Nativism in Girish Karnad's Naga Mandal

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Nativism in Girish Karnad’s Naga-Mandala

Bhalchandra Nemade observed that modern Indian literature has been basking in the glory of western modernism. It always locates the centre of creativity outside the desi (native) tradition. In his book Nativism Nemade poses a question, ‘Do we need native standards to interpret and evaluate native tradition or the so-called “universal” standards for this purpose?’ Nemade’s question becomes very important in Indian context, because throughout the world cultural similarities do exist, but differences which are more fecund and important, also exist. There can be universal standards in science because in science there is nothing Occidental or Oriental, Western or Indian, but each culture has distinct native styles of living. Nemade takes into consideration the Whorfian thesis of how language decides the speakers’ world-view. As the so-called ‘universal standards’ take into its ken only European knowledge and ignores conveniently others, the basis of these standards is ‘hollow’. Nemade is right when he says, the British, having ruled over most peoples of the world for generations, have imposed upon the subject-cultures the rules based on their understanding of universe. Now accepting such irrational standards as ‘universal’ would mean we ourselves lack the power of investigating truth. Literature is a kind of knowledge about human existence with reference to the cosmos, nature, society and the inner mental process of human beings. Then how can this knowledge be assessed with reference to the cosmos, nature, society which is alien and has no reference and relation to the land and culture which the work of art represents. Therefore, in this paper an attempt has been made to discuss how the concept of Nativism is reflected in Girish Karnad’s Naga-Mandala. Naga-Mandala, based on two Kannada folk-tales which Girish Karnad heard from A. K. Ramanujan, is full of mythical wonder and is enshrouded in a realm of magic and...
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