Humanism in Mulk Raj Anand's Novel

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Anand’s Philosophy of Humanism in His Novels

      Humanism may be defined as, “A rationalistic outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. A Renaissance cultural movement which turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought.” Humanism discarded the orthodox belief that considered human being as worthless, wicked and doomed in this world and hereafter. Humanism abolished such notions and doctrines. Renaissance humanism explored and emphasised human capability reason, morality dignity and even bliss.

Sources of Anand’s Humanism

      Anand’s doctrine of humanism finds expression in The Apology for Heroism, Prolegomena to a New Humanism, in Lines Written to an Indian Air. He does not boast of radically new concept of humanism to propound. To Anand, humanism is enlightenment in the interest of man. He confessed that he derived his humanism from European Hellenism. He does not approve traditional attitude of India. Actually, humanism is not new to India. Buddha, in his sermons, preached humanism. He condemned violence in all dimensions. Anand’s humanism is the amalgam of “Hellenism, Renaissance and European Schools of Thought”. It blends karuna (compassion) of Buddha, rejection of casteism, Kabir’s avowal of universal brotherhood of people, Gandhi’s cause of untouchability Nehru’s doctrine of peaceful co-existence and M.N. Roy’s belief in “Radical Humanism”.

Outstanding Features of Mulk Raj Anand’s Humanism

      The following are the outstanding features of Anand’s humanism:

      Man can be empowered and can achieve his ideals through a system of education so designed as to enable every person to explore and utilize his utmost potential. An art, rather humanistic art can prompt the achievement of humanistic ideal. Science and technology, if applied for constructive purpose, can ameliorate the situation.

      Man is the best creature in the world. He is not subjected to surrender before the forces of nature rather to conquer nature. Religion should be restricted to individual preference.

      The most sublime duty of man is to explore and utilise his utmost capability. A man’s sole concern should be equality of gender, universal brotherhood without the distinction of nationality, colour, religion, caste and creed.

      All issues and philosophy, without exception, which lead to exploitation of a man by a man should be terminated ruthlessly Capitalism, colonialism, fascism, feudalism, and communalism have had the people adversely affected. A number of innocent people have been subjugated and subjected to untold misery These coercive forces must be destroyed.

Anand: Defender of the Under-Dog’s Cause

      Anand is a novelist with a mission. He writes with a mission to ameliorate the status of under-dog of society. He believes that a truly humanist art is proportional to the needs of our time. He declared 'jihad' against the evils of caste hindu society He never wrote to amuse people. He put all his efforts to uplift the dignity of the under-dog and to engender sympathy in the hearts of men for the oppressed and the down-trodden.

Compassionate Anand

      Anand’s compassion, fellow feelings for the under-dog of society is manifest from his novels but Untouchable, Coolie and Two Leaves and a Bud are more significant in this context because they deal with the hardship, adversity, suffering and wretchedness of the poor and their efforts for better life. All his subsequent novel revolve round the same theme. He focused on the plight of the poor and the destitute peasants who make abortive efforts for a better life. Anand raises socio-political issues through his writings. Untouchable is concerned with the experiences of Bakha, a social pariah, depressed and frustrated. Reader can go into the skin of the character. It is a socially-conscious novel. Anand’s campaign against injustice and tyranny exploitation and untouchability played a crucial role in awakening people across India.

      The humiliation of Bakha becomes most excruciating and intensive when his sister being molested by Pandit Kalinath is condemned for defiling the libidinous culprit.

      The stigma of untouchability leaves Bakha with three options; conversion to Christianity, Gandhi’s message of the brotherhood of: men and a proper drainage system. Anand himself favours the last: one of these options. The English missionary Gandhi and the poet appear in the end. Anand’s yearning to play the social reformer is manifest in multiple aspects of the novel.

Anand’s Objective

      Nothing can deter Anand from his mission. His pen does not recognise any barrier. It goes beyond the frontiers of caste, creed, conventions and rituals. He does not fear anything except injustice and evils. He believes that all the people on earth belong to two classes only they are the poor and the rich, the haves and the have nots. Anand’s humanism persuades him to use his art for the service of humanity

Anand: A Propagandist

      Anand is a rational and radical humanist. He believes that science and technology can improve the physical living conditions of men. He believes in the miraculous power of knowledge and condemns superstitions, conventions, traditions and rituals. He is a progressive writer. He advocates the equality of all men without discrimination. He vehemently condemns and detests casteism and all issues that promote the exploitation of the have-nots. He seems to propagate his doctrine of social justice, equality; fraternity and opportunity for all without discrimination. His characters can be classified as the sufferers, the tyrants and the noble and virtuous. Chiefly, the protagonists are the sufferers. The high caste Hindus, particularly landlords, priests, money-lenders are oppressor or tyrants. And doctors, leaders, social workers, poets are the virtuous people. Anand gave expression to his love for humanism through his own characters. Dr. Mohindra in The Old Woman and the Cow emphasises the use of medicine and soap and need for sanitation in village; Iqbal (Untouchable) emphasises mechanised disposal of human waste and garbage which will eradicate casteism, Sauda (Coolie) incites the workers to go on strike for better results, and Puran Singh (The Big Heart) extorts the down-trodden not to forget that the English have the Bible and Browning besides their sins. Anand as a propagandist gives utmost expression to his grief and anguish. But he yields no solutions to these problems.

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