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The calf became an orphan

Robert J. Zydenbos


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16.1 To end the present study I will attempt to draw some general conclusions about modem Kannada fiction, as well as about the state of culture which we have seen reflected in the literary works discussed above.

  • 1 The term 'Hindi imperialism' can be found in e.g. H.M. Nayak 1987: 195.
  • 2 Adiga 1968: 240-43.
  • 3 In Shantinath Desai's Vikṣēpa, part of the description of the prostitute whom Raṇajita brings with (...)

2Until now we have looked at literature dealing with themes which do not occur as such in Western literature, but it is also interesting to note that some themes are conspicuous by their absence. For example, matters of nationwide political significance are not dealt with. Thus I have not come across any fiction about Indira Gandhi's 'Emergency', though a few Kannada poets have expressed themselves on the subject. There is widespread resentment in the southern states of India about the central government's policy of foisting the Hindi language on the non-Hindi-speaking people (this policy has been termed 'Hindi imperialism' by its opponents)1. The important Kannada poet and essayist, Gopalakrishna Adiga has in an important essay2, been very outspoken on what he considers the utter uselessness of Hindi but I have seen practically no thoughts on this subject in fiction3. The political awareness that we see in the fiction of Kannada writers is very limited and hardly reaches beyond what happens in the writer's own caste, though the works of Pragatiśīla writers are noteworthy exceptions in this respect.

  • 4 Anantha Murthy 1974: 244.

3We have seen a number of authors express a variety of views on a variety of issues, but we can discern one common, overriding concern: in the works of all of them we can briefly say that this is the concern about a society and culture that are in a transitional phase. In a thoughtful article about the future of the Kannada novel, U.R. Anantha Murthy stresses the significance of this matter and concludes that the authors who deal with this matter are the ones able to make important new contributions to literature4.

4Throughout the literature which we have discussed, we see an opposition between collectivistic social norms and the individual. There is a rethinking of the old, collectivistic norms which are seen as being no longer of sufficient use in the changing environment. This humanistic attitude, which demands the recognition of the dignity of the individual (most explicitly in the writings of authors like Niranjana, Desai and Anantha Murthy), is there in nearly all the writings we have reviewed in the course of this study. There is protest against the traditional treatment of women, because this is not considered to give sufficient recognition to women as individuals in their own right. Much the same can be said in opposition to casteism: an individual should not be judged on the basis of his caste and treated accordingly, but should be allowed to show his own worth. Happiness lies in the fulfilment of individual desires and ambitions rather than in obeying the arbitrary rules of one's caste / sex and being content with the place in society which tradition has reserved for one. Similarly, there is resentment at the authority which conservative religious institutions wield over individuals (Banaśankari, Phaṇiyamma, Dharma bale bīsidāga, Mūla etc.). This assertion of the individual represents a major cultural change, if we consider that Indian society today is still based on the caste system, which, in comparison with Western society, does not treat the individual as a thing of very much importance.

  • 5 Kakar 1985.

5Here it is worth noting that the concept of maryāde, which plays a rôle of immense importance in several of the works which we have discussed, and which is commonly translated in English as 'honour', is a typically non-individualistic concept: it is determined by conforming to caste norms, and not by abstract principles of justice. In e.g. Kattimani's novel we read that svēcchācāra ('behaviour in accordance with one's own wish') is characteristically considered one of the things most harmful to a girl's 'honour'. The great importance that is given to 'what people say' (which we see especially in the works which we have discussed in chapter 1) confirms what the Indian psychologist Sudhir Kakar has written about Indian morality, which is not located in the individual superego and is in constant need of social control.5

66.2 Although we have looked at themes which are culturally specific in contradistinction to Western literary culture, we almost always see that the treatment of these themes, which tend to merge into a theme complex (as I have mentioned in §0.10), involves a discussion of the influence of Western culture in India, irrespective of whether the authors understand that culture in any detail or not.

7A few striking features of the Kannada fiction which we have discussed demand a closer look, because they give some valuable insights into the culture of Karnataka at present. I am referring to the importance which is given to the English language, the United States and Great Britain, and Christianity.

8English acquires a symbolic significance in a number of works, and in a number of different ways. It can appear as a sign of discontent, for instance in the expletives which we see in Desai's Vikṣēpa Bharatipura. Puranika is so thoroughly disconted with life in his ancestral home town, is so disillusioned that he did not succeed at all in dragging Bharatipura out of its semi-mediæval slumber and helping bring about necessary social reforms, that he has written off India altogether and retires into a dream-world where before his mind's eye he sees himself move through London seeing places of historical interest. Part of his self-isolation consists in speaking only English, except with those people with whom it is really impossible to do so. He is an alienated character and has the author's sympathy.

