The Harikatha Element MEG 07 Indian English Literature
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The Harikatha Element MEG 07 Indian English Literature

Harikatha is a type of storytelling in Hindu religion in which the storyteller discusses a religious topic, which typically includes the lives of a saint or a tale from an Indian epic. It is part of the devoted Hindu’s religious obligation to arrange or attend a Harikatha ceremony periodically.  It may be held anywhere, either at home or at a temple. It is the recounting of the tale of an incarnation of Vishnu, also known as Hari, or any other deity, to the accompaniment of singing and dancing, as the name implies. Harikathas involve whole villages or communities. It instils religious zeal in the participants and grants them merit. Harikatha is as famous in Kanthapura as it is in the rest of India. When the locals learn that a Harikatha has been organised, they all rush to the temple.

The renowned Harikatha-man is Jayaramachar. He does the Harikatha in a unique manner. In one way or another, he incorporates Gandhian teaching into the tales he tells. He adds that Siva is three-eyed and Swaraj is three-eyed when recounting the tale of Siva and Parvati, alluding to Gandhi’s message of self-purification, Hindu-Muslim harmony, and Khaddar. Harikathas like these have never been heard before in Kanthapura. Jayaramachar, who can also sing, keeps them enthralled and in tears for hours. They will never forget his Harikatha about Gandhi’s birth, which is an excellent illustration of how the religious plank can be effectively utilised for political awakening. The inhabitants of Kanthapua see no problem with this since both goals are good.


The Harikatha Element MEG 07 Indian English Literature


Jayaramachar recalls the ancient glory of India, which produced great kings like Asoka, Chandragupta, Vikramaditya, and Akbar, as well as sages like Krishna, Buddha Sankara, and Ramanuja, in his special Harikatha. But this same region of the Himalayas, Ganges and Cauvery is subjugated by a nation of the Red-men from beyond the oceans. The rishis implore Brahma to take action to rescue the country from foreign enslavement. With the blessings of all gods, a boy is born in a Gujarati family that the world has never seen before.

He is given the name Mohandas Gandhi and grows up to become Mahatma Gandhi, who fights the snake of foreign domination relentlessly in the hopes of one day destroying it and bringing Swaraj to India. After this Harikatha, the police take Jayaramachar away, and he never returns to Kanthapura. Gandhi’s tale is a metaphor for India’s fight for independence.

Apart from its suitability as a Harikatha, Jayaramachar’s Gandhi tale helps to establish the novel’s political subject. As a genuine Gandhi disciple, Jayaramachar devotes his skill of storytelling to both political teaching and free public pleasure. Even as he educates the illiterate villagers of Kanthapura, he gives his stories of the Gods a contemporary relevance that is amazing. The recounting of Gandhi’s birth as a symbolic saviour of the Indian people and his pursuit of the chosen mission of eradicating British rule in India by Jayaramachar is a politically effective way of introducing Gandhi to illiterate villagers in his role as India’s national leader.

Raja Rao suggests in the Harikatha that if the people of India, regardless of caste and creed are to embrace Gandhi as their chosen leader, he must have something significant in common with their country’s established traditions and values. The Gandhian movement expanded throughout India because the great man’s strong beliefs developed not just from ancient knowledge, but were also given to the Indian people in the sustainable form of their ages-old approaches to life.

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