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Critical Analysis Of Kanthapura Paper -4

Name :- Galthariya Hitesh kumar B.
Class :- M.A. SEM 1
Topic :- Critical Analysis Of Kanthapura
Paper :- 4
ROLL NO :- 10
Year :- 2014 - 2015
E-MAIL :- hiteshgalthariya26@gmail.com
Submitted :- Smt S.B.Gardy Department of
English Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar

- Raja Rao (1938)
[ 1908 2006 ]

Raja Rao
Raja Rao, Born Nov. 8, 1908, Hassan, Mysore [now
Karnataka],South Indiadied July 8, 2006, Austin, Texas, U.S.), Indian
writer of English-language novels and short stories.

Descended from a distinguished Brahman family in

southern India, Rao studied (B.A., 1929) at Nizam College, Hyderabad,
and then left India for France to study literature and history at the
University of Montpellier and the Sorbonne. His
first novel, Kanthapura (1938), dealt with the Indian independence
movement. After returning to India in 1939, he spent the war years
editing a journal and engaging in underground activities against the
British. After World War II he alternated between India and France
before finally joining the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin in
1966; he became professor emeritus there in 1980.
Raos second novel, The Serpent and the
Rope (1960), considered his masterpiece, is a philosophical and
somewhat abstract account of a young intellectual Brahman and his
wife seeking spiritual truth in India, France, and England; it plays on the
dialogue between Orient and Occident. His other novels are the
allegorical The Cat and Shakespeare: A Tale of India (1965); Comrade
Kirillov (1976), an examination of communism; and The Chessmaster
and His Moves (1988), which is peopled by characters from various
cultures seeking their identities. Raos short stories were collected
in The Cow of the Barricades and Other Stories (1947) and The
Policeman and the Rose (1978). He also wrote The Great Indian Way: A
Life of Mahatma Gandhi (1998).

Raja Rao makes with them a remarkable triad

affiliated with them in time and sometimes in the choice of
themes but not in his art as a novelist or in his enchanting
prose style. A novelist and a short story writer, he too is a
child of the Gandhian age and reveals in his work his
sensitive awareness of the forces let loose by the Gandhian
Revolution as also of the thwarting or steadying pulls of
past tradition.
His four books up to date are the novels.

- Kanthapura 1938
- The serpent and the Rope 1960
- The cat and Shakespeare 1965
- The cow of the barricades 1947

Critical Analysis Of Kanthapura

Kanthapura - The Village:

'Kanthapura' portrays the participation of a small

village of South India in the national struggle called for by Mahatma
Gandhi. Imbued with nationalism, the villagers sacrifice all their material
possessions in a triumph of the spirit, showing how in the Gandhian
movement people shed their narrow prejudices and united in the common
cause of the non-violent civil resistance to the British Raj.

This village is a microcosm of the traditional Indian

society with its entrenched caste hierarchy. In Kanthapura there are
Brahmin quarters, Sudra quarters and Pariah quarters. Despite
stratification into castes, however, the villagers are mutually bound in
various economic and social functions which maintain social harmony. The
enduring quality of the Indian village is represented as ensuring an internal
tenacity that resists external crises, its relationship to past contributing a
sense of unity and continuity between the present and past generations.
Kanthapura may appear isolated and removed from civilization, but it is
compensated by an ever-enriching cycle of ceremonies, rituals, and
Rao depicts the regular involvement of the villagers
in Sankara-Jayanthi, Kartik Purnima, Ganesh-Jayanthi, Dasara, and the
Satyanarayana Puja with the intention of conveying a sense of the natural
unity and cohesion of village society. Old Ramakrishnayya reads out the
Sankara-Vijaya day after day and the villagers discuss Vedanta with him
every afternoon. Religion, imparted through discourses and pujas
(prayers), keeps alive in the natives a sense of the presence of God.
Participation in a festival brings about the solidarity among them. The local
deity Kenchamma protects the villagers "through famine and disease, death
and despair". If the rains fail, you fall at her feet. Equally sacred is the river
Himavathy which flows near Kanthapura.

Kanthapura has been described as the most satisfying of all
modern Indian novels. Recognized as a major landmark in Indian fiction, it
is the story of how the Gandhian struggle for Independence came to one
small village in south India.

