How does Narayan depict religious belief in The Guide?

In The Guide, Narayan depict religious belief as something that must be acquired through experience. He shows that a skeptic can become devout. Overcoming his earlier cynicism and dishonesty, the character of Raju is transformed into a believer.

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In the first part of The Guide, R. K. Narayan seems to be criticizing religion, as he presents the character of Raju as a man who manipulates other people’s faith for his own benefit. The success that Raju enjoys as a sham holy man implies that religion is so insubstantial that it can easily be distorted by unscrupulous individuals. Through his conviction and incarceration, Raju has paid a price for his greed and the crimes he committed. From the punishment imposed by the state, however, Raju does not seem to have learned anything.

Upon his release, Raju quickly slips into his old habits of deception and manipulation. In many ways, he seems to have changed for the worse, as he is now making a living from deceiving people about spiritual matters. A change occurs when he decides to honor a commitment he has made and to act on behalf of his adopted community.

Raju decides to fast in an effort to alleviate the drought. In one sense, he seems to be gambling with the odds of the weather changing: the rains could come, and this change would not really have anything to do with his behavior. Nevertheless, when the desired result does not occur, Raju does not abandon his fast. Narayan suggests that following through on his promise, has created a genuine transformation within the man.

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