The Resignation (Tyaga- Patra): A Noval By Jainendra Kumar
The Sun's Seventh Horse (Suraj Ka Satvan Ghora): A Noval By Dharmavir Bharati
The Resignation (Tyaga- Patra)
Pramod, the narrator of this story, looks back on the past in an introspective mood. The life story of his aunt Mrinal, the relationship he shared with her as a child, his gradual estrangement from here in adulthood all combine
to raise deep, Philosophical question about human nature and the restrictions society imposes on it. As the story unfolds, society reveals itself to be a fraudulent institution, each member of which adopts a false personality to
fit into social roles. Well wr8itten and beautifully translated, The Resignation is a moving tale which offers poignant insights.
The Sun’s Seventh Horse
The Sun’s Seventh Horse is a unique experiment in storytelling. This short novel is a set of connected mininarratives, and it is considered to be one of the foremost instances of met fiction in twentieth century Hindi literature.
The novel is rich in insights and sparkles with a sharp sense of irony. The Character inspires the reader to mull on life and its mysteries, holding up a mirror to love and loss. This is an engaging mediation about life, as well as
the art of storytelling.
SachchidanandVatsyayan Ajneya (7.3.1911 — 4.4.1987): an eminent Hindi writer, journalist and pioneer of Indian Modernity in Hindi. Ajneya is a multi-farious literary personality and stands as a harbinger of new trends in
almost all genres of literary writings. He has written poetry, short stories, novels, travelogues, essays, criticism and also a poetic drama. In addition to being a writer, Ajneya was a journalist and revolutionary freedom fighter.
Born in Kushinagar (Karaya) district Devariya, Uttar Pradesh in an archaeological excavation camp, while his archaeologist father Pt. Hiranand Shastri was supervising the excavations. During his childhood he stayed at
many places — Lucknow, Shrinagar, Jammu with his scholarly father. His early education began with learning Sanskrit from his father; later on he studied Persian and English, did his Intermediate from Science College
Madras. After graduating in science he took admission in M.A. English. Before completing the Master’s degree he started taking part in revolutionary activities; joined Socialist Republic Party; came in contact with Chandra
Shekhar Azad. Writing and freedom struggle go hand-in-hand with Ajneya. His first short story was written in 1924 and first poem in 1927. During 1926-1936 he remained an active revolutionary involved in making bomb
at Himalayan Toilet Factory, Delhi. He was arrested in 1930, got imprisoned for anti-British rule activities.
While in prison Ajineya wrote his famous radical novel Shekhar: Ek Jiwani and a collection of poems entitled Chinta. After being released from jail he worked as sub-editor in Hindi Daily ‘Sainik’ at Agra and ‘Vishal Bharat’
at Calcutta. After some time he left journalism to join the farmers’ movement in Meerut. In 1942 Ajneya organized Anti-fascist movement in Delhi. During 1943-46 he served as captain in Indian Army, while posted at North
East Frontier he traveled on public information duty His contact with the North Eastern life became source of many of his later writings.
The publication of his radical novel Shekhar Ek Jiwani (Part I) in 1941 resulted in a good deal of fury in Literary Circles. In 1943 Ajneya edited Tar Sap tak a collection of poems by seven contemporary poets each of
whom had his own world view. Ajneya called it an experiment in poetic sensibility as well as expression. Tar Saptak marked the revolutionary trends in Hindi poetry initiating many questions and debates which were
answered in Doosara Saptak 1951 and Tisara Saptak 1958. Collection of his poems in English is titled ‘Prison days and other poems’
As a journalist Ajneya is known for literary and socio political journals
started or edited by him i.e. ‘Pratik’, ‘Walk’, ‘Dinman’, ‘Everyman’s wee My’
He had also been the editor of Hindi Daily Nay Bharat Times.
He traveled to many European countries (1955-56) and Japan (1957-58) under UNESCO plan of cultural exchange; had been a visiting professor of Indian Literature and culture at California University, delivered Lectures
at various Forums in India and abroad.
Ajfleya was recipient of many literary awards including Sahitya Akademi Award for Angan Ke Par Dwar and Jnanpith Samman for Kitani Navon main Kitani Bar. He established ‘Vatsal Nidhi’, a fund for literature and
cultural activities like lectures, travels of authors, literary workshops and publications and created a new kind of awareness for literature and its reception.
‘The Resignation’ and ‘The Sun’s Seventh Horse’ are English translations of two Hindi novels ‘Tyagpatra’ (1939) by Jainendra Kumar and ‘Suraj Ka Satwan Ghora’ by Dharmavir Bharati. An eminent writer translating his
fellow writers in an interesting creative activity; in any literature as it reflects the nature of creative and intellectual interaction among the authors of a particular era. We need to see Ajfleya’s translation of these two novels in
the context of his perception of the contemporary writings. He has been quite choosy in his translations. Apart from translating some of his own works — poems, novels, short stories & diaries into English he has translated
these two Hindi novels. He has also translated noble laureate Rabindra Nath’s ‘Gora’ — an epoch making Bangla novel into Hindi. Something new, something beyond the established track, something uniquely representing
the inward and outward complexities of human conditions in these texts attracted him to translate them.