9Also in Bhyrappa's novels English is a mark of alienation, but here it carries the author's note of condemnation. As a rule, the use of English here indicates a perversion in a character's personality and a deviation from the glorified norm of sanātana dharma in its neo-Hindu form. Here English is the language of villains and perverts who are condemned by the course of the story (Ratne, Rao, Kātyāyini in Vamśavṛkṣa, missionaries in Dharmaśrī, Hilda, Kāḷinga jr. and their son in Tabbaliyu nīnāde magane), while the heroes and heroines generally do not know English, or only faultily, and speak Kannada or Sanskrit instead.

10English is associated with prospects of change. Typically, the tragic young couple in Nagathihalli Chandrashekhara's Sarasvatipuradallondu hebbeṭṭina gurutu, who suffer because they dared to oppose the caste system, were both students of English. The protagonist of Desai's Vikṣēpa s is a student of English. Through his English studies the protagonist of Anantha Murthy's Bhāratīpura could go to England (for higher studies) and come into contact with new ideas and new modes of thought. In Anupama Niranjana’s Snēhapallavi, the protagonist receives letters from her beloved Mādhava in Madras in English, just as his father writes to her father in English (and her mother, the main villain of the novel, cannot read it), thus marking the possibility of her escape from the stifling, orthodox, casteist atmosphere at home. Knowledge of English is a sign of education and culture: apart from Bhāratīpura, Vikṣēpa and Snēhapallavi, this is evident also in Kattimani's Janivāra mattu śivadāra and Niranjana's Banaśankari (Mādhava, the broad-minded positive character who marries the protagonist's daughter, is a very cultured person, which is also illustrated by his reading English magazines). But we must note that with Kattimani there are two sides to English: it is also associated with the immoral behaviour of Christians from Goa and people who associate with them, like Parasaṇṇavar. In other words, the learning that comes with the knowledge of English does not immediately change one into a fine person.

11No other language is mentioned as frequently and with such symbolically expressive force as English. One of the characters in Vikṣēpa is learning French, and in the same novel Hindi is the language of pimps and prostitutes. Konkani appears with Anantha Murthy only as a mark of identification of a certain community, as in Kattimani's and Desai's novels, and in Anupama Niranjana's novel the protagonist's knowledge of Tamil serves only as a catalyst for further events.

12English is, of course, in the first place the language of those countries where it is native, and a look at the references to the United States and Great Britain, the populationwise two largest anglophone countries, will give us further information as to how we are to understand this prominence of English.

13Numerous works tell us that these two countries are the places where one can go for further studies and to acquire further knowledge (Bhāratīpura, Tabbahyu nīnāde magane, Vikṣēpa, Kṣitija, Janivāra mattu śivadāra, Palāyana). They are lands of great learning and science (Avivāhite, Vamśavṛkṣa) and are associated with 'success' (Vikṣēpa, Vamśavṛkṣa). They form such a contrast with India that for certain characters they become a sort of promised land about which these characters constantly dream (cf. Purāṇika in Bhāratīpura. Raṇajita in Vikṣēpa wants to go to France). It is not out of place to note here that though these characters are depicted with sympathy by the authors, as divine malcontents, it is clear that they fail to achieve their aims. Sharma's protagonist in Palāyana goes to Britain almost as though he is on a pilgrimage, but he ends up in a nightmare, largely because he has a weak personality and cannot cope with the situation into which he has brought himself.

14Related to the place of importance which Kannada authors give to the English language is the attention which they give to Christianity and Christian characters in their works. To the Western reader, the amount of attention that is given to Christianity is bewildering at first sight. It is very striking that although Muslims form one tenth of the population of Karnataka and are hence a larger group of people, Kannada fiction disregards them almost completely, whereas Christians are very prominent.

  • 6 Personal letter d. June 19th, 1986.

