Humanism is stated as a philosophy. The focus of this philosophy has been on human means to understand human reality. This philosophy is of science and reason in the knowledge pursuit. Followers of this philosophy reject arbitrary revelation, authority, faith and modified state of consciousness. It is also referred as a philosophy of concern and imagination. It is based on realistic beliefs and associated with those humans who love the life. People following this theory take the blame of the lives of other humans. Mulk Raj Anand provides a clear view of the philosophy. He defines it as a system of thinking in which values, dignity, and human interests are held prominent. It involves dedication to the worries of humankind. In addition, it is an attitude of concentrating on the activities of humans despite of super natural world or the so-called animal kingdom. On historical grounds, humanism is a doctrine of Renaissance that emphasizes on the dignity, essential worth and the human greatness.
This philosophy holds belief, which is contrary to the traditional view of humans. Traditional view considers that man is depraved, inclined towards destruction and worthless. Humanism on the other hand, attracts the attention towards the art of humans to serve humanity. Strength of humanism is derived from both from western and eastern thoughts but Anand refused all the western and eastern thoughts related to philosophy of humanism. Mulk Raj Anand, in his famous novel “Humanism is Untouchable”, talks about the sin that Indians committed against the Indians and not about the in-humanism of the British who ruled over India for more than hundred years. The novel portrays a day in the life of a boy Bakha who was untouchable. He was doing an inferior job of a sweeper; in fact, in Indian society, people are considered as untouchable. In this novel, his sister named as Sohini. Ramcharan and Chota are his fellows. Other characters include Rakha, and pundit Kalinath. Being a hero of the story, Bakha had his own dislikes and likes. Naturally, he had the wish to live a better life and dress himself as the people belonging to upper caste (Anand 2007).
H wished not to be objected by soldiers or Muslims but there were Hindus who do not want this to happen. He was slapped one day because he touched a Hindu of upper caste. He was always discouraged to make progress in his life because he belonged to lower caste. Pundit Kalinath permitted the recluse women to enter to his house and in this way, he presented himself as a rational person. One day he also invited Bakha and his sister to his house attempted sexual advancement with Sohini, when she resisted, kalinath blamed her and attract the attention of public. Anand took this incidence as opportunity, exposed the Hindus hypocrisy of, and criticizes the evil practices of untouchability in harsh terms. British were hate by the Indians due to rule and divide policy of British. On the contrary, their practices of untouchability were also dividing and rule policy. In this manner, Anand condemn the inhuman practices by insisting humanism in his novel “Untouchable”.
Humanism in ‘Coolie
Raj Anand, as a supporter of Humanism always depicted this idea in his all writings. The inspiration for humanism always acted as a driving force in his efforts of exposing the craziness of the Indian society. As his father was posted in Indian Army as Subedar, he always had chance of mixing up with the children of sweepers who were attached to the regiment of his father. He turned these early friends and classmates into heroes of his novel in assistance of his powerful imagination. According to author, other men and women emerged as his novel characters and they were those whom he had mixed freely and lived with them. This is the logic behind the reason of his characters being life like.
The central character Munno of the ‘Coolie’ is a boy living in village and had lost his parents so he lived with his uncle. His aunt used to treat him harshly. Due to the hate of his aunt, he was sent to another village to serve as a domestic servant. However, the luck was harsh with him this time as well, because his Bibiji was more brutal than his aunt was; therefore he was he left in the village? One day his Bibiji beat him so severely that he ran away from her house and found a kindhearted man Prabha. He was a noble man who took great of Munno with this wife Parvati. However, luck was not at his side this time as well and he had to leave that good place (Anand 2007). He tried for getting a job coolie but failed. He then left to Bombay. He was surprised to see hundreds and thousands of people sleeping on the pavements; the homeless people. He got a job in cotton mill there and lived in very bad condition there in a Chawl. Here he saw a conflict between workers and management- a conflict between poor and rich- a conflict between laborers and capitalists. There was persistent exploitation of workers by management. These unavoidable circumstances forced Munno to go to another place Shimla just to die there of tuberculosis.
This novel not only talks about Munno alone. It represents all the miserable situations of thousand of Indian people who are the prey of poverty. Focus of the novel on the miserable and hard life style of the poor people of India working if factories under bad working conditions and exploitation. This novel talk about the millions of Indian people who are unemployed and those who cannot make both ends meet. This novel is about the plight of the unrepresented and unorganized poor people who are not able to have a sight of dawn of the day until their death. He raises the question that who can save these people to suffering from pathetic conditions. There is no remedy; no solution; no savior. Who should come into action to bell the cat for finding a long lasting solution? Only solution to this issue is social reforms. Society is desired to be enlightened and awareness be created among them. The privileged and rich people must realize that it is not fair to behave the poor in this manner and even it is a sin against the man and God. In this manner, the novel ‘Coolie’ served the purpose it was intended. The aim was to bring a social awareness that can bring betterment of downtrodden pliable conditions.
