Best-selling Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa addresses his fans and answers his critics on the controversies surrounding his latest novel, Aavarana, in the Kannada version of his churumuri.com interview.
Also read: S.L. Bhyrappa versus U.R. Anantha Murthy
What a beautiful interview. It’s nearly three o’clock in the morning, but I’m going for a second listen.
Professor Bhyrappa seems to recognize little distinction between literature and history, or literature and philosophy — literature cannot exist outside the semantics of a certain history or a certain philosophical framework.
At least that’s how I understand his approach to writing (for now).
The approach is certainly unorthodox; even pragmatic. It might actually take away literature’s identity, reducing literature to a method.
I’m no literary critic, but it seems that Dr. Bhyrappa’s approach reflects the late French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s calls to “deconstruct” the assumptions said to inhere in all text. Without acknowledging those assumptions, meaning analysis is impossible in a way that the text makes any singular sense to the reader.
That’s just what Dr. Bhyrappa implies as he defends Aavarana’s style.
The East meets the West. Thoughts meet in circles. It’s all very interesting.
Professor Bhyrappa’s 20-plus books, many in multiple editions, should earn him the Jnanpeeth in the next year or two or three. I’m looking forward to the news!
I made all these comments without all these analyst’s wrapper with my sublime comments on Prof. Chenni and his methods. Good to see you enjoying literature without trying to use the ‘prism’ of some dead philosopher’s craft:)
The knives are out for Aavarana.
Here is a review from The Great China Post ;)
It has all the right words/phrases:Fascists, justice,
middle class tyranny and a word on listening to advise from sane “fellow writers”!!
The Great China Post! That is hilarious!
I haven’t read a more nonsensical review than that one. Is there a Marx award for literature?
Great China Post!! Smiles…
Rightwing conservative forces? uh?? This is so typical of liberal groups who would do anything to slander those with a different view. They have so much passion and energy when it comes attacking people like Bhyrappa. Then, they wonder why the word ‘buddhijeevi’ is repulsive to a common man!
I was disappointed with the interview in that even SLB, as a hindu, seems to be buckling under the burden of secularism.
For example, on the issue of freedom of expression and the question of whether the H religion is going the I religion way question, he offers only defence, instead of taking his “humanist” position further. Well, book or no book, H religion is a religion like the I religion, the C religion & the M religion . & that type of reaction is the norm for all religions. (for example, some perturbation of Lenin’s remains created all sorts of flutter in the sundry marxpuras of India).
In that sense, that reaction to paintings by H’s is by itself is not troublesome, but what is definitely problematic & troubling is the imbalance in political response to those reactions. Why is it ok for the I religion react in one way & not ok for the H religion to react in the same. As if H religion is in some way better than I religion, it is not. They are fundamentally the same, they are religions. The H religion need no be burdened by secularism on account of this.
SLB himself has made this point. The inequity problem in the H religion is very open to political analysis & criticism. What about the exclusivity problems in I & C religions? Between them they already form more than half the world’s population & with clipping rates mainly due to evangelism. How can you claim to be proponents of secularism & multiculturalism when you donot criticize evangelism & exclusivity of the book religions? How can secularism & multiculturalism survive under their relentless onslaught? And why is there no political no criticism of that, instead what we are offered is pandering to the lowest elements of these religions.
Of late, I’ve become really interested in the works of S. L. Bhyrappa (I’m not familiar with him at all).
I have two questions (not in a decrying tone per se) regarding the question about “increasing intolerance among Hindus in contemporary times” towards the end of interview.
>>”So, we’re almost getting to the same bracket as Islam in some ways.”
Why is the interviewer referring to Hindus as “we.” Well, this is more of nitpicking, it’s fine if it just came off like that!
More curious about this, why does S. L. Bhyrappa seem be defending those Hindus — who objected to that Baroda artist’s work — in some way here? Turning his answer into some sort of “us-vs-them” talk towards the end.
To make my question clearer, let me point to this comment here in a previous post here.
The reader who wrote that comment, Astroshiva, has articulated well about another reader’s (Zulfi) seeming tendency to “retaliate” when someone mentions Mughals in bad light.
Now, just as this “non-opinion” (let me call it that!) on people who belonged to one’s own religion holds true across different eras, it must hold true within our times as well. So, I find it odd that SLB doesn’t really suggest/acknowledge the possibility of a fundamentalist Hindu man in our times. Of course, he has all the right to think/say so, but I find it amusing that someone’s so confident about a sect of people. The mode of sect itself being something as “patternless” as religion!
