Essay on Samskara: Evolution of Self

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Samskara: Evolution of Self The novel Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man, by U.R. Anatha Murthy, tells the story of a Brahmin village community, an agrahara, and the revered Brahmin man Praneshacharya who lives there. Central to the novel is its namesake, the concept of samskara. Adjacent to the title page, the author supplies the many definitions of the samskara, including: “making perfect”, “refinement”, “the realizing of past perceptions”, and “any rite or ceremony” just to name a few. Throughout the novel, these various understandings of samskara play into the lives of the Brahmins living in the agrahara of the protagonist. Particularly for Praneshacharya, he goes through a sort of rite of passage throughout the novel, in a way his…show more content…
Praneshacharya is affected in a very different way by Naranappa’s death. Having lived the life of an orthodox Brahmin all his life, studying the scriptures and such, Praneshacharya knows only of the ascetic lifestyle of purity, avoiding pollution at all times, learned from scriptures and tradition. His samskara, his perfecting, involved not lived experience but recitations of scripture. He even reads erotic scriptural passages yet understands not of the sexual compulsions they relate to. However, through his stressful dealings with Naranappa’s death rites, he has a sudden reversal moment of his thinking in his experience with Chandri. This moment is the beginning of his samskara, which takes his through various stages of self-reflection, thinking through his past (samskara), until he ultimately decides to return to the village, yet it is unclear what he plans to do once there. By the end of the novel, Praneshacharya does not entirely change his way of thinking to that of Naranappa’s. Indeed, he is still very different in personality, however there are many overlaps. Praneshacharya does many things which are strictly forbidden by his orthodox Brahmin Mahdva background. He sleeps with a lowcaste woman, Chandri, also the widowed wife of Naranappa, herein lying one major connection between the two men. He also frinks coffee in town with Putta, and even eats food at the temple during the time he should be fasting

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