What are some quotes from The Serpent and the Rope by Raja Rao?

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Waves are nothing but water.

So is the sea.

This statement, lifted from Advaitic philosophy, serves as a fitting epigraph for the book as a whole. The sea, and the self which it represents, is vast and inscrutable, beating on the consciousness with inquisitory waves. There is also an illusory...

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Waves are nothing but water.

So is the sea.

This statement, lifted from Advaitic philosophy, serves as a fitting epigraph for the book as a whole. The sea, and the self which it represents, is vast and inscrutable, beating on the consciousness with inquisitory waves. There is also an illusory nature to both the sea and to the self.

I was born a Brahmin—that is devoted to Truth and all that. "Brahmin is he who knows Brahman," etc., etc., . . . but how many of my ancestors since the excellent Yagnyavalkya, my legendary and Upanishadic ancestor, have really known the Truth?

Here appears Rama’s uncertainty as to the truth of his own identity, which is perhaps even an uncertainty as to whether there is “a truth” at all. “All that” and “etc” suggest an offhand and even dismissive attitude on Rama’s part to the philosophy in which he is educated. He is intimating that to know the truth involves more than study, that it requires the kind of exhaustive self-investigation that he will undergo during the course of the novel.

So, my ancestors went one by one and were burnt, and their ashes have gone down the rives. Whenever I stand in a river I remember how when young, on the day the monster ate the moon and the day fell into an eclipse, I used til and kusha grass to offer the manes my filial devotion.

The sense that Rama and his generation exist in the context of an ancient and storied heritage is evoked here. The contrary imagery of fire and water is very significant, in that while fire destroys the individual human bodies of each of Rama’s ancestors in turn, the river, which stands throughout the novel as a symbol of eternity and stability, represents the enduring nature of Rama’s heritage, which remains true to its course despite the fires of social and political change in India.

We had one thing in common: we both knew Sanskrit, and could entertain each other with Uttara Rama Charita or Raghuvamsa.

Rama demonstrates his expectations of a wife—namely that she be able to entertain him and that she be open to being entertained by him. What he seems to desire is a degree of emotional simplicity and a lack of intellectual conflict, qualities he finds more easily among those of his own culture than among the all-too-alien women of France. This is the reason he reacts with hostility to women like his sister and Savitri early on—women who seem to lean away from their Indian brand of femininity toward a more western form.

One cannot possess the world, one can become it: I could not possess Savitri, I became her. Hence the famous saying of Yagnyavalkya to his wife. "The husband does not love the wife for the wife's sake, the husband loves the wife for the sake of the Self in her.”

Rama’s love for Savitri is one of the spirit more than the body or the mind. Given that he is physically separated from her by necessity, he maintains a belief that the spiritual power of their love will overcome their physical realities. As Yagnyavalkya does, he distinguishes between Savitri as a biological and cultural woman and Savitri as an intrinsic person.

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