Aavarana–The Veil: A Personal Journey

Born in a tiny village that’s pretty nonexistent for the world even outside the Hassan district. Lost his mother and three siblings by the time he was 10 or so. A father who had abandoned any semblance of responsibility towards the family, and who on occasion stole his teenage son’s twenty two rupees, earned towards his school fees by selling odd wares in a village fair. A semi-orphan who stood outside cinema “tents” as a ticket-checker. A hardworking student who quit his high school and walked on the railway tracks from Bangalore till Hubli and once there, became a waiter in a low end restaurant. A teenager imprisoned on a false charge at the behest (and bribe) of the restaurant owner. A lad who then landed in Bombay and worked as a coolie in the Dadar railway station. A boy who returned to Mysore to rejoin school. A bright student who fought against an attempts to deny him scholarship by a casteist principal. Stayed in a student hostel throughout student life. Gave tuitions to support himself. Lived in just one pyjama and shirt. Opted for B.A. Honours in Philosophy. His reply to the principal who tried to dissuade him from taking Philosophy: “if Philosophy does not bake any bread for me, I’ll open a bakery.” Earned a gold medal. Took his M.A. First job as a lecturer took him to Hubli. Wrote his first two novels while there. From Hubli to Vallabh Vidyaniketan in Gujarat. Took his PhD while in Gujarat. Wrote Vamsha Vruksha, the novel that catapulted him to literary fame. And from Gujarat to NCERT, Delhi. Wrote his other major novel, Daatu. And the novels never stopped coming. Took 10 years to write what arguably is his magnum opus, Parva. Won several awards including the Sahitya Akademi, on the way. Returned to Mysore and took up a teaching position. Was incessantly hounded by the Progressive-Marxist-Leftist literary clique that had gained a near monopoly in the literary circles. Said hounding included getting his house stoned by miscreants at the direction of a powerful duo who pulled the literary strings in Karnataka. Retired from his job not from his first and only love: writing. Never hankered after money or awards or positions. Kept writing. Somewhere along the years, earned enormous goodwill and fan following. Somewhere along the years, became the greatest living novelist in Kannada. Somewhere along the years, became a living legend.

And how is a man like me supposed to react when this legend sends word for me to translate his most popular and his record-breaking novel, Aavarana into English? I leave that to your imagination.

In terms of sheer commercial success, the Kannada publishing industry has never seen anything quite like it. A phenomenal ten reprints in just three months, and over 35 reprints in seven years. Aavarana has all the trademark ingredients of the legend: deep philosophy, infalliable research, conflict of human emotions, an entirely new way of looking at familiar things, and above all, fidelity to truth. Not to mention, like most of his novels, Aavarana too generated tremendous debate, discussion, and the fashionable term to describe his work: controversy.

I’m loathe to discuss stuff about the process of translating it. Suffice to say, the process was and remains a reward in itself. And now it is available in most major bookstores across the country. Look for the title Aavarana: the Veil. It has been published by Rupa. If you prefer ordering it online, here are the links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.in/Aavarana-The-Veil-S-L-Bhyrapp/dp/8129124882

Flipkart: http://www.flipkart.com/aavarana-veil/p/itmds3hgkfhgvjn3?pid=9788129124883&icmpid=reco_pp_personalhistoryFooter_book_4

Bookland: http://booklandnoida.com/product-details.php?pid=2928

Rupa: http://www.rupapublications.co.in/books/aavarana-veil

Happy reading!

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32 comments for “Aavarana–The Veil: A Personal Journey

  1. Nikhil
    May 19, 2014 at 12:01 AM

    Thank you for the translation- waited 4 years since I first got to know about the Kannada book. Hailing from gangavathi near Hampi and living in Delhi, I’ve seen the remains of temples far and wide. I’m am incredibly grateful to you and S.L Bhyrapaa for bringing the book.

  2. ItAcHi
    May 16, 2014 at 8:08 PM

    Moment of reckoning for all ye old sandeep fans.. WE WON TODAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lone Ranger, Tima or whoever the fuck you guys were, you guys can take the next flight out with ananthamurthy !! Supporters…its been years…but hip hip hurray !!

  3. April 8, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    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.

