Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A tale of love, desire, and betrayal set in 19th-century Bengal.


"Chokher Bali" is a novel written by the renowned Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. First published in 1903, this Bengali novel explores the complexities of human relationships, love, and desires. Set in late 19th-century Bengal, "Chokher Bali" delves into the lives of its characters and their intertwined destinies. With its rich storytelling and deep exploration of emotions, Tagore presents a timeless tale that continues to captivate readers.

Brief Synopsis

The story of "Chokher Bali" revolves around the lives of four main characters - Binodini, Mahendra, Asha, and Bihari. The plot is set in Kolkata (then Calcutta) and takes place during the late 19th century.

Binodini, a young widow, comes to live with Rajlakshmi and her son Mahendra. As Binodini becomes a part of their household, she captivates Mahendra with her beauty and intelligence. Mahendra, who is already married to Asha, finds himself irresistibly drawn to Binodini, leading to a complex web of emotions and desires.

The story unfolds as Binodini's presence creates tension within the household and affects the relationships of all the characters. The novel explores themes of love, betrayal, societal norms, and the consequences of one's actions.

Main Characters

Here are the main characters in "Chokher Bali":

BinodiniA young widow who enters Mahendra's household and becomes the center of attention and desire.
MahendraRajlakshmi's son and Asha's husband. He falls in love with Binodini, leading to a complicated love triangle.
AshaMahendra's wife and a gentle, devoted woman. Her marriage is affected by Mahendra's infatuation with Binodini.
BihariAsha's brother who develops feelings for Binodini, adding another layer of complexity to the relationships in the novel.

Summary of Story Points

Chapters 1-5: Introduction and Growing Attraction

  • Binodini arrives at Rajlakshmi's house as a widow seeking refuge.
  • Mahendra is instantly attracted to Binodini's beauty and intelligence.
  • Asha notices the growing closeness between Mahendra and Binodini but remains silent.

Chapters 6-10: Love Triangle and Conflicting Emotions

  • Mahendra confesses his love to Binodini, who reciprocates his feelings.
  • Asha confides in Bihari about her suspicions but is torn between her love for Mahendra and her duty as a wife.
  • Binodini tries to distance herself from Mahendra, realizing the consequences of their affair.

Chapters 11-15: Betrayal and Consequences

  • Bihari proposes to Binodini, hoping to protect her and win her love.
  • Binodini accepts Bihari's proposal, leading to a brokenhearted Mahendra.
  • Asha falls seriously ill, and Binodini takes care of her, realizing the depth of her own love for Asha.

Chapters 16-20: Redemption and Forgiveness

  • Asha forgives Mahendra and Binodini, realizing the complexity of human desires.
  • Binodini and Mahendra meet again, and their unresolved feelings resurface.
  • The novel ends on a note of redemption and forgiveness, highlighting the power of love and understanding.

Main Events

  • Binodini's arrival and her growing attraction to Mahendra.
  • Mahendra confessing his love to Binodini and their secret affair.
  • Asha's suspicions and her conflicting emotions.
  • Bihari's proposal to Binodini and her acceptance.
  • Asha falling seriously ill and Binodini taking care of her.
  • The final meeting between Binodini and Mahendra, leading to a resolution.

Themes and Insights

  • Love and Desire: The novel explores the complexities of love and desire, highlighting the consequences of acting upon forbidden emotions.
  • Societal Norms: Tagore delves into the restrictive societal norms of 19th-century Bengal, particularly regarding widowhood, marriage, and the role of women.
  • Betrayal and Forgiveness: The characters navigate through acts of betrayal and the subsequent journey towards forgiveness and redemption.
  • Human Emotions: Tagore beautifully portrays the various emotions, conflicts, and desires that drive human behavior, ultimately revealing the complexities of the human psyche.

Reader's Takeaway

"Chokher Bali" is a captivating novel that delves into the deepest recesses of human emotions. Through its rich storytelling and well-drawn characters, Tagore presents a thought-provoking exploration of love, desire, and the consequences of our actions. The novel not only provides a glimpse into the social fabric of 19th-century Bengal but also offers timeless insights into the human condition.


"Chokher Bali" by Rabindranath Tagore is a literary masterpiece that continues to resonate with readers across generations. With its intricate plot, compelling characters, and exploration of complex emotions, the novel offers a profound understanding of love, desire, and the human experience. Tagore's storytelling prowess shines through in this timeless work, making it a must-read for anyone seeking a deep and engaging literary experience.

Chokher Bali FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Chokher Bali'?

    The genre of 'Chokher Bali' is a Bengali novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'Chokher Bali'?

    The author of 'Chokher Bali' is Rabindranath Tagore.

  3. What is the English translation of 'Chokher Bali'?

    The English translation of 'Chokher Bali' is 'A Grain of Sand'.

  4. When was 'Chokher Bali' first published?

    'Chokher Bali' was first published in 1903.

  5. What is the story of 'Chokher Bali' about?

    'Chokher Bali' tells the story of a young widow, Binodini, and her relationships with two other women, Ashalata and Mahendra.

  6. Is 'Chokher Bali' a feminist novel?

    While 'Chokher Bali' explores themes of women's desires, it does not explicitly identify as a feminist novel.

  7. What are some key themes in 'Chokher Bali'?

    Some key themes in 'Chokher Bali' include love, desire, betrayal, societal expectations, and the role of women in society.

  8. Is 'Chokher Bali' part of a series?

    'Chokher Bali' is a standalone novel and is not part of a series.

  9. Has 'Chokher Bali' been adapted into a film?

    Yes, 'Chokher Bali' has been adapted into a film multiple times, including a critically acclaimed adaptation in 2003 directed by Rituparno Ghosh.

  10. Is 'Chokher Bali' available in other languages?

    Yes, 'Chokher Bali' has been translated into multiple languages, including English, Hindi, and Tamil.