Appalled Litterateurs Want Him to Fight Back

Express solidarity with Perumal Murugan; say novelist arm-twisted in apologising to protestors; see politics behind raking up the controversy four after publication of the book

Published: 14th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th January 2015 03:54 AM   |  A+A-

COIMBATORE: The Tamil literary world on Tuesday expressed solidarity with modern Tamil writer Perumal Murugan whose reference to a ritual of consensual sex to beget a child at the Arthanareeswarar Temple in Tiruchengode in the novel Madhorubhagan had ignited protests prompting him to emotionally quit writing.

Describing Perumal Murugan as a good Tamil writer, veteran litterateur Asokamitran said his novel had no objectionable areas. “What he says in his book is not something uncommon. The practice of a childless woman having coital relationship with another man to beget a child was in vogue not only in Tiruchengode but in the entire India,” he said.

He called upon Murugan’s critics to read the Mahabharatha and know that Vichitra’s wives Ambika and Ambalika had their respective sons Dhiritarashtra and Pandu by sage Vyasa.

Quoting Kannada writer S L Bhyrappa’s novel Vamsa Viruksham (The Genealogy Tree), the octogenarian author pointed out that the character Shrothri discovers that his father was not Nanjunda Shrothri only after many years in his life. Later on, he learns that a priest had been ‘arranged’ to impregnate his mother so that his ‘father’ Nanjunda Shrothri would have an heir, to whom he could pass his ancestral property.

“Had there been no such practice in real life, the epic Mahabharatha and the novel Vamsa Viruksham would not have portrayed it,” contended Asokamitran.

Popular Tamil writer Jeyamohan, who also faced severe criticisms for backing Perumal Murugan, rued: “The apology made by Perumal Murugan, shows that he has been forced to do so. It is saddening that the writer has been left alone with none to protect him.”

Perumal Murugan’s professor at PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, Prof Kamaleshwaran, who is also a linguist, said the novelist had no other option but to express apology due to the threats from the protestors.Sahitya Akademi award winner Joe D’Cruz, felt that the novelist had been cowed down due to the continuous threats and taunts from protestors. “In a society where most people read little literature, the protest demanding a ban on Madhorubhagan after four years from its publication, shows the politics behind it,” he said.

“A writer’s research into the past is only to the development of the society, as he discovers a usual practice from the past and informs the present generation. For this, he does not have to get permission from the members of a society. Moreover, what Perumal Murugan has written is only a piece of fiction, and not the history or Sthalapurana of the Arthanareeswarar Temple,” argued eminent novelist S Ramakrishnan.

Taking another line, Nanjil Nadan, another Sahitya Akademi award winner, said, if people were hurt by the novel Madhorubhagan, any of them could have written an antithesis to it instead of burning copies and issuing threats to its author.

Meanwhile, at the Chennai Book Fair, an impromptu protest was staged under the aegis of the Karuthurimai Padhugapu Kootamaipu (Association for protection of freedom of expression). Documentary filmmaker R P Amudan said while criticism is welcome, suppressing the voice of a writer is unacceptable. One of Murugan’s earliest mentors, Prof A R Venkatachalapathy of the Madras Institute of Development Studies accused the Namakkal district administration of buckling under mob pressure and holding a “one-sided negotiation” at Monday’s peace meeting where an unconditional apology was extracted from the author.

A bureaucrat close to the novelist bemoaned that Murugan, who had put the western belt of Tamil Nadu back on the literary mob, was being hounded out. “He was torn between making a choice from the perspective of Perumal Murugan – the author, the individual and the family man. In the end, he chose what he thought was best for him and his family. It is sad that such an incident had to happen in the land of Periyar.”

PUCL general secretary V Suresh said all interested parties must try to convince Murugan to reconsider his decision to quit the literary world. He criticised the officials for not protecting Murugan and leaving him at the mercy of a mob in the name of brokering peace.


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