Bharat Sasne – Marathi Sahitya Sammelan

Bharat Sasne LE Marathi Sept 2022

Download PDF Here Live Encounters Magazine Special Marathi Edition September 2022.

95th All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan, Udgir, District Latur, Maharashtra, India.
Lecture by renowned Marathi writer, Bharat Sasne. Dated 22nd to 24th April 2022

The pdf has both the English translation and the original in Marathi.


Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Doctor of Laws, Honoris causa, Columbia University., 5 June 1952 | Photo: Columbia University Libraries.
Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Doctor of Laws, Honoris causa, Columbia University., 5 June 1952 | Photo: Columbia University Libraries.

I am extremely happy to speak before you as President of the 95th All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. I greet all the dignitaries who are present for this Sahitya Sammelan at Udgir: Shri Sharadchandra Pawar who has inaugurated this Sammelan, the Chief Guest and Dnyanpeeth Award Winner litterateur Shri Damodar Mauzo, Shri Amit Deshmukh, Guardian Minister of Latur District, the Chief Host of the Sammelan, Shri Sanjay Bansode, State Minister of Maharastra and Chief Coordinator of the Sammelan organised at Udaygiri Mahavidyalaya, Shri Basvaraj Patil-Nagralkar, Shri Ramchandra Tiruke and his colleagues, honourable Music Director Shri Hridaynath Mangeshkar, President of the All India Marathi Sahitya Maha-Mandal, Shri Kautikrao Dhale- Patil, Smt. Usha Tambe, Shri Milind Joshi, Shri Manohar Mhaisalkar and his other office bearers, all the dignitaries present on the stage and all the lovers of literature who are present here. Greeting you all, I now begin my presentation.

Friends! This Sammelan is being held at Udgir this year. This is a place that gives and spreads a message of friendship and affection. Five to six languages are being spoken around here. Communities that speak Marathi, Hindi, English, Urdu, Kannad and Telugu have been living happily together. There is no conflict owing to any language issues amongst the people here. This is quite a significant aspect in the contemporary society today.

This message is extremely helpful for us all as we are living in the times full of ill feeling and hatred amongst people. It is a matter of great pride for us that one of the original copies of the Indian Constitution is proudly and respectfully preserved in the library of Udaygiri College. Today I am extremely happy to speak before the people living here who are rational and aware of the values we need to cherish as well as all the lovers of literature who have come here from different places in and out of Maharashtra.

The historical and social importance of Udaygiri alias Udgir has already been underlined. A battle was fought here between the Nizam and the Marathas in 1760. Sadashivbhau defeated the Nizam here and hence preparation for the ensuing battle of historic importance at Panipat started only from Udgir.

The Maharashtra Education Society is set up here owing to the idealistic vision and inspiration of respected Swami Ramanand Teerth and Babasaheb Paranjape. The institution is working devotedly for shaping up a highly moral educational society. This institute is celebrating its Diamond jubilee now. I respectfully salute the educational work being done here by Principal N.Y. Dole.

This Sammelan is being held in Marathwada region. Marathi is born here. I salute the famous tradition of saints in Marathwada. This region has a legacy of great thinkers. I remember with respect poets and thought-provoking writers like Narhanr Kurundkar, Setumadhavrao Pagadi, B. Raghunath, N.S. Pohonerkar, Bhagwant Deshmukh, and Anant Bhalerao.

2.  Difficult time has come today…

 Friends! Difficult time has come today—is a despairing statement that all reflective writers have made at every step in the passage of time. In fact, we have already accepted this grand concept of ‘Time’ in our process of reflective tradition. Bhartruhari has said that Time sits quietly watching and enjoying the game of destiny by throwing men and women like gold coins on the alternate black and white squares in the form of day and night! I have been personally thrilled by this grand concept of Bhartruhari. This concept helps us to look within and think for ourselves. The question that pops up from this idea is, if Time itself is the prime mover and the end user in the game of life, who is the common man? Literature has not only to answer this question but also has an obligation to answer it.

We all know that ‘Time’ has held our finger and slowly taken us through its different epochs. We experienced the Age of Machinery. Then we experienced the Age of Technology. Then followed the Atomic Age and the Space Age. Now we have entered the ‘Age of Delusion.’ In this age, the common man has been deluded, he is hypnotised. Primarily, he has lost his speech. His living is filled and surrounded by an unknown threat and terror. It is expected that literature should talk about it, explain the present situation it neatly and clearly to us. Literature has already given us hints about it from time to time. I am going to talk about it at length in the second half of this presentation.

3.  Why an Author Writes: The Creative Process of Writing

Let us discuss about why an author writes before going into details.

Before an author becomes aware of the fact that his desire for communication is related directly to some abstract form of creativity, he goes through some sort of an ‘uncertain emotional state.’ This uncertainty shapes him and takes him on to the path of creativity.

As creative process is related to some ‘internal uncertainty,’ we find that highly talented creative artists often make a statement that they are uncertain. However, they don’t have an answer to the question: why they are uncertain. As an author, I too have faced this question and I want to answer that question.

Just as storms are created deep down inside a living planet owing to different chemicals and magnetic atmosphere therein, some restless storms are created in the brain of an author or artist. These storms are brain storms! They create various possibilities of creativity. This is one of the reasons for an artist to be uncertain.

An artist has to spend a good amount of energy to force something that exists in an abstract form in his mind into a concrete shape. An artist is not set free unless whatever he captures intuitively is expressed in some formal medium. This is an unavoidable curse inscribed forever on an artist’s or author’s forehead which he has to inevitably accept. Whatever he feels intuitively or unconsciously is not easy for him to express. Many times, it is expressed through inarticulate ways or means. The question that lies underneath is whether an artist ever feels to set himself free from this voluntarily self-imposed inner torment. Highly talented artists all over the world have noted down how they experienced this torment.

Creative and talented artists look at themselves as if they are examining a witness. It means, there is a dual role—of the ‘onlooker’ as well as the ‘one who looks at the onlooker.’ This role is excruciatingly painful. This ‘witness-bearing’ capability of the artist points its finger at the unknown. As their own self is a constituent part of the creative process, artists notice uncertainty which in turn makes them restless. There are no possibilities of creativity in certainty, hence the artist is afraid of certainty and is attracted towards uncertainty.

When an author goes through a period of sadhana—his internal process of creativity—he moves forward through uncertain emotional state. He fights with ‘the bull of uncertainty with pointed horns.’ It is said that Hemingway’s description of ‘bullfighting’ resembles a poem. But it is also a description of uncertain creative process. An author is wounded by the ‘bull’s horns.’ That he is ‘smitten’ by uncertainty may be a better description.

