For an “infuriatingly good” wordsmith whose 21 works fetched him the Saraswati Samman and Sahitya Akademi awards, it is an odd twist of fate that, at 81, the Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa finds himself reduced to a Hindutva mascot, who supports bans on conversion and cow slaughter, and thinks “Tipu Sultan is a religious fanatic rather than a national hero”.
The turning point, suggests the Booker Prize-winning writer Aravind Adiga, in an article in Outlook* magazine, was Aavarana.
“For decades, Bhyrappa had said that an artist ought not to preach. In 2007, he broke his own rule. Aavarana (The Concealing), though technically his 20th novel, is a polemic—a list of all the sins that Muslims have allegedly wreaked on Hindus and their culture for generations. U.R. Anantha Murthy criticised the novel, and Bhyrappa entered into a rancorous public debate with him (the two men have a long history of attacking each other). A bestseller in Karnataka, Aavarana earned the aging Bhyrappa a cult following of young, rabidly right-wing readers.
“He seems to enjoy his new role as spokesperson for Hindutva causes, and recently urged the government to scrap its plan to name a university after Tipu Sultan. The result is that the term Aavarana now describes what has happened to S.L. Bhyrappa himself: swallowed by his weakest novel, passed over for the Jnanpith (the traditional crown for the bhasha writer), and in danger of having a fanbase composed entirely of bigots.
“Anantha Murthy and Bhyrappa are the opposite poles of the modern Kannada novel. If one is its Flaubert—the author of a compact, exquisite body of work, left-liberal in its sympathies—the other is its Balzac—prolific, unruly, and right-wing in his politics. If India can absorb an Islamocentric poet like Iqbal, it can accommodate S.L. Bhyrappa. Anantha Murthy may be the better writer, but Bhyrappa evokes more affection in those who speak Kannada.
“More than twenty years ago, as a student in Sydney, Australia, I met one of that city’s richest doctors, a man from coastal Karnataka. When he compared the state of Australia with that of India, the doctor felt depressed; at such moments he flicked through an old copy of Parva that he had brought to Sydney. Seeing how Bhyrappa had modernized the Mahabharatha gave the doctor hope that India, too, could become a prosperous country—without losing its culture. For nearly five decades, S.L. Bhyrappa’s richly imagined and deeply felt novels have helped his readers tide over difficult moments in their lives.
“Now it is time for them to return the favour and rescue this great Indian writer’s legacy from the biggest threat it faces: Bhyrappa himself.”
* Disclosures apply
Read the full article: In search of a new ending
Also read: Anantha Murthy, our greatest living writer?
A 21st century Adiga‘s appeal to Kannadigas
“…..rescue this great Indian writer’s legacy from the biggest threat it faces: Bhyrappa himself.”
Nothing new in my comment ..writing just to say ‘well said, Aravind Adiga’. I relate so well to what he says above. I read Bhyrappa with much affection and enjoyment during my younger decades but have been increasingly put off by his newer novels in the last ten years or more..in fact, I don’t buy (or read) his books anymore! and yes, I do remember the older ones with much affection!
Just because Anantamurthy won a Jnanapeeth and Bhyrappa didn’t does make the former a better writer. I have read both and I totally disagree with Adiga’s opinion. Bhyrappa is an excellent writer and if he didn’t win Jnanapeeth, it is no insult to him, but it just demonstrates how politics and ideology has dominated Indian literature and academia.
Avarana is a very researched novel and the real history of India has to be told, even if the likes of Anantamurthy and his leftist patrons believe otherwise. History should not be subjected to the current ideology or political convenience, otherwise it becomes fiction. Fiction is what the likes of Romila Thapar and her ilk would like to sell us. Bhyrappa has laid their scheme bare and that’s what upsets the left so much. Sorry, your game is up!
