INDIANNESS IN “THE MAN EATER OF MALGUDI” (1961)


What Chaucer has done in the 14th century England in his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Pope in the 18th century in his Rope of the Lock and Tennyson in the 19th century England in his poems, R. K. Narayan has done the same in his novels of the 20th century India. His novels are the miniature form of India. We find everything what are typically Indian in his novel as his novels are blessed with ‘Bharat Darshan’. The idiosyncratic, likeable Indian characters in Narayan’s novels and the mythic town of Malgudi that he created as the setting of his ‘Man Eater of Malgudi’ are well known all over the world.

R. K. Narayan          
 Narayan is a typical Indian writer. He gives a real picture of city and nature of Malgudi in his ‘Man Eater of Malgudi’. The places like Market Road, Adam’s Lane, Elteman’s Street, kabir Street, Taluk Office, Albert Mission School, Muthu’s Teashop, Town Medical Stores, The Sarayu River, The Mempi Hills, The Mempi Forest are typically Indian. Outside Maldugi there are some references of Indian cities and places in this novel as – Lucknow, Karaikudi Junagarh, Sahitya Academy in New Delhi, The institute of Madras etc.  The description of these places especially of Malgudi will fascinate everyone – “The Market Road was sleepy, a dunky was chewing and old news paper…………”

 In the novel Narayan reaps the religious atmosphere by naming the household God and goddess of Indian religion as Lakshmi, Saraswati, Parbati, radhakrishna etc. there are some yogic names as Rishi, Muni, Swami, Mahatma, Amrit etc. he further creats the religious atmosphere by reffering religious names and the name of the temples as – Gajendra, Ravana, Mahishasura, Bhasmasura, the Krishna Temple etc. the celebration of the religious of pipe and music, the carrying of the God and Goddess the enthusiasm of performing everything is perfectly smelt with the scent of Indian culture. Most of the characters of this novel are religious by nature. Muthu performs ‘puja’ regularly. He firmly believes that inspite of the narrow and twisting road there has been not a single accident in the Malgudi town because of the protection of the Goddess. Natraj has hung up a foamed picture of goddess Lakshmi poised on there lotus. Natraj uses to recite a prayer to the sun every morning. Therefore, through the novel the Indian religiosity is almost running.

Indian mythology adds colour and glamour to the indianness of this novel. Natraj tales us about the mythological Gajendra whom Vishnu had released from the mighty jaws of the great crocodile. When Natraj was tormenting by ferocious Vasu, Sastri reminded him the mythological tales of Ravana, Mahishasura and Basmasura who were destroyed because of their over-winning pride. God will punish Vasu – it was the hope of Sastri. There are also different references of mythological characters in order to put an Indianness to the novel.




The novel is thoroughly Indian and Narayan has created successfully Indian atmosphere by depicting the beautiful natural scenario of Malgudi – “This was no doubt a very beautiful place – the hills and the cumeing village path and highway vanishing into the hills. The hills looked blue, no doubt and the ranges beyond were shimmering”. Not only that we find in his novels such Indian names as – Halwa, Jilebi, Chappati, Dhoti, Guru, Charkha, Tonga, Jamindar, Bhai and Melaeb. The novel there is crowded with Indian names religion and mythological references.

Indian philosophy makes her way in this novel through the conversation of Sen, Doctor Joshi, Sastri and Vasu. Vasu asked them there is no necessity of finding God in the religious procession because according to the Vedanta philosophy God exists everywhere. When Vasu was told not to kill Kumar as when Kumar would be shot, women and children will die in stamped, Vasu replied that why they would fear death because he knew the philosophy of ‘Punarjanam’ – the rebirth or the transmigration of souls.

‘The Man Eater of Malgudi’ thus is a typical Indian novel. To Graham Green – ‘No one could find a second home in Kipling’s India or Fosters’ India’. Narayan has indeed caught the very spirit and atmosphere of India and gather its fevour and aroma. India appears in all her aspects in his novel, with all that are fundamental Indian from geographical, national, cultural, religious philosophical and mythological point of view. Being absorbed in the Indian history, tradition and folklore, his ‘The Man Eater of Malgudi’ excels in rural features, life, customs habits, manners, language etc of Indian semi-cities or villages.

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