Describe Raju’s Life After Release From Jail in The Guide

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      Raju, once a tourist guide, a jail bird and lover of Rosie, is out of jail, and has started leading a lonely life on the bank of a river near Mangala village. He is sitting cross-legged beside an ancient shrine. The sun is setting fast beyond the hills at a distance. A man called Velan from Mangala village across the river is before him. Velan has come there after visiting his sister and daughter from a nearby village. Raju listens to him, and strikes his beard to know if it has grown again.

      Velan tells Raju the problem of his step-sister who is not willing to accept the plans of her marriage. Upon Raju’s advice Velan brings the girl to him. She is brought round and touches Raju’s feet. Raju is posing like a saint and really starts feeling like that. Before this event, Raju had given a banana to the shepherd boy and had asked him to go and tell his uncle that the man had returned. The banana worked miracles. The boy went from door to door informing all that the new priest was back in the temple. The result was that men, women and children came to have darshan of him in large numbers.

      When Raju was told that the boys of the village were not getting any education, he advised the villagers to conduct classes for the education of the boys in the temple itself in the evening. And the school master from the village was called to look after the work of educating the children.

      The classes started with half a dozen children. Children were afraid of the crocodiles that frequented that part of the river. But Raju said in a grand saintly manner: “What can a crocodile do to you if your mind is clear and your conscience untroubled?” Gradually the number increased. Raju also spoke to the students occasionally on holiness, cleanliness, spoke on Ramayana, the characters in the epics: he addressed them on all kinds of things. He was hypnotised by his own voice; he felt himself growing in stature as he saw the upturned faces of the children shining in the half light when he spoke. No one was more impressed with the grandeur of the whole being than Raju himself. The novelist comments humorously: “It is in this way that saints are made, and Raju was fast moving on the road to sainthood.” In fact, Raju had read a great deal of philosophy, religion, art and culture, when he was a railway shopkeeper. He was making use of his past studies.

      Children heard him with rapt attention, they and their parents were enchanted by his talk. Raju talked in aphorisms and thus impressed them with his wisdom and knowledge. His fame grew. Soon women also began to come. They washed the floor of the hall, and decorated it with flowers and buntings. A carpet was spread on the platform which was his seat. Raju began to grow a beard, for he realised that a beard would enhance his spiritual status. He looked every inch a sadhu and also talked like one. His audience went on increasing, overflowed the hall, and the outer corridors and people sat right up to the river’s edge.

      His influence now was unlimited. He not only chanted holy verses and discoursed on philosophy, he even came to the stage of prescribing medicine. Children who would not sleep peacefully at night were brought to him by their mothers, he pressed their bellies and prescribed a herb, adding, “If he still gets no relief, bring him again to me.” It was believed that when he stroked the head of a child, the child improved in various ways. Of course, people also brought to him their disputes and quarrels, over the division of ancestral property. He had to set apart several hours of his afternoon for these activities. He could hardly afford a private life now. There came a stage, when he had to be up early and rush through all his own personal routine before his visitors should arrive. It was a strain upon him, and he yearned for a quiet peaceful life.

      It was in this way that the “Railway Raju” acquired the status of a saint. The sainthood of an impostor, born out of the force of circumstances, assumed real contours at the martyrdom of Raju.

University Questions

How was Raju’s public interest roused in Mangala village?
Describe Raju’s life after his release from jail.

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