Amma Vanthal: A Lyrical Novel of Love and Betrayal
Amma Vanthal is a Tamil novel by Thi. Janakiraman, also known as Thi Jaa, published in 1966. It is a lyrical story of a vedapadasalai (Vedic School) by the Kaveri river and an orthodox Brahmin household in Madras. The novel explores the themes of love, betrayal, tradition, and modernity through the lives of its main characters: Appu, a Vedic scholar, his mother Bhavani Ammal, who has an illicit affair with a rich landowner Sivasu, and Indu, a young widow who becomes Appu's wife.
The novel begins with Appu's childhood in the vedapadasalai, where he learns the Vedas from his guru and develops a deep reverence for his mother, whom he considers as pure and beautiful as the scriptures. He also befriends Indu, who lives in the same village and is married to an old man. When Appu's father dies, he moves to Madras with his mother and brother to live with his uncle. There he discovers that his mother is having a secret relationship with Sivasu, who visits her frequently under the pretext of being a benefactor. Appu is shocked and disillusioned by his mother's sin and returns to the vedapadasalai, where he finds solace in Indu's company.
Bhavani Ammal, meanwhile, continues her affair with Sivasu, who promises to marry her after his wife dies. However, Sivasu's wife outlives him and Bhavani Ammal is left alone and destitute. She decides to go back to the vedapadasalai and seek forgiveness from Appu. She also bequeaths the vedapadasalai to Appu and Indu, with a promise to carry the tradition of Vedic teaching forward. Appu accepts his mother's repentance and marries Indu, who has become a widow after her husband's death. The novel ends with Appu and Indu living happily in the vedapadasalai, while Bhavani Ammal spends her last days in a nearby ashram.
Amma Vanthal is a novel that portrays the complexities of human emotions and relationships with a poetic sensibility. Thi Jaa's language is rich and evocative, capturing the nuances of the rural and urban settings, the customs and rituals of the Brahmin community, and the inner turmoil of the characters. The novel also depicts the women characters with sympathy and realism, showing their struggles and choices in a patriarchal society. The novel has been translated into English as The Sins of Appu's Mother by Orient Paperbacks in 1972 and more recently as Remembering Amma by Malati Mathur published by Katha in 2006.
If you want to read this novel online or download it as a pdf file, you can visit this website, which provides a brief introduction and a link to download the book.
Thi. Janakiraman, also known as Thi Jaa, was one of the most prominent Tamil writers of the 20th century. He was born in a Brahmin family in Chennai in 1921 and worked as a civil servant before he took up writing. He wrote eight novels, two novelettes, six collections of short stories, three full-length plays and three travelogues. He won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1979 for his short stories collection â Shakthi Vaithiyam.
Thi Jaa's novels are known for their psychological depth and realism. He was an expert at portraying life in the Thanjavur milieu, where he spent his childhood and youth. His novels reflect the cultural and social changes that took place in Tamil Nadu during the colonial and post-colonial periods. He also explored the themes of love, marriage, family, religion, morality, and human nature with sensitivity and insight. His novels are considered as classics of modern Tamil literature.
Some of his famous novels are Marapasu (The Wooden Cow), Mogamul (Thorn of Desire), Sembaruthi (The Hibiscus), Amma Vanthal (Remembering Amma), and Kalvanin Kadhali (The Thief's Lover). His novels have been adapted into films and television serials by various directors and actors. He also wrote plays such as Thillana Mohanambal (The Dancer Mohanambal), which was a musical drama based on Carnatic music and dance. He died in 1982 at the age of 61. 061ffe29dd