The IUP Journal of English Studies
Gandhian Nationalism in the Garb of Religion and Dharma: A Study of Raja Rao’s Kanthapura

Article Details
Pub. Date : Sep, 2019
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES41909
Author Name : Nakul Kundra
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 10



Raja Rao’s Kanthapura, crafted in the style of Indian Puranas, abounds in religious and Dharmic elements. It depicts the discourse of Gandhian nationalism which has donned the garb of sacredness to stir and gratify the Indian religious sensibility. Myths are revised to fulfill political motives. Gandhi is portrayed as an incarnation of Shiva, who is on the mission to set free Brahma’s “beloved daughter from the enforced slavery.” Besides, the novel is wreathed in Dharma as law on the cosmic plane, as duty on the social plane, as virtue on the moral plane, and as religion on the spiritual plane.


Kanthapura was penned “in a thirteen century castle in the French Alps belonging to the Dauphins of France” (Naik 1972, 60) between the years 1929 and 1933. However, it was not published until 1938 (Naik 1972, 23). The novel is all about “the Revolution” (Rao 2003, 178)1 of the villagers of Kanthapura, who “seek to be soldier saints” (130) throughout their struggle to attain freedom from the clutches of the foreign rule. Like other Indian villages, each of which is known for “a rich sthala-purana, or legendary history, of its own” (vii), Kanthapura is also special; it is distinct for having witnessed the “confusion” (178) of the freedom struggle of India under the aegis of the Congress Panchayat. “The novel could be read as a response to British colonial power in India promoted by the rebellion of a group of exploited villagers working in southern colonial plantations” (Alterno 2011, 3).


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