"There is more to Raja Rao's book than a morality tale. It is

written in an elegant style verging on poetry; it has all the content of an
ancient Indian classic, combined with a sharp satirical wit and a clear
understanding of the present. The author's extensive notes (printed as an
appendix) will prove invaluable to the general reader." - New York Times

Summary of the novel Kanthapura by Raja Rao :-

Raja Raos first novel Kanthapura (1938) is the story of a village
in south India named Kanthapura. The novel is narrated in the form of a
sthalapurana by an old woman of the village, Achakka. Kanthapura is a
traditional caste ridden Indian village which is away from all modern ways
of living. Dominant castes like Brahmins are privileged to get the best
region of the village whereas Sudras, Pariahs are marginalized. The village
is believed to have protected by a local deity called Kenchamma. Though
casteist, the village has got a long nourished traditions of festivals in which
all castes interact and the villagers are united.
The main character of the novel Moorthy is a Brahmin who
discovered a half buried linga from the village and installed it. A temple is
built there, which later became the centre point of the village life. All
ceremonies and festivals are celebrated within the temple premises.

Hari-Kathas, a traditional form of storytelling, was practiced in

the village. Hari-Kathas are stories of Hari(God). One Hari-Katha man,
Jayaramachar, narrated a Hari Katha based on Gandhi and his ideals. The
narrator was arrested because of the political propaganda instilled in the

The novel begins its course of action when Moorthy leaves

for the city where he got familiar with Gandhian philosophy through
pamphlets and other literatures. He followed Gandhi in letter and spirit. He
wore home spun khaddar. Discarded foreign clothes and fought against
untouchability. This turned the village priest, a Brahmin, against him who
complained to the swami who was a supporter of foreign government and
Moorthy was ex-communicated. Heartbroken to hear it, his mother
Narasamma passed away.

Bade Khan was a police officer, a non hindu of Kanthapura.

He was brought and supported by the coffee planters who were
Englishmen. Considered as an outsider, Bade khan is an enemy of the
people who refuses to provide shelter to him.

After the death of his mother, Moorthy started living with an

educated widow Rangamma, who took part in Indias struggle for freedom.
Moorthy was invited by Brahmin clerks at Skeffington coffee estate to
create an awareness among the coolies of the estate. When Moorthy turned
up, Bade Khan hit him and the pariah coolies stood with Moorthy. Though
he succeeded in following Gandhian non violence principle, the incident
made him sad and unhappy.

Rachanna and family were thrown out of the estate because

of their role in beating Bade Khane. Meanwhile, Moorthy continued his
fight against injustice and social inequality and became a staunchest ally of
Gandhi. Taking the responsibility of the violent actions happened at the
estate; Moorthy went on a three day long fasting and came out victorious
and morally elated.Following the footsteps of Gandhi, a unit of the congress
committee was formed in Kanthapura. Gowada, Rangamma, Rachanna and
seenu were elected as the office bearers of the committee and they avowed
to follow Gandhis teachings.

Fearing the greater mobility of people of Kanthapura under

the leadership of Moorthy, the foreign government accused him of
provoking people to inflict violence it and arrested him. Though Rangamma
and Rachanna were willing to release him on bail, he refused. He was
punished for three months rigorous imprisonment.

While Moorthy spent his days in prison, the women of

Kanthapura took charge of the struggle for freedom. They formed Womens
Volunteer Corps under the leadership of Rangamma who instilled
patriotism among the women by presenting thr historical figures like Laxmi
Bai of thansi, rajput princess, Sarojini Naidu etc... Moorthy was released
later and he came out as strong as he was. People thronged at his house
were dispersed peacefully.

Dandi March, Picketting of Borannas toddy grove were

other activities led by Moorthy after his release. Arrest of the satyagrhis,
and police brutality to women became a part of the everyday life of the
people in Kanthapura. Atrocities against women added miseries of the
people. In the last part o the novel, it is mentioned that people of the village
were settled in Kashipur and Kanthapura was occupied by people from

The theme of Kanthapura may be summed up as

Gandhi and our village, but the style of narration makes the books more a
Gandhi Purana than a piece of mere fiction. Gandhi is the invisible God,
Moorthy is the visible Avatar. The reign of the rodmen is Asuric rule, and it
is resisted by the Devdas, the Satyagrahis. The characters sharply divide
into two camps: the Rulers (and their supporters) on the one hand and the
Satyagrahis (and their sympathizers) on the other. These are various
other divisions too.

Class Structure :-
- Untouchability
- Structure of the village
- Superstitions among people
- Exploitation due to class
- Caste and creed
- Class discrimination
- Society and discrimination

We see all the structure in deeply.

