Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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This article approaches Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide from the perspective of Buddhist philosophy. It argues that the Buddhist notions of impermanence (anicca), non-self (anattā) and conditionality (iddappaccayatā) are evident in the novel's portrayal of the physical reality of the Sundarbans. These principles are also at work in the novel's representation of the social realm of ideologies, identities and human interactions. As Western environmentalism, to which the female protagonist is attached, is subject to the law of conditionality, the novel critiques the blind attempt to impose the Western ideology of wilderness preservation upon marginalized locals in India and highlights other forms of environmental ideologies. The novel also depicts the interaction between those from the metropolitan center with locals which transcends the postcolonial framework of power struggles and which is instead based on a shared sense of humanity, emphasizing specific conditions that give rise to the interactions. Moreover, the article discusses how the Sundarbans and various factors in the protagonists' lives and interactions with the locals play a crucial role in prompting them to realize the slipperiness of what they perceive as their identities. Finally, the narrative in the novel itself orchestrates the workings of the law of conditionality and impermanence, trying to inculcate an attitude of non-attachment. As an embodiment of the afore-mentioned Buddhist concepts, The Hungry Tide serves as an expedient means to disrupt one's tendency to cling to certain views or perceptions of reality and to offer an alternative approach to human interactions which entails open-minded tolerance of difference.

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