  4. April 4, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Am not a voracious reader. But Aavarna compelled me to finish the book in one go. Rivetting. Made me emotional. All the thrills of a novel coupled with learning history. Only a few are gifted with such talent. Our prostrations to the author – Shri Bhyrappa. Will recommend the books to my friends and other acquaintances. Thanks for excellent translation. Did it come out as one book in Kannada or series of chapters in a weekly / fortnightly magazine?

    Ramaswamy, Kolkata

  5. Manish
    March 31, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    Sandeep, thanks for the great job in translation.

    Just finished reading Aavarana, a very interesting read but even more interesting is the reaction it provokes. I am absolutely surprised that this book has not been banned, part of the reason it escaped banning is on account of the cleverly inserted poison pill – banning of the protagonists novel in the book.

    I was reading Arvind Adiga’s article in the outlook http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?284084

    He commends Bhyrappa on several counts but his reaction to Aavarana is predictable & symptomatic of the malaise gripping a large no. of seemingly intelligent, articulate & successful people & there are many such.
    Here are a few comments he makes:

    “These achievements are overshadowed, however, by a single fact: S.L. Bhyrappa is pro-Hindutva.”

    “His unvarnished political opinions—he opposes religious conversion and cow slaughter, and thinks that Tipu Sultan is a religious fana­tic rather than a national hero—embarrass even his own admirers.”

    “It would be convenient to celebrate only Ananthamurthy, who is staunchly secular, and forget that the odious Mr Bhyrappa exists at all.”

    Note the use of the term odious.

    “…. weakest novel, and in danger of having a fanbase composed entirely of bigots.”

    Adiga doesnt dwell at all on why this is his weakest book, in fact his only comment about the book is “Aavarana (The Concealing), though technically his 20th novel, is a polemic—a list of all the sins that Muslims have allegedly wreaked on Hindus and their culture for generations.”

    So is it the subject that makes the book weak, irrespective of the merit of the arguments in the book what so ever? He questions none of it, but remember he has already called Bhyrappa “pro-Hindutva” so no objective assessment is needed hereafter. He has also said that Bhyrappa has “unvarnished political opinions” because he believes Tipu Sultan was a religious fanatic. Again Adiga sees no reason to justify his comment, perhaps he doesnt think there is any need for it. After all anyone who dares question the grand secular narrative has to be just that “odious”.
    Here is a “bigot” like myself who thinks Bhyrappa has made a great attempt to be factual & objective in his assessment & looking forward to an objectively articulated alternative point of view. To my utter disappointment there is no objective criticism of his work, Adiga can barely conceal his disdain for Bhyrappa & perhaps that justifies the lack of reason in his discourse.

    That brings me to the point I wanted to convey:
    The quest for truth should be considered more righteous than upholding of any “ism” of ideology of any shade. I don’t think there would be much disagreement on this precept if seen in isolation.
    Then why do eminent people like Adiga & others of his ilk appear so incapable of having a reasoned argument on this subject. Imagine someone who has held onto a belief however unsubstantiated for a long time, reinforced his conviction about it by equating it to a virtue & hence never substantially investigating its veracity. If ever this belief were to be questioned, however cogently, it stings the believer for all the egoistic capital invested in it e.g. internalization of association of self with this belief. The easiest defense for ego driven ignorance is to paint the questioner as evil for no defense then seems necessary, at least in that state of mind when the adversary has been painted evil.

  6. mats
    March 30, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    I want to buy this book from Amazon.com, but there it is listed as ‘abridged’ (400 pages). I do not believe abridged versions can ever do justice to original works. Is there a full version on sale at Amazon?

  7. ujwala
    March 28, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    So happy that Avaarana is translated to english…Will read it and suggest to me non kannada speaking friends

  8. Vinay
    March 24, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    An excellent translation effort, this book executed idea of “Inception” brilliantly.

  9. Vijayendra
    March 23, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Hi Ankush,

    I have purchased some Hindi translation in Flipkart, but it is not available now. You can check @ Sahitya Bhandara , Balepet , Bangalore, (080) 22877618.

    • Ankush Poddar
      March 24, 2014 at 11:21 PM

      Thanks Vijayendra. I managed to source them :-) Kitabghar Publications of Daryaganj, Delhi publishes translations of almost all of SLB’s works. Thanks again for your help

  10. N.V.Chandramouli
    March 19, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Sandeep- Thanks for bringing this wonderful work to the English speaking audience. It is really great to read this work. SLB has really brought out a great amount of facts very poignantly. It is a heart rending tale to read the Kashi Temple episode, the life of the prince of Devgarh, The facts about Tipu and his orientation is also very beautiful. On the whole a very worthwhile contribution. Your strong rebuttals to many of psuedo secular friends gets a bigger boost with this amazing contribution. Kudos to you.