The author who is smitten by uncertainty tries to create something extraordinary. He is watching the common man caught up in an all-pervading and far-reaching game imposed by destiny. The author asks basic questions whether or not man’s physical existence has any significance. He watches man living the life of ants and insects. He is told that it is an act of some mahamaya, a violent female who creates an illusion in order to play with human lives. This naturally confuses the author who is caught up in a riddle about the very purpose of human life.

This riddle is about the complex web of living. While sorting it out, the author has to fight with the ‘bull of uncertainty with pointed horns.’ He moves around, with explosives in his brain like a cheetah inside his cage facing the uncertainty. The author accepts the challenge of creativity that has linked his umbilical cord with mankind, but the same makes him uncertain. These are some of the reasons of the author’s uncertainty. In a way, uncertainty functions as a boon for the author. During this uncertain period, a literary work is created from his unconscious mind. Hence, when an author is tranquil or relaxed, he is creatively dead. That is why the period of uncertainty in the author is his period of sadhana, his internal creativity.

4.  The Motive behind Writing

Many creative geniuses have written about the inevitability of their writing. Whenever an author writes, he has an urge to express something inevitable and infinite. When the author feels that something within him is on the verge of being inevitably revealed, there is no option for him but to write. As a result, whatever that appears on paper is called an ‘inspired quote.’ When all of a sudden, the wind starts blowing fiercely and doors and windows start quivering, the poet B.B. Borkar says, “a strange, marvellous wind is blowing.”

This is nothing but an inspired quote. Creative geniuses have written about the revelation of such inevitable and spontaneous energy ‘coming from somewhere’ deep within their own self. Saint poets have also witnessed such wonders of creativity. Saint Ramdas has said how letters reveal themselves naturally one after the other like a garland of pearls woven together in his writing. Saint Tulsidas has said that a poem flows like a stream in which water moves softly and smoothly. Whenever the inevitable expression gets revealed through a variety of media, talented artists note down their experiences about the same. In the context of Ramraksha, its composer Rishi Buddha-Kaushik has written that its inspiration came to him while he was dreaming in his sleep.

When something deep down in the author’s self begins to reveal itself in verbal form, a good or great work of art is born. Such self-revelation is created when its vibrations touch the hearts of others. When the author looks deep into the lives of common people who are fighting at different levels with all sorts of issues in life, he feels a sort of universal compassion for them in his heart which inspires him and he begins to write. It is then that he accepts suffering and pain of others which vibrate in his own heart. It is then that he writes projecting the very essence of human life. This is the fate of thoughtful and honest writers. In such writing, the purpose is no longer to entertain others or capture their intellectual attention.

The purpose of writing is to search for the common man. This becomes the last motive, the final purpose of all good writing. The motive behind my writing is to portray forever the common man as the focus of my writing and keep on searching all facets of his life endlessly.

5.  The Author’s Literary Loyalty

It is during the period of his sadhana, his inward potential creativity, that the author’s literary loyalties are decided. Literary loyalties are not born in a vacuum. The author’s loyalty to life needs to be transformed into literary loyalty. The basic question that matters in this context is whether you have developed any commitment in your mind for the multi-layered society that has surrounded you. It is absolutely essential to see whether the common man has become a subject of affinity and affection for you. This loyalty to life is connected to moral values as well.

6.  Worship of Values

 It is necessary that the author has to think seriously about permanent and temporary values. The reason for this is that finally the author has to accept permanent values. Psychology talks about introvert and extrovert tendencies. Intellectual critics have also made a distinction between two types of literature: literature of the inner circle and literature of the outer circle. The author therefore has to make an effort to search for elements connected to life which are included in the area of these two circles.

It seems that the following subjects are included in the content of literature of the inner circle: internal inspiration, impulse, sympathy, compassion, mercy, sacrifice, service to mankind, an abstract object named ‘love’, humanity and finally God. This list can be made more minute or be extended. These are permanent values. On the contrary, literature of the outer circle seems to include the following subjects: war, bloodshed, struggle for power, starvation, fighting, emotional and physical exploitation, politics, betrayal, poverty, unemployment, fear of and anxiety for survival, sexual cruelty and perversity and denial of the existence of God.

The author has to think about the contents of the inner circle and those of the outer circle in a comprehensive way. Looking into his writing and his own built-in individual nature, he has to find out to which circle he is more inclined. On that basis he has to reveal the core of his inner self. While doing this, he has to face an extremely complex tangle of ‘reality.’ Though people easily decide whether an author’s writing is realistic or not, for the author himself, it is not easy to resolve the abstract puzzle named reality; the author has to spend a lot of his energy resolving this puzzle.

7.  Reality

A type of literature known as realistic literature does exist. People often seem to insist on the author saying, ‘Your writing must be realistic.’ However, there may be different definitions of what realism is. It is always beneficial for the author to sort out the complexity of reality during his period of sadhana or his inward creativity. What we need to understand is that there never exists one single reality. One’s reality can be another’s dream. Therefore, the author has to keep alive an awareness in his consciousness that reality is relative, it changes from person to person. Reality keeps changing, although primarily it never changes. For example, permanent values or divine power never changes. Society changes, acceptability or approvals change, poverty and prosperity come and go, unemployment increases or decreases. Literature has to take a note of this changing reality.

Chhatrapati Shivaji. Image British Museum. Public domain.
Chhatrapati Shivaji. Image British Museum. Public domain.

8. Author’s Period of Sadhana

If it is the promise of literature that it has to reflect the suffering of the common man, it is needless to say that the common man becomes the focal point of literature. It is better for the author to accept this principle during his period of sadhana or inner creativity. The figure of common man should always be a subject of concern and curiosity for the author. It is necessary that the author has genuine concern with the common man, his life and living as well as his struggle for survival. When an author has curiosity about the common man’s state of delusion, he begins to think seriously about it. When he ponders over the process of how to mitigate the common man’s pain and suffering, it leads him to a benevolent state, lifting his writing to the level of greatness.

The author’s period of sadhana is the one which helps him connect with the centre of his ‘self.’ His own loyalties need to become clear during this period. While worshipping human values, he has to make efforts to transform the loyalties of his life into his literary loyalties. As a result, there comes a stage in his writing career when his content is followed by words. Naturally he is able to master the confusion between shades of words and shades of meanings. This is the period of extensive reading which in turn enables him to become truly knowledgeable.

