MANASAROVAR by Ashokamitran, is a novel in spiritual journey. The hero, rather heroes are a script writer in Tamil films and a leading film actor, who has come into Tamil films from the north, a Lahore-born Hindu. There is a strange bonding between them. The writer, Gopal lives a life of struggle. He is struck by personal tragedies – his paranoid wife, in a grip of madness kills their only son, a teenage boy. She suffers from intense suspicion of her husband and flows into rage. The reason for this personality development is revealed much later in the book, almost at the end. He sets out on the path of finding spiritual solace.
The actor Satyan Kumar, misses his home and immediate relatives, his parents, though he is surrounded by distant relatives and people from his village. At 39, he is unmarried. Gopal, after the death of his son (wife is taken away by her relatives) leaves Madras in search of his guru, a Siddha. Satyan Kumar goes in search of Gopal, whom he believes bears a resemblance to his guru Meher Baba. Uncanny things happen on his way and he gets to meet the Siddha guru of Gopal. Satyan tells Gopal that part his personal tragedy was inadvertently because of him.
The novel, translated into English by N Kalyan Raman, is the inner yatra of the two protagonists, packed appropriately under the title Manasarovar. Kalyan Raman has retained the Tamil flavour of the author’s original inimitable style. The original title in Tamil has been retained.
(Penguin Books, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi-110 017)