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MEG-14: Contemporary Indian Literature in English Translation

MEG-14: Contemporary Indian Literature in English Translation

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2023-24

If you are looking for MEG-14 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Contemporary Indian Literature in English Translation, you have come to the right place. MEG-14 solution on this page applies to 2023-24 session students studying in MEG, PGDWI, PGDWM courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG-14/TMA/2023-24

Course Code: MEG-14

Assignment Name: Contemporary Indian Literature in English Translation

Year: 2023-24

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Q1) What is the role of two major Sanskrit epics in the construction of Indian culture?

Ans) The two major Sanskrit epics, the "Mahabharata" and the "Ramayana," hold a central and influential role in the construction of Indian culture. These ancient texts are not only revered as literary masterpieces but also serve as foundational pillars of Indian civilization, influencing religion, ethics, art, politics, and social norms.

Religious and Philosophical Influence:

Mahabharata: The "Mahabharata" contains the "Bhagavad Gita," a sacred dialogue between Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna. This philosophical discourse addresses fundamental questions about duty, righteousness (dharma), and the path to spiritual realization. It has had a profound impact on Hindu philosophy, guiding adherents in their pursuit of a righteous life.

Ramayana: The "Ramayana" portrays Lord Rama as an avatar of Lord Vishnu and emphasizes his adherence to dharma. It promotes ideals of virtue, devotion, and moral integrity. The text has inspired countless generations of Hindus and remains a source of spiritual guidance.

Ethical and Moral Values:

Mahabharata: The "Mahabharata" explores complex ethical dilemmas faced by its characters, such as the conflict between duty and personal desires. It serves as a moral compass, highlighting the consequences of actions and the importance of upholding dharma.

Ramayana: The "Ramayana" upholds ideals of family loyalty, self-sacrifice, and unwavering commitment to truth. It encourages individuals to uphold moral values even in the face of adversity.

Cultural Identity:

Mahabharata: The "Mahabharata" addresses the diversity of Indian society through its array of characters, regions, and cultures. It reflects the rich tapestry of Indian life, reinforcing the idea of unity in diversity.

Ramayana: The "Ramayana" contributes to the construction of a shared cultural identity by depicting the life and adventures of Lord Rama, who is celebrated as a cultural and ethical exemplar across India.

Artistic and Literary Influence:

Mahabharata: The "Mahabharata" has inspired numerous artistic and literary adaptations, including classical dance forms, theatre, poetry, and visual arts. It has provided themes and narratives for artistic expression throughout Indian history.

Ramayana: The "Ramayana" has similarly influenced the arts, including classical dance (e.g., Ram Lila performances), sculpture, and painting. Its timeless narrative continues to be reimagined in various artistic forms.

Political and Social Norms:

Mahabharata: The "Mahabharata" contains insights into governance, diplomacy, and political strategy, providing lessons for leaders and rulers. Its depiction of societal structures and hierarchies informs discussions about social organization.

Ramayana: The "Ramayana" reinforces the importance of just and virtuous rulership, as embodied by Lord Rama. It has influenced political thought and the ideal of a righteous and benevolent monarch.

Influence on Literature and Languages:

Mahabharata: The "Mahabharata" has contributed to the development of various Indian languages, with translations and adaptations in regional languages. It has enriched the literary traditions of India.

Ramayana: Like the "Mahabharata," the "Ramayana" has been translated into numerous languages and dialects, making it accessible to diverse linguistic communities.

Cultural Celebrations and Rituals:

Mahabharata: The epic is associated with the festival of Diwali, which commemorates the return of the Pandavas to their kingdom after exile. Diwali celebrations include the lighting of lamps and fireworks, signifying the triumph of light over darkness.

Ramayana: The "Ramayana" is reenacted during the festival of Ram Lila, with elaborate performances depicting Lord Rama's life. These events bring communities together and reinforce cultural traditions.

Q2) Which character(s) do you like the most in the novel “Samskara”? Why?

Ans) In the novel "Samskara" by U.R. Anantha Murthy, the characters are complex and multifaceted, each contributing to the narrative's depth and exploration of societal and moral dilemmas. While the novel does not offer easily likable characters in the conventional sense, it is possible to appreciate the complexity and depth of some of them.

Pranesh Acharya:

Pranesh Acharya is the central character of the novel, and his moral journey and internal conflicts make him a fascinating character to analyse and appreciate. Pranesh Acharya is a respected Brahmin scholar and priest in the village of Durva Sapura. His unwavering commitment to orthodoxy and religious rituals initially presents him as a deeply devout and principled individual. However, what makes Pranesh Acharya intriguing are the moral dilemmas he faces and his internal struggle to reconcile his beliefs with his actions.