If the author is able to capture subtleties and complexities in poetic and literary in language in his own expression during this period, his true, creative intellect or Ritambhara Pradnya (literally ‘truthful intellect’) can become awake. The spirituality which is hidden in the subtleties of human language and experience attracts the attention of the author during his sadhana period. No wonder, the author can’t afford to waste this extremely delicate period of sadhana.

The author has to be honest with himself and his own loyalties. This period of honesty begins during his period of sadhana. It should always be good that the author does the preparation to save himself from the useless attractions that befall him with great force. The author wants to reflect the entire firmament in his writing. He wants to capture the vast spread of life in the form of words in his writing. He has to make efforts to understand the abstract network of human relationships spread extensively around him. He has to reach at the edge of the mystery hidden in life.

In order to do this, the author has to enrich his sadhana period consciously and unconsciously. The author who achieves this, in turn, prepares himself to reach the path of success. Of course, before reaching there, he has to bear the pangs of creativity during his period of sadhana. That is why I have been calling the state of sadhana as a period of ‘fighting with the bull of pointed horns.’ Therefore, it should be worthwhile if the author becomes aware of his sadhana-kaal as a rare opportunity in his life.

When I realised that my writing was about to establish an intimate relationship with the eternal values of life and that it might achieve quite a high standard, in a flash, my mind became aware of the responsibility that had come upon my shoulder. No wonder, it woke me up. I was lucky that it gave me a rare opportunity of not letting me become impudent and insolent with unseemly pride.

9.  Author’s Commitment

If in the mind of an author an awareness is created, after he answers the questions, ‘Why does he write? And for whom is he writing?’, it should be looked upon as the beginning of a period to face difficulties cropping up before him. When the author shows concern and affinity about the minor battles that the common man has to fight in the system of his life, he is a little settled. That helps him become known in the literary world. From then onwards the ‘system’ insists that he remains ‘committed’ to it. By that time the system has already made an enquiry into the question whether he has the so called ‘social commitment.’ Then the pressure begins to increase on the author.

Sometimes, directly or indirectly, he is even asked arrogant questions: “O You! Who are you? Are you against the system? Or are you, its supporter? Which group do you belong to? In which flock have you reached now? When such questions create a noisy uproar, the author has to find a way entirely on his own in the light of his inner self. And for that he has a pay its price.

Some knowledgeable critic has said, “If a work of art is a ‘work of art,’ we have to look at it as a work of art.” It is not proper to impose the burden of our expectations on the author and literary works. However, we find that people don’t think about it. The author can be harassed or worried by this ‘ignorant burden’ imposed on him. He has to take care that such expectations do not become a hurdle in the process of his creativity. But the question to be answered is: ‘What after all is the author’s commitment?’ Personally, I consider, the common man is the centre of my writing. Therefore, my answer is, the soil to which the common man’s umbilical cord is linked and which in turn provides him basic nutrients of life—I am committed to that cord.

10.  My Writing and I

I have been writing for a long period of time. I have been expressing myself through a variety of literary forms like the short story, deergh katha or longer tales, novella, novel, drama, children’s literature and occasional literary writing. I got recognition from the people as well as the government. Up to now, around 39 of my books are published and my books have been honoured with various awards. While receiving such honours, an author has to face a theoretical question, ‘Why do you write?’ Such questions make him ponder over the issues involved. Then it also becomes the responsibility of the author to answer the question, ‘What are the basics that prompt him to write?’

Though I have tried different literary forms, I was recognised in the beginning as a short story writer; later on, I was conclusively accepted as a writer of deergh katha or longer tales. Though it is not expected to state here how the face of the short story form went on changing, I wish to state one event in the development of the short story which is generally ignored by most people.

The short story was community-oriented in the period before India’s Independence. After the disintegration of society in the post-independent era, when people began to live separately leaving the joint family system, several moral issues and tensions were created to disturb man’s mind. Those tensions were reflected in the psychological stories written during that time. As a consequence, the short story, which became individual-centric, was dominated by individualism. Today, however, the pendulum seems to swing in the opposite direction. The short story is becoming community-centric again.

The short story form has already been criticised as a secondary or minor literary form. This adverse criticism has its psychological effect on short story writers who were handling the form. Some of them hesitated  and stopped writing short stories, turning their attention to the novel. Whether this move had a positive effect on the writing of novels or not, is a debatable point. But it has certainly affected the short story form adversely. During this period, however, I went on writing short and long stories keeping my faith in the inner strength or potential of the short story form.

When both the short story and the long story were in a state of being neglected, I continued to write deergh katha. Some of the earlier writers had written deergh katha but the writing in this form couldn’t maintain its continuity. Some noteworthy critics said in their discussion that in such a period, my writing of deergh katha, with rejuvenating creativity, brought about a fresh new life into it. I hope this leaves no scope for self-praise on my part.

As per my opinion, the period between 1980 and 1990 was sensitive and significant as it brought about a commotion turning everything topsy-turvy. If we talk about the short story, we notice that writers were feeling dull and exhausted. As the conventional storytelling came to a halt and became dull and tepid, writers felt a need to completely set aside the old short story form and look for a new form. This was the period when the discussion of globalisation had started. The short stories, written during this period of restlessness, came before us in the next decade after 1990.

The list of the authors who gave a new form to the short story through a fresh expression is quite well-known. Though I cannot give the list of the authors extensively here owing to shortage of space, I remember their names respectfully. It is during this period that currents of dalit and regional literatures became more healthy and powerful.

What are the special features of the Marathi short story from 1990 to the present day? This has always been a matter of curiosity. Critics and scholars have carefully prepared a list of major and gifted short story writers after 1990. Of course, such a list can’t be complete. However, let us look at the list of some gifted authors who faced the changing reality of the post 1990 period and gave a fresh content to the short story in an inspired way. Names of the following authors need to be particularly mentioned: Rangnath Pathare, Milind Bokil, Pravin Patkar, Pratima Joshi, Bharat Sasne, Subodh Javdekar, Keshav Meshram, Sadanand Deshmukh, Arjun Vatkar, Rajan Gavas, Manohar Talhaar, Rajan Khan, Madhukar Dharmapurikar, Pankaj Kurulkar, Prakash

Narayan Sant, Anand Samant, Saniya, Asha Bage, Priya Tendulkar, Meghna Pethe, Rohini Kulkarni, Monika Gajendragadkar, Neerja, Urmila Pawar, Pratima Ingole, Nagnath Kotapalle and Ravindra Shobhane. However, amongst the new powerful writers who attempted to give innovative expression to their content, we will have to mention the names of Kiran Yele, Pranav Sakhdev, Kiran Gurav, Rishikesh Gupte, Shilpa Kamble, Asaram Lomate, Pankaj Bhosale, Ganesh Matkari and Sanjay Dhole. Of course, I know that this list is not complete. If scholars make the list up-to-date by including more names, it can become useful for us all.

