Significance of the Title ‘Kanthapura’
Raja Rao comes from a very old south Indian Brahmin family. He was born in 1909 in the
of Hussana, in Mysore. His father was a professor of
commerce in Hyderabad.
After having matriculated from Hyderabad , he
went over to Aligarh
for higher education. He inspired by professor Dickinson to study French
language and literature he took his B.A. degree. From Nizam college Hyderabad. He was awarded
government scholarship by the Hyderabad
university and on this scholarship. He went to France to continue his study of
French literature there.
About the novel-
Kanthapura is Raja Rao’s first novel. It is published in 1938. He had written a various stories. The various short stories published as ‘Cow of the Barricades and other stories’ in 1947. This collection includes such fine stories like Javni.
Kanthapura was discovered and read with interest , and gradually come to be recognized as a classic of the Indo-Anglian fiction as one of the momst remarkable village novel ever written by an Indian in English. Kanthapura is realistic and impartial presentation of the impact of Gandhian movement.
Significance of the title Kanthapura-
Kanthapura is a small village situated on the western ghats in the valley of the ‘Himavathi’ river. The village Kanthapura plays important role in the novel, after the location of action the novel is entitled as ‘Kanthapura.’
The title ‘Kanthapura’ is apt and suitable for the novel is about a south Indian village named ‘Kanthapura’
Kanthapura is a South Indian village –
The title of the novel should be apt and suggestive. Just as a sign board tells us of the contents of the shop, so a good title should indicate the content of the novel. It should tell us what the novel is about. Thus the title ‘Kanthapura’ is apt and suggestive for the novel is about a south Indian village named ‘Kanthapura.’
Location of Kanthapura-
The novel opens with an account of the situation, the locale of the village. We are told in the very beginning that kanthapura is a village in the
Mysore in the . It is situated in the Province of Kara , there it lies ‘curled up like
a child on its mother’s lap.’ This single image makes the village spring into
life,the readers are abl;e to visualize it as it lies sheltered and secluded
like a child in it’s mother’s lap. More detailed account of its topography then
follows – ‘ High on the Ghasts is it, highup the steep mountains that face the
cold Arabian seas, up the Malabar coast is it, high up the Mangalore ant Putter
and many a centre of cardamom and coffee, rice and sugarcane. Roads, narrow,
dusty, wind through the forest of teak and of jack, of sandal and of sal. valley of Himvathi
A New Kind of ‘Sthala Purana’-
Kanthapura can be called ‘sthala Purana’ would be one which is dominated by a place and not a God or Goddess. However it is a new kind of legendary work of art or ‘Sthala –Purana’. It is a microcosm of the microcosm. This is because what happens in kanthapura was happening all over the country durinig the period of Gandhian freedom struggle. Raja Rao in the prefece to the novel says that every village in
India has a rich ‘Sthala –Purana’
or legendary history. Thus kanthapura has such a legendry history.
The novel has given account of topography. So it has complex structure. It has four and twenty houses in the Brahmin quarter, and a Sudra quarter. These socio-economic divisions in a village which has in all 60 or 100 houses, at once strike one with its novelty. And the novelty is not an invention of the novelist’s it is there in the village, has always been there, in this land of villages. In this way, by telling us of the various quarters into which the village is divided, the novelists has highlighted the fact that the Indian villages are caste-ridden, that there is no free mixing of the people even the small and limited community of a village.
The Peoples in Kanthapura-
Having described the village the novelists comes to the people. There is postmaster Suryanaryana with his two-storeyed house. Patwari Nanjundiah who had even put glass-panes to the window; the thotti-house of pack marked Siddha which has a big varanda, large roof and a granary . waterfall Venkamma who roared day night ; and Zamindar Bhatta who has gone on adding peasants lands to his own domain;the young idealistic corner-house Moorthy who is destined to shake the village out of its complacency ant put it on the map of Maysore and India;and the nine-beamed house of Patel ranged Gowda, the vigorous peasant chief of the village wedded to the soil from immemorial generations, a tiger to the authorities “These stand out among the men and women of Kanthapura.” As for the rest, one could not say the novelist tells us at the end of the introduction of his dramatic personage whether they were rich or poor. They were badly dressed and always paid taxes after several reminders. The villagers are depicted in realistic colors. Their names are made descriptive in nature – it is a typical rural way. For instance; Bentlegged Chandrayya.
In Kanthapura temple is situated between the house of the narrator and the shop of the Subha Shetty on the
Karwar Road. The
little temple of the ‘Kanthapurishwari’ has become the centre of all life in
the village. It is nit an ancient temple. It is the sign of the mingling of
religion and politics. Moorthy has found a ‘Linga’ behind the house of the
narrator and the temple was built around it.
The Religious Faith of Peoples-
In the Kanthapura the peoples are ignorant, poor and superstitious. But they are also deeply religious. They have full faith in goddess Kenchamma , the presiding diety of village. Right in the village is temple dedicated to Kenchamma ‘Great Goddess, Begin one’. There is a folk song which evokes in us images and attitudes to what kenchamma means to the people of Kanthapura.
Kenchamma is in the centre of the village, fors the still-centre of their lives and makes everything meaningful. Marriage, funeral, sickness, death, ploughing, harvesting, arrests, release- all are watched over by Kenchamma. There may be small pox or influenza around but you make a vow to the Goddess, the next morning, you wake and you find the fever has left you. Didn’t she kill the demon who killed their children and molested their wives And she will continue to protect them, come wind, come rain, come any distress.’
As the novel proceeds the picture of the village life is filled up by giving further accounts of the grinding poverty, illiteracy and the conflicts and tenshions that mark the Indian village life. Indeed, there is a constant shifting and ordering of material, selection of significant details so that Kanthapura acquires a symbolic significance. It becomes a microcosm, one out of the lakhs and lakhs of the Indian villages in which live 80% of the people of
Knathapura’s Response to Gandhi movement-
It is to this remote South Indian village that there comes the Gandhi movement through Moorthy, Dore and other city boys. It is Moorthy who organize the Gandhi work in the village, he is indeed life and spirit behind the movement in Kanthapura, just as Gandhi was the life and spirit of the freedom struggle in
But very soon the people of Kanthapura as a whole are actively involved and the
novel becomes an account of their suffering and their heroic sacrifice. The
people of Kanthapura have been enthused with the spirit of Gandhi, and they
march ahead heroically despite all the suffering and the hardship they have
In the end it is truly becomes a mass movement, the villagers comprising men and women of all the castes and professions and the laborers of the coffee Estate readily meeting the onslaught or the bureaucracy. Some of the Satyagrahis- Rangamma, Ratna, Moorthy- spend an allotted span in jail but the Gandhi-Irwin pact and political truce that comes in its wake hasten the release of the satyagrahis.
The people of the Kanthapura are universal in nature. The novel has several spots and many inhabitants having their own views and superstitions. However, Kanthapura is symbolic of a wider and larger world. In short, it is
in a small form. The people stand for all the revolutionaries either in India or
abroad. This shows that the novel has the note of universality. This gives the
novel a symbolic meaning.
Thus the title of the novel ‘Kanthapura’ is given by the name of the south Indian village. The title of the novel is apt and suitable. Kanthapura in not a novel dealing with the life and doing of any individual hero. In the ‘Kanthapura’ the sufferings of peoples are given by the writer. Hence if there is any hero in the novel, it is Kanthapura itself and its people. The title is apt and suggestive. The novelists was right in calling it ‘Kanthapura’.