In Jainendra’s novel Ajneya could see a new path different from that of Premchand. It is not anti-Premchand; rather it is a different line from the one taken by Premchand. We see Jainendra creating an absolutely new
perspective of reality in Hindi novel. He is a narrator not only of events but also of the individuality and subjectivity of his characters. His art of narrating has been openly admired by Premchand — ‘Jainendra is capable of
describing the most ordinary thing in such a way that it immediately catches the attention of the reader.’ The narrator in him is quite cautions of his craft. His narratives are psycho-analytical. ‘Tyagapatra’ is the best product of
Jainendra. It represents the revolt of the characters against the fundamentalism of the society. But the revolt is self-denying. It is not an aggressive rebellion which distracts and destroys, it is a rebellion through self-sacrifice.
The status and the fate of woman in Indian society has been questioned in the novel. The questions have not been answered through solutions. They have been responded by self-agony of Mrinal and her nephew Pramod
whose revolt is expressed though his resignation from his position of a Judge. Ajfleya’s translation was published in 1946.
‘Suraj Ka Satwan Ghora’ of Dharmavir Bharati is a trend setter in Hindi novel. It presents the middle-class realities, their complex sensibilities, problems and challenges in an absolutely new form, a new structure of plot. It is
a novella like ‘Tyagapatra’, depicts the anger of youth and the question of
morality. The rage is against the decayed orthodox values—standards which
continue to exist in spite of the fact that they have lost their significance. The problems of young lovers are not only personal or social, they are also financial ‘Suraj Ka Satwan Ghora’ is an experiment in the novel based on
five stories told by a narrator Manik Mulla. The freshness of its content and technique has attracted Ajneya to translate it into English. The translation got published posthumously in 1999.
Jainendra Kumar appeared on the literary horizon in 1929, his first published work being a book of short stories. This was followed shortly after by a novel, Parakh (The Criterion) which won immediate recognition from
critics as well as from the general public, and was also awarded the Hindustani Academy Prize. Thereafter the author’s rise to prominence was phenomenal, and within a few years he was probably the most talked-of figure
in Hindi literature, not only because of the high literary quality of his subsequent work, but also, and possibly more, on account of the disturbing originality of his creative outlook. His thought, his story material, his characters,
even his language, was provokingly different, and each new novel seemed to define more clearly a philosophy that was in startling contrast with ideologies of aggressive nationalistic aspirations current at the time.
Nor was the provocation merely incidental; as scandalized critics and literary journalists shifted their always unsparing, frequently embarrassing and sometimes strangely callous attention from the writer in public to the man at
home, Jainendra Kumar responded with a series of polemical articles which were invariably marked by superb objectivity, subtlety of thought and finesse in expression but which, nevertheless, began after a time to show the
marked angularities of the writer’s ego, and the shortcomings of an original mind unregulated by scientific training. Friends who had watched this apostle of ahimsa (for Jainendra Kumar was in the paradoxical position of
being the best exponent in creative literature of the Gandhian philosophy of ahimsa while at the same time being curiously aloof from the prevailing mood of aggressive optimism that resulted from its political application) with
sympathy and admiration, were often embarrassed by his naiveté before pitfalls which lesser or less highly strung types would have easily avoided. It was a case of a sort of pressure myopia—the sheer intensity of his vision
seemed to blind him and his reasoning became specious, quibbling and even banal. The almost anguished fervor of his metaphysical speculations, reminiscent sometimes of mediaeval saints, although a direct result of his
earnest preoccupation with moral principles, was hardly calculated to appeal to the superficial skepticism of the modern journalist, and Jainendra Kumar became the target of the most sustained campaign of ridicule that any
Hindi writer has known.
His position as a creative writer was, however, established; it was recognized that his was perhaps the most significant contemporary contribution to Hindi literature. A host of imitators sought vainly to attain the freshness of
phrase and the depth of vision that they had previously ridiculed, Jainendra Kumar’s influence on the bulk of contemporary fiction is indubitable.
Then, almost inexplicably, he practically stopped writing. Having published, in all, four novels, half a dozen volumes of short stories and a book of essays in a period of ten years, he withdrew into himself and wrote no more.
It was not as if he had deliberately come to such a decision, and certainly the critics had no inkling of what was happening, for they kept going to him for months during which he produced nothing but a few airy articles on
highly abstruse subjects. Only very gradually did they realize that Jainendra Kumar was no longer interested in them or their fulminations, not because he regarded himself as superior but because he had, in a sense, passed
beyond creative literature: in his rarified world, literature had become irrelevant. Since then Jainendra Kumar has lived in an insular retirement, under a self-imposed regimen of ascetic frugality that borders on penury, a stylize
saint without a style.
The Resignation (Tyaga-Patra), first published in 1937, is barely long enough to be classified as a novel. This brevity is not due to any terseness in the style which is descriptive rather than epigrammatic, but to Jainendra
Kumar’s preoccupation with the significance of events. The events themselves, Mrinal’s marriage, her separation from her husband and her subsequent adventures, all receive most scanty attention. They are dealt with not as
they occur, but as they are remembered by Mrinal at her successive encounters with her nephew Pramod, the narrator. It is only by seeing these past incidents in the light of the present, and through the eyes of the
introspective, remorseful god, that the reader can fully appreciate their significance. At the same a new interest is added to the story as it traces the gradual estrangement
Pramod from his aunt in a series of the most accurately observed scenes
raging from childhood to maturity.
Mrinal is unquestionably an Indian heroine. She would not find congenial
mpany among the many rebellious or ‘fallen’ women of European literature. Throughout the book it is the question of her dharma that confronts her. Her relationship with society at large is relevant only because true dharma
preserves the solidarity of society as well as procuring the liberation of the soul. And when she finally discovers her place among the lowly it is not because they are a revolutionary class—indeed from the Marxist point of
view she chooses the most lumpen element—but for another reason. This is important, because her protest is distinct from and has a different significance than the subversive discontent that was a natural corollary of the
nineteenth century cult of individualism and the developmental freedom that it demanded. Jainendra Kumar is deeply concerned with the potentialities of non-resistance to evil as a positive spiritual force. In fact what is only
implicit in Tyagapatra is an act of affirmation in another novel Sunita where the idea of non-resistance is carried to its logical conclusion round three rather hypothetical characters in a hypothetical situation; indeed, as a novel
Sunita is a triumph of pure construction, being sustained solely by the author’s intense preoccupation with the ethical idea.
Nonetheless, Jainendra Kumar’s attitude is a revolutionary one. As the story unfolds, society reveals itself as a fraudulent association, each member of which voluntarily adopts a counterfeit personality in order to free himself
of the greatest of all human burdens—man’s fear of his own self. It is upon this fear that society is based, it is this fear that drives the orthodox, in the mistaken belief that they are resisting evil, to acts of persecution and
inhumanity. And it is Mrinal’s lack of this fear that makes her great, while Pramod’s consciousness of it makes him pitiful.
Although it becomes increasingly explicit to the details of action and dialogue, this idea is also developed in a number of digressions. The digression which in Fielding’s day was the hall-mark of a good novel, has now largely
disappeared from European literature, and its frequent use in Indian fiction may possibly be a barrier between the latter and the European reader (which term here includes the Indian reader whose contact with literature is
through the medium of an European language.) If she/he is fair-minded, however, the European reader will acknowledge that in this case the digressions increase her/his understanding of the novel and adds interest, while if,
on the other hand, she/he is foolish enough to object to digressions because they are no longer fashionable, in this instance the reader is at liberty to regard them as sheets from the case-history of Sir Pramod Dayal, or the
first approach of an Indian writer to existentialism.
This translation has been done with a view to preserving the spirit of
the original, and is published with the approval of the author, who has also made a few verbal alterations.
Before I present to you this curious collection of moral tales by Manik Molla,
disguised as a novel, it is perhaps desirable to tell you who Manik Molla was,
how he met us, how these moral love stories came to be told, what were his
views on this thing called love, and also the original, unconventional ideas
he had about the technique of storytelling.
I say 'was' because I do not know where he is now, or what he is doing,
or if I shall ever meet him again. Should he really have disappeared, his
strange stories might also pass into oblivion: this fear gives some urgency
to my telling them.
Once he was one of the celebrities of our part of the town. He was
born there, he grew up there, found fame there and disappeared from there.
This part of the town is fairly extensive and divided into various sectors; he
belonged to the most colourful and mysterious of these sectors, the one that
has given rise to curious stories about its inhabitants whether of the older
generation or the younger.
'Molla' was not an honorific or a pseudonym; it was a caste name. He was
of Kashmiri origin. His family had been settled here for several generations,
and he was living here with his brother and his wife. On the brother's transfer
he and his wife had gone away leaving Manik Molla in sole possession. His
establishment was an impossible blend of cultural freedom and communism:
we lived at considerable distances from his house but considered it as a
community den. We always assembled there. We regarded him as an elder
and a preceptor and he too treated us all with undiscriminating affection. We
never knew whether he was in service or a profession or whether he was a
student; nor, if he was any of these, where he served or worked or studied.