After the advent of globalisation, its impact reached our doorsteps and started knocking on the doors. As a consequence, the Marathi short story during this postmodern period started changing not only its face but also its built-in nature. It became clear to all that one can probe into the human mind more effectively by using complex network made available by information and technology. As a result, the earlier psychoanalytic story reached deeper into human consciousness. Though this is true, the postmodern short story began to search for the mind of the universe. No wonder, it started moving again from individual to social life.

As the responses and sufferings of the minds of communities got reflected in it, once again it seemed that the short story which began from social life to individual life now started moving away from individual life to community life with greater energy. It is a sign of welcome that today’s short story appears to be more conscious, cautious and capable of taking a serious note of contemporary events and happenings.

During this period, short and long stories depicting the urban human life in metropolitan cities, powerful rural stories that treated the farmer as the focal point, longer tales reflecting Muslim men and women’s journey of suffering and realistic stories depicting a terrifying picture of bomb explosions, riots and casteist tensions as well as penetrating stories portraying the realistic exploitation of women’s life appeared in this period. It seems that the face of the short story after 1990 is changing. This face is closer to life, it is human and reflects lives of real men and women from the society. In my opinion, the short story after 1990 has made a substantial contribution to Indian fiction and its tradition.

11. Deergh Katha in the Postmodern Period

Scholars, however, have not paid much attention to a remarkable phenomenon that has happened around 1990 in the field of Marathi fiction. I therefore wish to speak about it rather extensively. That phenomenon is about the independent, and powerful emergence of the autonomous form of the longer tale called deergh katha in Marathi which cut itself off from the conventional space in fiction. If the novella is different from the novel form and therefore is considered an independent literary form, deergh Katha can naturally claim that it be granted an autonomous existence.

The form of deergh katha, we need to note, was attempted for the last 25 years and it is being written even today. It is finding its innovative ways of expression through experimentation. It is observed that different art forms are coming together exchanging their features in the postmodern period. Deergh katha, by finding an affinity with other art forms like stage plays, audio plays, drawing and painting, is expressing itself incorporating in it the strength of the novella. That is why a discussion is going on to treat deergh katha as an independent literary form. Deergh katha is being written in Hindi and other Indian languages too.

However, what should be its exact nature and how it can be accepted as a literary form is not decided even in those languages. An author like Uday Prakash complains about it in an introduction to one of his collections; he also expresses his helplessness in this regard.

Deergh katha has repeatedly insisted that it should be written using the ink of the short story, while using the substance of the novella. Though criticism in Marathi has granted autonomy to deergh katha by defining it, it has not given it an independent status or it has not recognised it as an independent literary form. Writers and critics from other languages seem to be curious about and interested in the theoretical discussion of deergh katha in Marathi.

They think that if deergh katha is given recognition and status in Marathi, the thought would also inspire and guide other languages. In short, the emerging form of deergh katha has the intrinsic potential to include in it the mixed and yet heterogenous lifestyle of the postmodern life and has the ability to present and comment on the contemporary situation around us, hence we need to look at the form of deergh katha with hope. This is the picture that we can visualise today.

It is absolutely necessary that Marathi criticism today should consider it as its its duty to create the terminology of this form and explain and clarify its technique to some extent so that it can contribute substantially to the critical understanding of fiction in general and deergh katha in particular. I have recently read a discussion about how Marathi literature has given to the world a gift in the form of Marathi deergh katha. I welcome this statement.

12.  Element of Mystery

Although seemingly praiseworthy, there is a complaint about my longer tales or deergh katha. It is said that they reflect an element of mystery, obscurity or have an enigmatic quality difficult to interpret. I need to talk about it a little. The purpose of literature is not just to appeal to the heart and the intellect of readers. Literature needs to go beyond it and search for the inconceivable profundity that exists within the circumference of life. The poet Mirza Ghalib has said,

Mirza Ghalib

‘Gaib’ means mysterious enigma. ‘Shuhood’ means witness. Now, ‘gaib- e-gaib’ means enigmatic mystery. The universe that we see is a part of an enigmatic mystery. And what we actually see, that spectacle, means watching a dream within our dream. We have to witness this dream within a dream. This seems to be the meaning of Ghalib. My longer tales or deergh katha try to give an expression to the inconceivable profundity or mystery, obscurity or dream- like reality and reality-like dream at the base of human life. Such complexity of life which is difficult to express and interpret has been expressed by many writers in the past in some or the other form. Ancient sages or rishis called it Jagan-mitthyaa: that the world is deceitful. My longer tales aspire to reveal this dream-like reality that exists at the bottom of common man’s life and living.

Critics have made the following statement while analysing my short stories and longer tales. Though truth gets incarnated in the course of the narrative, it gets enveloped in the presence of a myth. Therefore, truth becomes an illusion. As a result, whenever I try to touch the truth as an author, it has already gone faraway up to the horizon. Critics have noted that my longer tales try to follow the deceptive mirages of the common people. They have also noticed elements of ‘Magica realism’ in my literary style.

But there is a genuine difficulty for an author like me. If I wish to tell something new, it becomes difficult and complex to tell it through real circumstances, and if I try to tell something old, I find it awkward to tell.

The mystery of reality lies beyond the conflict between the appeal to the heart and the intellect of the reader, and the mystery too has a reality of its own.

13.  The Author’s Contemplation and Anxiety

An author who is by nature serious and contemplative about his writing has to present some of his serious thoughts on subjects which are inside and outside the sphere of literature. He has to express some of his anxiety about those subjects as well. Those anxieties could also be representative; and hence, I am placing them before the discerning and knowledgeable readers so that they too can think about them. The face of the common man is missing from the contemporary Marathi literature. Some years ago, this face was visible in the poems of Narayan Surve, sometimes in the plays of Vijay Tendulkar, in the poems of some poets like Santosh Pawar and in the writings of some realistic authors.

