SL Bhyrappa’s contribution to literature will be celebrated and honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Mangaluru Literature Festival that is scheduled to take place this weekend. (November 3-4, 2018)
Santeshivara Lingannaiah Bhyrappa or SL Bhyrappa (born 1934) is one the foremost novelists of India. Born in the tumultuous days of pre-independence, and having suffered grave hardships (loss of a mother, poverty, abuse, and caste-related difficulties) he has shaped his intellect through amazing journeys, studies, research, and experiences. His novels emanate his rich experience in life and his deep personality.
Bhyrappaji’s most famous novel Aavarana stirred great controversy. Not much for its realism and factual account of the Islamist cultural stagnation and double-play, but because why such a realist account was ever written down?
UR Ananthamurthy (URA) and his supporters, a band of people who freely slap themselves the label “progressive” to describe their every act and action, claim Aavarana dangerously advances the fundamentalist agenda by tilting at the windmills of history, and that it seeks to divide society into communal lines.
Ananthamurthy said, “Bhyrappa does not know either Hindu religion or the art of story-telling. He is only a debater,” He further continued, “He does not go beyond his opinions. He constructs the plot and selects characters only to suit his opinions and end up as a debater, rather than a creative writer.”Ananthamurthy was very aggressive in attacking Bhyrappa because he knew that the novelist has torn open the fabrics of Islamic dogma. Ananthamurthy said, “Bhyrappa does not know either Hindu religion or the art of story-telling. He is only a debater,” He further continued, “He does not go beyond his opinions. He constructs the plot and selects characters only to suit his opinions and end up as a debater, rather than a creative writer.”
Another writer and Kannada Sahitya Parishat president Prof Chandrashekhar Patil referred to Aavarana as the textbook of Chaddi (RSS cadres).
After having written such finest piece of work, Bhyrappa ji was lynched intellectually by the so-called ‘progressive’ and ‘liberal’ peers because he dared to speak the truth.
Starting with Bheemakaya, first published in 1958, Bhyrappa has authored twenty-four novels in a career spanning more than five decades. Vamshavruksha, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Matadana and Nayi Neralu were made into films that received critical acclaim. Vamshavruksha has received the Kannada Sahitya Academy Award in 1966 and Daatu (Crossing Over) received both the Kannada and the Kendra Sahitya Academy awards in 1975. Parva, the most critically acclaimed of all his novels narrates the social structure, values and mortality in the epic of Mahabharata very effectively. Bhyrappa reconstructs the Mahabharata from a sociological and anthropological angle, through metaphors in this novel.
At a very old-age, Bhyrappaji continues to maintain his sharp insights about current affairs and his regimen for writing. He is an icon of Kannada literature, and one would think twice before disputing that. Salute to this inspiring and great intellectual!