(Last Updated on : 11/08/2010)
The Navya Sahitya Movement in Kannada Literature
was a new movement founded by Gopalakrishna Adiga. Navya Sahitya means New or Modern literature. This phrase was first coined by V. K. Gokak. He also wrote some new poems. But they are chiefly versifications of ideas borrowed from others and can hardly be called poetry. He thought modernity was a question of technique. For Adiga, it was a question of sensibility. Patre Lankesh
(1935), U. R. Anantha Murthy, Shantinath Desai, Yashwanth Chittal (1928), Purnachandra Tejaswi (1938), Girish Raghunath Karnad
, Attipat Krishnaswami Ramanujan, Ramachandra Sharma, and Gangadhara Chittala are other important writers of Navya literature.
Shantinath Desai`s Mukti (1962) was the first major attempt to express modern sensibility in fiction. Gowrish, the hero of the novel, is a weak man with high ideals. This leads to a split in his personality that ultimately drives him to suicide. Desai`s short story "Ksitija" portrays the dilemma of a traditional Hindu woman travelling to England for higher studies. Yashwanth Chittal and P. Lankesh portray the changing Indian society in urban and rural settings. Lankesh`s short stories, plays, and novels portray the psychology of weak people caught in the maze created by the people in power. His poetry has influenced younger poets like K. V. Thirumalesh and B. R. Lakshmana Rao. He is also a filmmaker and journalist. Ramachandra Sharma`s poetry has details taken from both the West and the East. Purnachandra Tejaswi`s novels and short stories depict life in very backward villages. His two novels, Nigudha Manusyaru and Karvallo, are about an encounter between educated people and uncivilized villagers. K. S. Narasimha Swamy`s poetry upholds the importance of family relationships in modern times.
The work Samshara (1966) by U. R. Anantha Murthy received considerable praise. It portrays the corruption of traditional Brahmanic society and the changes facing it. Conflict between traditional and modern societies is one of the major themes of Anantha Murthy`s novels and short stories. His Bharattpura (1972), a novel, depicts the changes a Western-educated person tries to bring about in a feudal town built around a temple. Avasthe (1978), another novel, explores the same theme in the larger context of politics in a state capital. His "Akkayya," a short story, depicts the relationships between a traditional Hindu woman of a village and her brother, who now lives in America. The portrayal of the relationships between this earthy woman and her brother symbolizes the relationships between Indian and American cultures. They are said to be determined by pre-capitalist and capitalist forces, respectively. Anantha Murthy`s writings are remarkable for their portrayals of different kinds of rebels against tradition. Through them, he portrays Indian society in transition.
A. K. Ramanujan`s Kannada writings include three collections of poems, three short stories, and a novel. His poetry showed a new way out when younger poets were trying to escape from Adiga`s influence. He concentrated on the little details of daily life. His writings are also about the problems of migration. His short story "Annayyana Manavasastra" is about an Indian academic living in America. This academic is so far removed from India and the past that he can now know about his relatives, including his mother, only through a book on anthropology. Ramanujan`s casual narrative method saves it from melodrama. Such method marks his poetry, too. He is capable of writing about some of the deepest experiences in a casual, matter-of-fact manner. For example, his "Arigula Huluvina Parakaya Pravesa" is about a small bird trying to save its identity among big birds and animals. Ramanujan`s casual way of narration makes one feel that he is telling a children`s story. But subsequent readings make one realize the political and metaphysical undertones of the poem.
Ram Manohar Lohia (1910-67), a parliamentarian and one of the founders of the Samyuktha Socialist Party, was a strong influence on Navya writers. Adiga, Anantha Murthy, Lankesh, and Purnachandra Tejaswi were actively associated with the Socialist Party. Adiga and Tejaswi translated Lohia into Kannada, and Anantha Murthy and Lankesh have written extensively. Lohia was one of the important writers to question Marx`s concept of history. According to Lohia, the movement of history toward progress is recurring and not one-dimensional. If it is linear, he asked, why was the West in a state of barbarism when India was at an advanced material stage, say, during the Lord Buddha
`s time, or in the Gupta period? Why is India backward now, when the West is at the height of its glory? Lohia suggests that Marx`s concept of linear development takes into account only the European countries after the Renaissance and ignores Asia. His other contributions include analysis of the caste system, some of the Hindu myths, and Mahatma Gandhi
`s contribution to Indian thought. He was a strong advocate of decentralization and opposed Jawaharlal Nehru
`s attempts toward centralized rule. He also opposed multinational companies investing in India. Lohia helped Navya writers to understand Indian society with greater insight than Marxism did. Most of the social ideas of Navya writers, which sometimes have forced the government of Karnataka to change its policy, are influenced by Lohia. His influence on Adiga is seen in poems like "Nehru Nivruttaraguvudilla" and "Sri Ramanavamiya Divasa."
Thus the Navya Sahitya Movement ushered in a new phase in Kannada literature.