Untouchability :-
Kanthapura has narrow structure. In this village have
people of many castes. They lived peacefully. In this village upper class
people otherwise they were casted out from that particular. If a person goes
to Pariahs house. He would have to take bath and go Kashi for Purification

Structure of the village:-

In the village house were the symbols of status. There
were less government servants in this village. Those who were there got
respect. There was the house of Post master. He lived in two storied
building. Palwari had glass paned windows. Besides these, this village has
pariah quarter a Potters Weavers and Sudra quarter and Brahmin. There
were only round about hundred houses. The houses are individualized and

Superstitions among people:-

In this village people are religious minded. They

lack education they believe in superstitions. People accepted Hinduism.
When a policemen Khan comes to the village for their welfare it was very
difficult for him to get a room to live. Their lives were surrounded of many

Exploitation due to class:-

The condition of the village was such that upper
class exploited the lower class people. The whole description of working
laborers is touching. Remaining hungry of half hungry, poorly nourished
they had to work very hard.
Caste and creed:-
The small village symbolically, depicts the
countrys condition, during the time of freedom struggle, people of all
castes unanimously united themselves to fight against the countrys enemy.
Educated people were influenced by Gandhi and became his followers. They
cast away the social norms of caste.

Class discrimination:-

Wealthy people ruled the village. Bhatt who came in

village with nothing became prosperous. He did not want others to marry
second time but he himself married teenage girl. He got dowry too. When
Moorthy goes to Pariahs house for some work, people started back biting
and the news reached his mother. His mother old Narsimma worries a lot.
She tells her some not is break social norms.

Society and discrimination:-

When Moorthy visited Pariahs Family, he was

well treated but villagers started speaking about him. He was supposed to
be out-caste. People especially orthodox women were against him.

Raja Raos Kanthapura has reconstructions of

his own village, Harihalli or Hariharapura Kanthapura is the miniature of
India. This book gives us social, political, religious and mythical scenario of
1930s. Kanthapura deals with the condition of Indian village during the
struggle for independence.

The novel highlights with no subtlety the

collusion between colonialism and Brahmanism. The manner in which
Moorthy becomes an outcaste in the Brahmin quarters with his campaign
against untouchability indicates the tension between Brahmanism and
nationalism. For Brahmanism, the colonial ruler is not the enemy but
Gandhis anti-untouchable movement is. The collusion between
Brahmanism and colonialism is suggested through the alliance between
Bhatta, Bade Khan the policeman and the Sahib of the Estate. Swami, who
is waging a war against caste pollution due to this pariah business, sees
British rulers as protectors of the ancient ways of Dharma. Swami receives
a large amount from the govt as Rajadakshina and is promised that he
would receive moral and material support in his war the novel highlights
with no subtlety the collusion between colonialism and Brahmanism. The
manner in which Moorthy becomes an outcaste in the Brahmin quarters
with his campaign against untouchability indicates the tension between
Brahmanism and nationalism. For Brahmanism, the colonial ruler is not
the enemy but Gandhis anti-untouchable movement is. The collusion
between Brahmanism and colonialism is suggested through the alliance
between Bhatta, Bade Khan the policeman and the Sahib of the Estate.
Swami, who is waging a war against caste pollution due to this pariah
business, sees British rulers as protectors of the ancient ways of Dharma.
Swami receives a large amount from the govt as Rajadakshina and is
promised that he would receive moral and material support in his war
against caste pollution. Gainst caste pollution.

Raja Raos Kanthapura is best cited to illustrate

this purpose. The novel records Gandhis mass movement during the
freedom struggle aimed solely at arousing a nationalistic consciousness
which would help in forming up a unique national identity constructed by
uniting the masses. Achieving this is not an easy task considering the
diversity in religion, caste, creed, etc. of the nation. In order to bring
together those diverse sects under a common roof, Gandhi feels the need
for secularism and religious tolerance. He professes his secular notion of
religion and incites to the mind of the masses, the oneness of men, negating
any sectarian religion and caste and class based divisions. As he observes:

Conclusion :-
Raja Raos Kanthapura is one of the finest novels to
come out of mid-twntieth century India. It is the story of how Gandhis
struggle for independence from the British came to a typical village,
Kanthapura in South India. Young Moorthy, back from the City with New
Ideas cuts across the ancients barriers of caste to unite the villagers in
non-violent action which is met with violence by landlords and Police.
The dramatic tale unfolds in a poetic, almost mythical style which conveys
as never before the rich textures of Indian rural life. The narrator is an old
woman, imbued with the legendary history of the region, who knows the
past of all the characters and comments on their actions with sharp-eyed
wisdom. Her narrative, and the way she tells it, evokes the spirit of Indias
traditional folk-epics. This edition includes extensive notes on Indian
myths, religion, social customs, and the independence movement which fill
out the background for the American readers more complete
understanding and enjoyment.