Waiting for the Mahatma: Book Review

Waiting for the Mahatma


Waiting for the Mahatma



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Waiting for the Mahatma is a novel written by R.K.Narayan in the year 1955. The book covers the life in pre-independence India and the freedom struggle in the 1900's. It takes us through the life of Sriram, a 20 year old high school graduate. Sriram, having wealth with him leads a very comfortable life with no work until one day, his life starts to change as he sees a local girl, Bharati and later meets Mahatma Gandhi.

The story mostly takes place in Malgudi, R.K. Narayan's famous fictional village as well as in places like the Birla House and the Central Jail. The book shows Sriram's work towards India's independence and his prison life as well. Through his journey Sriram meets many people, including social workers like Jagadish and Gorpad.

The story also describes how much Sriram is influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The story ends with India's independence and Mahatma Ji's death.

What I like about the story:

  1. Sriram's emotions and his life his displayed clearly.
  2. Mahatma Gandhi's priciples, behaviour and tolerance is clearly represented.
  3. Jail life and prisoner's mindsets are well explained to readers.
  4. India's freedom strugglein the 1900's and their movements are depicted well.
  5. The abrupt ending of the story created a positive impression on readers and makes it beautiful. I was truly shocked at the sudden introduction of Mahatma Ji's death and surprised at his foresightness which saved Sriram's and Bharati's future.
  6. An sense of patriotism given
  7. People's carelessness and uncooperativeness about India's situation before independence is shown clearly.

What I don't like about the story:

  1. In a scene, Bharati tells Sriram that she was leaving for Madras for some time. She doesn't specifically tell the time period. However, in the next paragraph, it is understood that Sriram knew the time period for which Bharati went for Madras.
  2. Whether Bharati and Sriram finally marries in the end is still a mystery through Mahatma Ji tells them to marry.
  3. Bharati's imprisonment and Jagadish's efforts after Sriram's imprisonment are not so well explained.
  4. Certain peoples' nationalities are clear, e.g. collector, superintendent of police, etc.
  5. Partition of India, discussion of rule of Independent India etc. are not discussed.
  6. One really has to closely observe the book in order to know that Sriram's imprisonment term was 5 years, it was not clearly evident.

Overall, the book is a short and beautiful read. I would suggest you to read the book if you want to know about the Indian independence struggle, especially in the 1900's, which the story explains quite well.

Ganghiji's behaviour is also explained to the reader. By the end of the book, one can summarize that he was a very calm person who always abided by the policy of non-violence. Overall, a good read.