15In some cases we see a plainly unfavourable portrayal of Christians. In the case of Bhyrappa's novels, we have already discussed the political reasons for his attacks against Christians: Christianity is seen as a threat to the old social order, in which the author's own caste had special authority in society. The rôle of Christians in Kattimani's Janivāra mattu śivadāra is not very respectable: they appear as morally loose characters. Kattimani informed me that the reasons for this kind of portrayal are linked with the time at which he wrote the novel, i.e. shortly after the coming of independence. According to him, people mainly from the lower castes would be converted to Christianity during the colonial period in the hope of economic betterment, and they blindly imitated British manners; for similar reasons, they were reputed to be morally lax in comparison with others. However, at present the Christians are not any better or worse than their non-Christian neighbours; due to the influence of popular modern cinema moral standards have deteriorated throughout India among all social groups, he added6. In Veena's novelette Gaṇḍasaru, there is one Christian character who is very particular about his religion and is one of the villains of the book. Here the author seems to want to point out that Christians are not better than Hindus and can suffer from a similar religious fanaticism. But it remains interesting that this character has to be a Christian.

16Some authors stress the humanitarian aspects of Christianity, as e.g. Triveni in her novel Hūvu haṇṇu. In that novel, the orthodoxy and sexism of Hindu society have made a mess of people's lives and broken them, and the Christians are there to pick up the pieces and rescue whoever wishes to be rescued. We find a similarly compassionate Christian in Ballala's Avivāhite: whereas everyone keeps a distance from the protagonist out of a superstitious fear of her leukoderma, the only colleague in her office who shows sympathy and speaks words of hope to her is a Christian.

17Karanth's Cōmana duḍi gives an ambiguous picture. Cōma leads a downtrodden life because of the caste system, which is reinforced by orthodox Hinduism. If only he would become a Christian, like his eldest son, he would be able to fulfil his dream of farming on his own plot of land. But here Christianity does not tackle the root cause of Coma's sufferings: Coma can change his community membership for another one and derive benefits from this, but again his socio-economic situation will be determined by his (quasi-) religious group membership.

18In Indira's Phaṇiyamma we have the strange, loosely inserted episode with the young Christian midwife, who voices protest against the orthodox Brahminical treatment of widows. A silly quarrel is started by the protagonist's niece, not because she disagrees with what the midwife says about the treatment of widows, but because missionaries have converted some Hindu people to Christianity. The midwife tells them that she has become a vegetarian, and the niece is surprised, in spite of her vegetarianism, the midwife cannot become a Brahmin (as though vegetarianism is the prerogative, or even an original aspect of being a Brahmin); the midwife says that she would not become a Brahmin even if she could. What Indira apparently tries to say here is that the combining of useful and good ideas and ways from different sources, irrespective of these sources and discarding casteist rigidity is the way to social improvement.

  • 7 Sastri 1987: 435-6.

19But why should Christianity be singled out as the non-Hindu religion which is worth thinking and writing about? Unless a Kannada author is a Muslim (e.g. B.M. Kunhi or Sara Aboobacker), Muslims appear only sporadically as peripheral characters in the writings which we have discussed above. From what we see in the treatment of Christianity in these writings, together with the constant association of Christianity with the English language and the Western world, we must conclude that for Kannada authors Christianity is the only other religious system that merits discussion because it is associated with a new cultural pattern. In the course of centuries Jainism has come to be perceived as almost a Hindu sect, since Jainism and Hinduism have borrowed so much from each other; thus Bhyrappa wrongly states in his Vamśavṛkṣa and Dharmaśrī that Jainism forms a part of his sanātana dharma. Thus it is not seen as a really alternative way of life. With Islam the situation is quite similar. Though in northern Karnataka some assimilation of Islamic ideas has taken place (Nilakanta Sastri believes that Virasaivism has imbibed certain typical ideas from Islam and Jainism)7, Islam has maintained its distinct character and has successfully resisted Hindu inclusivism, which many Hindus resent. It is also of interest to note that hybrid, quasi-modern forms of Hinduism find little interest among our authors. In Bhyrappa's Dharmaśrī there is mention of Vivekananda, but there is no discussion of his ideas, and he remains a mere symbol of anti-Christian Hindu assertiveness, like the Arya Samaj.

20About the advent of people from Europe in India, Zaehner says that

  • 8 Zaehner 1984: 150.

Western civilization brought with it two elements, the 'philosophy' of progress based on the scientific revolution which looked for its philosophical justification to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and the Christian religion. The two were not necessarily or even naturally connected, but Christianity none the less was considered to be the religion of the white man, the religion which had brought him such astonishing power and success8.

  • 9 Renou 1983: 28: "Le terme considérable de dharma, proprement dit le "support" des êtres et des cho (...)

