The Serpent and the Rope

Mon 01 August 2011 by Thejaswi Puthraya

As I was cleaning a shelf full of books from my dad's collection, my eyes fell on an old and faded book that went unnoticed in the previous chores. The book was "The Serpent and the Rope" by Raja Rao. I looked up the name on Wikipedia and realized that the author is considered one of India's finest English novelists. This was sufficient for me to start off with the book immediately.

This book is the story of Ramaswamy, a brahmin from India and his wife Madeleine, a French atheist. The book discusses the journey of the couple in their search for truth and spirituality. This book is loosely based on the life of Raja Rao and is generally labelled as his semi-autobiography.

As I started reading the book, I realized it was very heavy in Hinduism and philosophy. Concepts like duality, metaphysics, advaita etc were 'repeatedly' written about in the book. Being an atheist, I got bored but stuck on because the book effortlessly switches between the scenic Alps at Aix, Benares and London and has a different style interspersed with couplets and slokas.

If you are a philosophical person, this 'is' a book for you. Though the book spans to just above 400 pages, it took me close to 2 months to finish it because it was a challenge trying to understand such 'heavy' stuff. Time for something lighter now.