THE PHILOSOPHICAL, SOCIAL AND AESTHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE SHORT “MUKTI MAARG”(THE ROAD TO SALVATION) BY PREMCHANDGALAXY International Interdisciplinary Research Journal
GIIRJ, Vol.4 (3),
MARCH (2016), pp. 58-61
In the following, the full philosophical, social and aesthetic significance of Premchand’s short story Mukti Maarg (The road to salvation) has been analyzed. The simplicity and power of the plot twist and the deep concern with the human condition that Premchand has are detailed out. It has been shown that the story is powerful enough to cause us to stop and think on the profound issues of art, life, human conflict, egotism in human beings, resolution of conflicts through realization, human folly and blindness and the futility of creating barriers between men.
Premchand, short story, Mukti maarg, art, egotism, human conflict, philosophy, social living, human condition, conflict resolution and salvation.
Premchand, the foremost modern Hindi writer of India was a masterful story teller. He had genuine concerns with respect to the human condition. He could see the follies, the hypocrisy and the needless inhumanity all around him. But without becoming negative, having a firm conviction that we are all finally human, he weaved beautifully touching stories that captured various themes, be it the tenderness of a child, the hypocrisy of money, the beauty of friendship and in the story of Mukti Maarg (Road to salvation), he presents the deep humanity truly living in each of us. In the following we have covered the aspects of plot and philosophical, social and aesthetic significance of this profoundly touching story.
The plot of “The road to salvation”
The plot of this masterly story is truly realistic and we see these things happening everywhere. It has the universality of common human conflicts. Yet, like a true artist, Premchand, with utterly honest simplicity, weaves incidents that step by step ascends to a climax and suddenly at the end, the conflict is resolved and, in the tradition of the highest philosophically significant stories, leaves the reader pondering on the deepest truth about the worthlessness of separation of human beings and the emptiness of revengeful and hateful feelings. The realization strikes the reader with the inevitable. It makes the reader realize powerfully the futility of creating barriers and the destructiveness of egotism. The plot is of two people who start a conflict each taking revenge on the other until Finally both are losers. Finally with a plot twist, both find themselves to be working as day laborers, tired, fallen and thus reach out to each other worth simple humanity and truthfulness and finally only this unite them and they reconcile by preparing and having a meal together.
The philosophical significance of the story
This story is simple and uses natural common events and yet takes the reader slowly to an unsuspected climax that reveals starkly and profoundly the futility and destructiveness of egotism. This story indirectly asks the deepest question that concerns human living. What is the root of egotism and how does it function? What is truly nobility? Is it the virtue of grand people or is nobility simply a natural human quality present in each human being? What really separates human beings? Is it an unchangeable metaphysical fact or is it our own foolishness and amenable to change with proper realization? In short, what is the mukti maarg, the very road to salvation? The supreme genius of this story and the utter, genuine concern that Premchand had with respect to this philosophical theme is evident in every line and word and between the lines of the story. It unites Philosophy and art in a manner that leaves the discerning with the deepest appreciation of what an artist is, what human beings can be and the story has the power to lead each reader himself onto the road to salvation. Here is Premchand, the utterly honest Humanist, bringing out the stark truth that at the root of revenge and conflicts between people is our touchy, precarious Egotism that flashes and blinds us and takes us on the road to a never ending destruction. Through the story of just two human beings and that too with no shouting but simply showing, Premchand has made a statement of man and how he allows himself to live with utter unreason due just to a lack of bigness of heart. He also simultaneously shows and how that always reaches bitter ends. Through the genius of the plot twist at the end, he brings to sharp focus the Impractical nature of revenge and conflict on mundane things. Thus he combines humanism and pragmatism and both without too much bombastic dialogue but almost silently and quietly and that is the reason why the reader feels it all to be more than true. He realizes that the impracticality of egotism is actually obvious and truly learns an ethical lesson. That is the supreme philosophical lesson the reader learns without any preaching. That is the modern, heart breaking touch and sense that Premchand masterfully communicates and gives.
The social significance of the story
On the surface, this story is only about two people, but the sheer brilliance and utter honesty of Premchand is such that by the way he twists the story and the touches of artistry he gives with his writing style, he elevates the story into a great social drama and opens the door to an enlightening social way of life that is possible to human beings. He almost proves with this story that human beings truly need not fight and can live with harmony. At the end he shows, does not shout out loud, that humans are truly brothers. By the choice of the names, he gently reminds that beneath the religious names is simply our core humanity that is shared by all. He does not define a social contract primarily, he shows that by nature as humans with reason, we are social beings and we need not fight like animals. He shows what the barriers are, in simple, everyday, direct terms and leaves no room for any doubt that men can and hence should live in peace. He starkly shows that the divisions that men create are illusions of a self defense that is really the defensive posture of doubt and egotism than real defense. Social living acquires a greater and yet simpler meaning with the stern, yet simple social angle that is shown by Premchand.
The aesthetic significance of the story
This story has a profound aesthetic significance in terms of content and literary style. The content of the story is taken from real life events that all can recognize and yet as mentioned earlier, Premchand gives it a deeper significance and thus unites plot and theme in masterly fashion. This is and modern and realistic and yet possesses and strikes the reader with the profound message of the brotherhood of man. The language is calculated to be simple and leads inexorably to the heart breaking climax. The dialogues are everyday dialogues in essential selective terms and local but the meaning transcends the local , the concrete and brings out the universal and thus transcends space and time. This is story writing at its best. Another profound point is the way the lens like focus is present in a short time and space of a short story. This is short fiction at its best too. Short stories are not limited; in fact the very shortness of the format must challenge the writer to make a pithy point, and one point only, that strikes the reader deep. No one would debate that Premchand succeeds in doing that. The reader who really gets into the story would find his life to be transformed and the story can be an upheaval to a sensitive reader. This is art in general and the knack of writing a short story in particular. This is the function, the meaning of art. Art is not just recording of events but adding significance, meaning and bringing out a transforming effect by teaching without teaching, focusing on what makes human life truly human.
The purpose of breaking the significance of the story as philosophical, social and aesthetic is only for analysis. Actually, all these strike the reader at once. The story has the integrity of the solemn and sublime. Premchand, with his masterly craftsmanship and total humanness, brings out the gentle, yet strict meaning contained in the story of the troubles that we all face in the world, individually in our own souls, and by application, socially, in our interactions. He shows the stupidity contained in the lack of strong individuality. Individual integrity alone can lead to a bigness of heart and rising above our narrow blind self defenses. This story compares to the great stories of the world and stands tall as a classic. Especially in our troubled times, where corruption, religious divisions, machinations with money mindedness combined with power lust and the general erosion of humanness, this story needs to rise and be brought to center stage. We need to be reminded yet again, the road that Premchand shows without any confusion or doubt, to salvation. We need the “mukti maarg” yet again.
MUKTI MAARG WRITEN BY PREMCHAND (MANASA SAROVAR-STORY)
Dr A.C.V. RAMA KUMAR,
ACHARYA NAGARJUNA UNIVERSITY,