  11. March 16, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    Very great work Sandeep. I am very eager to read the book!! Wish you all the best for future endeavors.

  12. Ankush Poddar
    March 12, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Hi Sandeep

    Congratulations!

    Would you be able to help me with Hindi translations of Shri Bhyrappa’s works? I checked with both Sahitya Academy and NBT but was told that they have not published any hindi translations of his works. I was looking for the Hindi works so that they have a larger readership within my family. Grateful if you could share name of any such publisher.

    Thank you

  13. March 11, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    Thank you. Will share this news among friends.

  14. Manjula
    March 9, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Congratulations!!!

  15. March 6, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    March 9 last chance to enroll as voter for 2014 LS Election
    Polls have been declared and you are still wondering if your name is there on the electoral rolls? Well, there is still a good chance that you will get to flash your inked finger on polling day. Come March 9, all eligible voters can verify their names on the rolls and apply for enrollment, if not registered, at their respective polling stations.
    http://myindiamypride47.blogspot.in/2014/02/register-to-vote.html

  16. rajeev
    March 3, 2014 at 7:58 PM

    Are English translation of his other books available ?

  17. Raghavendra
    March 3, 2014 at 7:13 PM

    Sandeep, Congratulations and many thanks for translating this book.

  18. Moonbeam
    March 3, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    What a touching write-up! Translations require so much more responsibility – of retaining the author’s voice, yet bringing in the flavour of a different language. Take a bow, Sandeep :)

  19. Samhita
    March 3, 2014 at 1:52 PM

    Please enable preview in Amazon! Lot of western readers were keen on the translation of the subject matter!

  20. March 1, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Thank you for bringing the story! As a non Kannadiga , I can only read in english and will read this . His life story truely most inspiring!!

  21. Vishwa
    February 28, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Every Hindu must read it.. I read it in kannada twice.

  22. Sam
    February 28, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    Ordered, and eagerly awaiting its delivery. Thank you very much for providing an English translation. The sepoys and their masters will be working overtime to play it down, and so it will be quite an achievement if this makes the English best-seller lists in India despite their best efforts. One could hope that some obscure Muslim group will attempt to ban it :-)

  23. Hari
    February 27, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Narrating entire lifestrory of SL bhyrappa, guess u missed to mention the name in the article..

  24. thinkingabout it
    February 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    hi sandeep is there any way to get this delivered in america by amazon?

  25. Nik
    February 26, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Hi Sandeep
    Congratulations and thanks for bringing this work to Non Kannada readers like me. It was fascinating to read Mr Byrappa’s brief biography. We need to see more details. I will surely look up for more information. If possible name the duo who ordered the stoning of his house. They deserved to be named and shamed.

  26. jag673
    February 25, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Thank you. your effort brings his genius to a wider audience. I have just started reading his Parva (translated in Tamil). I have got one more of his book to finish before i come to Aavarana.

  27. Prabhuram Ramachandran
    February 25, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    I had read the Tamil translation of Aavarana two years ago brought out by RSS and felt sad about the shoddy quality of translation and print. I am happy that you, who can be regarded as the best chela of SLB has translated the work to English. I am sure , with your depth of knowledge in the subject coupled with your admiration for SLB, you would have done the best justice to the work. I will buy the novel and reread.

    BTW, just about to complete reading of Saratha, another truly amazing work. Next in line is Mandira. Hope I soon will all the works in English.

    Thank you and good luck.

    • Sadda
      March 23, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      Not SARATHA, it is sartha. Not MANDIRA it is mandra

  28. VirtualPresence
    February 25, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Thank you Sandeep for your efforts in bringing this priceless work to a much wider audience. I did purchase the Kannada version and will be purchasing the translated version too. I hope we will get to read more of the legend’s works through your lens.

  29. paresh jadav
    February 25, 2014 at 4:24 AM

    Is the book available in USA?

  30. Adarsh
    February 25, 2014 at 4:02 AM

    Your reviews are wonderful to read and the best part is that they are honest. Kudos on the oppurtunity to translate a superb book!! Shows how much of respect SLB sir for you. Keep it going.

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