Written originally in Telugu, this novel about the events leading to the death of the protagonists and the emergence of a forward-looking educational institution in the 1920s is translated by VVB Rama Rao, who is a creative writer, translator and biographer.
As a biographical novel set on a wide canvas, Malapalli brings out in an intensely pleasant way the importance of duty in human life. Ramadas resides in a village where the story is created to show that human duty is of prime importance even in the face of adversity. Ramadas belongs to the Maladasari caste and whose ancestors were Vaishnavites and whose descendants wore the characteristic vermilion mark on their forehead. The series of joys and sorrows he experiences enable him to triumph over affection and hate, egoism and disrespect. The practice of doing your duty without expecting any fruit teaches Ramadas that all is Rama and there is nothing to be hated. This way he becomes the kulapati and a yogi par excellence, attaining unification in the Absolute Reality. Sangadas'sself-sacrifice makes possible the establishment of the Vijaya College as also do Ramadas'syoga and other acts of charity and donations for the victory of dharma.
The novel shows the miserable lot of the untouchables and the British system of village and judicial administration which nurtures foul play. The innocent and virtuous suffer while the crooked thrive though ultimately truth and rectitude triumph. The Bhagavad propounds the experience of ultimate joy of the soul when devotion and love transcend the sensual and sensory and become committed to the self. This is the central message of Malapalli, a commentary on how the passions?artha and kama transform according to one'sown samskara, the valuable residue of previous births. Artha (money) in the hands of the law-abiding is used for charity and in the hands of misers for causing tribulations to the poor. Krodh (anger) and lobha (greed) of Choudarayya lead to the destruction of his self; the charity of Ramanaidu and Venkatayya becomes useful to the victory of dharma.
The novel ends on a tragic note with Ramdas weaving cloth during his last days. He makes living with the money that comes from the sale proceeds. He wears saffron clothes and goes up the hill almost every day and sometimes even sleeps there. After a while he stops visiting the Vijaya College or the village. No one knows where he has gone. The elders say that he has gone into the caves in the hill as a siddha (accomplished one) and ?in due course had become one with the Creator.?
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