21Here we must keep in mind what dharma means for an Indian, since he does not think about religion as a Westerner does but sees the word 'religion' as merely the English equivalent of 'dharma'. Dharma is something comprehensive9, and because it is comprehensive and all its aspects are seen as interlinked with each other, the idea arose that the 'white man' was so powerful and successful because of Christianity. It is difficult to tinker with any of the aspects of dharma without endangering the harmony of the whole, hence a complete alternative system can be worthy of consideration, and this is just what we see in Desai's Vikṣēpa when the protagonist's friends Aravinda and Vaidēhi join the communist party, for also Marxism-Leninism claims to be a comprehensive alternative with an answer to everything. Christianity is seen as a genuine alternative, since it is associated with a different and in certain ways more successful culture, whereas Hinduism and Islam are too old and are considered stagnant and incapable of providing solutions to today's questions and problems.

  • 10 Trilling 1955: 299-300.

22Thus, surprisingly, thinking about Christianity becomes thinking about Western culture and about how new ideas and attitudes from the West can be integrated into Indian life. Using Lionel Trilling's terminology, we can distinguish between Kannada authors with 'active' and 'passive' attitudes towards this question10. 'Active' authors are those who grapple with the question in a direct and serious manner, demanding honesty and integrity from themselves because they are aware of the seriousness of the question. We see this active attitude in most of the Pragatiśīla and Navya authors. While authors like Desai and Anantha Murthy adopt an active attitude, trying to probe into what Christendom and the cultural alternative mean, an author like Bhyrappa is thoroughly passive, rejecting the alternative offhand without having any accurate knowledge about it.

23In the hands of our authors, these three matters-English, the two large Anglo-Saxon countries, and Christianity - do not remain what they objectively are. It seems that practically no one is aware that other countries can be advanced similarly to the USA and the UK, or in some ways more advanced, or more homogeneously advanced. When the United States are mentioned, there is no reference to, for example, the Bible Belt, the Ku Klux Klan or the murder of Martin Luther King, obviously because these matters do not harmonize with the popular image which the USA has in India. It seems that practically nobody realizes that the rest of the world does not necessarily speak English, or that a similar amount of new knowledge can be acquired also through other languages too. Also Christianity becomes something else. All three acquire symbolic qualities and point beyond themselves to other spheres of life in a manner which we must consider culturally specific.

24The Western reader, who is witnessing the increasing secularization of his part of the world (where at the same time people are looking increasingly to non-Christian forms of religion as valid alternative ways of thinking about life), may be bewildered by the interest in Christianity which we find among our authors; but the hermeneutic context which I have outlined above should clarify what the interest of our authors actually is. They are not interested in a new religion; they do not merely want to learn a new language; not everyone wants to emigrate and settle abroad - in fact, most of the characters who go abroad in these writings return. These three subjects are merely the three most easily graspable aspects of what is viewed as a complex cultural alternative, an alternative which may offer suggestions or warnings with regard to the comprehensive cultural change which is gradually taking place in India now and is expressed in this literature.

  • 11 Quoted Amur 1981: 59.

25It is important is that although the complex process of social change and modernization is obviously something that has been brought on by the West, it is not considered 'aggression from outside' but a development within Indian society, except in the case of Bhyrappa's writings, which Anantha Murthy has aptly called husināṭakagalu or 'dramatized false-hoods'11. Characters are aware of the foreign origin of a number of things, and this may create some resentment (Bhāratīpura, Phaṇiyamma, Kitija), but this is no reason for rejecting them: the confrontation as a rule leads to fruitful contemplation and the adoption of what is found good and useful.

26Because the process of modernization which is taking place in India is perceived as connected with the West, thinking about India's future involves a great deal of thinking about the West. There is an understandable fear of a loss of identity, along with an accompanying loss of a sense of security. But honesty demands that one recognizes one's own weaknesses. This is what we come across in the writings of e.g. Shantinath Desai and U.R. Anantha Murthy, and this obviously demands strength of character. In Bhāratīpura, Anantha Murthy realizes how a rejection of racism in Britain demands that one also reject casteism in India. One cannot, as Bhyrappa does, denounce apartheid and glorify casteism without being a hypocrite. Instead of the cultivation of a rational will of one's own, Bhyrappa idealizes an escapist subjugation of one's will to a false, totalitarian ideology. Thus, Bhyrappa's is an extreme example of 'passive' writing. But however one may appreciate Bhyrappa's writings, the mere fact that they fulfil a need with the reading public (not only in Karnataka, but across India), and that certain critics consider him a major Indian writer, must be taken as evidence that contemporary Indian culture is facing very serious problems. The situation in which Bhyrappa leaves his protagonist at the end of Tabbaliyu nīnāde magane is not a joke, but a harsh reality for many living in India today: the loss of orientation and sense of being orphaned, in a cultural sense, are often very real.

