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. 

4 comments:

dhruva said...

sirji please do read more books of S L Bhyrappa to understand the in depth knowledge of indian culture,rural life , human values and relationship values , if you read his book Parva , u will get whole way of looking at the epic tale mahabharat

desicontrarian said...

English translation of Parva - one of his greatest novels. And one more great novel - Vamshavrksha(Family Tree)

Ram Kumar said...

Before Aavarana: The Veil, one needs to understand Bhyrappa's past novels such as "Sakshi - The Witness" (the issue related to Truth & lie at an individual level) and "Sartha - The Caravan" (social, political, cultural, Intellectual… life of India during 8th Century AD)

swatigarg said...

Nicely done. Looking forward to reading the book :)