The celebrated writer Mulk Raj Anand wrote his own obituary in 1999. His foster son, Kewal Anand, has made it available to The Tribune. Written in a self-mocking and ironical tone, it serves as a fitting tribute to Anand as he may have relished it on what would have been his 100th birthday
THE death is reported, through sudden heart failure, of Mulk Raj Anand at his retreat in the mountains of the planet Moon at twelve midnight on December 12, 1999, at the age of a few months short of centennial year.
The news will be received with relief by all those sensible, decent and respectable citizens of our country, who had come to see this ambitious, weak chinned, long-haired scribbler of the details of the private lives of the worthy sons of India, for the disgusting nosey parker that he was. Someone christened him Muck Rake Anand. And that remains the best epitaph on him. The rumours associated with his demise will further help the Indian public to abominate the person of this posturing Mountebank who came from nowhere and he now luckily disappeared into nowhere.
For, it is said, that till the end of his life he remained a confirmed romantic, indulging in vices which it is supposed in certain quarters were the cause of his heart failure.
Not only that. He was an incurable unregenerate leftist who, we believe, consistently wrote, spoke and worked for the despicable creed of Socialism which has now been defeated on all fronts on this earth. Among the thousands of crimes for which this monster should have been hung, quartered and thrown to the vultures, the one which was most heinous was his sedulous reproduction of swear-words, which we use, affectionately when calling our servants or merely as figures of speech in our daily life, in his novels in their literal English translation, so as to bring our great, ancient and noble people into contempt among peoples in Britain, America, France, Germany, Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Russia and China, where his obscene writings had been eagerly translated and lapped up by certain dirty-minded, low, materialists who despise our great spiritual heritage.
Luckily, our new generation will be spared the indignity and humiliation of being tainted by his filthy works, because our learned critics showed students how he muckraked and wrote about the noble heritage left by sage Manu and about our pioneer entrepreneurs who have outrivalled Ford, Rockefeller.... But it is necessary in case any of his writings trickle through our censorship, that all our countrymen be warned about his misdeeds.
Let us, therefore, describe here briefly some of the main incidents of Anand’s notorious life and recount the nefarious crimes he perpetrated.
Born at Peshawar on December 12, 1905, he came of a semiuntouchable family. His father was a coppersmith by birth and later adventured into the British-Indian army; his mother was an illiterate peasant woman from Central Punjab.
But, though of low origin, he managed by the pernicious system of scholarships to get some schooling to graduate and mix the some of our richer classes. He even secured, ostensibly through influence, a stipend to research in London University.
There, our Aryan brothers who had at that time, however, lost all respect for caste, seem to have allowed him to go about freely and taught him the English language. Knowing that he would be found out to be the empty wind-bag he was if he wrote in one of our own great languages, he began to bluff all innocent people abroad by writing in English and managed to pass as a representative Indian writer.
No fraud can outmatch that perpetrated by this charlatan. For, he took advantage of our temporary differences with the British at that time to write certain books, like Untouchable, Coolie, The Village, showing in exaggerated, animalist language, things about which the less said the better. Though our allies wisely banned the entry of these books into India for their own reasons at that time, we have every reason to be grateful to them for this particular act, because many of our people were spared the unflattering portraits this renegade chose to draw of our Princes, nobility and respectable leaders in order to build himself a colossal fortune. The wretch always denied the charge made by one of our esteemed critics that he had sold Indian local colour to the Western world to great advantage for himself and yet hypocritically complained of the bitter poverty he had suffered in Bloomsbury ‘in his addiction to truth’. All those who knew him, however, have left on record accounts of the debaucheries he indulged in at the Cafe Royal and filthy pubs, where he was frequently seen in the company of long- haired poets, writers, artists, actors and other such scum of the earth.
A man of shady morals always, he perverted many a decent youth by his example. A hater of our traditional family system, he influenced young boys and girls to be disrespectful to their parents to leave home. A professional denigrator of caste and clans, he promoted hatred between high and low, rich and poor. A libertine, he often boastfully declared that those who love freedom are not afraid of licence and thus formed generations of Hippies and Beatniks in vulgar display of their bodies.
Unfortunately, during the difficulties of a transition period he seemed to us too unimportant a person to bother about and was, therefore, allowed to disseminate his vicious liberation ideas, thus doing untold harm to our nation during the early years of our Ram Raj. But since the promulgation of our comprehensive ordinances against dangerous thoughts, dangerous speeches, dangerous acts, we have seen to it that no reflection of his anti-national utterances creeps into the innocent minds of our young.
The political sympathies of Anand were obvious enough, but the clever plausible rogue he was, he tried to disguise all his most sinister impulses and ideas behind the vague terms of what he called humanism. Though he prated much about his love of man, and constantly said that he was working to raise the dignity of human kind, actually he was a sentimentalist of the most feeble kind, full of contempt for the poor and ignorant of everything affecting their lives. His family, though of low caste, was never really poor, so how could he have had any real sympathy or knowledge of outcastes and coolies and Babus and Banias about whom he wrote?