Sorry KP, your questions are quite irritating. Atleast read the book before meeting with the author – that is the least you can do. At the interview, you can ask about the book, its characters, their motivations, literary style, so many questions that are much more interesting than the same old question about controversy/criticism.
SLB is overcompensating at every juncture. The interviewer is asking very simplistic question repeatedly, and SLB is forced to go beyond the question and bring in more substance to keep the interview going. That is sad. Very interesting passages are skipped eg. when SLB talks about the possibility of the character in Vamsha Vriksha becoming an existentialist, and why that is inconsistent with motivation of the protagonist – that is so very interesting, but the interviewer is simply not engaging the author in these sort of literary matters. Instead all the questions are about controversy, sangh parivar, hinduism etc. Dude KP, forget about the religio-politics for a while, focus on the literature. Frankly, I got the feeling you don’t have the maturity to conduct an interview with SLB. Better to take a literature professor with you, and they can delve into the depths.
Your argument is valid. But also factor in the point that the I and C religions are minorities in India and the H followers are in the majority. In every civilized country, the majority owes some rights and duties toward the minorities. The constitution is used to protect the rights of the minorities against the whims of the majority.
Now do other countries follow it? For example, I countries? My answer is let us not make them our model.
It is in this backdrop that the concessions made to the I and C religions should be seen. There have been abuse of these provisions for vote bank politics, particularly by the Congress. We have already spoken about it. But on a whole, the concessions cannot be faulted. Also, Hinduism, on account of it being the majority religion, will have to take an unequal burden of inequity. France tried to undo this model and has burnt its fingers badly.
One minor blemish: In fact, …”France tried to undo this model and has burnt its fingers badly…” Sarkozy’s win shows that the French people want to fix this expensive ‘egalitarianism’.
Dr.Bhyrappa said ‘freedom of thought’ is a restriction in one particular religion that stops scientific advancements /technological innovations in our country. He is not ready to believe that other religions in India are also tending towards that (Last part of the Interview).
‘freedom of thought’ is a general restriction in us-not just observed in one particular religion. Predominantly we are overwhelmed by either religion, culture, tradition or all of them. I do not think just restriction on ‘freedom of thought’ in a minority religion can retard the scientific revolutions of our country. Basically all our energy is spent over re-inventing the past glory or reverie.
British and Mogul invaded, ruled and robbed us-caused a great deal of destruction and pushed us miles back in every aspect of life. So did America with Japan. Japan transformed its tragedy and helplessness into a burning desire for revival. Today America and Japan are great friends. Both are reaping benefits out of this co-operation. Co-operation and understanding between religions (inside a country) countries is essential for survival. That’s how Europe is trying to emerge as another super power. European countries are not exceptions for conflicts. Still they are united for a common future.
We do not have an option other than living in harmony and peace between the religions or communities or castes. As we can not come out of our deep routed beliefs in religion and culture, mutual respect is highly desirable. Preaching and breaching is not just in one religion. Every religion has leaders to guide and misguide. Editing holy book of any religion is not a solution, living together with all the diversities and developing mutual trust and respect is true ‘freedom of thought’.
I think that the underlying principles of harmony and equal rights irrespective of religious/ideological beliefs that the left espouses is a worthy cause. it is just the solutions that the left proposes makes them a further part of the problem.
An open society cannot be built on historical lies and hypocrisy.
Coming from the pespective of a Milton Friedman Libertarian, I believe in individualism to the point that I think that any form/sort of organized religion should be banned in a egalitarian society.
People should have rights to believe in all sorts of fantasies and even write about it proclaiming themselves as saviours.
What they should not have is the right to organize themselves under any banner or congregate to further propagate their religious beliefs/fantasies. Mob rule is a dangerous thing, any formation of mobs of any sort should be seriously discouraged (This includes political parties and ideologies ).
The problem of religion and democracy is a tough one. But, if it can be gleamed that all the churches, maths and mullahs want to do is control your mind and screw you out of your money and happiness, then the solution proposed above is a sane one.
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I don’t know how true this is but when I was in mangalore recently some of the people I met .. whom you would call the “Secular Brigade” confessed that they use the book as toilet paper everyday…
Could this be the reason behind the huge sale figures it has clocked.. ?