There were no books to be seen in his room. Instead one saw strange objects
not usually found in people's rooms. On the wall an old black frame held the
motto 'Eat: The Body is an End,' a niche in another wall displayed a big knife
with a carved black handle, another an old horseshoe. There were other odd
specimens lying about that always intrigued us. But what held our interest
most was the generous supply of peanuts in winter and melons in summer-
supply that ensured our continued presence in season or out of season.
Now whenever a few friends assemble with a lot of leisure and complete
possession of the house, conversation inevitably veers round to politics; and
when interest in that flags, to love. At any rate, in middle-class gatherings
there never is a third subject. Manik Molla was as well versed in the one as
in the other, but in literary conversations he preferred the subject of love.
Talking of love he had a habit of twisting and perverting well-known
adages and sayings and producing a brilliant mot that was all his own. One of
these is written indelibly on my memory, although I understand it no more
now than I did then. Often, after relating some of his bitter-sweet experiences
to enrich our fund of knowledge he would pick up a melon and say while
cutting it, 'My friends! Whatever the adage might say, in the matter of love
whether it is the melon that falls on the knife or the knife on the melon, it
is always the knife that gets hurt. So, if you have a personality as keen as a
knife you must at all costs beware of this complication.' There were other
such enunciations: I shall recount them by and by.
So far as the art of the short story is concerned it was his set conviction
that amongst all the breeds of the short story the love story is the most
successful and therefore a good story must have an element of romance.
At the same time we should not, he thought, narrow our vision; we must
somehow ensure that our stories worked for social good.
We asked him how it was possible that a story should deal with love and
yet be concerned with social good. He would smile and answer, 'That's where
Manik Molla steals a march on all your story writers.'
Though he had not, up to that time, written a single story, his study of
the subject was vast (or so it seemed to us), and he was a master of the art
In the matter of technique his first proposition was that the modern
short story inevitably missed one or other of the essentials-the beginning,
the middle or the end. This was most undesirable. For completeness, he
would assert, a story had to have a beginning in the beginning, a middle
in the middle and an end at the end. These elements he defined thus: the
beginning of a story is that which has nothing before it and the middle
after it. The middle is that which has the beginning before and the end
after. The end is that which has before it the middle and after it the waste-
His second basic principle of technique was that story, whether it was
romantic or progressive, historical or unhistorical, socialist or communal
must lead to a definite conclusion or implication. It was his firm conviction
further, that this implication must be socially significant and contribute to
the social good. That is why though he never wrote a story in his life, he
always regarded himself as the prophet of implication ism in fiction.
On how to write a short story, the essence of his discourse was: Take a
few characters and a moral; such as-oh, well, whatever moral you decide to
establish. Then hold your characters so tight and under such rigid discipline
that they inevitably get involved in love and finally lead to the conclusion or
moral which you have fixed in advance.
These formulations often caused serious misgivings in my mind; but
he would go on to explain that, in Hindi, many writers had attained fame
because even if their plots were threadbare and their characters insipid, their
sociopolitical conclusions were shattering.
I also had doubts about the inevitability of love as the content of fiction.
For after all it is only during ten years or so of our life that we love; even
during those ten years it is the time saved from eating and drinking, the
economic struggle, social life, reading, walking and sightseeing, the cinema,
the newspaper, and the company of friends that we invest for love. Why then
should love be given such disproportionate importance? Travel, discovery,
hunting, athletics, driving a car, the professions, hackney-carriages, newspaper
editors-there were hundreds of possible subjects for fiction: why in Heaven's
name should one confine oneself to love?
Once I put this question to Manik Molla. He grew tense and asked, 'Do
you know Bengali?'
'No, why?' I asked.
He sighed deeply and then went on, 'Perhaps you've heard of Tagore. He
has said, "that which is in me is a pining woman." And this pining woman
keeps telling her story, over and over in a thousand ways.' Then further
explaining his thought, he went on to say that pining women were of many
kinds-the unmarried, the married, the devoted, the middle-aged, etc. And
pining also was of many kinds, depending on the causes-external, internal,
mental, etc. All these could be written on. And Manik Mella's great quality
was that like a conjurer producing fire from his mouth he could establish
the social significance or moral of any story.
Prakash, of our company, was of the view that Manik Molla, like other
Hindi story-writers, had an obsession with women. But he never dared express
this in Manik Molla's presence, or give him an opportunity to answer the
charge. For myself, I find myself undecided even today. That is why I am
going to present his stories without embellishment on my part: you can draw
your own conclusions. As to why the compilation is called 'The Sun's Seventh
Horse' I have provided the explanation at the end. And if you find the style
of narration colloquial and matter-of-fact, unlike my usual colourful pictorial
manner, you must forgive me. For I am only a compere, the stories are Manik
Molla's and are being offered as nearly as possible as he told them.
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