realise that life is to be tasted in its totality. Knowledge, power to work, and devotion are to be assimilated to achieve the true vision of life. And for that, the Guru's help becomes imperative.
In essence the play is a strong indictment of our ethico-religious and educational systems drained of all meaning and rendered bloodless, dry and sterile through over-emphasising rules for rules' sake. Elaborate symbolism coupled with a subtle allegorical structure makesAchalayatanas relevant today as when it was written nearly a century ago.
About the Author:
One of India's most cherished renaissance figures, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) put India on the literary map of the world when hisGitanjali was awarded the Nobel prize for literature in 1913. A poet's poet, he is a maker of not only modern Indian literature but also the modern Indian mind and civilisation. Myriad-minded, he was a poet, short story writer, novelist, dramatist, essayist, painter and composer of songs. His worldwide acclaim as a social, political, religious and aesthetic thinker, innovator in education and a champion of the 'One World' idea makes him a living presence.
A former Reader in English literature, Bandana Sanyal has contributed short stories and poems in little magazines like Bibhab, Baromash, Udichi,among others. She has translated poems for Signposts: Bengali Poetry since Independence (Rupa) and Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's diary for Sahitya Akademi. She has also contributed articles on African literature in Calcutta Review.
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