Thursday, August 6, 2009

Daatu and Indian secularism

First of all i want to let you know that "DAATU" is a popular Kannada book written by my favourite author Dr. S.L. Byrappa.

S.L.Byrappa is a very popular name in Kannada literature. He has written number of popular Kannada novels on a variety of subjects. He has got some great popularity and some nasty criticism for the subjects he has chosen recently. He is one author who writes for his own satisfaction and not for some government award or saahitya academy fellowship. No doubt, he has the biggest fan following in karnataka and even today thousands of kannadigas are eagerly waiting for his next novel.

First thing that strikes in Byrappa's Novel is his subject. Each novel will have a very special story which really makes the reader to think a lot. And then the amount of information he gives in his novel is just extraordinary. No wonder he takes at least 3-4 years to finish a novel. Before writing on any subject he gathers all information about that subject and makes a deep analysis. Byrappa is writing in Kannada for almost 50 years now and all his novels are very precious for Kannada literature.

My fav novel is definitely Parva. Parva is the story of Mahabharata told in a layman's language. There are no heroes and no villains. There are only a bunch of crooked kings fighting hard to get the kingdom. Krishna is not a god but just a intelligent and cunning king. So there will be no miracles. He gives a scientific explanation for all the so called miracles that comes in Mahabharata story. I have watched Mahabharata in TV and have read that many times. But this version gives a completely new perception about this mega epic of Indian history.

Now lets come to Daatu. First thing that we should know is Daatu is written in 1970's. It explains the social, political and economic conditions of that time. Subject of the story is inter caste marriage. A brahmin girl and a Gowda Boy decides to break the barriers of religion and plan to get married. They want to do this just because, they want to be a role model for society. They want to set an example to others to denounce so called caste system. So the story revolves around the impact of their decision on their families and their village. In end, they both realise that this Indian society is not ready to accept such a thing. They just hope that at least in future Indians will destroy caste system and inter caste marriages will happen.

I wonder how can Byrappa think of writing a novel on a sensitive subject like this in 1970's. Even today our society is against inter caste marriage. Though there are few inter caste marriages, most of them turned out to be as failures due to various reasons. Even today caste plays a very major role in marriages. My mom will never see my face again if i decide to marry a girl outside my community.

Now in my view, i am against intercaste marriages. You might be thinking that i am a hypocrite and communal. But its not like that. I have equal respect for all castes and religions. But its just that our society and our family is not ready yet.

Lets analyse the reasons behind failure of intercaste marriages..

Because of all the reservations and steps taken by government we can claim that we have removed caste factor from our public life. But each and every Indian is very well attached to his respective caste in his personal life. Each guy is a Indian when he walks out of the house, but as soon as he enters his house he will be either a Hindu, Muslim, brahmin, gowda, konkani or a reddy. All the rituals and habits that we have in our personal life is deeply routed with our caste. I will not have a problem to do business, have a meeting or go out for lunch with someone from other caste. But i will definitely have some problem in bringing him to my home or may be to stay with him.

So a girl will not have a problem in interacting with a boy from other caste. She will not feel awkward in interacting with him for hours or in going out with him. Even she might be comfortable in falling in love with him. But all problems will start when they get married and start to stay together. Because there is not much of a difference in their public life, but there is a huge difference in their rituals, habits, belief, perception about things, trust in god and vision about life. There will be no support from family either. So slowly with time it turns out to be a failure.

Its true that we have to live in a secular country. Here secular does not mean that we have to give up our rituals and castes. "SECULAR" just means that we should not consider caste factor when taking any decisions. I might be a Hindu in my personal life, but i will be a secular if i treat all religions equally. I am a secular if i respect all religions. I guess if every individual can understand this simple definition of secularism, then there will be no communal violence. There will be no need for operation bluestar, kandhamal, Bombay serial blasts in 93 and all this jihad.

Byrappa dreamt of a secular nation with this novel Daatu in 1970's. This dream is yet to be realised. I just hope that one day India will become a true secular nation, not by eradicating caste system but by learning to give respect to all religions. Live and Let Live is the only way we can survive..



Anonymous said...

Very nice definition of secularism.

Anonymous said...
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