I had read (rather, gone through) this novel when I was in college and couldn’t make much of it. Now, after thirty odd years, I mustered enough courage to read this novel again. Perhaps, due to what life teaches us over such long years and some maturity which those years bring, I was able to better appreciate the ideas conveyed by the author. And I must say that I am impressed.
‘Mookajjia Kanasugalu’, which received the most coveted ‘Jnaanapeeta’ award for best novel in the year 1977, is a novel written by Late Shri Kota Shivarama Karantha in Kannada.
Kota Shivarama Karantha was a multi-faceted personality – an author, playwright, Yakshagaana exponent and also an ecological conservationist. He was conferred the national award ‘Padma Bhushan’ which he returned in protest against imposition of ’emergency’ in India.
The title of the book can be translated as ‘Mookajji’s Dreams’ or ‘Grand Nanny’s Dreams’.
‘Foreword’ written by the author aptly describes the content of the novel. I would recommend going through the ‘Foreword’ before and also after completing the novel.
Here, I would like to translate just two sentences from the ‘Foreword’, which bring out the essence of the book: ‘Mookajji’s endeavor is to slowly melt traditional feudalistic beliefs prevalent in our society. If one doubts about the existence of such a granny, please assume that she is none but the manifestation of our misgivings and doubts about traditional feudalistic beliefs (Translation is mine, so pardon any mistakes)’
This book is just about 272 pages. Quality of the writing and the plot of the novel are epic. This novel narrates the interaction between Mookajji and her grandson Subraaya which revolves around various subjects and situations. Mookajji is of some 80+ years and is endowed with a unique prowess – she can visualize the past (as if it is happening in front of her eyes) and also things that may happen in the near future.
Subraaya poses various questions to his grandmother and through her response; the author tries to convey his ideas about the various topics in an easy and understandable way. Author’s thoughts about the various subjects like God, Culture and other aspects are very elegant.
Mookajji has her own interpretation on subjects like morality, religion and the existence of God. Perhaps, the best is her take on Bhagavad Gita (pages 268 and 269) – on timing and duration of Krishna’s preaching to Arjuna (18 chapters, 700+ verses which might have, perhaps taken 3 days to deliver – said to have happened just before commencement of Mahabharatha war, after the armies have come face to face) and also some contradictions in Krishna’s preaching.
My take-away from the book is contained in page 210 – the essence of our lives is to lead a life in a way which is cordial to people and environment around us. If we do not have the capabilities to do good to others, lead a life without harming others (people and environment).
Overall, going by the content and quality of the book and the simple way it was presented, I would highly recommend ‘Mookajjia Kanasugalu’