Mysuru: Saraswathi Samman awardee Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa, a Kannada writer, in a brilliant exposition of philosophy, literature and writing novels, captured the attention of a packed hall at Senate Bhavan in the beautiful and sprawling Manasagangothri campus here.
He was delivering the inaugural address after declaring open the Mysuru Literary Fest organised by the Mysore Literary Association here this morning and said, “A literary person without a good foundation of philosophy is shallow and philosophy person without a content of literature is dry.” The eminent Kannada writer, who has a large fan following, spoke in English at the Fest.
Dwelling at length on how he started his journey as a writer, he said: “I did my Ph.D under the guidance of Dr. Jawdekar who wanted me to pursue philosophy. But when I told him that my interest has changed and I am pursuing creative writing in Kannada, he was very upset. He said your interest has changed to a devil called literature. But, when I sent a copy of my novel ‘Vamshavriksha,’ he said your philosophy is not dead. You continue writing novels and then he presented me a new suit — a guide presenting instead of a student presenting!”
Bhyrappa, whose main interest is talking about death has he had buried his five-year-old younger brother at the age of 15 and lost his two elder brothers and mother to plague said, “The world of European philosophy and English writers talk about wonders whereas in Indian philosophy, they talk about death. The two great influences in my writings have been the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Ramayana is poetry while Mahabharata is more concrete.”
Recalling about his quest to understand death and how he met philosophy Professor Yamunacharya who gave him a book on ‘Katopanishad’ and asked him to study it, Bhyrappa said “I understood the story of Nachiketha but realised my limitations of understanding it. When I went back to Prof. Yamunacharya he asked me to study philosophy as a subject. Hence, I did my B.A and M.A. in philosophy and I developed an interest in aesthetics. I came in contact with Professor of Literature Bharath Singh who introduced me to Anand Coomerswamy’s writings. I read almost all his books and my D.Litt was on aesthetics.”
When he wrote Vamshavriksha, many ‘navya’ writers, who were influenced by writings of Shakespeare, Coleridge and Wordsworth, started criticising him. Even the Sunday supplement editors, who were influenced by this kind of writing and promoting ‘navya’ writers, were opposed to him. “I always feel that litterateurs must have a strong foundation in philosophy and only then they can be good writers.”
He concluded his thought -provoking address by giving the example of Vyasa, who wrote the Mahabharata. “I do not know whether Vyasa dictated Mahabharata to Ganesha or he himself wrote it. Whether Mahabharata is a myth or true story but, I strongly feel Vyasa was a participant in Mahabharata. I feel Mahabharata is ‘Itihasa’ while Ramayana is ‘kavya’. Vyasa wrote Mahabharata sitting in the Vyasaguha in Badrinath at a height of 10,000 ft,” said Bhyrappa and added “if you go to that height you get a synoptic vision of everything that takes place in India. It is only then you get the height and depth of what is life and philosophy.”
Earlier, writer Dr. H.S. Shivanna welcomed. President of Mysore Literary Association Prof. K.C. Belliappa spoke about the aims and objectives of the association. Secretary Reginald Wesley proposed the vote of thanks. Star of Mysore is the media partner for Mysuru Literary Fest.
Eminent historian Dr. Ramachandra Guha, novelist Shashi Deshpande, distinguished scholar and critic Prof. Harish Trivedi, well-known novelist Kavery Nambisan are speaking at the festival.
In the evening, there will be a panel discussion on “Role of Media Today,” in which K.B. Ganapathy, Editor-in-Chief, Star of Mysore, writer from Kodagu C.P. Belliappa and Adman R.V. Rajan from Chennai will participate. The Fest will end with a grand violin concert by Mysore Nagaraj and Dr. Mysore Manjunath and party.