Assistant Professor in English
Guru Nanak Girls College
Caste system in India is a kind of stratification based on inequality among human beings in matters of social interaction. Caste system and its manifold divisions are peculiar to Hindu society. It is considered that if a man does sinful acts, he will be reborn in low caste or even as an animal. Thus, birth in a particular caste becomes an index of the soul’s progression towards liberation.
Mulk Raj Anand, a reformist, was against caste system in India. He felt that casteism which is an off-shoot of karma, breeds cruelity and inferiority. Karma is a malignant belief prevailing in the society, propagated by the high caste Hindus, which means that all men suffer in their present existence because of their bad deeds in their previous birth. In order to avoid suffering, Anand placed man at the centre of all things. He believed in equality of all men. He doesn’t see any distinction among man in the form of caste, creed or race. He saw them as obstacles for a human being’s growth.
The present paper is an attempt to show how Mulk Raj Anand through his art tries to awaken our sympathy for the underdogs of the society, which in turn can urge us to take part in the revolt leading to social reform. His first novel Untouchable depicts the wretched condition and ordeals of the oppressed people and their struggle for a better life. He was one of the very few writers who wrote to awaken the social conscience. He was audacious enough to admit that he used literature as a means to some other end, and that this end was the alleviation of the suffering of fellow human beings. Anand wrote novels and short stories with a view of teaching men to recognize the fundamental principles of human living and exercise vigilance in regard to the real enemies of freedom and socialism. It was a lifetime apostasy for him to help raise the untouchables, the peasants, the serfs, the coolies and the other suppressed members of the society to fight for human dignity deliberately denied to them by the privileged sections of the society. He felt that it was his duty and the mission of his life to focus the attention of his readers on the innumerable wrongs, injustices and the injuries that were being continuously perpetrated on these young unfortunate underdogs of Indian society. Although through the repeated efforts of many people strong steps have been taken to protect the rights of these lower caste people but a lot still needs to be done to totally abolish the stigma of caste system in India