Author: Raja Rao
Published first: 1938
Review by: Amit for IBC
Raja Rao’s Kanthapura is a novel which has never been in the mainstream except for the academic corridors. Readers are either the students or old enough to understand the taste of literature. The new and energetic readers who like novels with speedy stories and withering plots can seldom find ‘fun’ or ‘pleasure’ in the novels like Kanthapura. To give such readers a feel of this novel, today, I will review it. I hope it will arouse the interest of modern readers to read a novel of such great worth and magnitude. And believe me, you are gonna like it!
The story of the novel takes us back to the days of Gandhism and an India which was not independent. We meet the protagonist who is a Brahman, educated one. He is not the orthodox Brahman as he embraces the Dalits and the poor of the village Kanthapura. He is eventually excommunicated by the priests of Brahman community and starts living with a widow in the village who is also inspired by the Gandhian philosophy and these two work together spread peace and harmony in the village. And it takes time, effort and energy but the desired result is brought at last.
The plot of the novel is carefully crafted. It links the ongoing freedom movement of India with an imaginary village Kanthapura and also with the splendid vision of Raja Rao, the novelist. This novel, unlike many on the same Dalit – upper caste divide in India, does not tend to further ramify the division and enlarge it. Kanthapura aims at offering a solution to the problem – working towards a bigger and broader cause together and using the same things which are tools of the division to bring people and communities together.
In Rao’s Kanthapura, religion has been portrayed at its best. The Brahmanism represented by Moorthy is the true face an ideal Brahman which might be exemplary enough to be followed by everyone else in the upper caste community. Raja Rao’s proactive dealing of the delicate theme in his very first novel is very remarkable and it must be praised enough.
The novel, published in 1938, outdated and not relevant today, still gives the readers reasons enough to be mesmerised and enchanted. This is a must-read novel for many reasons:
The broad theme
The multi-faceted plot
The lyrical qualities in language
Did you read it yet? If not, it’s the best time to do it! We are digging back into the ages of our classics and you must enjoy them too! Get a copy of Kanthapura from the Amazon link below: