Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book review : Aavarana

There are two kinds of history - one which collects, analyses and presents the truth about events and the other which masks the truth in opaque veils and presents it in a form deemed suitable for the existing socio-political sentiments. I now write about the book standing under first category of the two types of history mentioned. It is a work which created quite a stir in the world of intellectuals and which proved to be one of the biggest controversies of it's time, Aavarana by S.L.Bhyrappa. Aavarana saw 10 prints in the first 5 months of release, a big proof for its relevance and popularity.

I am fortunate enough to have read two of Bhyrappa's works. He is a no nonsense scholar with a brilliant grasp on the writing and the research he does.  Aavarana is based on the most sensitive topic of medieval Muslim influence on India; a topic all secular individuals love to hate but cannot ignore. Bhyrappa has taken the courage to speak out truth in a politically charged country which denounces anything secular that tries to demand proof. Being used to read only about the architectural or administrative influences of Mughals, I was gripped by this book which so intrepidly chided the wrong doings of Muslim rulers on the Hindu culture. Bhyrappa substantiated the naked truth of Islamic intolerance towards Hindus with accurate proofs and references. Any sensible unbiased Indian (irrespective of whether a Hindu or a Muslim) burns with rage on reading about the atrocity committed on humanity during the reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707).

Bhyrappa has given heart wrenching description of Aurangzeb's inhuman attitude towards anything that is non-Islamic. A land where there are crores of Gods and where people give excess importance to the artistic expression of the forms of God had to naturally see the wrath of a Muslim ruler who simply couldn't comprehend the concept of more than one supreme God. Bhyrappa has adopted a play-within-play technique. The protagonist of the novel is a converted Muslim, Razia. The story begins when Razia goes along with her husband, Ameer to Hampi. Razia has to write a script to the documentary film her husband is directing signifying Hampi as the place of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood . But her intuition and  research doesn't let her to commit that folly. Husband and wife get into altercations because of this difference in opinion. When Razia is constantly compelled by her husband to write a script as he wishes, she learns that her father with whom she had broken all ties after the wedding had passed away. When she goes to visit her home near Hassan she comes across a treasure of books and research her father owned. There begins the second plot of Aavarana.

Razia aka Lakshmi's father Narasimha Gowda had left behind intensive notes in every book of the library on Muslim influence in medieval India. Lakshmi immerses herself in the study and starts living away from her problematic marriage. Thus takes the birth of her novel and it's hero Khwaja Jahan. The hero is a proud Rajput prince happily married and the heir for his father's throne but the one who looses all dignity when his kingdom gets defeated and crushed under Aurangzeb's army. The valiant prince falls prey to the homosexual army general's lust, slave trade and later castration. The story goes on to describe prince turned eunuch's journey thereafter, Aurangzeb's temple-destruction scheme, Khwaja Jahan's ironical privilege of watching Kashi Vishwanath temple destruction and his efforts to escape the ill fate.

I was angry when Lakshmi was intelligently made to convert her religion though her husband pretended his love is beyond caste, religion and tradition. I was disgusted when Razia was made to eat beef much against her birth religion beliefs. My heart went out to her when she had to prove her dedication to Islam time and again. A woman can bare only so much victimization. But my spirits sored high when she continued her intellectual pursuits, when she strived to maintain her dignity and choices. I couldn't help but show pity to the prince when he was used by different men for their pleasure. My heart cried for his pain when he got castrated. I earnestly hoped he would get a chance to run away with his wife (also subjected to trade and conversion) when he found her mothering children of some other Muslim powerful man. The roller coaster of emotions could only be felt by reading the novel.

The four figure count of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb, the fate of war torn men and women, the rigidity to which Muslim converts are subjected, the various other heart wrenching facts substantiated with evidence from Quran, Hadiths (reports of statements or actions of Muhammad) and Sira (traditional name for biographies of Mohammad) can be found in this brilliant piece of historical fiction. To quote Bhyrappa "the deceptive act of hiding the truth is Aavarana". Read this much cussed and discussed novel to find out the distorted and hidden truths.

I write here a plain analysis of a novel without holding ill feelings for any religion. I am just against the horrible immoral deeds which the author has described in the book.

Further reads :


  1. Hey too good article. Gives a fairly good idea about the book. Very neatly put into word. Keep the good work going:)

  2. I had to comment being loyal Bairappa's fan. I have almost read every famous book of his. Avarana was such a disturbing book. The atrocities of Aurangazeb left me with rage, allright. But what disturbed me more was the fact that whatever we have read in school till now, are manipulated. We spent time 10 years of our school, reading and mastering the "history" which for all you know could be entirely false or modified for political reasons!!

  3. Exactly. I am hearing about more and more books which dare to give us truth. Earlier it was British rule maiming our history to glorify their own culture and now its our very own ill minded politicians who never let truth surface lest they loose grip on vote banks.

    Try to read The Case for India by Will Durant. You can get a fair idea of what's hidden from us.

  4. This book, an english translation of the original book written in kannada by S L Bhyrappa. A brilliant book which presents to the reader the muslim rule in India during the Moghul period. The collectivist novel technique which is making the historical evidence in built in the novel is a brilliant concept. It also reflects the so called "intellectuals" of the modern day and their efforts of covering historical truth. Just like Dan Brown's "Da vinci Code" talks about Christianity this book deals with Islam. A must read for people of all age groups to understand the true history of India.