However, nowadays the face seems to be blurred, it is missing, it is lost. Even though a lot more entertaining and intellectual writing has been produced in recent times, this face is disappearing from the scene. I feel, literature should feel affinity about the life and living of the common man. If life is not reflected in literature, we must see why the common man is being deleted from the portrayal reflected in literature. If it is so, we will have to reinstate him there again. The author today is still caught up between Preyas and Shreyas, between the pleasant and the good. It is observed that he does not search for what is truth; he does not insist upon morality and does not study the extended life enveloping him.

Nowadays, the common man is in a state of delusion more than before. His blind journey is going on; some unknown, undiagnosed numbness has engulfed him in its grip. He desperately wants change. He wishes to have unexploited society. He does not want to be twisted and exploited by corruption. However, he is unable to understand how his suffering will be mitigated. He is thinking that some messiah would come one day, set him free and the situation would change. But no such messiah has come and his waiting has not been over.

Though visionary poets have given him some solace by saying that the dawn of hope would come tomorrow, they have also noted ironically that no such tomorrow would ever dawn. To keep waiting is the destiny of the common man. He is therefore scared. We are waiting to hear the announcement that he would be set free. But when would it come and from which platform? It is essential that literary fiction that brings justice to the common man comes into being.

Something strange has happened around us. In the field of literature, a strange feeling of scorn, disregard or ridicule—a tendency best expressed by a new coinage ‘Contemptism’—has spread around us. This contemptuous feeling has been cultivated for many years. If one is slandering or ridiculing someone at an individual level, there is no reason to worry about it because the opinions involved in it are personal. However, if a band of parasites, who are dependent on and functioning under someone’s aura and power, are sticking to their views and are spreading the so-called contempt and pollution, it becomes a matter of worry.

Owing to this feeling of contempt, the literary taste of Marathi readership is insulted; it also insults hard working writers and authors in Marathi literature. But unfortunately, this is hardly noticed. The followers who indulge in flimsy, irresponsible ridicule and contempt are not aware that they are damaging Marathi literature. This lack of awareness is due to an intellectual perversity of sorts created in their mindset. A senior playwright like Shri Mahesh Elkunchwar has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction in this context. But he is an exception. Generally, people avoid talking about such ‘Contemptism.’ And this is certainly a matter of worry.

We have driven out the element of wonder or surprise, which is called adbhut-rasa in Sanskrit, from children’s literature in Marathi. It is observed that children’s literature today has become dry, uninteresting, informative, full of mathematical and scientific puzzles. We have thrown and locked in a cellar characters like long-nosed witches, flying horses, adventurous princes and princesses. The unintelligent insistence on artificial affectation by our children’s literature has brought about this change. Psychology of children has clarified that kids who drink the potion of the adbhut-rasa in a tender age become intelligent, talented, sensitive and imaginative to develop their personality well. On the contrary, those who are kept away from the adbhut- rasa, become materialistic, dry, with undeveloped personality, unable to think and appreciate art and artistic qualities.

There is a wicked thought ingrained in the minds of civilizations from historical times which states that if a society or a culture is to be destroyed, the wealth of its knowledge should be destroyed. Aggressors have first destroyed libraries of other cultures. We however have made our libraries poorer, deplorable, negligible and allowed them to go to waste. This too is matter for us to worry.

I don’t have enough authority to comment on whether the condition of today’s research in Marathi literature is disappointing. However, as a common discerning reader of literature, I wish to ask a question. If in the overseas countries, manuscripts of authors like Shakespeare can be preserved, why have we not been able to preserve the handwritten manuscripts of our ‘master storytellers’? For example, why have we failed to make available the manuscripts of the great writings of Nathmadhav or G. N. Datar or others like them? In short, knowledgeable administrators need to speak up for this unpardonable neglect.

Friends, some critics have pointed out that the world of Marathi literature has always remained conventional, static, self-centred and unable to take note of reality. Some severe critical observations are as follows. Nothing noteworthy has been written in Marathi literary world about the freedom struggle. Not many echoes of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination are exhibited in Marathi literature.

Some serious criticism has stated that Marathi literature and Marathi writers have not properly grasped the genius of Mahatma Gandhi. Marathi literature has not taken any cognizance of events like the religion conversion of a big community, the great drought of 1972 and the subsequent destruction of farmers. If the weakness of Marathi literature lies in neglecting the present, a poignant question that comes to the fore is, how far can Marathi literature reflect the significant happenings that have taken place generally in India and particularly in Maharashtra?

Let me refer to an old question. Does Marathi literature of today feel some compassion about the life and living of the common man? One has to answer it in the negative even now. Many years ago, by giving the Urdu short story its human face, the Urdu author Sadat Hasan Munto placed it on a high pedestal. Munto’s short stories reflected total affection and compassion for the day-to-day life of prostitutes, coolies, doorkeepers, tonga-drivers and poor people who did physical hardships in the streets. Marathi short story hasn’t yet found a Munto. Even now Marathi hasn’t given us what can be called literature of compassion. We hardly find perceptive pictures of neglected classes of the poor and the downtrodden. We have to pay attention to this weakness too.

There are some linguistic issues in literature which need to be addressed here. Just as people are recognised by the clothes they wear, people can be recognised or identified by the language they speak. This criterion is stated in old texts. Who are the noble or high-born people? Generally, those who speak the classical language are noble. And what is the classical language? The one which the nobility speaks is the answer. This is stated ironically in Panini’s writings. Though scholars have not given a verdict, leaders of political parties have declared, ‘Sanskrit is the mother of all languages.’ Literature should worry about such statements. How can we identify people on the basis of language? What can we do about ancient languages like Pali? Who will vouchsafe for the fact that Urdu is an Indian language, not the language of Muslims?

We don’t find Marathi literature talking or discussing about the issue whether or not we are shaping up the Bharat that our Constitution has visualised. On the contrary, there is a talk going on in some corners about changing the Constitution. All these happenings have probably not been reflected in Marathi literature.

Some of these subjects in literature are a matter of worry and we need to contemplate on them.

14.  The Age of Delusion

Friends! I have now reached the second half of my presentation. I have already said, “Difficult time has come today.” I have also told you the grand idea of Bhartruhari and added that we have now entered into an all-consuming Age of Delusion. I wish to talk extensively about this Age of Delusion, this deceptive Age of Evil, this present age that has created tension and worry for us.

In addition to the idea of Bhartruhari (stated at the beginning), we find one more sensational concept in our tradition. Lord Mahadev himself is Time. He is selfless and disinterested. However, Gouri is the controller of time. It is said that owing to this control, time flows in an orderly and rhythmic way.

