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December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         December 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:Dec' 2017


The workings of time

Redemption is the story of a family, linked to I n d i a ' s evolution. It explores the uneasy interface between class and caste against the historical backdrop to demystify the tenuous underpinnings of a fragmented socio-political milieu, floundering amidst change. Dhaka's Chaudhurys relocate before the partition of India to Calcutta, city of Goddess Kali. It is dense with emotion and religious fervour.
They live in a decaying house, ascribing their travails to an unnatural death over two centuries ago. Aparajita, a widowed daughter, seeks refuge in Banaras. Solitary persons join those outside the social pale to find meaning through devotional life.
Unceasing inroads by outsiders spur emergence of the savarna edifice, modelled on Avestan pistras, helmed by priests, perhaps as a means to absorb them. It undermines older avarna paths that centre on oneness of life and the personal quest: shramanic, Vedantic, Jain, Buddhist , duotheist, yogic, devotional, ascetic, tantric.
Islamic depredations from the early 8th century AD bolster orthodox resurgence. Absorption of aliens, a continuous process, engenders racial admixture. Srimad Bhagwat Puran refers to "Kirat, Hun, Andhra, Pulind, Pulkas, Abhir, Sumbh, Yavan, members of the Khas races and even others" seeking deliverance by embracing the Vaishnav faith, and, no doubt, other credos. This debunks the colonial view that one is born and not made Hindu, premised on birth into a caste. Assimilation and proselytism facilitate entry of myriad foreigners, as too of tribals and subalterns into elite tiers; and emergence of thousands of jaatis. As natives cede ground, they seek work under foreign rulers. So do the Chaudhurys. Burdened early with family duties as the eldest son, Girish falls back on tradition for solace. Younger kin break away. Tara moves to Delhi. As a locus of power the city has witnessed the rise and fall of empires.
Political manoeuvres over the site of a derelict mosque, reputed to be Sri Ram's birthplace in Ayodhya, spiral out of control. Pursuing happiness obsessively, Tara teeters on the edge. Light dawns after a day of violent reprisal.

Anuradha Dutt The mythical and real merge as these lives unfold Muslims come to vanquish, later settling into their own space, to be overcome by the British; and the latter, wily traders, become unlikely saviours of the dispossessed. But colonial stratagems also serve to entrench caste and communal politics.
The ordered world coexists with other worlds that spurn the way of regulated conduct. Fearful mysteries of the cremation ground and rites of sex and magic unveil the subterranean quest. Every propensity finds an outlet through religion, the profane merging with the sacred. The workings of time shape the end.