Adiga acknowledges Bhyrappa’s vast erudition, the great novelist in him in all his works and as a redherring, paint such a person as a chauvinist/biased person in one novel. That’s a motivated reaction;When a novelist presents something inconvenient but unpalatable truth, reactions from speakeasy “ liberal” writers will be not be different from what Prof Shastri ,the much decorated personality says in the very same novel . Is there any difference between Adigas and URAs from Prof Shastri. SLB does not preach in Aavarana, he presents facts of history which cannot be hidden. Acceptance facts will ensure society will factor it in the unification process, hiding will cause inner aversion . In fact, he shows the disillusionment of the “ liberal” Lakshmi and the ‘bulldozing” of her views without anyone addressing the issues raised by her in a fair manner . In effect, Adigas and URAs and their ilk are treating SLB exactly as Prof Shastri and his ilk treated Lakshmi, ; In reality, for “realism” is the song of leftists, there is no Aavarana on SLBs vichaara in any of his works; He is not a split personality ; others are; it is a crude attempt to stick to their dogma and throw an AAvarana on themselves . Adigas writeup is an indecent” Chapleena Shaalnalsutti hodiyuva prayoga”- which was not expected “It is these others who are afflicted by Aavarana of their moudhya that harmony comes from acquiescing to dogma which will only curb the creativity of the people of this land ,while giving them some laurels at present to them. Certainly SLB will not be craving for some award, he only wants to present his point in the novel. One can contend his vichaaras point to point but calling him names slyly is cheap . When it is his swanta vichaara where is the question of bigots or maggots ??!!
Who are the “Tarle Nann Maklu” of this blog.
On several levels Adiga is wrong and shows up as a strong ‘fanboy’ of URA. Discerning readers know that SLB is a better writer than the politically savvy and PR conscious URA. Adiga himself has been a one-trick pony and can hardly be called a writer! As a fellow wag put it..”Brits love bad stories from India; in Adiga they found it!”
Where can I get a English translation of Bhyrappa’s works ??
This article has intrigued me ( a typical Internet Hindu ;-) ) enough to read them and unfortunately I don’t read Kannada.
Adiga… Adiga…. Grow up. Society has various currents, undercurrents, AC current, DC current…. learn to live with them all.
Having, read, reread, recounted various stories of SLB and URA to myself and to many of my Kannada, Indian and International friends, all their empathy and fancy was only to SLB and not to URA.
Just because Jnana Pith award was not given to SLB, the award lost its sheen and not the writer or his body of works.
SLB truly created a debate in the society. Come to read our text books. The invading moslems are shown as marauders (even in Congress ruled states). So, when SLB calls spade a spade, some felt hurt. Its not as if the invaders were invited with bouquets and welcomed. Cruelty was rampant wherever they went, whether to India or to Spain. So, how should crusaders who threw out the invading Arabs should be viewed?
My feeling is that history will treat SLB as a Saraswati Putra and ARA as not one.
ಅನಂತ್ಮೂರ್ತಿಯವರ ಎರಡಲಗಿನ ಮಾತು-ಕೃತಿ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ತಿಳಿದಿರುವಂಥದ್ದೇ. ತನ್ನ ಮಕ್ಕಳು ಓದುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ಮಾಧ್ಯಮವನ್ನು ಬಹಿರಂಗವಾಗಿ ಸಮರ್ಥಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಅನಂತ್ಮೂರ್ತಿ, ಈಗ ಕನ್ನಡ ಮಾಧ್ಯಮದ ಬೆಂಬಲಕ್ಕೆ ನಿಂತಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಯಾವಾಗಲೂ ಪ್ರಚಾರದ ತೆವಲಿನಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಈ ಬುದ್ಧಿಜೀವಿ ಇದೀಗ ಯಡ್ಡ್ಯೂರಪ್ಪನವರ ಬೆಂಬಲಕ್ಕೆ ನಿಂತಿರುವುದು ಆಶ್ಚರ್ಯ ತರುವಂಥದ್ದೇನಲ್ಲ. ಏನಾದರೂ ಮಾಡಿ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಗಳ ಪುಟಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ಥಾನ ಪಡೆಯುವುದೇ ಅವರ ಉದ್ದೇಶ. ಇಂಥಾ ಅನಾಚಾರಗಳನ್ನ ಭೈರಪ್ಪನವರು ಪ್ರೊ.ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಯ ಪಾತ್ರದ ಮೂಲಕ ಜಾಹೀರು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಅಷ್ಟೇ.