However, though she is the controller, she is Lord Mahadev’s wife. Hence, sometimes when Gouri lets her head rest on the chest of time, she goes to sleep. When such sleep occurs, kaalratra or the ‘dark night’ begins. During this period, the reins of the future of society are unknowingly placed in the hands of destroyers with childish understanding because it is the period of negligence and carelessness, it is the beginning of the dark night.

We have started getting signs and warnings of getting into the control of such evil destroyers. During such a period, I think, a contemplative author is worried or that he should be worried. We can only guess what sort of begging bowls these destroyers will place in the hands of our next generation in the near future. But we have already heard the warning bell of this drama to be staged.

When we were beating the ‘thaalis’ (metal plates), it made authors, thinkers and thoughtful people really worried. Unfortunately, the terrible context of beating of ‘thaalis’ is not known even to the rulers of our country. We get the following historical record about it: In the drought of Durgadevi, it did not rain for twelve years and the hungry, needy and beggarly people in the society were running about in all directions shouting again and again to ‘save’ them. Groups of such hungry and exhausted beggars started moving in search of food all over the lanes beating ‘thalis,’ and on the way they were attacking all those they met coming from opposite direction. Such dreadful clashes and struggles for capturing food is associated with the sound of beating of ‘thaalis.’

Some thinkers are whispering in a suppressed voice that inequality is rising nowadays. Poor people are turning beggars. Rich people are becoming super rich. There is a rapid division in the middle class; it is being quickly pushed into the category of lower middle class. Gaps amongst economic classes is widening. Probably in the future, the poor and economically backward classes will start an aggressive attack on those classes which are economically better than them. Gradually, out of such circumstances, a civil war will break out. Thinkers are pointing their finger at the happenings in South Africa. Scholars analysing such situations are giving a warning that such a circumstance may arise in our country. Listening to it, the author has become worried. He has heard the loud beating of the ‘thaalis’ and is watching the upcoming situation closely.

Moulana Rumi was born in Afghanistan’s Balkh province in 1207. He has given a warning to mankind long ago. Common men and women in a society have to create some sort of a system around them to carry out their material exchanges in day-to-day life. However, after selecting individuals to run this system, quite often common people have to suffer, they have to face tension and restlessness. Rumi has given its reason. Taking into consideration the population of that time and the ratio of the active individuals in the society, he has given the following example, which is significant. He has said,

Moulana Rumi

The meaning of the verse is as follows: Even though a thousand healthy men from the army are dead, the loss is not much. However, if a jester/joker assumes power, the loss incurred can never be recouped. Ahmak means a vidooshak, a jester or joker. However, the joker working in a circus is not implied here. It refers to the Fool with the mind and manners of a vidooshak. Sahibe ekhtiyaar means gaining power. The statement seems to suggest that the society will have to suffer acutely if it allows the Fool or the vidooshak to gain power. Moulana Rumi has explicitly suggested that we should be cautious about such persons with the tendencies of the vidushak. He has also pointed out that this vidushak tendency is quite cruel.

In addition to this, however, literature tells us that the author has to speak the truth and that too openly and fearlessly.

Abdul Bismillah, a writer in Hindi, has written a novella entitled ‘Dantkatha.’ I have translated this novella in Marathi. The translation is available in a book form now. A rooster or domesticated cock is running away from the community of butchers making all possible efforts to save his life. All the people who want to find and kill him are trying to pull him out of hiding but the rooster, stricken by the fear of death, continues to run away. Finally, while running on heedlessly, he enters and hides himself deep down in an empty drainage pipe. Now there is no way to move forward; the way to move back is also closed. Death can come any time. And now it is already night. In such a situation, the rooster begins to speak to the readers taking them into confidence. He starts telling them his memories from childhood.

Though we look at this narration as a tale told by a rooster about his memories, we begin to realize at the same time that the narrative being told here is not different from the life of common people like you and me. The narrative very much contains the rooster’s life in the dirty fowl-shelter with hens and chicks, their petty egoism and the resultant fights, struggles for love, small and big; in short, they all resemble conflicts in common man’s life. And on top of this struggle for survival for existence, there looms the unending shadow of terror let loose— the shadow of death extending forever! We realize, man also experiences the same and his life is no different from the rooster’s fear and sorrow.

There is our petty life, our petty systems of life and the constant fear that overshadows our minds. Man has been experiencing all this for years. However, at the end of the novella, when the dawn is approaching, this dying rooster crows loudly and fearlessly.

The crowing of the rooster as it were cuts off the enveloping sheet of darkness with a bright shining knife. He has left behind the terror- stricken petty feeling of safety as well as the fear that his loud crowing would reveal the location of his hiding place to his enemies. He wants to salute the rising sun! His fearless mind tries to control the petty fears gnawing at his guts.

By controlling this inner fear, he wants to greet and welcome tomorrow’s new emerging life. This is what the rooster’s tale tries to convey. Of late, most of the crowing of roosters has stopped around us. And the thick, dark soot of fear is engulfing the atmosphere around. It is in this context that the novella underlines the significance of loud fearless crowing. It is therefore linked to the Age of Delusion spreading around us. We are simply held spellbound. Literature has this quality to visualize the future and has the power to give us warnings through its prophetic vision before the calamities strike us and destroy us.

Insistence on truth and articulation of truth is the need of the hour. Moreover, that truth should be told fearlessly is also a need of the hour. However, many authors have told us why it is necessary that truth needs to be told loud and clear. In a Bangla novel, there is a character named Satyavan (speaker of truth) who functions as a symbol. Satyavan is giving a testimony in the court of law as a witness. As per rules, he has to testify only after taking an oath.

Though Truth gives a testimony, the voice of truth is not heard because of the noise around—the loud tick-ticking of the typewriter, the disturbing sound of cups and saucers in the canteen nearby, the low or loud talk of people amongst themselves. In short, there is the noisy and wasteful confusion of material life in which man has to make hectic efforts to survive. This suppresses the voice of truth though it always keeps emerging again. Truth always keeps up its narration. We only need to have ears to listen to it because it represents the voice of reason.

In the tumultuous uproar of life, this voice needs to be loud and clear, however feeble may sound. But the voice of truth never dies. The author with a prophetic vision keeps harping on it in his books. But we need to look for it and listen to his voice of truth; that is absolutely essential!

