Pather Panchali, the folk narrative of Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhya, depicts a meticulous picture of the rural Bengal, of early 20th century, steeped in abject poverty. Pather Panchali is a novel, which delineates the spiritual, moral, psychological development of the individual in the context of contemporary social system. As a replica of rural Bengal, Pather Panchali is an artistic narrative picturing the predicament of the rustics, blighted with poverty. In a backdrop of rural Bengal, poverty is the protagonist of the novel Pather Dabi, which motivates the life and situation of the individuals, giving it a variety of shades, which ultimately ends in the moral and psychological revelation of the concerning individual.
Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhya, one of the famous luminaries of Bengal Literary World was born in 12th September, 1894 at his maternal uncle`s house in Ghoshpara-Muratipur village of 24 Parganas, West Bengal. Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhya, being challenged economically, since from childhood, he had the first hand experience of poverty. The economic burden, which he experienced, helps him to point out the plight of the poverty-stricken people. With a sympathetic attitude to the deprived individuals of rural Bengal, Bibhutibhusan has delineated in his novels the causes of the poverty and the miserable condition of the individual. No one in the Bengali Literature, so far has portrayed such a vivacious picture of poverty in early 20th century.
Pather Panchali is the folk tale focused on the life and gradual development of a boy of a poor Brahmin family, where the protagonist is his poverty. The poverty-stricken Roy family in their ancestral village with their agonized torment is the theme, with which the novel, Pather Panchali is concerned. The captivating depiction of the four members of the Roy family, their responses to the social happenings and their agonized existence in the native village of Nischindipur, till they move to Beneras, in search of new life, happens to be the staple material to fabricate the story of Pather Panchali. Harihar portraying an intelligent but impracticable man, failed to meet the ends of his family, Sarbajaya, his wife had to maintain the family somehow, represents the poor mother, who in spite of loving her children cannot provide them with their minimum requirements except the palpable motherly warmth and the playful immaculate childhood of the brother and sister- Apu- Durga collectively develops the story line of Pather Panchali. Pather Panchali, though on an apparent level seems to be a story of the Roy family, the novel essentially deals with Apu, his poverty, his responses and is seen through his eyes. Pather Panchali is a gradual psychological development of Apu from his adolescent to youth. Pather Panchali was a trilogy and published in three series - Ballali Balai, Aam Atir Bhepu, Akrur Sanbad.
The first segment of the Pather Panchali trilogy is Ballali Balai, which depicts the social customs prevalent in Bengal, even before the early 20th centuries and the throttled existence of the victims of the erstwhile social system in the early 20th century. Indir Thakurun, living in utter disaster as a burden of the Roy family, more explicitly points out the poverty stricken Roy Family. Indir Thakurun, being the victim of the Ballali Balai system always had been the liability of her father, later his brother Harihar. Finally, when she turned out by Sarbajaya, she felt completely helpless without the shade of his brother and eventually died on the road. Apu and Durga, who were closely associated with their aunt, thus right from their adolescent was familiar with poverty.
Aam Atir Bhepu:
The second segment of Pather Panchali trilogy is Aam Atir Bhepu. The series mainly depicts the growth of Apu and Durga from their adolescent to maturity. The transformation is manifested with the change of their feelings and responses to different incidents come in their way. Their tranquil ecstasy in the agonized existence, their secret picnics, getting lost while searching for the railway tracks, their habit of stealing from the neighborhood etc marked their childhood with unspoiled elation. But the inevitable destiny or rather the vicious poverty did not let the family flee from the dark shade of death. Durga, stricken with malaria, suffered almost without medical treatment, finally submitted to death. Aam Atir Bhepu Series concludes with the departure of the Roy family to Beneras in search of a new life. The death of sister, who was at the same time his friend and companion deeply moved Apu. Thus in the early years the death of those two, with whom Apu was inseparably associated has deeply stirred Apu making him experienced about the brutal poverty.
The third segment of the Pather Panchali trilogy is Akrur Sanbad, which is about the psychological mellowness of Apu and their life in Kasi. Inborn impracticable, Harihar could not improve his prospect at all and died leaving his family all alone. Sarbajaya, being flogged by the head of the family took up the job of a cook to survive anyhow and finally decided to go back to Nischindipur. In spite of feeling the call of his native village, Apu at this point understood that there is no way to go back. Life has endowed him with experiences, which guide the long way he has to travel. At this the
narrative Pather Panchali ends with a note of self-revelation of Apu.
The novel Pather Panchali deals with the human condition in poverty stricken rural Bengal in the early 20th century. The story revolves around a poor Brahmin family, with the concept of poverty as the principal protagonist. Pather Panchali is the depiction of the ways of life of the common mass, who are poverty stricken. The title Pather Panchali, truly signifies the essential spirit of the novel. Pather Panchali is the song of the road- the way of life of the majority section in Bengal. Pather Panchali, unlike the contemporaries does not deal with society or the individuals living in society, rather more particularly it concerns about poverty, a condition that makes a psychological probing of the human condition in a certain society.