ಇನ್ನು ಭೈರಪ್ಪನವರಿಗಿಂತ ಅನಂತ್ಮೂರ್ತಿ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಲೇಖಕ ಎಂಬುದು ಅಡಿಗರ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕ ಅಭಿಪ್ರಾಯವಾಗಿರಬಹುದು. ಅವರ “ನಾಯಿ-ನೆರಳು”, “ವಂಶವೃಕ್ಷ”, ಹಾಗೂ “ದಾಟು” ಕಾದಂಬರಿಗಳನ್ನು ಮೀರಿಸುವ ಕೃತಿಗಳು ಅನಂತ್ಮೂರ್ತಿಯವರು ಬರೆದಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಎಂಬುದನ್ನು ಒಪ್ಪಲು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ. ಅನಂತ್ಮೂರ್ತಿ ಒಂದೂ ಕಾದಂಬರಿ ಬರೆಯದೇ ಬಹಳ ವರ್ಷ (ದಶಕ?)ಗಳೇ ಸಂದುಹೋದವು. ಅಂದರೆ ಅವರ ಸೃಜನಶೀಲತೆ ಬತ್ತಿಹೋಗಿದೆ. ಈಗ ಅವರ ಸೃಜನಶೀಲತೆಯೇನಿದ್ದರೂ ಹೊಸ ಬಗೆಯ ಪ್ರಚಾರ ಪಡೆಯುವುದರಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾತ್ರ. ಆದರೆ ಭೈರಪ್ಪನವರು ಇನ್ನೂ ಅಧ್ಯಯನ, ಬರವಣಿಗೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಮಗ್ನರಾಗಿದ್ದಾರೆ.
This Adiga fellow is funny.
First, he comes up with completely inane and vacuous criticism of SLB’s works (much of it meriting him, albeit with a sentence or two of obligatory contradictions to suit Adiga’s own, unsubstantiated opinion) – while at the same time, establishing by mere statement that URA is the better writer.
How profoundly absurd.
Ofcourse, it takes a Churumuri to quote vain verbiage of the like of this and perhaps milk some SEO traffic out of it. Oh btw, isn’t this longest it has passed without the polemic sycophancy about RK Narayan?
@ Goldstar, I don’t about English translation, but I think Bhyrappa’s many novels have been translated into many other Indian languages.
Let us see – Perhaps ‘rabid secularists’ need saving from themselves!?
I detest any kind of extremism, and narrow minded pettiness. I have come to realize that the so called ‘secular’ outrage has gone beyond all reasonableness and is very petty of late.
Wharton forces a student body to cancel Modi’s speech, why? Because he is ‘suspected’ of having orchestrated 2002! For heavens sake, USA had mass murderers as its presidents, who would’ve faced international courts for ‘crimes against humanity’ if they were from any other nation! And when was the last time US denied freedom of expression to anyone? It hosted a known mass murderer like Pinochet and pays huge amounts in lecture circuits to another terrorist backer Musharraf!!
We have a lot of folks in this country who’d express outrage on someone’s ‘freedom of expression’ in the name of ‘secularism’. In the meanwhile, they decry the outrage of communal forces on movies, arts etc.
Let us realize something. Freedom of expression is equal to all sorts of ideologies & people. An opinion or expression may be something you disagree with, but have no option but to put up with. You can criticize that opinion, oppose that opinion too.
But to say, someone needs to be ‘rescued’ from himself, is a bit weird.
Mr. Bhyrappa has a view, and he is entitled to it. I disagree with it, but I am fine with Mr. Bhyrappa voicing it.
He has a right to be wrong. He needs no rescuing.
