Bibhutibhushan had stayed in northern Bihar during the period of 1924-1930. During these years he had worked for the Estate of Khilat Chandra Ghosh. He was highly influenced by the natural beauty and the lives of evicted peasants, needy Brahmins, migrant labourers and adivasis. All these factors provided an impetus to compose this novel. 'Aranyak' earlier used to be published in 'Prabasi' monthly magazine. Later it was published as a book. Aranyak was dedicated to his first wife Gauri Devi.
Plot of Aranyak
'Aranyak' is a simple story. Satyacharan, the main character has visited an estate in Bhagalpur after getting the job as a manager. However, initially he could not adjust to the lonely jungle life. But gradually he started loving the jungles. Satyacharan and his partner Jugalprasad decorated the forest by planting rare species of herbs and plantlets. As he was an estate manager he has to destroy this creation against his own will and distribute it to the locals. Many old trees, herbs and plants were getting axed. This leads to a deep guilty feeling and sadness as the novel gears towards its ending.
Characters in Aranyak
The novel has been written in first person. The protagonist is a young man who had to travel outside Kolkata for a job. Here in the novel he is the link between the forest and outer world. There is a silent comparison between the two types of worlds. Satyacharan is an outsider who has no connection with the forest or the people. He is an audience to the daily mystery drama that is played in the stage of the jungle. He has no capability to take part in the drama. As such there is no central character in the novel.
Raju Pnaare is another unique character in the novel. He is poor, harmless, shy, religious man whose entire day spends in worship and reading of holy books. From Satyacharan he got two bighas of land however he could not remove the trees in two years time. He was given some more land however his habit did not change. Raju was of a philosophical nature.
Dhaturia is a young boy of twelve to thirteen who came to perform dance. As there was a famine in the Southern parts of Bihar people went out to perform dances. Dhaturia also came along with such a group. He was given meagre meals.
Dhaotal Sahu was a character who lived in the village of Naogachia. He was a benevolent money lender. He was popular among the inhabitants, businessmen and landlordHe lived a simple lifestyle despite being a rich person.
Matuknath Pnaare belonged to a Brahmin family who taught in a small primary school in his village. After closing down o the school, in search of job he landed up in Satycharan's office. However he could not secure any job there but stayed there for a few days. Satyacharan had no objections to it.
Jugalprasad is a mystic character in the novel who loves nature. His aim is to beautify the forest. Kunta was daughter of a Baiji. However she married a Rajput and after her marriage she lost her husband. Thereafter she was capture by Rasbihari Singh who wanted to marry her. She managed to escape. She was graced by Satyacharan thereby getting some free land. Towards the end she is shown depressed as Satyacharan had left for ever.
Venkateswar was a local poet who lived near the forest with his wife. Satycharan was invited to listen to his poems. Though he did not enjoy he appreciated Venkateswar for his effort.
Manchi is a young tribal girl who was married to an old Sardar, Naxedi. Her character attracted Satya. Through her casual talks with Satya she started thinking that Bengalis are very good writers.
Raja Doboru Panna is king of Santhals. He lost all his royal powers after independence. Satya visits him and doburu invites him. After few months Satya hears of Doburu's death. Satya visits the residence of Doboru. Jagaru Panna is Doboru's son. Doburu's grand daughter Bhanumati had a friendly relationship with Satya. Satya visits BHanumati before leaving the forest.
Rasbihari is a cruel zamindar who ruled poor tribes. He joins with Chote Singh and Nandlal Ojha Golaoala to drive out Satya. He is the perfect villain of the novel.
Nandalal Ojha is also one of the bad characters of the novel. He persuades people to his advantage. He wants people to make him happy always and those who cannot become his enemy.
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