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The Serpent and the Rope (1960) was written after a long silence during which Rao returned to India.
The work dramatised the relationships between Indian and Western culture.
In 1943–1944 he co-edited with Ahmad Ali a journal from Bombay called Tomorrow.
He was the prime mover in the formation of a cultural organisation, Sri Vidya Samiti, devoted to reviving the values of ancient Indian civilisation; this organisation failed shortly after inception.
The serpent in the title refers to illusion and the rope to reality.
Rao relocated to the United States and was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin from 1966 to 1986, when he retired as Emeritus Professor.
Rao returned to the theme of Gandhism in the short story collection The Cow of the Barricades (1947).at the Osmania University, where he became friends with Ahmad Ali. After graduating from the University of Madras, having majored in English and history, he won the Asiatic Scholarship of the Government of Hyderabad in 1929, for study abroad.Rao moved to the University of Montpellier in France.The death of his mother, when he was four, left a lasting impression on the novelist – the absence of a mother and orphanhood are recurring themes in his work.Another influence from early life was his grandfather, with whom he lived in Hassan and Harihalli or Harohalli).