A great writer like SLB has every right to say what he believes in, left or right, it is trust and conviction in an ideology which matters. Bhyrappa is any day better than some thinkers and novelists who change their ideologies as frequently as Pooja Gandhi changes political parties. Bhyrappa is clear and consistent in his thoughts, one may or may not agree with him completely.
As a bhyrappa fan I would like him to sideline bjp, modi for a while and take up PRO KANNADA ISSUES, become a Kannada activist in the truest sense, come to the streets. I say this because when a writer like bhyrappa who gave Kannada sahitya a fresh life speaks about Kannada, people sit up and take notice.
Few years back, when S M KRISHNA as CM issued A anti Kannada order saying that govt documents in karnataka should be published in other languages, SLB and others protested strongly resulting in govt withdrawing the order. That is the strength kannadigas have bestowed on famous writers like bhyrappa.
And who will save the readers of Outlook from one-time wonder authors like Adiga and Arundhati Roy.
One would rather publish translated versions of the debate between URA and SLB in Outlook than such half-baked essays by authors undeserving to comment on the greats.
For the record, I have read admired and disliked both URA’s and SLB’s works – for many, unfortunately, it is the ideology of the writers which becomes paramount.
Adiga is just one more KAPATI ( Stupid) buddhijeevi, that’s all.
Is Adiga penning any story? Haven’t seen any of his books in stores lately.
This blog has become an extension of MSM. Its not a question of left or right-wing but ‘right’ (truth) thinking which matters. As for awards & designations, we all know how they are rewarded by institutions.
SLB can still help Kannada and do what he does best! We don’t want him to be a paid hack for JDS like you know who has become?:))
Next job…how to save Outlook from its editors…LOL
Why is it a sacrilege to say that Hyder Ali stole the Mysore fiefdom from a worthless scion and that his usurper son was a Muslim bigot? Now poor Chidanandamurthy will never preside over a sahithya sammeLana and poor Bhyraappa will never get the Jnanapeetha prashasthi.
Anyway the Bhyrappa who gave us masterpieces like “Daatu,” Thanthu” and a host of other major works should have refrained from writing egregiously inferior stuff like “Aavarana” and “Kavalu.” But, then, not every play of Shakespeare is a master work either.
Incidentally we are all praise for Kittur Chennamma for taking on the British and for Lakshammanni for begging them to restore Mummadi K to the Mysore throne. Kannadigara jaayamaanave heege.
@Goldstar, SLB’s works are translated to various languages including English. You can find the English translation of his books at Sapna book house. Or check these links: https://sapnaonline.com/parva-1596 https://sapnaonline.com/aavarana-303820
Whether we agree or disagree with SLB, why do we have to disregard his contribution to Kannada Literature and be blind to umpteen reprints of all his books? I have read both URA and SLB. Both have a point to convey. Just read and moveon. There is a set of people which calls SLB’s work as documentary than novels. Even if it is so, it makes sense to read about what happened in our country years and years ago. I have rarely seen SLB commenting on works of others. But all others attack SLB for no reason.
Kannada saahitigalu ROAD IGE BARBEKU, Kannada horaata dalli sakriyavaagi bhaagavahisabeku.
They should join hands with vataal nagaraj, T A NARAYAYA GOWDRU who are tirelessly striving hard for Kannada supremacy in karnataka.
Bhyrappa stands out from the pack of media seeking, self praising megalomaniac present day Indian English writers, he silently goes about his literature with out media spotlight.
JD S is doing fine, HDK is any day better than bjp and Congress leaders who are scared to speak about injustice done to karnataka in the cauvery issue. The way karnataka bjp and Congress leaders behaved during the cauvery crisis is shameful and tragic. More shameful is that educated, articulate people like U AND OTHERS in this forum support the national parties which have cheated kannadigas for so long.
The biggest religions on this planet were/are voracious, Whether it is Catholic churches during the renaissance or Islam in the middle east or Hinduism post the birth of Buddhism and Jainism. It’s funny watching members of these religions, in this Scientific age, trying to convey the World that a hallucination called religion still serves its purpose. Seeing an atheist cum god fearing!? person commenting is even more funnier.
