Prof Dr Shiv Sethi

P.V.Laxmiprasad is the author and editor of 42 books in English Literature. He hails from Karimnagar, Telangana. He is the author of “Rewriting Indian History: Colonial Encounter in Basavaraj Naikar’s The Queen of Kittur”. The novel is hailed as the monument of literary work. If one remembers Indian queens;it would be a great list in the history of Queens. We had, for example, Rani of Jhansi, Rani Tarabai Bhonsle, Rani Durgavati, Rani Velu Nachiyar, Maharani Gayatri Devi, Rani Chennamma, Ahalya Bhai Holkar and others who have immortalized Indian history through their sacrifices. They live in the memory of Indians every day. Laxmiprasad has studied Basavaraj Naikar’sThe Queen of Kittur for history, valour, bravery, revolt, and finally female heroism that the novel primarily deals with. He delineates the heroic life of Rani Chennammma of Kitturkingdom in Karnataka and her encounters with the east India Company. Laxmiprasad observes that the novel truly reflects the colonial conflict between Rani Chennamma and the cruel tactics of East India Company.

To a question of what history is, it is the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. It is otherwise, the whole series of past events connected to a particular person or thing. So, history is the study and the documentation of the past. History is an umbrella term comprising past events as well as the memory, discovery, presentation and interpretation of these events. True to the spirit of history, Rani Chennamma fits into the category of history as well as Indian freedom struggle. Laxmiprasad’sefforts to keep the sacrifices of Queen of Kittur in literature are highly appreciative of his commitment for future generations. As usual, the life of Queen was followed by certain developments like Doctrine of Lapse, and East India Company and the killing of Thackeray, the political agent of South India and the collector of Dharwad. According to the Doctrine of Lapse, any adopted son of the Indian ruler could not be proclaimed as heir to the kingdom. As a result, many Indian states lost their sovereignty and became British territories. This led to the unrest, anger, protest and finally revolt among the princes. In this novel, as Laxmiprasad finds, that the Doctrine of Lapse worked against the interests of the Queen  when she adopted a son as her heir following the death of her husband and son. This revolt by the Queen of Kittur constitutes the fabric of the novel and one of the most interesting events of Indian history. The novel “The Queen of Kittur” remains a highly absorbing historical novel in which Basavaraj Naikar has distorted the facts nor exaggerated them. Raja Mallasarja and Diwan Gurusiddappa and the soldiers formed the backbone of the novel. Culturallly too, Rani Chennamma followed ion letter and spirit the rituals of Lingayat community of erstwhile Karnataka. In the end, Rani was eventually betrayed by her courtiers later, and as a result, her kingdom was annexed to the British Raj, and she was imprisoned in her own fort at Balihongala, where she breathed her last in 1829 after suffering from nostalgia for the past glory of her kingdom. Colonial encounter is the hallmark of this critical book. The sudden jolts, the attacks and counter attacks between Thackeray led East India Company and the followers of Rani Chennamma have been highlighted in the novel. The literary connection betweenliterature and history becomes an added feature in the novel. The struggles and the challenges that Rani Chennamma had faced finds a new fillip in the form of critical book. The critic in Laxmiprasad explores themes of honour, and glory, patriotism and freedom, betrayal and defeat of the royal family of Kitturkingdom as the integral parts of his critical study. The spirit of freedom serves as a model to the entire womankind. If BasavarajNaikar has immortalized the history, Laxmiprasad, the critic, has depicted the colonial encounter from his scholarly reading of the novel. The critical volume forms an important reading of Indian history from the battles of Indian queens who waged them against the British thus fulfilling the national duty and honour. Laxmiprasad brings them alive to the readers through the historical personality –the Queen of Kittur whose spirit of patriotism echoes through the novel. It is worth preserving. Thus the novel as evaluated by Laxmiprasad truly reflects the colonial conflict between Rani Chennamma and the East India Company in general and the sacrifices of Rani Chennamma in particular before for the literary world. This critical book was published in USA a couple of years ago. This book is a good contribution on Indian Queen and remains an inspiration to posterity.

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