Part B: Argue
The philosophy of Marxism has developed its roots in Western world during the time when Anand presented his “Untouchable”. He moved to England in 1920s. After his move to England, Marxism then affected the beliefs, education and writing of Anand. Through religious inquiries and frustration of Bakha, as a Hindu, he realized that he is a class entity. Character of Bakha evolves throughout the novel, from egoism and being uncritical of his personal materialism, to realizing these ethics as misleading to his own desires. In scope of this exposure, Bakha came to know that the ethics for which he used to strive are the ethics of that system and class, which dominate his life. Through Bakha’s perspective, Marxism realized itself through novel. Initial condition and feelings of Bakha are representatives of intense state of poverty that defines his status in society as member of outcast and the oppressed proletariat in the society of capitalists. It is apparent immediately that this condition as an outcast is under the gloom both of cantonment and town but outside their limits and a part from them. He was completely separated from society and living among the outcastes who lack every type of identity within the social and religious system and this thing suppress them. This lack of identity contains their lack of humanity. A creek tainted with excrement runs towards the camp. Cadavers of dead animals littering the streets, and giving off a rotten odor, in all, the writer identifies the colony as in an unfriendly place to live in. once again, this outcast colony’s poverty covers the environment of Bakha. Yet already it is identifiable with poor states of any unconscious class in capitalist conditioning’s abstract stages. Again, the discord among the poor or outcastes is similar to the lower classes in capitalist economy. In the initial stages of subjugation of plebs beneath the bourgeois, Marxist Georg Lukács explains a sense of harmony with the people of working class does not exist yet. It is the initial relationship of proletariat with viewpoint of her or his material environment and he argues that this environment produces this disunity. He calls this interface with material as “materialistic dialectic”. In this materialistic dialectic, initially the proletariat possesses an uncontroversial perspective of the material objects he or she is interacting with. This innocent relationship with material objects is referred to as scientific thinking by Lukacs (Lukacs 22). It is a method adapted commonly in capitalist system of the government. Again, the controversy arises in that science, an exercise of managing the perpetuations and discoveries of truth at the back of material environment, eventually misleads its practitioners (Kumar 2002).
As science cuts off material objects as false impression, apart from the materiality of the humans, it does not imaging the logic behind the reality that have informed historically the material objects themselves. This scientific thinking results in ‘reification’. This term is produced by Marx. Reification is necessarily objectification of capitalism about working class. On the other hand, the materialist dialectic, comprehends the link between human subject and the object, permitting the masses to have control over the material object. The empire of scientific reasoning and the powers of production yoke the working class to a commodification cycle on fetishized level. Lukacs calls fetishization of community “Vulgar materialism” which in effect is indicators of conceptual nullity and crudeness of scientific thinking. The conclusion of these breakdowns of proletariat in starting stages of association with the materialistic dialectic directs her or him to destitution as a class entity. There is no concord of thought of working class at this level of unawareness. The person does not rule over the person but the object rules the person. The continuity is present between the underdeveloped stage of proletariat in the materialistic dialectic’s framework and in the start of novel, Bakha.
The evolutionary facet of the constructs of Marxism is important to understand the progression of Bakha in the novel. Lukacs imagines that the proletariat in Marxism should evolve into a collective sense of identity. Sudden drastic interference cannot result in class-consciousness. Rather it is result of a continuing commitment to the materialistic dialectic. Efficient and successful commitment in the materialistic dialectic allows subject to acquire materialism in her or his thought processes. Bakha embodies his own participation in growth of consciousness process and resultantly shows his increasing awareness of material objects that enveloped him, their deficiency of functioning and efficiency of functioning. Close to the conclusion of novel, thoughts of Bakha on “solar topee” who is an alien Indian sun hat hanging the veranda of the barracks of British soldier, is an appealing specimen of his progressing knowledge about the material objects. Bakha had been so attracted towards solar topee since his adulthood. Observing the hat, Bakha feels the same past impulses of materialism finally to own it. Although the process involves the asking of some members of guard, this was an impossible barrier and he fears that his request would be communicated to sahibs and they would abuse him. The line between sahibs and Bakha is same as the insuperable line between bourgeois and proletariat.
Anand, M. R. (2007). Untouchable. Pearson Education India.
Kumar, G. (2002). Indian English Novel: Text and Context. Sarup & Sons.
Kulshrestha, C. (Kulshrestha, 1980). The hero as survivor: Reflections on Anand is untouchable. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 19(1), 84-91.
Lukacs, Georg. The Historical Novel. University of Nebraska Press, 1983. Web. 26 Oct. 2013.