Monday, September 12, 2016

'Drishti Pradip'- A Bengali novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay

This was my first reading of any Bibhutibhushan story. I have heard so much about his writing, this book is a nice one. Previously I have only watched 'Pather Panchali' trilogy but have never read the original story.

This story is about the life of Jitu who at first lived in Darjeeling with his parents and brother- sister. Later their life changed completely as his father lost his mental balance and they had to shift to their ancestor's house for shelter. Here they faced poverty which affected all the characters in different ways.

It is the the main protagonist of the story-  Jitu, whose narration we read in the novel. We see the things and happenings from his point of view. He observes the life around him and responds to them.

Stressed about the poverty and lack of care in his ancestral house, Jitu comes to Kolkata to pursue studies. Then we remain with Jitu during his stay in Kolkata. Later during his job and also when he travels to various districts of the state, where he meets many people. There is a spiritual quest always in Jitu as he searches for something higher in the daily mundane life. Observing the general people and their faith, he feels about God and devotion in his own way, while attending a religious fair. This topic also returns later in the novel. 

He meets two ladies- Malati and later Hiranmayee- both of them touch his life in unique ways. Malati has a powerful impression on him through her personality, approach to life and through the spontaneous spirituality which is an integral part of her. I really loved the character of Malati. A lot is there to learn by all of us from her selfless service to others, Her simplicity, warmth of the heart and dedication towards her chosen vocation- makes her stand out among all the characters of this novel.

Hiranmayee comes late in Jitu's life when his personality has almost matured. 

Jitu feels for his father- mother- brother- sister, their life struggle pains him. He tries to help them and sometimes like any other person, he feels himself incapable of doing anything for them. Still he tries to take care of his family members sincerely. There are many more characters whom he meets and we get a glimpse of the society of that time. Jitu also spends some time like an ascetic in the company of a saint.

Reading this novel, I also remembered 'Srikanto' by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, where Srikanto also was a person who did not stay in a particular place for long, who would roam from one place to another and gather experiences throughout his life. There also we can notice the absence of any permanent 'home' (/ house) in the proper sense, as Srikanto always preferred travelling in comparison to staying at a particular home like the character Jitu here.

One interesting element of the novel is the 'visions' which Jitu used to have from childhood. Sometime they were like premonition, sometime they were the dream of another world- perfect and inspiring- sometime they were like a Realisation- a moment of Bliss, of motivation- to carry on with life, to realise that everything is in their right place and creation will go on. Jitu realises God according his understanding and finds peace in those thoughtful moments. Some of the moments are so vivid that they almost emerge in front of our eyes, we look at them and feel the same as Jitu. These descriptions by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay are wonderful!!! Just fills our heart with Bliss :). The title of the novel- 'Drishti Pradip' is significant because of these wonderful visions by Jitu! 

Overall this novel is a journey, we take with through the ups and downs of his life, sharing his experiences of real life along with his ideal/ dream life- which exists in the mind of all of us. The element of Spirituality- inspired by nature, or from everyday life-  is another speciality of this novel.

(Here I have uploaded the cover page of 'Drishti Pradip' published by Dey's Publishing. Photo is used for the purpose of appreciation only. No personal profit intended.)

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