Wednesday, September, 22,2021

Philosopher, pioneer, poet: Raja Rao

Raja Rao’s (1909-2006) first novel “Kanthapura” was published in London in 1938 by Allan and Unwin. They published all Dr Radhakrishnan’s books.

Mahatma Gandhi is the inspiration behind the “Kanthapura”. EM Forster called it, “The finest novel to come out of India in recent years.” Raja Rao spent many years in France. He studied at Montpellier and Sorbonne, the most famous universities of France.

I first met him in New York in March 1963. Earlier I had reviewed his “The Serpent and the Rope” for All India Radio. Its range is cosmopolitan and combines fiction with philosophy.

Raja settled in Texas USA in the 1980’s, taught at the University till he passed in 2006. I had something to do with his being awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi knew him well. In my book of Tributes to Nehru- ‘The Legacy of Nehru’, Raja Rao wrote a very long and complex essay on Nehru.

They met for the first time in Switzerland in 1936. e Myrobalan in the Palm, was lying ill in a sanitarian in Lausanne. Nehru’s first words were, “Malraux spoke to me about you in Paris?”

For ten years he was President de Gaulle’s minister for culture. His most famous and widely read novel is, “Man’s Fate”.

At the age of 76 an ailing Malraux was keen to get to East Pakistan in 1971 to help the Awami League in its struggle against Pakistan. Indira Gandhi persuaded him to drop the idea. Raja Rao was his closest Indian friend besides Jawaharlal Nehru.

The views expressed by the author are personal

  • Kanthapura
  • Raja Rao’s
  • All India Radio
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