Daatu is a powerful portrayal of turbulences and troubles caste system causes in Indian society. A unique novel, it was chosen for Sahitya Akademi award in 1975. Its problem is relevant even today and it seems it continues to be relevant for many decades to come. The author deftly uses myths and mystical images to connect the present with the past. Set in Thirumalapura and through the tales of a daughter of a Brahmin priest who chooses to marry a non-Brahmin, son of a powerful minister, the novel vividly illustrates in depth the horror that caste system wrecks on individuals and societal structures. It is a stunning saga of courageous forthright and intelligent women of tremendous will power.
S.L. Bhyrappa is a distinguished Kannada novelist who is widely regarded as one of India’s foremost modern day writers. He has 25 novels besides his autobiography and five books on criticism and philosophy, in a career spanning more than five decades. Translation of many of his novels are highly appreciated and respected throughout India and abroad. He has been the top most selling author in Kannada for the past forty years and one of the top most in Marathi and Hindi. His novel Aavarana was sold out before it was released in 2007 and by now is reprinted 52 times. Six of his novels are translated into Sanskrit which has gone into several reprints and seven into English. His novel Parva was chosen as a modern classic and translated into English by Sahitya Akademi.
Bhyrappa, a National Professor, is the recipient of Sahitya Akademi award, Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi, prestigious Saraswathi Samman and several state and national awards.
Dr. S. L. Bhyrappa is one of the foremost novelists of India writing in Kannada. Through translations of his novels into other Indian languages, he is recognized as one of the most distinguished and significant creative writers of modern India. He is the recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for this novel, Daatu, the Bharateeya Bhasha Parishat Award and Saraswathi Samman for his novel Mandra in 2010. Recently, he is appointed as the National professor for creative writing.
Most of Bhyrappa's novels have been translated into Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Telugu and some even into English, Sanskrit and Urdu. Grihabhanga and Daatu have been translated into all the Indian languages. Parva, based on a new interpretation of the Mahabharata, has already been translated into Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, English, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi and Sanskrit.
His novels Vamshavriksa, Tabbaliyu Ninade Magane (Godhuli in Hindi) Matadana and Nayineralu have adorned the silver screen in Hindi and Kannada. His Grihabhanga is serialised on the small screen in Kannada.
His autobiography, Bhitti, has seen eight editions, has been translated into Hindi, Marathi and to English recently, which has been published by Prism Publishers.
Parva (1979) gives a new and creative interpretation of the Mahabharata, in the light of his extensive studies and sociological research; Saakshi (1986) is a psychological investigation into the ramifications of different modes of human relationships. Tantu is translated into English and published by Niyogi Books Delhi (2011) and is a reflection of our own times in terms of the educational, sociological and political implications. Saartha (1998) translated into English, Sanskrit and Marathi, recreates one of the most crucial periods of our cultural and social history with its time and clime. Mandra (2002) is translated into Hindi, Marathi and English and published by Niyogi books, and depicts the trials and tribulations of an eminent singer.
Avarana published in 2007 created a tremendous commotion and awareness in the society as well as in the literary publishing world in Karnataka. First edition of the novel was published in 2007 and it found 14 editions in 2007 itself and till today it has found totally 47 editions. Avarana' is translated into Marathi, Sanskrit, Hindi, English and Tamil.
Kavalu published in 2010 has found 24 editions till now. It is translated into Marathi and Hindi. His recent novel Yaana (2014) is a blend of astrophysics, philosophy and human values beyond the gravitational field of the sun.
Daatu (1973), which won him the Central Sahitya Akademi Award for 1975, focuses on the evils of caste system. It is hailed as "a novel with a progressive view and a revolutionary outlook." In his award receiving address, Bhyrappa stated: "I have through my novels begun an exploration; I have tried to examine deeply some of the problems which were confronting me and the areas of my experience. This process has resulted in my own soul searching. My personal experiences became deeper and broader. Each of my novel takes me a step nearer to a mysterious centre of experience, and has enabled me to understand and appreciate the complexity of life and its meaning. It has brought me a satisfaction more meaningful than any scholastic study of any theory. It has brought to the fore, several problems which were lying hidden in my subconscious mind." Daatu stands a testimony to these views.
Bhyrappa uses myths, legends, psychological disturbances artistically and achieves his purpose. Folk stories accounting for the distinction between different castes also play a prominent role. Likewise, Melagiri Gowda's father argues how his caste is superior to the other castes based on an account given by a dignitary of the corresponding community from the North. Each of these sub-castes wants to be placed above the other castes, an official sanction to this end is being contrived by Venkatesha, Sathyabhama's brother and a priestly successor. Deep- rooted religious beliefs also play a crucial role to the extent that even a constructive programme like the entry of harijans into temple is foiled by superstitious beliefs resulting in psychological reactions like swooning on such occasions.
Daatu created a new awareness of familiar experience of the people in the society. It was their own society, their own environment, their own familiar characters and their own problems which they had little understood and analysed. Bhyrappa presents them so clearly and in a new artistic angle and with a deep reflection and analysis of the various factors underlying them. It is this demystification of a social mystery that makes this novel unusually absorbing. Bhyrappa stresses that progressive ideas are to be practised and uncharitable attitudes, from whichever quarter they may emerge, are to be condemned. By embodying these hard truths, this novel has become an all time classic in Indian literature.
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