Kanthapura as Gandhian Epic

Kanthapura as Gandhian Epic

Kanthapura as Gandhian Epic : Mahatma Gandhi during freedom struggle time wielded a great influence on the Indian masses. And his struggle for freedom introduced some new trends in Anglo-Indian fiction, and some great writers of all the Indian language produced some masterpiece in novel, poetry, drama and other forms of creative writing.

Kanthapura as Gandhian Epic

Raja Rao was most celebrated novelist of India in 1930s and 1940s. He had depicted his novels through the usage of Gandhian theme. Kanthapura is best example of how Gandhian ideologies influenced in Indian writing in English. You are reading Kanthapura as Gandhian Epic.

An Epic is a long narrative poem telling of heroic acts, the birth and death of a hero or of nation’s etc. Kanthapura is also an epic. Kanthapura is a tell of the impact that Gandhi had on the nation. He converted the whole nation into an army of freedom fighters. Gandhi was no less than the hero of an epic. The freedom struggle of India was an epic struggle. Thousands of people sacrificed their lives. It was remains in the background through the novel; Gandhi is no doubt the hero of movement on a small village called Kanthapura.

 By reading the novel one get idea about the methods and principle of Gandhi. Moorthy and the others freedom fighters of Kanthapura are followers of Gandhi and use Gandhian methods in their struggle against the government. They followed the path of non-violence. The people of Kanthapura picketed the toddy grove. Many toddy booths in and around Kanthapura are picketed.

This is done to show that they want toddy trees to be destroyed because they are used to make toddy which brings about economic and moral hard-earned money in this toddy is very harmful for them, while doing all this they use non-violent methods and does not lose control even when they are being manhandled and beaten mercilessly by the polive. Even women and children are manhandled. Gandhi never appears in scene but he remains in the background throughout the novel but the influence of him on the people is tremendous.

 Like thousands of young men all over the country Moorthy gave up his studies and joined freedom movement. He dedicated his life to the country after he had a vision of Gandhi. Moorthy tried to follow the principle of Gandhi. He burnt his foreign clothes and started using Khadi. He did not marry and devoted his life totally to the struggle for independence. He sacrificed his personal life and happiness for the sake of his country. He became the leader of the freedom fighters in Kanthapura.

The Gandhian movement was brought to Kanthapura by Moorthy and the other city boy. He went from door to door to tell people about Gandhi and his views and principles. He distributed Charkhas among the people of Kanthapura free of cost. He had contact with the city congress and charkhas were given to him by free of cost for distributing among the villagers. You are reading Kanthapura as Gandhian Epic.

In the beginning, he found it difficult to convince the villagers to take the charkhas’ and start spinning cloth on a regular basis. Ultimetly he was able to convince most of them that it was essential not only for them but also for achieving political freedom, with tine more and more people joined congress. And now people of Kanthapura regarded Moorthy as the Gandhi of Kanthapura.

Moorthy did not stop working for upliftment of the Pariahs though Swami had said to him that he would be excommunicated. But Moorthy did not take it seriously. Like Gandhi he also kept a fast for three days because he felt that he had not been able to live up to the ideas of the Mahatma. He held himself responsible for the Skeffington Coffee Estate.

After the fast he started the ‘Don’t touch the government campaign’. Under his leadership the people of Kanthapura picked non-violence like a true followers of Gandhi. He was arrested by the police many times and during his trial, he behaved like a true Gandhian.

 Like many young satyagrahis all over the country one point of time starts feeling that by following Gandhi’s methods they may not be able to achieve their aim. He still respected the Mahatma but he felt that British were able to fool him very easily. Moorthy was than attracted by the ideas and thoughts of Nehru.

Like Moorthy there were other characters like Advocate Sankar, Rangmma and Ratna were also the followers of Gandhi. Rangmma actively participated in work of the congress. Her house became the office of the congress in Kanthapura. The freedom fighters used to assemble at her house and discuss their plan of action. She took actively participated in organizing the women of Kanthapura and forming the Savika Sangh. Ratna was also a follower of Gandhi. She was a widow and only fifteen years old. She becomes the leader of the freedom fighters in Kanthapura in absence of Moorthy.

