The Importance Of Silence In Ghosh's 'Hungry Tide'

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Silence is an important aspect of the Hindu tradition. Silence is a preparation, a way of knowing oneself, and also of knowing the world, as is revealed in the tapashyaa(s) (meditation) of the muni(s) (sages). In fact, the word ‘muni’ has its origin in the Sanskrit word ‘mauna’, meaning silence, the maintenance of which is believed to inculcate power and knowledge, as opposed to speech that saps all energy. Silence, as a spiritual entity, is common both in the Buddhist philosophy and in the Hindu philosophy. Ghosh deals with silence in great detail and explores its various connotations both in The Calcutta Chromosome and in The Hungry Tide. Silence, in both these novels, seems to suggest an alternative epistemology— an alternative way of knowing the world. That alternative methods of knowing the world do exist beyond the Eurocentric methodology of acquiring knowledge has been repeatedly pointed out in Ghosh’s novels. The subaltern does have a voice and even his silence speaks; only it is incomprehensible to most people because they are lost in the presumption of their superiority. Kanai shows the same sort of superiority:

… there was no mistaking the condescension in Kanai’s voice as he was speaking to Fokir: it was the kind of tone in which someone might
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The subaltern silence then becomes the individual’s agency against the institutions of power. This attitude of Kanai continued till he is transformed, which happens only when he is faced with danger in the Garjontola incident, where he sees a tiger: “… if you see a tiger the chances are you won’t live to tell the tale” (THT 242). One can know oneself only in adversity is a theme that is classically explored in Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. Even Rilke could not write a word for years, and then he wrote The Duino Elegies in a couple of

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