Indulekha, refers to the main character in this novel, a beautiful, well educated Nair lady of 18 years.
The novel was written at a time when there was an emerging class of upper caste men (mostly Nairs) who received a Western style education, and were achieving prominent positions in British India. The period was a clash of cultures, as the educated Indians were torn between Western ideals and traditional practices. The Nambudiri Brahmins of Kerala, had traditionally had marital relations with Nayar women, known as Sambandham, since only the oldest Nambudiri youth was allowed to marry a Brahmin girl. The younger sons were encouraged to have Sambandham with Nayar women, in order to maintain male primogeniture, since the children born from such relations belonged to their mother's family. The matriarchy practiced by the Nayars was also coming under attack during this period. Many of the Nambudiri men, though learned in Vedas and Sanskrit, had little knowledge of English and Western sciences. The novel highlights the lack of willingness of the Nambudiris to adapt to the change of times, as well as the struggle by Nayar women to break out of the age-old principle of Sambandham, which had little relevance during the late 19th century.
Indulekha is a graceful Nair girl with good intelligence, artistic talent. She is a young and educated, knowledgeable young woman with education in English and sanskrit, who is in love with another young man, Madhavan, the hero of the novel, who was also presented in ideal colours, a member of newly educated class from University of Madras. The story details how the matrilineal society of those times, encourages Namboothiris to start a relationship with Indulekha. Indulekha promptly snubs the old Nambudiri man, but Madhavan in haste runs away from the household, to Bengal. There he makes a lot of good friends. In the end, he arrives back and is united with Indulekha. They then leave to Madras, present day Chennai.
The old Namboothiri represents the decadence of feudalism and its polygamous practices. Indulekha, the novel's educated heroine, dramatises the resistance of a progressive Nayar woman. She refuses to succumb to the oppression of the Namboothiri and marries Madhavan, who stands up to the social evils of the period.
- The Namboothiri
- Indulekha's Mother Lakshmikkutti Amma
- Panju Menon
- Novel and Short Story to the Present Day - by M T Vasudevan Nair
- Voice of Rebellion - a review by K. Kunhikrishnan
- A Book Review of Indulekha
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