If SL Bhyrappa wants to document all that happened in the past, he should also help India in knowing why in the past people stopped eating cow as of a sudden?
Is he demanding for ban on cattle slaughter or only cow slaughter And why people differentiate between Indian water buffalo and Cow? if so why were Hindus killing buffalo as an oblation in the past.
Why Veerashaiva/Lingayat religion which separated from Hinduism because of it s dogmas is now a mere sub caste of Hinduism?
Why is there a Social division called Varna in Hinduism? ANd what is Hinduism?
Everybody has their own point of view on every single issue, everyone is free to express and when they go beyond a certain line there is judiciary to take care of them. But demanding an elected Govt. to work according to your bigoted view isn’t good for the future of democracy whether you’ve penned one or a ton of books.
Gnanapeeti URA has so many chamchas who do hatchet jobs for him..Arvind Adiga comes across as one of them…
Would India be a Democracy if India had abundant Oil reserves?
I have read both SLB and URA. Both have been the best wordsmiths of kannada no doubt about it!
“Avarana’ must be the worst work that SLB could come up with. I really felt bad for SLB after I read ‘Avarana’.
However, SLB has to write 100 or even 1000 ‘Avarana’s to undo 1 ‘PARVA’ the master piece, which undeniably is the best/most creative Indian novel that I have read.
For an “infuriatingly good” wordsmith whose 21 works fetched him the Saraswati Samman and Sahitya Akademi awards, it is an odd twist of fate that, at 81, the Kannada writer S.L. Bhyrappa finds himself reduced to a Hindutva mascot, who supports bans on conversion and cow slaughter, and thinks “Tipu Sultan is a religious fanatic- say the great indians
SLB is an ardent observer of ways oflife and not some silly sumbol. Conversion s not allowed in the “constitution” the greatest document na bhooto , na bhavishyati for those who want top take victual advantages therein. Religion is mata or opinion , it is not truthe it is an approach to truth and dogmatists tend to sell or impose their postulates and their aacharas on others by sale, or bt force. Any true aspirant of higher ste of relationship withspirit will definitrely oppose sale of body to buy a dogma . As to cow slaughter if the majority sre aginst the privilaged minority can sacrifice their taste for beef and allow that much to the majority. . SLB is only supporting the constitution which others are flaunting as their scripture as long as it give them their buck
Why do you deny the experience of Indians, who follow Indian traditions. You assume that secular state is neutral wrt conversion.Secular state is not neutral, as showed by Balagangadhara and Jakob de Roover.
Why don’t you do the required reading and provide an alternative and better hypothesis than Balu & Roovers. The religion of Indian secular state is deChristianized Christianity because the stance of Indian secular state is that of semitic religions in terms of proselytization, religious rivalry, truth, etc.
For more, read “The Secular State and Religious Conflict: Liberal Neutrality and the Indian Case of Pluralism” at http://secular-state.blogspot.com/2007/01/neutrality-of-secular-state_14.html
The above article appeared in the Journal of Political Philosophy.
Recently, they have published another article, which demonstrates that secularism and fundamentalism (in India, it is communalism) are two faces of the same coin.
Balagangadhara and Roover: The Dark hour of secularism: Hindu fundamentalism and colonial liberalism in India, appeared in “Making sense of the Secular: Critical perspectives from Asia to Europe” You can find the pdf at: http://www.academia.edu/1587154/The_Dark_Hour_of_Secularism_Hindu_Fundamentalism_and_Colonial_Liberalism_in_India
Most importantly, you should stop accepting western descriptions of India as facts of culture. Sure, experience is never false; in that sense, western descriptions are its cultural experience of India. Since when experiences have veridical? Why you accept them as true? Do you accept that earth is flat, because when you drive around you experience the flat earth? Do you accept that sun revolves around earth, because you experience sun sets and sun rises?
You have learned wrong things from the western culture. There are things every Indian has to learn from the west: natural sciences, engineering, tech, mathematics, history and philosphy of mathematics, etc.