Reasons for Appreciation:

Complexity: Pranesh Acharya’s character is a study in moral complexity. He grapples with the ethical consequences of his actions, particularly his illicit relationship with Chandri, a low-caste woman. His internal turmoil and attempts to justify his actions force readers to confront their own moral judgments.

Moral Evolution: Throughout the novel, Pranesh Acharya undergoes a significant moral transformation. Initially rigid and orthodox, he begins to question societal norms and religious dogma, leading to a more nuanced understanding of morality and caste dynamics.

Intellectual Depth: Pranesh Acharya’s scholarly pursuits and philosophical musings add intellectual depth to the narrative. His exploration of the philosophical texts he studies, particularly the "Anumana," provides insight into his character's development.


Chandri is another character who stands out in the novel due to her unconventional position in society and her resilience in the face of adversity. She is a low-caste woman who becomes entangled in a forbidden relationship with Pranesh Acharya, an act that defies the rigid caste system of the village.

Reasons for Appreciation:

Resilience: Chandri's character embodies resilience and the human spirit's capacity to withstand societal oppression. Despite being marginalized and ostracized, she refuses to conform to societal norms and remains steadfast in her love for Pranesh Acharya.

Subversion of Caste Norms: Chandri's character challenges the deeply entrenched caste hierarchy in Indian society. Her relationship with Pranesh Acharya forces readers to confront the injustices perpetuated by the caste system and question its legitimacy.

Symbolism: Chandri can be seen as a symbol of forbidden desire and the consequences of breaking societal taboos. Her character highlights the tension between individual desires and societal expectations.

While "Samskara" does not present characters who are conventionally likable, it excels in portraying the moral complexities and societal pressures that shape their actions. Pranesh Acharya and Chandri offer profound insights into human nature, morality, and the clash between tradition and personal freedom. Their characters serve as catalysts for the novel's exploration of these themes, making them integral to the narrative's impact and resonance.

Q3) Bring out the silver lining in the story “Birthday”.

Ans) In the short story "Birthday" by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, the narrative revolves around a poor, illiterate father, Kunjupathumma, who desperately wants to buy his son, Khaki, a birthday gift despite his dire financial circumstances. While the story primarily focuses on the struggles and sacrifices of the father, it also offers a subtle silver lining that underscores the enduring power of love and the simplicity of life.

Unconditional Love:

The most prominent silver lining in the story is the portrayal of Kunjupathumma's unconditional love for his son, Khaki. Despite his poverty and inability to provide material wealth, Kunjupathumma's love for Khaki shines through. His determination to buy a toy for his son's birthday reflects the profound bond between them. This aspect of the story emphasizes that love transcends material possessions and remains the most precious gift a parent can give to their child.

The Joy of Simple Pleasures:

"Birthday" underscores the idea that happiness can be found in the simplest of things. Kunjupathumma's struggles to save money for a toy, even if it means sacrificing necessities, highlight the joy that can be derived from small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. In a world often consumed by materialism, the story reminds us that genuine happiness is not solely dependent on extravagant gifts but can be found in the appreciation of simple pleasures.

The Resilience of the Human Spirit:

Kunjupathumma's determination and resourcefulness in trying to earn money for his son's gift showcase the resilience of the human spirit. Despite facing numerous setbacks and obstacles, he perseveres in his quest to bring a smile to Khaki's face. This resilience serves as an inspiring example of how individuals can overcome adversity through sheer determination and unwavering love.

The Value of Sacrifice:

The story also highlights the profound significance of sacrifice. Kunjupathumma is willing to forego his own needs and comforts to fulfil his son's birthday wish. This selflessness underscores the sacrifices parents often make for their children's happiness. It prompts readers to reflect on the sacrifices made by their own parents and the value of such acts of love and devotion.

A Lesson in Empathy:

While the primary focus of the story is on Kunjupathumma and Khaki, it subtly encourages empathy in the reader. It prompts us to consider the lives and struggles of those less fortunate, reminding us that a small act of kindness or generosity can make a significant difference in someone else's life.

Q4) Discuss the symbols in the story “The Empty Chest”.

Ans) "The Empty Chest" by Indira Goswami is a poignant short story filled with symbolism that enriches the narrative and adds depth to its themes. The story revolves around a widow, Hira Bai, who discovers an empty chest that belonged to her late husband, Gokul Chand.

The Empty Chest:

The central symbol of the story is the empty chest. It represents the emotional void left by Gokulchand's death. The chest was once filled with the material possessions and secrets of Hira Bai's husband, symbolizing his presence and the shared life they had. However, with his passing, the chest becomes empty, signifying the absence of his physical presence and the emptiness that now occupies Hira Bai's life. It is a powerful representation of loss, grief, and the void that death leaves behind.