Dr Ranjee Shahani, a great Sindhi writer, first pointed this out in his book Indian Pilgrimage and showed that Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar and Anand had exaggerated the sufferings of untouchables, and had lied about them in order to gain kudos for themselves. One of our revered publicists, whose name shall remain anonymous, writing in the Bombay Chronicles in 1946 analysed the fradulent elements in Anand’s writing. A host of other authors, journalists and thinkers, who were his contemporaries, also exposed the base hypocrisy of this imposter by warning their friends, privately, both in Asia and Europe to beware of the insidious influence of this immoral modernist ideas, because they were too decent by nature to say anything to him to his face. Also, they pointed out that Anand had only achieved notoriety as a writer by the sheer bulk of his writings, having written nearly 50 novels, whereas the greatest and wisest of our writers had remained obscure, because they had preferred to write one masterpiece only. A Socratic critic of the Times Library Supplement, as well as our own grammarians, sacrificed many hours of their precious time analysing the prose style of this crude primitivist and revealed that he could not write a single line of grammer either in English or in one of our own languages (N.B. The word ‘He’ in the last sentence refers to Anand and not to the critic). Still another saintly person, publisher of Hindi, wrote a pen portrait of his blackguard and showed that he was a venal, greedy hound, who always went contrary to his egalitarian principles in demanding fabulous royalties for his books. And, as a final condemnation of his un-Indian character, he showed how few of our really great men have never cared for money.
Apart from all this evidence, which shows how bogus, vain, gold-minded and evil Anand was, there is a great deal in the annals of our culture to show that he was essentially a humbug. For instance, he presumed once to write and produce plays. And he tried to get away with it by always using some goondas to kick up a lot of noise in the auditorium, pretending that he had 20 years’ knowledge and experience of the stage and wanted to break down the well-known techniques by making the audience and actors one. And after employing such goondaism, he had the audacity to claim sanction for his bad direction from German and Russian producers! But our esteemed critic Baburao Patel smashed his early efforts at play writing and production and all our famous stage and screen stars called in question the credentials of this bamboozler, to almost every member of the theatrical and film profession to every representative member of the audience. Veteran dramatic critics, Directors and Editors blitzed Anand with words more dynamic than atom bombs and wiped out all traces of his pernicious influence in theatre.
To our great good luck no one ever asked him to perpetrate a screen play, otherwise we would have had some more of his stuff and nonsense to reckon with. No, we preferred to run our theatre and cinema with homespun plays, and with such things as our own indigenous geniuses could create, and the putrid works of this expatriated cosmopolitan were only produced by scoundrels of his kind in the various small, destitute and verminous theatres abroad.
Unfortunately, however, certain well-known figures of our dance world came under his influence. He said that the interpretations by our chief dancers of the classical Indian styles are mainly revivalist, and that in the ballets, designed from the folk and classical dances, lies our hope for a living dance art. All our ballerinas, being gullible women, fell for this line of approach. So he succeeded in denigrating our old tradition of dancing. But our public has luckily never taken to the dance, ancient or modern, and prefers the great productions of Bollywood film industry, the second biggest in the world.
Similarly, he corrupted our art world by editing an Americanised magazine of art. His insistence on form in our sculpture and painting, diverted the emphasis from the deep religiosity of our artistic heritage to lewd surrealist abstractionism. This is an example of how one dirty fish can spoil the whole tank, so to speak. We have only recently begun to revive the art of Ajanta and Ellora. Bengal thus escaped, to some extent, from this influence of the perversions Anand encouraged with the sanction of the Communist Malraux.
The fellow cannot be denied a certain amount of virtuosity. But it was this very flair for turning his hand to philosophy, politics, writing, stage, film, dance choreography, cookery as well as poetry, that was the most dangerous thing about him. He jawed to some callow students once about the creative arts and, with his mumbo-jumbo and all his talk (he was an inveterate non-stop talker) about a life concept he succeeded in throwing dust into the eyes of the young and convinced them that he was a philosopher. Sir S. Radhakrishnan, however, the greatest Indian philosopher of the 20th century, who reiterated our ancient ideal of the primary of the soul, and who gave to us our newly revived Hinduism, was known to have laughed at this clown, who pretending to be a philosopher and yet wrote cookery books and beauty hints all in a day.
(Editorial Note: We regret to announce that we have been the victim of a hoax. The news of the death of Mulk Raj Anand, which was reported to our office, was unconfirmed. But today’s radio flashed from the Himalayas reveal that Mulk Raj Anand is still alive with the guerrillas in Kashmir as a hostage or spy of Pakistan. It seems that he floated the rumour of his death and then sent in this obituary notice written by himself, because he was hard up for cash. Somebody in our office took it to press without consulting the Editor who happened to be away playing Tennis in the club.)