M.V. Venkatram, one of the Manikkodi writers of 1930's in Tamil Nadu, in his extraordinary novel Kathugal portrays the titanic struggle of an intellectual with refined sensibilities to cope with the onslaught of mysterious evil forces upon his consciousness which takes the form of different sounds and human voices heard within his ears. The story depicts the various efforts the hero Mahalingam makes to save himself with the help of spiritual guides and masters until finally his abiding faith in Lord Murugan saves him from becoming totally insane. He recovers his faith in the end by clinging to his personal god. The novel is in a way a portrayal of the eternal struggle between the forces of good and evil that has been going on in the mind of man ever since he was turned out of Eden.
K.G. Seshadri, versatile scholar, prolific writer and translator, has been a teacher of English for more than 50 years. He is now with Sastra University, Thanjavur as Deen, Humanities and Sciences. He has more than 25 published works to his credit, including translations of Tamil and Mahakavi Bharati. He is also the winner of the State Award in 1982 for the Best Professor of English in Tamil Nadu.
KATHUKAL by M.V. Venkatram, the last of his writings, is perhaps his most ambitious and challenging work. Autobiographical touches may be found throughout the novel, which seeks to depict the titanic struggle of an intellectual with refined sensibilities to overcome the onslaught of evil forces upon his consciousness, beginning with a constant tinnitus in his ears which takes the form of different sounds and human voices. The story portrays the efforts of the hero Mahalingam, to save himself with the help of different spiritual guides and masters by various means, until finally his faith in Lord Murukan, which remains unshaken despite occasional misgivings and doubts caused by the opposing forces, saves him from becoming a total wreck. In his bewilderment and confusion, he clings desperately to his personal God by chanting the Kandaranubhudhi of Arunagirinathar till the clamouring voices which torture him finally die away. The novel is in a way a portrayal of the eternal struggle between the forces of tamasic evil and sattvic good, that has been going on in the mind of man ever since he was turned out of Eden.
Translations remain the only tool for cross-cultural communication in a multilingual world which would otherwise remain at best a Tower of Babel. But any translation can only be an approximation to the original text. The translation of Kathukal has not also been easy task for me.
Children’s Books (1646)
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