Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Review #32: Daatu by Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa

This is an another masterpiece novel from my favorite author Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa. Written in the early 70's with a backdrop of much debated caste system that was deep rooted in the country, makes this book as one of the excellent attempt by the author. The intricate explanation and detailed narration of each and every castes and cultures is a shellshock experience for the readers.

This book was way ahead of time if we consider the time of its publishing. As expectedly, this book has won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award in the year 1975. The title Daatu can be literally translated to english as CROSSING OVER. Crossing over the boundaries of castes and colors.

The subject with which the novel was based is an excellent one, yet dangerous. It would have easily flare up communal clashes around in the country. After all, though the government has abolished all the caste systems in public life to some extent, there is still this practice of upper caste, lower caste, untouchables or popularly called as Dalits, etc..

This novel describes the story of a small village called Tirumalapura, situated in Tumkur District of Karnataka. This village consists mainly of the Brahmins, followed by the other caste people. There is also a Gowda family, that was popular among the neighbour villages as one of the respected family, and this family stood as the flag bearer of the village, though there were many Brahmins who were silently opposing to such cult worshipping.

As far as the protagonists are concerned, there is a Brahmin family headed by Venkataramanappa and there is a flag bearer Gowda family, headed by Tirumale Gowda who became a Rajarshi after studying all the major vedic scriptures, that was reserved only for Brahmins long long ago. The main plot opens up, when, Satya a History Graduate, daughter of Venkataramanappa decides to marry Srinivasa, the grandson of Tirumale Gowda, the son of MLA Melegiri Gowda. What follows after this, is a family dispute that leads to fights among these 2 families, fight among 2 castes, fight among villagers, over which caste is better. Both families tries all their might to stop this marriage and eventually succeeds in it. Venkatesha, elder brother of Satya decides to make a pact with Melegiri Gowda and comes to a common judgement to stop this marriage, considering their reputation in their village and in neighbourhoods.

As the story progresses further, author tries to explain all the major reasons for the caste and cultures. He explains various causes and reasons for all these caste systems, thereby describing the misunderstanding of the of Purusha Sukta from Rigveda, in which majority of the people believed that, all the 4 caste (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra) systems or VARNA systems are born out of mouth, arms, thighs and feet of Bramha. It was misinterpreted by every major translators throughout the history. This verse from purusha sukta describes that, the occupation of a man becomes his caste and not his birth. Through his protagonists, Author tries to explain that, everyone can attain the status of Brahminhood by just working towards it and there is no need of consenting someone for this.

In another part of the novel, author brings up the case for Dalits or untouchables through the characters like Bettayya an MLA and his son Mohandasa, who believes that only revolution and rebel nature brings out the justice for their caste. The interesting case arrives, when Satya decides to help out Mohandasa by writing a book on his request. This book helps all these Dalits or Untouchables to understand the injustice that they have faced in all these years. As this attempt became popular, Mohandasa decides to form a group of young rebels from his own community for a coup to enter the village temple that was banned for Dalits. He succeeds in his attempt even. But to his dismay, he became unconscious right after entering the temple. This incident made the upper caste Brahmins to scare away all those Dalits who were entering the temple. They scared them like, this is the wrath of god, and you people should remain  outside the temple and that is what has been practiced since time immemorial.

I stop it here.
I have just given a glimpse of the novel in my review. You will get to read so many cases like I mentioned above in the book. But for sure, it won't give you a concluding answer for which caste is first and which one is last, which one is upper and which one is lower, who is Brahmin and who is Untouchable. It just gives you a platform to think about what happens when one sticks to this kind of casteism. What one would even achieve by practising casteism?. It brings us to question ourselves much deeper, after all, what one would even gain by acting as if their caste is superior and others are inferior. Everyone must question themselves and start living life like a human. There is no upper or lower, no superior or inferior!!

I recommend this book to be read by everyone. It is once in a lifetime experience to read such novels.

My Rating:

1 comment:

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