I have written a novel entitled “Aarasaa” (Mirror) which is not published yet. The plot outline is as follows: The mirror in the author’s house is broken. The author, quite unexpectedly, blurts out, ‘It’s good that the mirror is broken because mirrors any way have begun to speak the truth more than usual. The clan of mirrors hears this statement and they feel disappointed. Their representative comes to meet the author. Strangely enough, he looks like the author; but his figure is exactly the reverse. It means, the author’s right side is the mirror’s left side and so on. The representative of mirrors protests and says that it is the work of a mirror to tell or show the truth because a mirror is always truthful. Flattery is not a mirror’s dharma.

The mirror also says that some low-grade phony mirrors have come in the market now, they are good looking and they show you only what you want to see. For example, if you are fat, the mirror will show you in good shape and your grey hair will never look grey in the mirror. You can look impressive, successful, smart, handsome and otherworldly in the mirror. He is told, there is no shortage of such mirrors. On the contrary, he is also told, there is a secret organization of mirrors; it works while remaining underground; it speaks only the truth. To the question, ‘Mirror, mirror, tell me how I look?’ it clearly says, ‘You are not beautiful.’ That is why it is punished and is broken. Such a mirror is also a member of this organization.

When ‘Din-e-Ilahi’ (Religion of God) was founded by Badshah Akbar, there was a symbolic mirror; it has also joined that organization. Balshastri Jambhekar’s “Darpan” (Mirror) too is a member of this organization. These mirrors are old, they are not attractive. But they speak the truth. The author feels a ‘representative fear’ to meet the secret organization of these mirrors.

Fortunately, my novel is not yet published. But this fear is the reason behind it. This reason is known to many people too. But we can also search the reason behind this reason.

15. Amrutkaal: The Period of Elixir

Friends! It is said that Amrutkaal has begun. Is it because, India has now completed 75 years after her Independence? The author had heard about it but he was a little amazed. He tried to recall, but failed. Then he asked himself,

“What can it be? What is Amrutkaal?”

Presently he heard some movement around. The ‘common man’ who was hiding in the cartoon came stealthily forward at that time. He seemed to be excited and a little scared. He did not make a phone call because he had heard that mobiles can be used for spying. Looking here and there, he said,

“Didn’t you come to know? About Amrutkaal?”

When he realized that the author did not understand anything, the common man started  telling in a suppressed, scared  but excited voice. …..

Aho! What did that Rahu want? Just two drops of Amrut, the elixir of life, didn’t he? The poor fellow disguised himself in order to obtain it. He disguised himself as the devil to deceive all. He joined your banquet and sat in the front row ahead of you. You should have given him two drops of Amrut. But you didn’t.

You recognized him. You made him get up while he was sitting and eating with others. You insulted him. You ridiculed him. You reproached him. You laughed at him. But that wasn’t all. You also beheaded him. If you had not done so, he would have remained single; though a nuisance, still would have been alone! But with his head cut off, he was divided into two parts, one became two—Rahu was transformed into Rahu and Ketu. One had evil thoughts, while the other had inhuman strength. One had the intelligent head, the other had unintelligent body with troublesome strength…

The worshippers of Rahu are now moving about, trying to harass and torment you. They are all worshippers, disguised in multiple forms. They are evil-minded, trivial and disruptive; they want to take revenge. Of them, the first says, I am Kashi; the second says, I am Mathura. The third says, I am Dwarka, I am Ayodhya, I… I… I! These worshippers of Rahu are moving about in different forms. Sometimes they    become   protectors   of   culture.   Sometimes   they   become   proud nationalists. Sometimes they become astrologers, sometimes they become commentators; become political analysts, changing their caps.

One of them has become a Pied Piper, a flute player. They have given you a promise that they will get rid of your worries, they will play the pipe and take away all the rats in your house by hypnotizing them; and you have believed in them. As per the fable, many youngsters in the society are now hypnotized and are following the Pied Piper and the piper is taking them deep down into the abyss.

The common man began to speak further in a low voice… If he weren’t beheaded and given four drops of elixir, this situation wouldn’t have arisen. Now it is our destiny that we have to continue to tolerate the harassment of Rahu and Ketu. We can’t even consult the Chief Astrologer because he is already sold. They say, this is the will of fate for people like you who believe in fate. Amrutkaal is going on and a battle is on to obtain four drops of the elixir of life. A battle is going on for getting credit. Rahu’s worshippers are trying to take revenge.

When it seemed that the narration of the common man was over, the author asked,

“You mean. Things aren’t well, don’t you?”

As he heard the question, he hesitated and took a pause. Then he began to speak … ‘Really speaking, I shouldn’t have believed in their promise that tomorrow’s dawn would be beautiful, because no such dawn breaks tomorrow and that such a day never dawns.’ The common man does not like poetry or shayari. He has no knowledge either. But he touches his forehead stylishly with his hand. The meaning of his gesture is expressed in a poem by the Urdu poet named Daagh in these lines—

  Daag

The lines translate as follows: Such an error it was to trust your promises/ Through the night I waited, for this tragedy.

The author keeps looking at the helplessness of the common man.

16.  True and False

The author has come to know a secret news from the intellectuals who live on agitations and his heart beats have increased. He has heard that planning is afoot to give recognition to the book ‘Through the Looking-Glass’ as a national book. The author is bewildered and so he asks the intellectual the reason for that move. The intellectual tells him in suppressed voice that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote this novel under the pen name Lewis Carroll in 1871. As the author knows a little about it, he replies that the novel is written for children.

He gets an answer again in a low voice that anyway the intellectual level of the society today has gone down to the intellectual level of children. The protagonist of this novel is a girl named Alice. She enters into a mirror where the world is reversed: those who are on the left seem to be on the right and those who are to the right seem to be on the left. Agitators look nationalists.

Truth becomes falsehood and falsehood becomes truth.   Delusion is considered reality. Reality is looked upon as dream. For people who are hypnotized by the belief that whatever is shown to them is real, this is bound to be a ‘national book!’ The intellectual says that the gist of this novel lies in “Play with the relationship between something and nothing” as well as in “Unreal world of illogical behaviour.” It means, fantasy takes the place of reality and reality occupies the place of fantasy. Thus, it simply becomes a play with the mind and heart of the common people through such reversal. Listening to all this, the author becomes thoroughly dejected and helpless. He whispers to his own mind, ‘This is the beginning of the Age of Delusion, isn’t it?’

17.  The Author is Vigilant

The author is watching, He is observing. He is trying to understand. He has become aware. He has become sensitive and compassionate. The surrounding has made him restless. The author is worried. He is keeping an eye on the the common man’s overall deception.