I don’t know…
I appreciate the attempt and the effort. But, I really don’t understand why the interviewer was speaking in English while S L Byrappa was speaking in Kannada. Is this really a mirror of hypocrisy in Kannadiga’s? When you have made this interview for Kannadiga’s and when you are interviewing Kannadiga’s. Please speak in Kannada :-)
“Sarkozy’s win shows that the French people want to fix this expensive ‘egalitarianism’
I beg to differ. French are not for egalitarianism for its own sake. For example, their health service and pension entitlement are arguably the best in the world. The health service is still insurance-driven but unlike in US, the insurance is state-financed in some way. You do not hence get the fear factor financewise despite insurance subscriptions as you definitely do in US when you become seriously ill. In Mysore, a relative of mine became almost bankrupt after paying his medical bills.
Sarkozy will not change the welfare state concept, but will inject market forces where it does not exist. I me with a few American collegues of mine recently in Paris and discussed the Sarkozy vs full US -style capitalism. We did agree at the end that US has a lot to learn from Sarkozy France.
Good to listen to SLBs explanation….Yes we, at India, always have issues when we question about the truth….Be it the Moghuls or the Taj Mahal…everyone can take it for granted about the H religion in the name of freedom of talk whatever. It will be good if everyone practice their religion within the home/themselves and outside the home think like they r Indians….we will never do it. Even the simplest issue will have a political/selfish agenda behind it.
As one of the comments here said, SLB was to go beyond the questions to explain and tht Interviewer wud have had researched his questions b4 the interview…anyways its a good attempt and this is what makes us comeback to churumuri…Swalpa Spicy( Nammooru Mysorenalli Chrumuri ghe sihi haakalla :-) )
Anyways, as SLB Quoted histroy should be shown/depicted the way it is for the betterment…not the way we read it in our textbooks. Because we have sucha a framed history in books, most us are not patriots!
I would request all to visit cbcnn.blogspot.com wherein hindu fundamentalist has ripped the chinese news paper about aavarna review.
Once we had “Ananthana Avantara: remeber guys!
Now Bhyrappana Avanatara……….
Can’t we look within India for our own models of aesthetics and our own approach to logic and grammar? Why do we have to drop a Friedman here and a Chomsky there? There is nothing wrong with taking the best from all sides ( though these are hardly the best). But look within our own experiences and we will appreciate a Gangesa here, a Chanakya there. Has anyone read SN Balagangadhara’s “The Heathen in His Blindness”?
The Hindu has spewed venom on karnataka showing its true colours.
ITS AN EXCELLENT BOOK ,I THINK EVERY INDIAN SHOULD READ THIS BOOK AND ALL THOSE WHO HAS SAID BAD THINGS ABOUT THIS BOOK AND ALSO MR BHYRAPPA SHOULD FIRST READ HISTORY AND THEN TALK..OK JUST SHUT UP….
The Hindu as usual gives us a stupid argument against the book and URA is fast degrading in to a petty and very red rabble rouser.
It was a very interesting interview, mostly because of SL Bhyrappa’s views and as someone mentioned, the almost forceful way in which he talked about things that the interviewer completely skipped.
Also, when the interview is to be in the kannada language about a kannada book, how is it ok for the interviewer to roll of english sentences that dont make much sense in the first place. I have been in the US the last couple of years and have had very few chances of speaking in Kannada. I think I’d still use more kannada words in a sentence than the guy interviewing. If this is any indication about the usage of kannada in Karnataka, why worry about controversial books; the language will probably be wiped out in no time!
Its an interesting interview. I had never seen Bhyrappa before and nor have I read any of books (but had heard about him). Its unusual that a Kannada literary figure is getting so much news in Karnataka, thanks to the controversy.
Only one comment I had on his interview was his views on ‘Freedom of expression’ and the later comments he makes on MF Hussain and other related questions. I think his views were inconsistent here. At one stage he is advocating the freedom of expression. On the other, he seems to be justifying the use of ‘force’ against people like MF Hussain and on movies on Gujarat Riots on unconvincing grounds.
Kannadigas may be fortunate to have Bhyrappa as Kannada writer. But it is also a pity that, being a writer of a less known Kannada language, he is not getting the international recognition, he deserves.
People should wait for the English translation of Aavarana and the Kannada Vedike should do its best to gather international recognition for him.
BTW, why the translations of Aavarana are still awaited?
I do not see any inconsistency of what u have mentioned…
Why is MF has freedom of expression only on Hindu Gods/godess?
why not his own religion? if at all he is a I.