Grab Balagangadhara’s latest OUP book called “Reconceptualizing India studies” to educate yourself on these matters, because you are aspiring to be an intellectual. Read this post “What makes one an intellectual”: http://xyz4000.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/what-makes-one-an-intellectual/
If you don’t want to be an intellectual, please forgive me about writing this post here.
To all off you you who think Avarana is SLB’s worst work. You don’t appreciate literature beyond a point and somewhere you have imbibed a bit of the propaganda `navya’ politico-literary movement of Karnataka has spread. Check this link for more details
I don’t and may never understand why Bhyrappa wants ban on cow slaughter? Is that for livestock conservation? If so why doesn’t he urge with his other metro dwellers to have their own dairies in their backyards, or is it because the animal is considered demigod according to one community so the rest should not consume its meat? what logic is that in a secular state like India? Isn’t it against our constitution?
Say from tomorrow cow slaughter is banned in Karnataka taking into account that it boosts religious sentiments of some 4% or so community( as per churumuri’s previous post, this percentage may be below 4 in Karnataka’s context) and for a person who is very deeply pious to cows and living in Mangalore, a city which has close ties with the neighbor Kasargod where beef eating is embraced how does the ban serve its purpose?
@adityahk Please don’t talk about the constitution as you seem to know much about it. Please read the directive principles of state policy which is an integral part of the same constitution you talk about. No.48 clearly calls for the ban on cow slaughter. People talk about constitution when it suits them, but do not want to follow what is written there!!!
Hallina Daactrey! as usual nimdu “brain from body separation” logic shuru aayithau! Empty sloganeering-inda yeno prayojana illa ree! HDK matthu awara Pithaji speak words when it suits them. Swalpa neevu “Hallannu” bittu other body parts like brain annu study madbeku!
Bjp, Congress party ge bucket hidiyo bittu bidi, bucket full aagutte, rashtra,raajya yakkuttu hogutte.
Indians have a long tradition of seeing high quotient divinity in the cow due to the useful role it plays in humanlife and as such felt it should not be eaten just as one would not like to kill and eat any other thing one loved ,that is all Those who want to eat it can always go to the countries where it is eaten and enjoy and get back , certainly no one needs to eat beef every meal- it could be damn monotonous . They can also go to some other places and eat dogs, snakes and other creatures SLB may also be a person who feels this traditional way and so he says so. Is it any crime. and does
it make his works unethical ?
but don’t disregard the fact that article 48 doesn’t allow restriction on killing of fully grown non milch and non draught cattle like Ox and Oxen.
My parents revere and worship cows but when they die and if it’s a natural death the carcass is handed over to beef eating community of our village and this has been a practice for ages and Bhyrapa’s demand is religiously inspired we must also take into account that beef eating is an integral part of Dalit culture and other minorities.
the chaddis gotta take a look at article 29(1) Any section with culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
and article 25(2)(a) Right to freedom of religion shall not prevent the state from regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice
and article 51A(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
Neevu JDS Gowdrige Rajashri aago kanasu kantha idheera? Hogli bidi HDK matthu Dirty DG awara slogans keli hotte thumbisikolli
Mr. Adiga should stop comparing between SLB and URA. First of all Mr. Adiga should read all novels and basis, study and references cited by SLB. URA is a pseudo secularist. He supported BSY when he was under trouble because of his own mistakes. Recently, before elections he proclaimed his support is to congress party. Reason for this dual nature is to get recognition from the ruling party. So as for as moral values are concerned URA won’t even rise to the ankle level of SLB.
Mr. Adiga – it’s just your personal opinion, SLB is way ahead of URA in every way. There’s a jarring difference between SLB’s novels and that which are written by URA. A.Na.Kru didn’t win any award – does it make him anyway lesser ? he still is the king in the heart of kannadigas. Likewise SLBs works are amazingly deep and touch very intricate aspects – I don’t feel the same when I read even popular URA’s novels.