A novel of epic proportions written in four parts from 1887 to 1901, Sarasvatichandra is both the enactment and the embodiment of the life philosophy of one man, and his sole mission.
A witness to the intense upheaval that British India was undergoing at the turn of the nineteenth century, Govardhanram’s objective in writing this novel was to educate his readers on key issues of his times and help them find ‘their way out of the darkness into some kind of light’. Part IV, The Dreamland, brings to a culmination the philosophical and narrative concerns explored in Parts I, II, III. At the heart of it lies the question of dharma and right conduct in the realms of state, society, family and love; and widow remarriage, a concern central to late nineteenth-century reform. It offers a utopia—both personal and societal—in the form of Kalyangram, where the ideal and desirable dominate over the real and possible. Sarasvatichandra and Kumud, separated in Part I, meet at last on Sundargiri and travel together in a dream.
The novel holds up a fascinating mirror to Gujarati society, the role of women in polity and life in the native states against the backdrop of India, pre-Independence, in transition—culturally, politically and ideologically. Before Gandhi, arguably no other work has so profoundly influenced the ethos and imagination of Gujarat as Sarasvatichandra. Tridip Suhrud, who has also translated Parts I, II and III, is an acknowledged scholar of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Gujarat.
Govardhanram Madhavram Tripathi (1855–1907) was born at Nadiad, Gujarat. He is also the author of Snehmudra (1889), The Classical Poets of Gujarat and Their Influence on Society and Morals (1894), and Lilavati Jivankala (1905).
Tridip Suhrud works at the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, Ahmedabad, Gujarat.