Many of the comments above talk abt the view point taken by the author/other reviewers. I suppose we need to think about the theme of the novel & not bother about the author’s/reviewer’s attitude–by doing tht we have baised opinion & may not be able to grasp the subject with balanced thought. I suppose we need to introspect about this theme, & I feel it’s quite ‘logical’ (though saying logical itself is illogical :)..i.,e this may be logical for me and illogical for some others…so ‘logical’ is wrt to how a person views…but I didnt find any better word in this context) in that the author urges people to understand the bad things that happened in history, so that we may learn from those mistakes & not repeat them. Author also points out that current generation ppl cannot be held responsible for wht their community has done in past. But we need to analyse what has gone wrong in past so that we may NOT pass the same message to the next generation. I suppose this is the ‘gist’ of the story & seems to me as a ‘common sense’ way of thinking.
But, before doing this analysis, it’s true that we need to ask – did really something bad happened in the past ?? The lengthy bibliography gives us some pointers towards this. So, before commenting on author’s viewpoint, I suppose we need to know the truth by reading those history books, if we cannot do that—we should atleast not comment !!
I just want to say to those who do not know Bhyrappa (even those who have mere affinity towards the English literature in their endeavour to express themselves as “learned”) that here is a man whose works we should read because he is a person whose basic idea on which his literature transforms is “truth.” May it be ‘Daatu,’ ‘Tantu,’ or ‘Avarana’ or any other work written by him. To his critics I want to ask a few questions, “have you ever thought of truth?” “Have you come across the essence of truth in your life?” Have you felt the importance of truth in formulating a society?
There are three entities into which the life manifests itself, ‘satyam,’ ‘shivam,’ and ‘soundaryam’ (the same are misinterpreted in ‘filmy songs’). Without the manifestation of these entities, life will be miserable. So these entities need to be worshipped, need to be cultured, need to be lived.
I feel in Bhyrappa’s novels we can mainly find the first entity, ‘satyam.’ I was very much impresed by the character ‘Satyabhama’ in ‘Daatu’ where the writer depicts the state of the entity ‘satya’ in the man-made society. There is an appeal, we should not keep ‘satya’ away, otherwise we cannot live our life.
The same appeal is there in all of his works, I feel. What the political faces, what the manipulators of truth are doing in contemporary India is this, ‘keeping satya away,’ which will definitely lead us to a situation where life becomes miserable.
Every Indian should read this novel Avarana, those who say so much against this novel should stop their egoistic comments, think over the ‘satya’ entity or the ‘tatva’ depicted in it, and try to build the nation, at least now, on the pillars of ‘satyam, shivam, soundaryam,’ the scarcity of which is being felt everywhere in modern India. Then only we can become a nation.
Avarna explained about Mughal ruler treated non beleivers as well as their temples/ idols. Actually there is nothing wrong in that because they are true beleiver of their religion, If they want to go heaven, they must kill as more as kaffirs & destroy their temples. God of Bible (Jehova) doesn[t even spare infants & even animal also. ie portugeese did in Goa & Spanish did in Latin Americal, Accept Christ or die. I doubt why our french beard intelectuals doesn,t understand these truth ?
Very thoughtful and he has spoken mind of probably millions of civilized just secular world citizens and is appropriate not only in India but also in Europe and other civilized societies that are falling prey to their own “Secular” attitudes without participation or with presumed participation from other participants.
Such societies based on assumed truth or falsehood will nto last it will be wise if India wakes up before it reaches where Europe is headed today.
Else we will end up holding ourselsves hostage to our egalitarian thoughts or cheap votebank politics!!
What a fine interview..but oops in the end.
Anantamurthy, Karnad et al say literature should not disrupt social harmony and peace (as if there is some set algorithm to write literature). But are they prepared to apply the same rules to James Laine? or say MF Hussain?
I never knew about the beauty of works done by SL Bhyrappa until i married. Thanks to my wife who is a huge fan of the author. After seeing this interview there is no doubt in my mind a nation cannot be built without having free will and freedom of criticism. I think now this is a time to start thinking over it using the guidelines given by the author.
Saw “Tabbaliyu neenade magane” on Lok Sabha channel today. Brilliant movie. Makes you think. Kudos to Karnad / Karanth and Bhyrappa.
Very unfortunate that Girish Karnad said it is his weakest creation. Maybe he realized “satyameva jayate” and couldn’t counter the facts presented in Avarana and hence had to resort to such cheap tactics.
SL bairappa is a gr8 writer.at this old age he has dared to talk abt the truths. truth cannot be hidden, one or the other day it will come out.
Ghoris,ghajnis have destroyed india and some ppl still r proud abt it, but see now where they are, their own land iraq,afghanistan is completely destroyed,
I am great fan of Sri SLB..I like is writings..Once I started to read any novel I will complete it within 2 days …but SLB sir’s book take more than week..and i will always read SLB sir’s book twice…
god is great because SLB like author is gift to kannada language….
I great respects…