Monday, 24 March 2014

Book Review: Aavarana: The Veil

Credits: Rupa Publications
The act of concealing truth in Sanskrit is called "Aavarana" while the act of projecting lies is known as "vikshepa". The 2007 Kannada novel "Aavarana" by S.L. Bhyrappa, recently translated into English by Sandeep Balakrishna, therefore, is one of the few revolutionary novels that deals with an explosive storyline in times where political correctness dominates the public discourse. Aavarana is a compelling read, mainly due to its raw appeal that hits readers at appropriate places like a jolt. On a macro level, the book deals with the constrained relationship between Hinduism and Islam, which as everyone knows is best left unsaid. 

Aavarana's agenda is to restore truth, at all costs. In more ways than one, the book is like an eye-opener which shatters many of our conceived notions that we have been fed with school history textbooks. The debate of truth vs lies has been explored in detail while the objective of the book largely looks like an attempt to restore balance and also to expose historians who distort it by creating the myth that Islamic rulers were tolerant and deny that there were mass temple destruction. 

There is a frame narrative running parallel to the main story, which chronicle the mid-Mughal period and also dwells on several historical aspects like the destruction of the Viswanath Temple in Varanasi by Aurangzeb. The raw and striking descriptions make readers fume in anger and shock. However, that is where the literary merit of this book lies. The bibliography used by Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa as part of his research for the book is quite extensive for a novel and is artfully introduced as part of the main narrative. 

Aavarana does not show any sympathy to reader and is more like an assault on the reader with very thought-provoking and compelling arguments that make a reader think. Perhaps, that is where the literary merit of the book lies. Despite this book being my first exposure to Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa, I must admit that he has done a commendable job both in storytelling and putting up his point. It also reflects the "intellectuals" of the modern day and their efforts of covering historical truths.

Lastly, there is absolutely no doubt that such a gem of a book would have been limited to one state had it not been for the brilliant efforts of Sandeep Balakrishna. Hence, the book is a must read for anyone with some basic understanding of common sense and balance who would like to know the extent to which lies have been fed in the name of history in India. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

National Character

The political scene in the country today has reached a stage where it is inevitable to take sides and work on unity of the nation acquires utmost importance. There is an urgent need to develop a national character. How can national character be developed if there is no nation? We know that individuals are the target as well as the means for social and political change. To bring out basic change in society, the process begins with reformation of the individual and thereafter changing the nation is quite a viable option.

By making politics as the nucleus of change, it can bring about change in all spheres of life as it influences every aspect of life. It has the power to change and control society and individuals. It is unfortunate if those who have authority and those who rule refuse to think in the national context, if they ignore national interest, then how can we expect the common man to develop national character? The government is the root of the state and if the root is diseased, how can the tree (country) remain healthy?

The main problem confronting us today is unity of the country politically and culturally. Without this unity, the eminence of this nation is impossible. We have to restore the nation to its former glory. The disappointment and lack of confidence that the current government has brought among the people, must be removed. We must light the flame of nationalism in every citizen's heart so that if another country casts an evil eye on India's borders, citizens from across India will hold themselves responsible for failing to protect India's borders. For this, first of all, we must dethrone traitors due to whom soldiers struggle at Siachen without kerosene in winter or submarines sink for not replacing batteries leading to loss of two promising lives. India has had to face defeat for the inaction of a few. 

India needs you, she beckons you, whether you respond to her call or not, is up to you. You have to decide. Our votes have the power to write the future of this country. Please do remember that if you are not ready for change, then nothing can be done. You are the medium of change, elections and votes are just the means. If you realise that this nation's eminence is your eminence and if you are ready to sacrifice everything for the eminence of this nation, then nothing can weaken us. Ultimately, a nation's ruler depends on the ambitions, aspirations and faith of individuals of a country as they too are bound by the decisions we take.