The Emerald Route

Item Code: NAG470
Author: R.K.Narayan
Publisher: Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 1999
ISBN: 9780140289183
Pages: 184
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8 inch X 5 inch
Weight 150 gm
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Book Description

About the Book


The Emerald Route is R.K. Narayan's account of his travels across his homeland of Karnataka, from Belur and Halebid to Gulbarga and Hampi, from the hilly prospects of Mangalore to the gold mines of Kolar, from the legendary battlefield of Seringapatam-home of Tippu Sultan-to the rock formations of Bellary-supposed to be gigantic pellets thrown by Bhima at Bakasura. As he makes his way through the shopping complexes of Bangalore and the elephant khedda at Karapur, samples the local delicacies like Nanjangud bananas and Avaraikalu beans and enjoys the sunsets and mallige (jasmine) at Mysore, the master storyteller tells us about the history and mythology that make Karnataka the fascinating state it is. Published in paperback for the first time, this previously unavailable volume from India's greatest living writer will be a delight to every fan of R.K. Narayan.


About the Author


R.K. Narayan was born in Madras and educated there and at Maharajah's College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends (1935) and its successor The Bachelor of Arts (1937) are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi. Other 'Malgudi' novels arc: The Dark Room (1938), The English Teacher (1945), Mr Sampath (1949), The Financial Expert (1952), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1962), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), The Painter of Signs (1976),A Tiger for Malgudi (1983), Talkative Man (1986), and his most recent, The World of Nagaraj. Other novels include Waiting for the Mahatma (1955) and The Guide (1958)-which won the Sahitya Akademi Award.


In 1980 R.K. Narayan was awarded the A.C. Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature and was made an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1989 he was made a member of the Rajya Sabha. As well as five collections of short stories (A Horse and Two Goats, An Astrologer's Day and Other Stories, Lawley Road, Malgudi Days and Grandmother's Tale), he has published two travel books (My Dateless Diary and The Emerald Route), four collections of essays (Next Sunday, Reluctant Guru, A Writer)s Nightmare and A Story-tellers World), translations of Indian epics and myths. (The Ramayana, The Mahabharat and Gods, Demons and Others) and a memoir (My Days). Malgudi Landscapes, a selection from Narayan's best writings, is also available in Penguin Books. A Town Called Malgudi: R.K Narayan)s Finest Fiction is forthcoming in Viking.




I am grateful to the Government of Karnataka for the generous manner in which they had arranged for my travel in Karnataka to gather impressions and material for this book. They left us totally free (that's myself and my brother Laxman) to write (and sketch) as we liked, without offering any hint or suggestion at any time. And that enabled me to select and record aspects of Karnataka which appealed most to my mind.


Karnataka has many facets: several mountains, forests, rivers, a great deal of history, major schemes for power generation, industrial and irrigational projects.


Karnataka has been the home of great personalities like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhvacharya and Basaveswara. Jain mystics, composers and mystics like Purandara Dasa and others. Eminent warriors and kings have appeared on the stage of Karnataka, played their parts and vanished into the wings. Every worthwhile and significant personality seems to have had his birth in this part of the land or arrived at a significant moment of his career.


It is not practical to cover all parts of Karnataka in a book of this kind, nor every aspect of each place mentioned. One has necessarily to be selective considering the encyclopaedic nature of the theme. Some places have been described at length, others have only been touched upon through a fragment of history, a local belief, a relevant anecdote, or a description of a personality or scene, all of which, to my mind, are like the parts of a jigsaw puzzle-pieced together they could produce, for my readers, not only a total picture of the Karnataka I saw, but also convey the quality and texture of its men and culture.




The earliest mention of 'Karnataka' occurs in a poem learnt at school, a story concerning a cow and a tiger. The cow, while grazing in a forest, is accosted by the tiger, who is hungry. Realizing that its end is come, the cow musters courage and pleads for time to go home, feed its calf, and return. The tiger relents and lets it go. Punctually, as promised, the cow reappears, ready to appease the hunger of the tiger, which is so moved by the honesty of the cow, that it jumps off a crag to its death.


