Summary of the Novel Kanthapura by Raja Rao

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Summary of the Novel Kanthapura by Raja Rao

By | July 2013
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Raja Rao’s 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 story.

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...

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