Author: Chandrasekhar Rath
Translator(s): Jatindra Kumar Nayak
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 019566479
Astride the wheel is a quiet tale of the last years of a temple priest in rural Orissa and his acceptance of monotonous poverty-the fate of most Indian villagers. Sanatan Dase dimly senses that a great freedom lies beyond his wife’s continuous complaints, the petty social insults he bears, and the endless shortages in his life.
The first half of the novel is set in a village in Orissa. In its second half, the reader leaves behind the claustrophobic brahmin settlement, its caste hierarchies, trivial preoccupations and repetitive rituals to travel with Sanatan Dase to Dakhineswar, Varanasi, Vrindavan, and finally to Puri. The protagonist’s outward pilgrimage coincides with a journey into an inner world of profound mystical experience.
Often described as a Hindu novel, the work hints at a secret and flawless happiness that is attainable through simple piety and devotion. This translation will appeal to aficionados of regional Indian literature, as well as the general reader.
The life of Sanatan Dase, a fifty-year old servitor of the Lakshminarayan temple, consists of the self, the family, priestly duties, and the politics of Oriya village society. Yet is ends are never met, and he constantly ponders upon fate, God, manhood, the soul and the world.
Through a chance encounter with the intellectual Satpathy during a trip to Dhabaleswar, Dase discovers the futility of worldly struggle and realizes that the soul is attached to a wheel of fire, constantly moving forward. His world is soon to be forever transformed.
The deaths of his wife and son close the door on Sanatan Dase’s reality, as his family disintegrates, and he leaves his old life behind, embarking on a journey with Satpathy. They travel to Dakhineswar, Varanasi, Vrindavan, and finally to Puri, where Sanatan meets a happy and painless end.
Man of Straw
Man, the Enigma
The End of all Journeys
The Rule of Fate
Life Beyond Death
Mother and Wife
The Five-yearly Vote
The Dead Shall Never Rise
Maya, the Mover
A Cripple Scales a Mountain