Mulk Raj Anand
A leaf from his life
By Vaidehi Nathan
?The Ajanta caves were mind-boggling,? said Mulk Raj Anand. He had travelled all over Europe, seeing some of the world'sbest architecture of 14-15th century a.d. ?But here, we are talking about 2nd century b.c.,? he said in one of his last interviews, given to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Its then Academic Director, Dr Kapila Vatsyayan was interviewing him. Anand said he had gone to Ajanta as part of his pilgrimage all over India, ?like Vivekananda? had done to understand the nation and its people.
Anand had left home, in Punjab, travelled the world over and met men, who are legends today. The men he met included Rudyard Kipling, T.S. Elliot, Ananda Coomaraswamy and Freud. He was influenced by George Orwell into socialism. He returned to India in 1927 and went to Mahatma Gandhi to join the national movement. Gandhiji asked him to tour India first. Anand says he ?arrived? at his roots in this pilgrimage. He was amazed at the creativity of the Indian people, both past and living. The rich heritage of the nation moved him, stunned him and inspired him. When he looked at the carved stone panel in Mahabalipuram, he said whatever he had seen everywhere else paled.
When India got Independence, Anand founded the MARG (Modern Art Research Group), which brought out the magazine MARG. When he approached Jawaharlal Nehru for funds, Nehru said, ?Why don?t, you ask Homi?? (Dr Homi Bhabha). Dr Bhabha took him to J.R.D. Tata. Tata asked him about the project. At the end he said, ?I do not much understand what you are saying. But I will give seven advertisements in all the issues.? Then he asked Anand if he had office space. When Anand replied in the negative, Tata asked Dr Bhabha to give two rooms in one of the Tata buildings. When Tata asked Anand if he wanted any money, Anand politely declined, saying he would not take money for himself from any industrialist. Each of the issues of MARG concentrated on one state/area. When the copies were not selling well in India, Prime Minister Nehru directed that each state about which was being written in MARG would have to buy 1,000 copies.
Mulk Raj Anand'snovels are no doubt a major contribution to Indian literature. They reflect the changing Indian social system and are known for realistic narration. But it is through MARG that Anand made a lasting contribution to the nation'scultural heritage. These even today serve as reference sources.