Aparajito (The Unvanquished) is the sequel to Pather Panchali (Song of the Road). Which is the best – know novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay.
In Pather Panchall the story revolves around Harihar Roy, his wife Sarbajaya, daughter Durga and son Apu whose vision of the future remains positive. Aparajito carries forward this vision through. Apu's adolescence and youth.
The story takes the reader through Apu's school days at the village. His thirst for knowledge and an insatiable desire to see the world drive him to the city where he joins a college for higher education, for the first time in his life he has to battle not just poverty but also the complexities of human relationships and other harsh realities of life, without support or assistance from anywhere. After his mother's death, a tragic marriage and years of carefree living, Apu finally realises his responsibilities and returns to his roots accompanied by his-like minded son, Kajal.
In describing Apu and his mother's grim struggle with poverty. Their loneliness and other disappointments in life. Bandopadhyay might have turned Aparatjito into a tale of woe. What does, in fact is just the opposite. It remains truly the story of an unvanquished spirit that rises through all sorrows and grief like a phoenix, triumphant in its ability to retain hope at all times.
Like Pather Panchali, Aparajito reveals the clarity of Bandopadhyaya's own inner vision, the astute but sympathetic treatment of his characters and his close intimacy with nature.
Bibhutibhusan Bandopahyay was born in 1894 in Muratipur, a small village about hundred miles north of Calcutta. Bandopadhyay attended a local village school. In 1914 he was admitted to Ripon College, Calcutta, from where he graduated in 1918. He took up teaching as his profession and continued as a teacher from the greater part of his life. He died in 1950.
His first publication was a short story which appeared in a Calcutta journal in 1922. From then on he wrote regularly. He is credited altogether with fifty published works, seventeen of which are novels and twenty collections of short stories. His greatest work, however, and that which brought him fame, is Pather Panchali. Aparajito is the sequel to that famous novel. The noted film-maker Satyajit Ray, made three films based on these two novels, which have come to be known as the Apu trilogy.
Born and brought up in Delhi amidst people from various parts of India, Gopa Majumdar learnt the art of translation quite early in life. She has translated many of the famous Bengali writers, but is best-known as the translator of Satyajit Ray's works. Among her other well known as the translator of Satyajit Ray's works. Among her other well-known translations is Ashapurna Devi's celebrated novel, Subarnalata.
In 1995, she was given the Katha Award for translation. In 2001 came the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize for Aparajito. Gopa Majumdar lives in Britain at present, and is actively involved in promoting Indian literature abroad.
Reading the works of Bibhutibhushan Bandopandhyay is like looking at the universe. It evokes the same feeling of wonder and awe. He is one of those rare authors who can grasp life in its entirety, not just the whirlpool of the period he lived in. This adds a touch of magic to his works. His vision soars to the bright evening clouds. Then comes down the next moment to the stillness of night or speeds towards the approaching dawn. Yet, in the next instant, he is not there any more, but has made a journey to the farthest corner of creation, taking his readers with him. Bibhutibushan was a wayfarer roaming the highways of the physical universe, but his heart was bound in an unbreakable bond with the simple joys and sorrows of earthly life.
His father was Mahananda Bandyopadhyay, a village story teller and singer, Though an educated man, Mahananda was not financially successful in life. Bibhutibushan saw a great deal of poverty when he was growing up. His father travelled through villages, telling stories, singing ballads from the epics and mythology, writing plays, setting an ideal of nomadic freedom before his son. This perhaps how the seed was the sown. Bidhutibhushan travelled all over India, particularly the Saranda forest ('The land of Seven Hundred Hills', as described by Colonel Dalton) in Bihar. To him, every bush was afire with the wonder of nature and the invisible power behind it. He was, in his own way, fully conscious of the cosmic backdrop against which life played its role. This special trait in his character earned him the unique place he enjoys in Indian literature: Added to this way the simplicity of his language and sincerity of his feeling. Anyone who has read his works knows that what he said came straight from his heart, from a deep faith in what he felt to be true. In this day and age, when many of us are forced into a never-ending rat race, Bibhutibhushan's language, his vision and his very positive philosophy of life bring a sense of deep peace and tranquillity.
Aparajito, Bibhutibhushan's second novel, a sequel to Pather Panchali, was serialised in Prabasi and was published in two volumes in 1932. Bibhutibhusan perhaps faced quite a lot of difficulty with this novel, because here Apu, the famous hero, is in the big metropolis Calcutta, working hard to earn a living and to acclimatize himself with the ways of city life. The peaceful Nischindipur is gone, Apu finds himself gasping in the. He never really understands the city. While working as an accounts clerk in the house of a big landowner, he hankers for a small piece of blue sky, the verdure of the open fields, for the magic to the open emptiness of the horizon. The author himself felt this problem, as this was his autobiographical novel. The grim struggle for existence could not daunt Apu. His live for nature and for simplicity kept him going in spite of all the hurdles and pitfalls.
This struggle for existence and yearning to go back to his roots are two main features of Aparajito. The peaceful village Nischindipur, where Apu and Durga grew up is gone forever, but the desire to go back remains. As the novel goes on, readers are mesmerised by the simple style of the author. As one of the western critics said of him: novelists in the western countries can teach us about violence, sex, alienation and psychological problems, but this Bengali author can teach us about the basics of human life and society. This was possible for Bibhutibhushan Because he maintained no double standards. Many of his contemporaries described him as a saintly person, and truly he was that. In his works he shows us the way to conquer sorrow and fear.
Bibhutibhushan's interests in life were varied. His personal library, at least partly, still exists. It contains books on astronomy, physics, botany, world literature in general, anthropology, philosophy and all the earth sciences. He used to take a few books with him when going out for a late afternoon stroll, find a comfortable place under a big tree, and read till it was dark. Books accompanied him to bed, too. Often he read till the small hours.
We can see reflections of his extensive reading in his works. In Aparajito, he warns us against the indiscriminate deforestation and resulting environmental hazards sixty-five years ago, a time when almost nobody was aware of concerned about pollution. Not only an avid worshipper of nature, Bibhutibhushan was also a pioneer of conservation of environment. He wanted to save what he lived.
Like Andre Gide and Rabindranat Tagore, Bibhutibhushan maintained a diary regularly. The last entry was made only three days before his death. In 1924, while on a sojourn in Bihar, Bibhutibhushan wrote in his journal about the theory of relativity and dilation. It was only eight years after Einstein's publication of the theory of general relativity and Bibhutibhushan had already read and general relativity and Bibhutibhushan had already read and grasped it. His acquaintance with the ever-expanding frontiers of knowledge gave his works a special depth and class. Combined with this was his positive humanism, love for everything and everybody.
It is for this reason that his works will be remembered and read forever.
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