Translator(s): Lalit Srivastava
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195676416
In Karambhumi, Premchand explores the complex world of human relationships while firmly grounding his characters in the social and political realities of his times. Through his protagonists and their yearnings, love, laughter, tears, trials and tribulations, the author subtly brings alive the India of the early decades of the twentieth century, at the same time delivering a powerful social and political message. So light is his touch that his protagonists seem to be at times at odds with themselves but, for that very reason, more human.
Threads of Hindu-Muslim unity; shared goals of the welfare of these two communities; and the non-violent struggle of the untouchables, peasants, and the city’s poor for their rights are deftly interwoven in Premchand’s novel. It is starting to note how topical these issues are even in the India of our times and yet how divorced from our urban lives. Certainly the innocent idealism seems rather anachronistic today, but at the same time, very appealing.
With its focus on the nationalist movement and strong political and social overtones, this volume will be of interest to the general reader, as well as students and scholars of literature, Indian literature in translation, and social history.
Amarkant is an intelligent and idealistic, though weak, young man who has grown up hating his father’s business and adherence to the formalities of the Hindu religion. He is married to Sukhada who is beautiful and intelligent, but dominates him through her logical and down-to-earth approach to life.
Denied love at home and stifled by his wife, Amarkant is attracted to their watchman’s granddaughter, the modest and courteous Sakina. When his father refuses to accept Sakina, Amarkant leaves home to wander from village to village. Finally settling in a village of Untouchables, he teaches children and helps villagers in their fight for relief against land tax.
Initially unable to comprehend her husband’s sympathy for the poor, Sukhada is ultimately drawn into the movement when she sees the police firing on a non-violent demonstration for acceptance of the Untouchables inside temples. She instantaneously gains recognition and acceptance as a leader of the city’s poor and downtrodden.
Impelled by the desire to gain similar recognition, Amarkant deviates from the path of anon-violence in favour of direct confrontation that leads to many casualties among the formers. He finally realizes that the Gandhian path was the better one, and returns to its fold.
Part One: Chapters 1-18
Part Two: Chapters 19-25
Part Three: Chapters 26-38
Part Four: Chapters 39-46
Part Five: Chapters 47-56