In Karmabhumi, Premchand explores the complex of human relationships while firmly grounding his character 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 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 adds 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 and deftly interwoven in Premchand's novel. It is starling to note how topical these issues are even in 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 the students and scholars of literature, Indian literature in translation, and social history.
From the Back of the book:
Amarkant is an intelligent and idealistic, though weak, young man who has grown up hating his father's business and adherence to the formalities oh Hindu religion. He is married to Sudhada 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 help 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 city's poor and downtrodden.
Impelled by the desire to gain similar recognition, Amarkant deviates from the path of non-violence in favour of direct confrontation that leads to many casualities among the farmers. He finally realizes that the Gandhian path was the better one, and returns to its fold.
About the Author:
Munshi Premchand (1880-1936) was a pioneering figure in modern Hindi literature. He was one of the initiators of realism in Indian fiction and introduced the genre of the short story in Hindi. With social themes and character studies, he set the standard for writers who followed.
Lalit Srivastava is Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, at Simon Fraser University, Canada. He has published several research papers, books, and monographs. This translation is his first literary work.
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