It is not common to come across a fiction writer who was an entrepreneur once. It is, therefore, a surprise that a man graduated in B.E. from the National Institute of Engineering and who led a successful business in Chennai, took to Sanskrit studies, and joined the Madras University when he was sixty plus! And it comes as no surprise when his novel is interspersed with our Indian philosophy, Hindu scriptures, Vedas and Vedangas.
Anveshana, the debut novel of V.R. Anil Kumar, is a simple story narrated in a simple style. The story revolves around three characters—successful businessman Nagaraj, his brother Raghu and their father Ramachandra. Nagaraj is not much bothered about the means to reach the top and he realises his ambition without any qualms. He abandons moral code of conduct both in his business and private life. The sleazy affair between Nagaraj and Sripriya is a pivotal portion of the novel, as he does not want to sever his relationship with her even after reaching the top, leading a happy family life.
Raghu writes on Indian philosophy and Hindu literary heritage in a column in Deccan Times and they form the integral part of the novel. If the reader thinks that the fiction is only about our glorious heritage, he is mistaken. The novel takes a different route and turns into a mystery when the father Ramachandra disappears suddenly, leaving the whole family behind, in search of self-realisation.
The author, Anil Kumar, tries to bring in a lot of suspense in the latter part of the novel. The tragedy is when the family members finally trace Ramachandra in Ramgarh, he had lost his memory in an accident. Although the sons succeed to locate him and try to connect him with the past, they are sourly disappointed. The death of the patriarch takes the novel to the end but it is indeed poignant.
Anil Kumar’s description of the places is natural and he restrains himself with the presentation of appropriate atmosphere. Dr Gururaj is another character almost at the end, who explains the very core of the novel: “Yes, the system is one that has always allowed external influences of questioning of every part of the tradition. As for your father, his soul or his athma appears to have been the same, though the external realities changed. This is exactly what some of our Vedantins have been preaching and exhorting you to find out the real YOU in you.”
Anveshana, therefore, is a modern day fiction focusing on seekers. Each one, however, had his own objectives.
What triggered the author to weave the Grihya Sutras in the fiction is interesting. “When my son Gurutejas finished his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University, he decided to marry an American girl. Her parents needed a few Sanskrit quotes to be incorporated in the wedding invite. Not familiar with slokas and details of rituals, I decided to do research on Hindu marriage rituals and joined Sanskrit M.A. and then did my Ph.D. too!”
He decided to bring his theoretical dissertation into a book and thus was published Vivaha Samskaras in the Grihya Sutras of the Four Vedas in 2014 by the DK Printworld, New Delhi. Having been exposed to Indian scriptural literature and traditions during his research, Anil Kumar decided to write a novel, using the fictional format to disseminate information and Hindu way of life and traditions to lure more readers.
What adds value to the book is the provision of glossary at the end which enables the reader to know the meaning of the Sanskrit words used in parts of the novel.
By V.R. Anil Kumar