An Astrologer’s Day

by

R. K. Narayan

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Guru Nayak is the man whom the astrologer tried to murder several years before the story takes place. Very little is said about Guru Nayak other than that he has left his village and gone searching for the man who tried to kill him so that he can strangle him to death. Guru Nayak is introduced merely as an aggressive stranger who is immediately skeptical of the astrologer and his supposed wisdom. Though he is standing in front of him, due to the darkness of the evening and the paint, turban, and long beard that the astrologer wears, he does not recognize his attacker. He eventually believes that the astrologer is a prophet when the astrologer tells him the specifics of his attack and even Guru Nayak’s own name. He is disappointed when he is told that his attacker died under the tires of a vehicle some months before, but satisfied enough that he promises to return home and never venture to this village again. Although Guru Nayak is positioned as the antagonist in the structure of the story, he actually could be considered as occupying the role of the hero in the relationship between the two characters. Although the story was written in English, Guru Nayak’s name is actually two Hindi terms: “Guru” meaning teacher or spiritual initiator and “Nayak” meaning hero.

Guru Nayak Quotes in An Astrologer’s Day

The An Astrologer’s Day quotes below are all either spoken by Guru Nayak or refer to Guru Nayak. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Indian Thought Publications edition of An Astrologer’s Day published in 1981.
An Astrologer’s Day Quotes

“Stop,” said the other. “I don’t want all that. Shall I succeed in my present search or not? Answer this and go. Otherwise I will not let you go till you disgorge all your coins.” The astrologer muttered a few incantations and replied: “All right. I will speak… You were left for dead. Am I right?”

“Ah, tell me more.”

“A knife passed through you once?” said the astrologer.

“Good fellow!” He bared his chest to show the scar. “What else?”

“And then you were pushed into a well nearby in the field. You were left for dead.”

“I should have been dead if some passer-by had not chanced to peep into the well,” exclaimed the other, overwhelmed by enthusiasm. “When shall I get at him?” he asked, clenching his fist.

“In the next world,” answered the astrologer. “He died four months ago in a far-off town. You will never see any more of him.”

Related Characters: The Astrologer (speaker), Guru Nayak (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

After dinner, sitting on the pyol, he told her: “Do you know a great load is gone from me today? I thought I had the blood of a man on my hands all these years. That was the reason why I ran away from home, settled here, and married you. He is alive.”

She gasped. “You tried to kill!”

“Yes, in our village, when I was a silly youngster. We drank, gambled, and quarreled badly one day—why think of it now? Time to sleep,” he said, yawning, and stretched himself on the pyol.

Related Characters: The Astrologer (speaker), Guru Nayak, The Astrologer’s Wife
Page Number: 6-7
Explanation and Analysis:
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Guru Nayak Character Timeline in An Astrologer’s Day

The timeline below shows where the character Guru Nayak appears in An Astrologer’s Day. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
An Astrologer’s Day
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
As the astrologer is packing his garb and equipment, a stranger blots out the green light. The astrologer summons him to sit down, hoping to make... (full context)
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
The stranger offers a large sum on the cynical wager that the astrologer cannot tell him anything... (full context)
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
The stranger strikes a match to light his cheroot, and the brief light of the flame illuminates... (full context)
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
...to offer the same vague, placating advice that has satisfied other customers in the past. The stranger , however, will have none of it. The astrologer says a silent prayer and then... (full context)
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
The stranger is now filled with enthusiasm, convinced that the astrologer must truly possess cosmic wisdom. He... (full context)
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
The astrologer reveals that he knows the man’s name is Guru Nayak as well, crediting his own omniscience. He warns Guru Nayak to return to his village... (full context)
Mysticism and Religious Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Guilt, Fear, and Identity Theme Icon
...His wife is angry at him until she sees the money he has made from Guru Nayak , though the astrologer curses Nayak when he realizes that Nayak has slightly underpaid him.... (full context)