Detailed Summary of Samskara – Chapter IV


SAMSKARA by U. R. Anantha Murthy

SAMSKARA by U. R. Anantha Murthy

SAMSKARA by U. R. Anantha Murthy


Garudacharya               – a relative of Naranappa

Shyama                           – only son of Garuda

Naranappa                    – a Brahmin who leads a non-Brahminical life

Lakshmanacharya      – a relative of Naranappa

Sitadevi                          – wife of Garudacharya

Chandri                          – a dalit woman who lives with Naranappa

Praneshacharya          – learned scholar and priest of Durvasapura

Anasuya                        – wife of Lakshmanacharya

Shripati                          – Son-in-law of Lakshmanacharya

Lilavati                           – daughter of Anasuya and wife of Shripati

Dasacharya                  – a poor Brahmin of the agrahara

Chapter IV

Naranappa’s relatives vying with each other to do funeral rites for him

The Brahmins come back from Parijatapura.  There are different views prevail for Garudacharya’s son Shyama deserting his home.  Garudacharya’s enemies blame him for punishing Shyama severely.  Naranappa’s enemies blame Naranappa for inciting Shyama to run away from home.  Lakshmanacharya blames Garudacharya for the black magic Garuda used against Naranappa’s father.  He believes that the black magic Garuda used against Naranappa’s father boomeranged on himself.

Shyama’s parents Garudacharya and Sitadevi are left in the lurch, not knowing the whereabouts of Shyama.  Sitadevi, Shyama’s mother, fasts on Friday nights hoping that he would become a better person but Garudacharya is furious about his son.  After a gap of about three months, they receive a letter from him informing that he has joined the army and if he has to be relieved a penalty of six hundred rupees has to be paid.  Thus only through his letter they come to know about his whereabouts.

Sitadevi does not have sufficient money to pay the penalty and get her son relieved from the army but her hope brightens as she thinks that her husband might get a chance to do the funeral rites for Naranappa and legally get Chandri’s golden ornaments.

Garudacharya does not want his situation to become like that of Naranappa.  He hates his son for running away from home.  Nevertheless he needs to redeem his only son so that on his death his son would do funeral rites for him.  Hence he sneaks into Praneshacharya’s house and tries to persuade him to allow him to do the funeral rites for Naranappa.  If so, he would get the golden ornaments of Chandri and that would help him to redeem his son from the army.  Hence on entering Praneshacharya’s house, he tries to cajole and persuade Praneshacharya and make him say that he could do the rites for Naranappa.  He cites what Praneshacharya once said, that even though it is not proper (for a Brahmin) to eat cow’s meat, one can be fed with that if his life is depended on that.  He tries to make him understand that for the sake of dharma, a requirement could be fulfilled.  He speaks about dharma and life because ‘The motive: gold”.  But Praneshacharya is stubborn in going through the texts to find a solution.

Meanwhile Anasuya also tries to get the golden ornaments.  Anasuya is related to Naranappa as he is her maternal uncle’s son.  Moreover, Anasuya’s sister is Naranappa’s first legal wife.  Anasuya does not want her husband to do funeral rites for Naranappa earlier but after knowing that she would get Chandri’s gold, she sheds tears saying, “O God, O God, whatever he (Naranappa) might have done, how can we cut the family bond that binds?”

Anasuya harbours anger against Naranappa because he has spoiled her son-in-law, Shripati.  Shripati was an orphan but she married him to her daughter, Lilavati.  But soon he takes to the life style of Naranappa and gets spoiled.  He roams everywhere and stays at home about two days a month.

When Lakshmanacharya, her husband, comes home tired from Parijatapura, Anasuya urges him to go to Praneshacharya’s house and convince him to get the permission to do the funeral rites for Naranappa.  Lakshmanacharya is an epitome of parsimony.  He tries to get even oil for his head without spending money.  He also has the habit of stealing banana leaves from others farms, dries them up, makes them into cups and sells them.  Now he fixes his eyes on Chandiri’s gold.

