SAMSKARA by U. R. Anantha Murthy
|Naranappa||a Brahmin who leads a non-Brahminical life|
|Dasacharya||A poor Brahmin of the agrahara|
|Durgabhatta||a Smarta Brahmin living in Durvasapura|
|Garudacharya||a relative of Naranappa|
|Chandri||a dalit woman who lives with Naranappa|
|Praneshacharya||learned scholar and priest of Durvasapura|
Praneshacharya Visits the Temple of Maruti God in the Forest
The stench of dead rats and Naranappa’s dead body makes the night sleepless for many in the agrahara. In Dasacharya’s house, except him, everybody smells the stench. Belli is also not able to sleep in her hut. After they burn the hut of Pilla in order to cremate him and his wife, there is darkness. Belli, as she needs light in her hut, goes to a nearby bush where she sees fireflies (glowworm) twinkling in the dark night. In order to catch the fireflies, she removes the only piece of cloth on her body and remains naked collecting fireflies and brings them to her hut. She finds dead rats in the feeble light, illuminated from the fireflies.
In the morning of the second day of Naranappa’s death, the women, thinking that Naranappa’s ghost roams the agrahara and it might touch their children, keep them inside their homes. But then Venkataramanacharya’s children disobey their mother’s order and they are excited seeing rats dying.
The Brahmins of the agrahara, meanwhile, gather to find a quick solution to Naranappa’s funeral rites. They are unable to bear the stench emanating from dead rats and from the decaying body of Naranappa. Durgabhatta and Dasacharya blame the rest of the Brahmins for the delay in Naranappa’s funeral rites. Therefore, Garudacharya decides to set aside the problem of claiming Chandri’s gold in order to give funeral rites for the dead Naranappa.
The Brahmins depend on Praneshacharya for every decision. Hence they gather in front of his house and when he comes out, he expresses his desire to visit the temple of Maruti, the monkey god, in the forest. The Brahmins accept his decision, hoping he will do the best for the agrahara.
Praneshacharya then goes to the forest to visit the Maruti temple. He takes with him Jasmine and Champak flowers and basil leaves. After a bath in the Tunga river, he changes his old sacred thread for a new one and walks two miles into the forest. At the temple, he cleans the idol and smears sandal paste all over it. Then sitting in front of the idol, he presents his conflicts in his mind to the idol. To go ahead with funeral rites as an answer from the idol, he asks Maruti god to give the flower at its right. And if the answer is ‘no’ for the funeral rite, then he asks the idol to give the flower at its left. He sits in front of the idol for a long time, without an answer.
Chandri, meanwhile, unable to face the angry Brahmins in the agrahara follows Praneshacharya to the forest. While coming to the forest, she takes bananas in the lap of her saree. She also takes a dip in the Tunga river and her body is completely wet. She sits at a distance from the temple, watching Praneshacharya.
1. kneaded – verb
Meaning: rubbed and pressed
Example – Narayana Narayana! Sighing loudly, he kneaded his belly, he tossed in bed.
2. cinders – noun
Meaning: a burnt piece of wood or something
Example – The hut had been fired to cremate the dead outcaste and his woman; it had burned all the way down to cinders.
3. urchins – noun
Meaning: a very poor child
Spanked – verb
Meaning : hit with hand
Example – So, the unwilling urchins had to be spanked, pushed in and the doors had to be shut.
4. wolfed down – verb
Meaning: eaten in large quantities cravingly
Example – The rice you’ve wolfed down has gone to your head, hasn’t it?
5. welts – noun
Meaning: ridges on the surface of the body ( from blow of a stick or the like)
Example – Get in, or else I’ll beat you till you have welts all over.
6. besmirched – verb
Meaning: spoiled, soiled, tarnished
Example : He drew some water from the temple well, poured two pitcherfuls over his body to purify himself of any pollution that might have besmirched him on the way.
7. sultry – adjective
Meaning: very hot and moist
Example – The heat of the day was fierce, though it was hardly ten in the morning. Even in the dark temple, it was sultry and sweaty.
8. whirred – verb
Meaning : flew quickly with a buzzing sound
Example – She sat there looking at the little birds that whirred and perched on the trees.