After this poem, one looked on the cow as a creature of unquestioned integrity, and the tiger as a not-too-unreasonable creature, surprisingly sensitive. Apart from these reactions, the poem conjured up a picture of Karnataka Desa, the centre or the world (Dharani Mandata Madhya), as a land of forests, mountains, green pastures, cows and tigers. However, there was no hint of a sea coast in this or any other description, since the coastal areas had not yet become a part of Mysore State which consisted only of eight districts: Mysore, Mandya, Bangalore, Kolar, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Hassan and Shimoga. Kannadigas outside this orbit were scattered in the adjoining provinces-Bombay, Hyderabad, Madras and Coorg. After every battle, which was chronic, boundaries were shifted according to a victor's demands and fancy, and the population in the border areas pushed, pulled, and moved hither and thither. Kannadigas, more than any other linguistic group in India, suffered much this way. They found themselves now under rulers who spoke Kannada, next under rulers who spoke Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Urdu, Portuguese, or English, no settlement lasting beyond one generation or two. In British days, the division of states was based on the administrative or strategic notions of an Imperial power. When the concept of Independence took root, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru advocated reorganization of the states on linguistic basis. The present Karnataka came into being in 1956. When all the Kannada-speaking areas were marked off and added to the old Mysore State, it turned out to be . one of the largest single territories in India, with nineteen districts and a total area of 1,91,756,07 square kilometers.



Kannada is one of the four main languages of south India, of Dravidian origin, and the eighth among the languages listed in the Constitution. The earliest Kannada inscription is of the fourth century AD. A work of the ninth century, Kavirajmarga, quotes thirty-six earlier Kannada poets, and also mentions that Kannada was the language of the people from Kaveri to Godavari.


Apart from Sanskrit, J ain religion and literature influenced Kannada writing. Among the Jain writers, Pampa (942 AD) is well known. His Bharata and Adipurana are immortal works, known widely, read and enjoyed even today by literates and illiterates alike, the latter, perhaps, by the ear. Ponna (950 AD) wrote the story of Rama in fourteen chapters, Chavundaraya (978) stories of the sixty-three great Jain saints. Ranna's Gada Yuddha (993) is being studied in the classroom even today. Stories and romances abound. Nemichandra wrote in 1170 a romance entitled Lilavathi, in which lovers meet for the first time in each other's dreams and then search out and marry after overcoming several obstacles in their path. Rajaditya (1191) wrote a treatise on mathematics. Many technical and scientific works were also written between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries on Ayurveda, poisons and antidotes, treatment of cattle diseases, on meteorological topics (entirely in verse) dealing with rainfall, cloud-formation, earthquakes, and underground water, thunder and lightning. In the twelfth century, after the fall of (the later) Chalukyas, Kallachuris became dominant in Karnataka. Buddhism, Jainism and Vedic religions were losing their dynamism; at this juncture, Basaveswara appeared on the scene with his Vacbanas, terse and powerful epigrams, touching many aspects of philosophy and conduct, which created a new religious order; Kumara Vyasa (1400) has left an outstanding work in his Bharata. The musical compositions of the Dasas, Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa and many others, wandering minstrels mainly singing the glory of God, are timeless in their appeal. The most popular at this time (as even today) are the Tripadis of Sarvajna, Sarvajna's exact date is uncertain (about 1700). He adopted a life of wandering with a begging bowl in hand. His two thousand verses in Tripadi meter express a pragmatic philosophy aimed at the common man, attacking hypocrisy, bigotry, and superstition, and some are also reflective or lyrical. Tripadi is a verse form in three lines, suited to folk music, lullabies or for the expression of one's longings and aspirations. The rhythm of Tripadi has an impact, which is immediate, universal and abiding. The poet's words sank deep into the minds and hearts of people. It was indeed 'mass communication' at its best, achieved through the sheer potency of thought and expression, without any mechanical aids or talk of the 'Media'.


With the eighteenth century, Kannada literature entered the modern period (and continuing today), with its numerous poets, novelists and dramatists who carried on the influence of the earlier traditions, mingled with the influence of Western literature, and who have managed to leave behind what may safely be termed 'Great Writing', both in quantity and quality.








Part One: The Emerald Route


Part Two: The Rockies


Part Three: Whispers and Echoes


Part Four: Bangalore and Mysore


Part Five: Here and There







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