As Moorthy was following Gandhi’s method li9ke him Advocate Sankar also tried to follow the principle of Gandhi and as a very honest and upright man. He was lawyer like Mahatma Gandhi, he did not take up false cases and if at any point he came to know that his client had lied to him and was actually guilty, he gave up the case immediately and in some cases he even made them confess. According to some critics,

“The character of Advocate Sankar is based on Gandhi himself

From this we come to know what Gandhi really stood for Sankar lead a simple life and was in favor of Khadi and he refused to go to any marriage party in which people were not dressed in Khadi.

There were many other people in Kanthapura like Rachnna, Range Govda etc, who were also followers of Gandhi. By the time the Satyanarayan puja was organized, it had become a mass movement and most people of Kanthapura had joined the Gandhi movement.

So throughout the novel we can see the influence of Gandhi on the character of Kanthapura. Throug out the novel Moorthy acted as a local Mahatma Gandhi and followed Gandhian philosophy. Here we can compare Moorthy and Gandhi. Gandhi devoted his life to India’s struggle for independence. And Moorthy refuses his religious doctrine for the sake of his villagers as Gandhi did for our nation. Gandhi neglected his family for the sake of his motherland. He was not interested in monetary gain or in worldly things. He converted the whole country into an army of freedom fighters.

Moorthy also left his studies and hope of a glorious future for the sake of the country; He devoted his life to the struggle for independence after he had a vision of Gandhi and worked for removal of untouchability and removal of other social evils.

Moorthy worked for upliftment of Pariahs. Gandhi had started the movement for removal of untouchability. Moorthy was a follower of Gandhi and told the people of Kanthapura about the views and ideas of Gandhi.

After the violence at the gate of Skeffington Coffee Estate when Moorthy had tried to enter the Estate, he kept the fast because he felt that he had not been able to live up to the ideals of the Mahatma. Moorthy actually tried to follow Mahatma’s doctrine loving one’s enemies. He really respected Gandhi.

The novel encompasses with Gandhian ideology and freedom struggle. The story of satyagrahis moved forward steadily till it reached to its climax. It was story of the people of a small village who realized that they need to rise and fight for the freedom of their motherland. They made efforts in this direction and they fail.

They left Kanthpura and settled in Kashipura.As a result of the final clash between the freedom fighters and the soldiers many people died and many were injured. After this clash, the whole village was set on fire and destroyed and many people were arrested. The remaining people left the village and never come back.

 During freedom movement as a leader or Gandhi of Kanthapura Moorthy told villagers about the elements that were taking place all over the country. Moorthy told them about Gandhi and his ideals and views. He told them about important events like Dandi March. Here Mahatma Gandhi never appears on the scene but his presence was felt all the time through the novel.

 As inspired by Gandhi’s satyagraha, even the coolies of Estate joined the freedom fighters of Kanthapura .Coolies of Coffee Estate joined the satyagrahis from Kanthapura but they were made to march back to the Estate. And they were made to walk through street with their heads bent. And they also were made to work without any break and the money that had been promised was not given to them.

SO here Raja Rao enhances the novel through usage of Gandhian ideology and Gandhian thought. And novel had two plot and first plot dealt with the impact of the Gandhi movement in a small village called Kanthapura. And Gandhian Ideology not influenced only any particular group, but it had influenced by different kinds of group and individual.

In “Kanthapura” Raja Rao assimilates spiritual and religious aspects of Gandhian theme more deeply. And the village called Kanthapura is the center of novel where all struggle movement take place and all struggle movement take place and all struggles are under influenced of Gandhian Ideology.


At first Gandhian ideology spread as a music in every nook and corner of the village Kanthapura and it directs people against British rulers. It is Kanthapura in which Raja Rao’s music for Gandhi achieves its perfection. And truly made it Gandhian novel or Gandhian Epic.

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