Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man – U.R. Ananthamurthy Translated by A.K. Ramanujan
Made into a powerful, award-winning film in 1970, this important Kannada novel of the sixties has received widespread acclaim from both critics and general readers since its first publication in 1965. As a religious novel about a decaying brahmin colony in the south Indian village of Karnataka, “Samskara” serves as an allegory rich in realistic detail, a contemporary reworking of ancient Hindu themes and myths, and a serious, poetic study of a religious man living in a community of priests gone to seed. A death, which stands as the central event in the plot, brings in its wake a plague, many more deaths, live questions with only dead answers, moral chaos, and the rebirth of one man. The volume provides a useful glossary of Hindu myths, customs, Indian names, flora, and other terms. Notes and an afterword enhance the self-contained, faithful, and yet readable translation.