The Deceased Husband's Belongings:

Within the empty chest, Hira Bai discovers her husband's old clothes, letters, and other personal belongings. These items symbolize Gokul Chand’s existence and the memories associated with him. As Hira Bai goes through these possessions, it becomes a form of catharsis, allowing her to reminisce about her husband and come to terms with her grief. The clothes carry the scent and essence of Gokul Chand, providing comfort and solace to Hira Bai.

The Butterfly:

A butterfly that flits around Hira Bai's home serves as a symbol of transformation and renewal. It represents the idea that life goes on, even in the face of loss and grief. The butterfly's presence reminds Hira Bai that there is beauty and vitality in the world, and it encourages her to embrace life beyond her husband's death. It symbolizes the potential for personal growth and a new beginning.

The Red Bindi:

Throughout the story, Hira Bai is described as wearing a red Bindi (a decorative mark on the forehead). The red Bindi is a symbol of a married woman's status in many Indian cultures. In Hira Bai's case, it represents her identity as Gokul Chand’s wife and her adherence to traditional customs. However, as the story progresses, Hira Bai decides to remove the bindi, symbolizing her transition from a state of mourning to a more independent and self-aware existence. It marks her decision to live life on her terms.

The Locked Door:

Hira Bai keeps her husband's room locked and untouched after his death. This locked door symbolizes her emotional barricade, her reluctance to confront the reality of his absence. It represents her struggle to let go of the past and move forward. As the story unfolds, Hira Bai opens the locked door, signifying her gradual acceptance of her husband's death and her readiness to embrace the future.

The Falling Leaves:

The falling leaves from the trees outside Hira Bai's house serve as a metaphor for the passage of time and the inevitability of change. As the leaves fall and new ones replace them, it symbolizes the cyclical nature of life. Just as seasons change and nature rejuvenates itself, Hira Bai begins to recognize the need for her own emotional rejuvenation and growth.

Q5) Discuss the significance of images related to spirit and matter in the poem “Just Once Try”.

Ans) The poem "Just Once Try" by Shakti Chattopadhyay is a profound exploration of the duality between spirit and matter, and it employs vivid and evocative imagery to convey its themes. In this poem, the speaker reflects on the conflict between the material world and spiritual enlightenment, and the imagery related to these concepts plays a significant role in conveying the poem's message.

"the Dark Mango Leaves ... Hanging Still in the Evening Air"

This image of dark mango leaves hanging still in the evening air signifies the material world's stability and permanence. The leaves are tangible, earthly objects that exist in the physical realm. They contrast with the speaker's yearning for something beyond the material, suggesting the enduring presence of the mundane.

"Your Paper Boats of Ash Drifting Away"

The paper boats of ash symbolize the transient and ephemeral nature of life and material possessions. Ashes, which result from burning, represent the ultimate transformation of matter into a different state. The drifting away of these boats signifies the impermanence of worldly attachments and desires.

"When the Table is Cleared ... Desires All Hushed"

The image of a cleared table and hushed desires reflects the idea of renunciation and detachment from worldly pleasures. The act of clearing the table is symbolic of eliminating material attachments and indulgences. It suggests a state of inner calm and contentment, where desires no longer hold sway.

"Empty Moonlight Falls ... into Your Heart"

The empty moonlight that falls into the heart represents the purity and serenity of spiritual awakening. Unlike the material world, which is often cluttered with desires and distractions, the moonlight symbolizes a form of enlightenment that fills the inner self with tranquillity and emptiness.

"It's Like a Whole Moon Entering Your Room ... Quietly with Folded Wings"

The whole moon entering the room is a powerful image of spiritual illumination. The moon, often associated with mysticism and inner reflection, signifies the fullness of spiritual knowledge. It’s quiet and unobtrusive entrance suggests that enlightenment can come subtly and without fanfare.

"the Smell of That First Rain on the Naked Earth"

The smell of the first rain on the naked earth evokes a sense of renewal and rebirth. It symbolizes the cleansing of the material world's impurities and the rejuvenation of the spirit. Rain is often seen as a purifying force in literature and spirituality.

"and All Desires Disappear Without Tears"

This image underscores the idea that spiritual awakening leads to the dissolution of desires without sorrow or regret. The disappearance of desires signifies a state of inner contentment and liberation from the burdens of material cravings.

In "Just Once Try," the imagery related to spirit, and matter serves to illustrate the speaker's inner journey from the material world to a realm of spiritual enlightenment and detachment. Through these vivid and symbolic images, the poem explores themes of impermanence, renunciation, and the quest for inner peace. The contrast between the tangible material world and the intangible realm of the spirit is artfully depicted, inviting readers to contemplate the profound philosophical questions raised by the poem.

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