Through the eyes of beholder

I must be in 8th standard then, when I read Yayati, the first Dnyanpeeth award-winning novel in Marathi.

Stupid me then read and enjoyed the novel like anything.

I admired writer V S Khandekar for his illustrious fictional work; the way he narrated story of a king from Mahabharat eon- Yayati, who in his insatiable lust for carnal pleasure begs his son Puru to swap youth with infirmity.

It was Yayati, which brought me closer to Marathi literature. I then read other fictional work including Radhyey.

The creativity and freedom enabled these writers to produce some remarkably classic literature in Marathi. Great was the absence of any opposition to such novels, terming it ‘slanderous’. The charge of course would have been dismissed saying the “obscenity lies in the eyes of beholder”.

But now…

A controversy surrounds another great author Anand Yadav for his book SantSurya Tukaram.

Warakari sect leaders, unhappy over the alleged “casting aspersions on the character of Saint Tukaram” by author in his novel, heckled Yadav and demanded his resignation as president of Marathi literary meet.

Yadav withdrew his novel and tendered apology. But warakaris refused to budge. A threat to spoil the literary meet now lingers.

They have also issued a decree - whosoever wants to write on Saints should get their permission first.

Listening to the controversy annoyed me initially. Soon, the annoyance turned into amusement. Now it seeks to rebuild perception.

For the sake of opposing, Yayati is contemptuous since it portrays certain characters negative. But readers did not mind it. In fact the portrayal of certain persona woven with events in such way that character actually conquer at the end despite loosing everything. That makes the novel great.

In SantSurya Tukaram case the focus is excessively on those few paragraphs allegedly depict Tukaram in negative. This way a lager picture of Tukaram's character is completely being ignored. Also is the fact is its not the reference book but a novel where writer does enjoy some freedom.

Tukaram, the 17th century author throughout his life faced wrath from orthodox Brahmins for taking pen into hand.

That way Tukaram stood modern in thought.

Shall we too ?

UPDATES- Sadly, minutes before Yadav has tendered his resignation. The decision on his resignation will be taken by March 19.


iamfordemocracy said...

Freedom of expression is a delicate issue. It is fine for Anand Yadav to write whatever he wrote, but he cannot demand that he be honoured for it. The President of a literary meet or organisation must be one who represents people, not the one who is at odds with people's views.

The second point about freedom is it should not only be one dimensional. You must be knowing the famous joke about Russiam freedom. An American Meets a Russian in 60's. The American boasts about the freedom in America - you can stand in front of the white house and criticise the President - he says. The Russians shrugs it off as trivial - You can stand in front of Kremlin and criticise American President in Russia too - he says.

The point is, there should be freedom to point out flaws in historial personalities, but it should extend across all religions and sects. In India, at the moment, there is freedom to portray Hindu gods and saints in poor light, but not the same freedom about Islam or Jesus. It is a difficult issue, but if it is not addressed, all the freedom will vanish in no time.

Yogesh said...

Yes, “he can’t demand that he be honored for it”. And he never did it. He tarnished the image of Sant Tukaram, as few alleged. But he tendered an apology, besides withdrawing the material in objection. Protests should have stopped here itself. It didn’t.

“The President of a literary meet or organisation must be one who represents people, not the one who is at odds with people's views”

Yadav was democratically elected president. And since he won the election to preside over the meet, it is assumed that people who voted him accepts his views (even after reading that controversial book, which actually was published much before the protests began).

Lastly, the right to freedom can not be or is not absolute and the right is commonly subject to limitations. But the larger question is if those who will lay those limitations and if these limitations are coming across one's growth, how useful it then be ?

Thanks for the comment


iamfordemocracy said...

A 'democratically elected president' shouldn't be forced to resign because of his already published views. There is however a catch in the term 'democratically elected president'. Ideally, the literature of all candidates, along with its critical reviews, should be placed in front of the elctorate before the elections. Those who have any objections must be allowed to voice them and the elections should be conducted only after every relevant issue is in the public domain.

Unfortunately, proper disclosures are never mandatory or important in Indian elections. People don't even come to know the legally registered names of the candidates even in Loksabha elections. That is why the late protests hold water. A sad reflection on Indian democracy, but then, is there real democracy out there?