276.3 Since literature is a cultural phenomenon and is intimately related to broader cultural and social developments, we will not be able to speculate about what Kannada literature has in store for us in the near future without taking into consideration general developments in Karnatakan society.

28Very important for the further development of Kannada literature (of any literature, for that matter) is the question of how the speakers and readers of the language appreciate that language and literature. One is not born literate, but must learn how to read and write; similarly, literary creation and enjoyment are cultural achievements, which demand cultivation. In my introduction I have noted the exaggerated modesty of Kannada speakers with regard to their language. Instead of a realization of the importance of cultivating one's mother tongue, one notices in Karnataka the widespread notion that Kannada is 'useless', merely because few people outside Karnataka use it. Although Kannada people generally have a very low opinion of Hindi as a language, one does notice that the very strong propaganda from New Delhi, and the popularity of vulgar 'Hindi' movies, have left traces in the popular mind: thus we see a tendency for Sanskritic men's names not to assume the original Sanskrit form, as has always been customary in Kannada (e.g. the many names ending in Prakāśa, Kumāra, Prasāda, etc.) but become Hindified by a clipping off of the final vowel (Prakāś, Kumār, Prasād, etc.). Similarly, Kannada women's names traditionally ended in -e or short -a but now end in -ā. Rural folk and the more cultured urban people tend not to join in this fashion; it is rather characteristic of less cultured townspeople. I believe that we may consider this an indication of alienation from the native culture.

29There are also changes in the academic sphere. There is a well-known tendency nowadays for anyone who has a chance of entering into a professional college will do so, for economic reasons; on account of this the humanities in general, and also the teaching professions, no longer attract talented students. This has led to a clear and dramatic deterioration of Indian studies in the humanities over the past few decades. There is a widespread cultural decline throughout India, and this can only be stopped if creative Indian intellectuals give more serious attention to their heritage and try to harmonize their collective past with their present kind of life and with the demands of their changing society. This is not happening on a sufficiently large scale.

  • 12 One can hear a growing tendency to justify sloppy language by declaring that standard written Kann (...)
  • 13 Critics in the eastern part of Karnataka often declare coastal Kannada 'inferior' to their variety (...)

30In literature, we see this trend of degeneration illustrated by a coarsening of language12. The best Kannada is written in southwest Karnataka; and by 'best Kannada' I mean the language which is grammatically the clearest and most precise and which exploits the largest range of lexical and grammatical possibilities which the language has to offer. Typically, the southwestern region has no large urban concentrations13, whereas much of the writing from the largest urban centres, Bangalore and Mysore, is grammatically impoverished, orthographically corrupted, and polluted with unnecessary English words, very often with non-English meanings. Here we must add most emphatically that this is not exclusively a Kannada phenomenon. Through personal reports I understand that much the same is happening in other Indian languages too, geographically as far apart as Tamil and Assamese. Any language and literature, anywhere in the world, will suffer if the best minds in the linguistic community abandon the cultivated use of the language.

  • 14 Authors foreword to Janivāra mattu śivadāra in the new edition and personal letter, d. 19.6.1986.
  • 15 Sumitra Bai 1987.
  • 16 This is not just my personal view: in psions with younger women authors I have found that many hol (...)