Lakshmanacharya and Garudacharya vie with each other in getting the gold.  Lakshmanacharya tries to get the permission for doing funeral rites quoting that Naranappa is his wife’s uncle’s son.  Garudacharya thinking that he should not get the gold, agrees with Lakshmanacharya’s argument but says that the gold should be submitted to the court or given to him according to the decree given by Dharmasthala (local court)

Meanwhile Dasacharya comes there and urges Praneshacharya to do something to dispose Naranappa’s body as he could not stay in his house due to bad smell coming out from the decaying body.  He suggests that Praneshacharya can use the gold for the Maruti God and they could dispose the body.  Garudacharya who does not like Dasacharya’s suggestion but fears to object it openly says that executing such an idea might bring bad name to Praneshacharya.  Praneshacharya then asks all of them to go home saying that he would go according to the ancient religious texts.  Then he asks Chandri to come inside the house and sit and gives medicine to his wife.  Then with the help of a kerosene lantern, he begins to read ancient religious books to find a solution.  It becomes evening.


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1. smarting over -phrasal verb

Meaning: worrying over

Example – Lakshmana’s wife, Anasuya, smarting over Naranappa who had sullied her mother’s family name, used to blame him also on Garuda.

2. pined away – phrasal verb

Meaning: suffered with longing

Example – Garuda’s wife, Sitadevi, had given up food and drink, and pined away, for her son was ruined by that scoundrel Naranappa.

3. accostedverb

Meaning – boldly confronted

4. akimbo – adverb

Meaning: (with hand) on hip and elbow bent outward

Example – After that Sitadevi had accosted Naranappa on the street, her arms akimbo, and scolded and wept.

5. overrun – verb

Meaning: swarm over in great numbers

Example – Garudacharya had raged like Durvasa, and jumped about as if overrun by red ants, shouting, ‘He’s as good as dead to me, if he so much as shows his face here I’ll break his head.”

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6.  buy off – phrasal verb

Meaning: to get rid of by payment

Example – Today Sitadevi came home happy thinking they might even be able to buy off her son from the military bond, if only Chandri’s jewelry came into their hands.

7. forestall – verb

Meaning: act in advance

Example – Would Lakshmana forestall her own husband and offer to do the rites? – Or those people of Parijatapura?

8. heinous /heɪnəs/ – adjective

Meaning: abominable

Example – Now, Naranappa’s meat-eating didn’t look too heinous.

9. maligned – verb

Meaning: spoke evil of

Example – She’d once maligned Praneshacharya for hesitating to excommunicate Naranappa.

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10.  lout – adjective

Meaning: stupid

Example – In your presence, I’m a lout, a clumsy bear.

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11. vagabond – noun

Meaning: wandering from place to place without a home

Example – Would he have died like a vagabond, a homeless wretch?

12. vermilion – adjective

Meaning – bright red

Example – The very next minute her eye fell on her daughter Lilavati – short, plump and round, a nose-ring in one nostril and a long vermilion mark on the brow.

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13.  furtively – adverb

Meaning: without being noticed

Example – She knew long ago he would come to ruin; ever since she’d seen him one day sneak furtively in and out of Naranappa’s house, she knew he’d gone astray.

14. godawful – adjective

Meaning: extremely shocking

Example – Who knows what godawful things he ate and drank in that house?

15. roving – adjective

Meaning: wandering

Example – Anasuya had taught her daughter a trick, just to teach her roving son-in-law a lesson.

16. gobble up – phrasal verb

Meaning: swallow up

Example – That Garuda is clever, quite ready to gobble up the whole town.

17.  milksop – noun

Meaning: a weak and inefficient person

Example – He is no milksop like you.

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18.  musty – adjective

Meaning: stale smell

Example – What does it sell for?  It isn’t musty, is it?

19.  patter – noun

Meaning: light tapping sound

Example – With such patter, he cups his hands and gets a couple of spoons as sample.

20.  forages – verb

Meaning: searches

21. Pice – noun

Meaning: a former bronze coin of British India

Example – Then he forages again in someone or other’s grove, brings home some cuts of banana-leaf to dry them in the sun and make leaf-cups which he will sell for a few pice.

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22. nonplussed – verb

Meaning: confused

Example – Garuda was nonplussed.  How can be counter this?

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23. crestfallen – adjective

Meaning: discouraged

Example – Garuda and Lakshmana were crestfallen.

24. sweet talk – verb

Meaning: use cajoling words in order to persuade

Example – Even Lakshmana, who didn’t know how to sweet-talk his way out, was pleased.



About diarysketches (25 Articles)
I Teach English Language and Literature in a college.

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