Pearls of Wisdom

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay was the most popular Bengali novelist of the early 20th century, and ironically, he initially wrote under the pen name of Anila Devi, in exact role reversal of Emily Bronte. Indeed, strange is the power of creativity, that can make one change one’s identity so completely! But, there is lot more common between the two writers other than the fact that they both had nick names of opposite genders. Both created a real world, where travesties of doleful character sadden and their light, cheerful moments tickle you, in a genuine way.

Sarat’s numerous novels have been adapted into film and TV serials, a notable few being Devdas, Charitraheen and Parineeta. He wrote a number of short stories as well. Though, more famous as a serious, sombre writer, as I read his Srikanta and Nishkriti, I noticed a humourous streak in him. Be it melodrama, tragedy or comedy, his timing is superb and narrative effortless, interspersed with lots of wisdom quotes that are left imprinted on one’s soul, long after the book has been closed. Savor a few from the huge collection, I recently finished reading:

1. If anything truly exists in life – it is death. We nurture our joys and sorrows, loves and hates, desires and renunciations through all our living years for the supreme moment of consummation that is death. Srikanta

2. Darkness is the first, the primeval truth that lies at the heart of Creation, I thought. It broods over all that is deep, inexplicable, external and infinite in the Universe. Srikanta

3. There is one characteristic that distinguishes the Bengali from the other races of India. He is more sensitive to humiliation. Srikanta

4. It is difficult to counteract flattery even when one is convinced that it springs from base and selfish motives. Srikanta

5. Man obsessively views himself as good or bad in proportion to the sorrow that has been his portion. Srikanta

6. The civilized elite knows that financial expansion depends on its capacity to dehumanize a man and get an animal’s work out of him. Srikanta

7. One must never ask a friend to be a partner in one’s sin. The scales overbalance and one has to pay for the others crime. Srikanta

8. Thoughts come in patterns. Those who have hope in their heart think in one way. And those who have no hope think in quite a different manner. Devdas

9. the thoughts of the hopeful are full of sparkle, joy, expectation, gratification, anxiety and sorrow; the cavalcade tires the soul and can’t go on for long, But the hopeless have no joy, no sorrow, no anxiety and no expectation, Devdas

10. The thoughts (of hopeless) float around like weightless clouds, They stop short where the wind stands still, and when the breeze stirs they move away again. Devdas

11. The idea of one person giving another large sums of money without asking for anything in return displeases many a female deeply. Parineeta (Espoused)

12. If the seeds of doubt are planted in the minds of the innocent, even the perpetrator cannot remain unaffected by the consequences. A person who is taught to doubt her enemies, also learns to suspect her friends. Nishkriti (Deliverance)

13. No one mourns a loss forever, no matter how grievous it might be. Nishkriti (Deliverance)

14. The memory is like a mesh through which the unimportant sinks beneath the weight of the important and is lost. Srikanta

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