31As Kattimani has mentioned14, casteism is as strong as ever. Social conflict is increasing, and this may lead to odd results as new sections of society enter the literary process and the old cultural élite retreats or emigrates (either to other parts of India or abroad). The Dalita-Baṇḍāya kind of writing may grow, in any case in quantity; at present the thinking that is reflected in this writing is very parochial and not constructive. The changing position of women has inspired more women to become authors. The Women Writers' Association of Karnataka (Karnāṭaka lēkhakiyara sangha is very active in publishing editions of older Kannada writings by women authors and in organizing seminars, workshops and other activities. To my knowledge no serious study of the development of women's fiction in Kannada has yet appeared. One such study concerning women's lyrical poetry has appeared by B.N. Sumitra Bai,15 and among the author's conclusions, two are particularly significant here. Firstly, she notices a growing tendency among women poets not to quietly accept their traditional place in society but to grow more vocal in their demands for a more equitable treatment, and secondly she sees attempts among the poetesses to universalize their experiences in their writings. If women prose writers follow a similar pattern of development, then I believe that because of this second tendency Kannada fiction by women will have a greater literary potential than Dalita-Baṅdāya writing, because this latter kind of writing will appeal primarily to certain social groups, whereas everyone is in more intimate contact with women - if only due to the fact that everyone has a mother. If women writers can demonstrate the universal aspects of their experiences, then their writings will have a broad appeal. But here we must note that Karnatakan women should first become innerly liberated. A comparison of writing by male and female writers will show that the women still lack clarity and forcefulness of expression, which I believe is a direct result of the cultural inhibitions on all forms of self-expression by women. The reason why women16 have expressed themselves more successfully in verse than in prose until now may be that good verse need not be very explicit and outspoken: hints and suggestions are often quite enough, and therefore the cultural inhibitions are less of a disadvantage in the verse medium.

32Kannada literature will grow still further if it can integrate new spheres of experience. More explicit and different statements of women's experiences are only one example. Educated authors who deal with their experiences in other parts of India and with different cultures, such as metropolitan Bombay (e.g. Yashwanth Chittal, Vyasaraya Ballala, Shantinath Desai), or in other countries (e.g. Anantha Murthy), probe into the meanings of their experiences, relate them to Karnatakan culture and make them available to Kannada-reading public. There is also scope for innovations in form: Chittal has made new experiments with form in his latest stories, and authors from the Dalita communities can utilize materials from their ancestral cultures and enrich Kannada letters. But the 'other culture' the broader Kannada readership, will greatly can also be found on the spot, for example, if make these accessible to larger sections of the the more recent experimental writing by Devanura Mahadeva is intriguing. I hope to return to these frontiers of Kannada writing in following studies.

33In spite of the difficulties mentioned above, there is more than enough reason to be optimistic about and interested in the future of Kannada fiction. Its position among the foremost literatures of India will certainly endure.


1 The term 'Hindi imperialism' can be found in e.g. H.M. Nayak 1987: 195.

2 Adiga 1968: 240-43.

3 In Shantinath Desai's Vikṣēpa, part of the description of the prostitute whom Raṇajita brings with him to their regular hotel-restaurant is that she speaks pretty Hindi.

4 Anantha Murthy 1974: 244.

5 Kakar 1985.

6 Personal letter d. June 19th, 1986.

7 Sastri 1987: 435-6.

8 Zaehner 1984: 150.

9 Renou 1983: 28: "Le terme considérable de dharma, proprement dit le "support" des êtres et des choses, désigne à la fois la loi dans sa plus grande extension, l'ordre qui préside aux faits dans les disciplines normatives, mais plus spécialement la loi morale, le mérite religieux: c'est le seule terme qui traduise notre mot de religion, et qui à la fois déborde et demeure en deçà."

10 Trilling 1955: 299-300.

11 Quoted Amur 1981: 59.

12 One can hear a growing tendency to justify sloppy language by declaring that standard written Kannada is 'Brahmin language' and is 'artificial', in other words: casteism is used to defend inferior linguistic competence. The idea is absurd, because if the written language can be called the creation of any particular communities at all, history points to the Jainas and Virasaivas more than to anyone else. More importantly, the standard of any language must be 'artificial' to some extent (cf. also Courtenay 1976:69); language itself is an artificial creation. And, as well, when one hears Karnatakan Brahmins speak among themselves, one does not exactly hear the standard language as written, but a variety of regional community dialects.

13 Critics in the eastern part of Karnataka often declare coastal Kannada 'inferior' to their variety because many people on the coast do not have Kannada but Tulu or Konkani as their mother tongue (thus conveniently disregarding the mother-tongue speakers of Kannada in that area). This is nothing but regionalistic prejudice. The complex linguistic situation in the coastal region actually forces the people to give special attention to the cultivation of their language, and this makes their use of the language more precise and therefore clearer.

14 Authors foreword to Janivāra mattu śivadāra in the new edition and personal letter, d. 19.6.1986.

15 Sumitra Bai 1987.

16 This is not just my personal view: in psions with younger women authors I have found that many hold the same position.

© Institut Français de Pondichéry, 1996

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