Saraswatichandra (સરસ્વતીચંદ્ર) is a Gujarati novel by Govardhanram Madhavaram Tripathi, an author of early twentieth century from Gujarat, India. Set in 19th-century feudalism in India, it is a widely read piece of Gujarati literature. The novel was written over a period of 15 years, with the first volume being published in 1887 and the fourth one in 1902.
Saraswatichandra was translated and published in English by the director of Sabarmati Ashram, Tridip Suhrud, in four volumes starting 2015.
The novel not only manifested the sociological ambience in Gujarat during the British rule of the late 19th century but also traced the maturing process of idealism. The novel is not just a love story woven around characters Kumud, Kusum and Sarswatichandra, but the individual volumes depict four folds of life or four forms of purushatra according to Suhrud.
The first part deals with a period when Gujarati society witnesses the British rule rising to paramount power just after the 1857 mutiny and the advent of university education. “This volume depicts the erosion of the royalty and the native Indian state. It shows how there is complete depravity when power is used only for selfish purpose,” says Suhrud. Read Online : Saraswatichandra Part 1 (સરસ્વતીચંદ્ર ભાગ ૧ – બુદ્ધિધનનો કારભાર)
The second part deals with the idea of a modern Gujarati family. It explores how the idea of ‘a married couple’ changed with modern education. It explores the relevance of a joint family — on whether such a family system curtails individual freedom or provides protection. It also explores the idea of model family life, which maintains close familial ties,” says Suhrud. Read Online : Saraswatichandra Part 2 (સરસ્વતીચંદ્ર ભાગ ૨ – ગુણસુંદરીનું કુટુંબજાળ)
The third volume, he adds, “draws an idealistic picture of a welfare state, which is in a way an extended reflection of the Mahabharata. It discusses the concept of Rajdharma and whether such a system of welfare state can become the basis for regenerating a new idealistic polity. Another aspect of the novel is that it lavishly quotes passages from classics like Bhartihari, Kalidasa, Bhavbhuti, Bhagwat Gita, Mahabharata, and Panchatantra. It also quotes passages from Wordsworth, Shelly, Goldsmith, Cowper, Keats and Shakespeare. Read Online : Saraswatichandra Part 3 (સરસ્વતીચંદ્ર ભાગ ૩ – રત્નનગરીનું રાજ્યતંત્ર)
The fourth volume deals with religion and explores whether it can provide resources for a society to regenerate. It explores asceticism and monastic life in a modern world. The novel toys with a ‘modern’ ascetic life where the presence of women is allowed. It concludes that a society cannot regenerate in the absence of religion. Read Online : Saraswatichandra Part 4 (સરસ્વતીચંદ્ર ભાગ ૪ – સરસ્વતીનું મનોરાજ્ય અને પૂર્ણાહુતિ)