Describe the ways in which the novels in India attempted to create a sense of pan-Indian belonging.
Many historical novels were about Marathas and Rajputs, which produced a sense of a pan-Indian belonging in Bengal and feeling of pariotism. They imagined the nation to be full of adventure, heroism and sacrificial qualities that could not be found in the 19th century world. The novel allowed the colonised people to give a shape to their desires.
Bankim Chandra’s Anandamath is a novel set in the background of the Sannyasi rebellion in the late 18th century. It was a novel that inspired freedom fighters.
Shivaji, the hero of the novel Anguriya Binimoy (1857), written by Bhudeb Mukhopadhyay (1827-94) engages in many battles against clever and treacherous Aurangzeb. What gives him courage and grit is his belief that he is a nationalist fighting for the freedom of Hindus.
Imagining a heroic past was one way in which the novel helped in popularising the sense of belonging to a common nation. It was another way to include
various classes in the novel so that they could be seen as belonging to a shared world. Premchand’s novels, for instance, are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of society.
Many novels depicted the life of the neglected section
of our society, e g. Godan, Titash Ekti Nadir Naam etc. Social novelists often created heroes or heroines
with ideal qualities which inspired the readers. Many novels looked to the future without forgetting about
the past. In Rangabhoomi, Premchand created a community based on democratic principles. In this
way, by promoting different values of a different communities, novels helped reflect on a common
identity and destiny and thus, created a pan-India belonging.