The author is looking at the widespread ridiculing of rationalists and intellectuals; it is an open contempt of rationalism. He has also heard and watched that foolish pun on ‘Harvard’ (University) and ‘Hard work.’ The author is watching the insult of Goddess Sarswati and the worship of Goddess Laxmi. The author is questioning himself—and thereby others in the society, as well as the rulers of the country—whether the sensitive touch of the human hand is desensitized by counting of money which has turned the skin of man’s hand hard and callous. He is watching, with eyes wide open, helpless rationalists’ migration and entering into voluntary silence.

Someone is advocating the concept of ‘one country, one language, one book, one culture.’ The author smells a rat, a ‘method in madness’ in all this. But this is not just madness, it is also a deliberate instigative statement. This someone is also saying that Muslim and Christian cultures are not in existence, they are not even religions; if at all they exist, they are mere sects. Totally shocked, the listeners are trying to search for definition of culture. The author does not get involved in the confusion of definitions. He has clearly seen the hidden knife kept ready under the armpit.

Bewildered and confused, the author is observing the society. He notices that there are meaningless but dangerous divisive tendencies around us that are encouraging an exciting but disruptive game. Now, after that, there is a justification of some feature film too. As a result, films are divided into two types—your and ours. Art seems to be divided too. There is nuisance and trouble, hysteria and arrogance all around which is playing a game with the innocence minds of the public. He is watching how mankind is divided and how calculations of hatred and violence are planned.

Someone has said, we have got Independence as alms. We begged for Independence and hence was given to beggars. Were our freedom fighters begging? But we are watching with eyes wide open how unintelligent fools, who have no value at all, are insulting our freedom. Some so-called Sadhus are talking about killing Muslim community. They are also saying that those who believe in the Indian Constitution are going to die along with their children. Those who pronounce such a laughable curse—how can they be sadhus?

Once the author had gone to a town. The dogs tied in the courtyard of a big house started barking at him. The author complained about it to the owner of the house. He said, ‘Your dogs are barking at me.’ The owner of the house said, ‘We have not told the dogs to bark.’ The author said, ‘But you have also not told them not to bark either.’

The author observes that the worshippers of Saraswati are grieving and others are worshipping Laxmi arrogantly and shamefacedly. Barring a few incidents, there is no disturbance anywhere. There is an appalling silence. Nobody is speaking. Nobody is objecting. Everywhere around us has spread ‘a shrewd silence.’ This self-imposed silence has an element of selfishness. It has disdain and ridicule too. It has calculated precaution and practical materialism. It also has the strength to smash the suffering of the common people. It contains fear and terror, as well as tempting attraction. It has self-destruction and annihilation too.

18.  Suicide!

 The author has heard that poet Shankar Vaidya’s books of poems have committed suicide in their cupboard. It is said that the remaining books are going to commit suicide on 23rd April, the World Book Day! The author has also heard that the Indian Constitution from this cupboard has tried to commit suicide too. The author listens, the author sees, the author worries. Hardly someone else speaks, it can’t be denied. Some poets are speaking up. A poet named Ashok Bagve hears the ‘the commotion of speechless silence.’ He says,

Ashok Bagve

The commotion of speechless silence
Beyond the bloodshed of naked swords
Which left dazzling and bright.

And then the poet writes about the contemporary situation,

Poet
The sky is wailing in acute pain The earth is numb
Belief and confidence
In one another has disappeared…

Has belief and confidence disappeared? Of man’s belief in other human beings? Of States in the Centre? Of the Centre in the States? Of a friend in other friends? Of a society in other societies? Then the author asks a question to himself, what then is the support for man’s life and living?

Far away, a poet, who is not a foreigner but has lived abroad, is waiting for the fulfilment of promise given to him. He says that we got Independence by signing a contract with the destiny. Naturally, as per legal statement written in law books, promises have to be fulfilled. Just as you have the right to live, I have it too. One day, this nightmare will be over and the rule of the people will come back. Hence, the poet dreams, “Aur raj karegi khulk-e-khuda.’ The meaning of ‘khulk-e-khuda’ is the common people or godlike people. The author therefore is optimistic. Society too is optimistic. The society had expressed this hope long ago, ‘Idapida talo ani Bali che rajya yevo.’ (Let calamities be over and let the rule of Bali-raja come.)

The farmer is today’s Bali-raja. The author was listening to such statements up to yesterday. However, he is watching something else today. But he might speak up about it tomorrow. No, he should speak, he must definitely speak. If he doesn’t, it will be a blunder. If he does not speak, he will be a victim of that ‘shrewd silence.’

The author always insists on truth, he investigates truth and forever loves truth. To articulate truth, to reiterate truth openly and loudly is the role of the author. It is his dharma; it is also his duty. He might speak up tomorrow. He might tell all that the rooster, on the verge of death while hiding in the dark, would salute Satya-surya: (Sun as Truth) the rising sun and by using the knife of his loud and clear crowing, it would tear the loose texture of the sheet of darkness. His crowing is fearless.

And Truth also is giving its witness on oath. But the truth’s witness is the witness of reason; it is rational. This truthful witness is also articulated loudly and clearly. And mirrors, having accepted their dharma to speak truth, are also telling the truth without making any compromises. That is why, the author remembers here a poem by Jyotiba Phule. Jyotiba has always spoken the truth loud and clear. Jyotiba has said that truth is the parental home of all the religions, truth is the support of all happiness. Without truth, there is only darkness everywhere, and watching the power of truth, he says, the people disguised as imposters are scared and terrified. As a result, the author now is hopeful that the evil worshippers of Rahu will be terrified by the light of truth. In this way, the author remembers a lot. And yes!

Corona has taught mankind social distancing of keeping away from other persons. We have practiced this for quite some time. Corona taught us to wash our hands. But the people whose hands are smeared in blood, or are dipped in sin, are not even saying that they wish to ‘wash their hands,’ as Macbeth says in Shakespeare’s famous play.

The author is watching all this. He is recalling everything. But he must articulate whatever he has remembered up to now. Articulation of truth is the religion of the author. Fearlessness is his religion. He must remain true to his religion. Neither he nor the society can afford to forget his power of creativity.

To cut the story short, I have written rather extensively here because you asked me the question, ‘What is the author’s role and what is my role as an author?’ I strongly believe that ‘Achhe Din’ or ‘Good Days’ will come when the common man, hidden in your and my mind and brain, will start living fearlessly. It is but natural for the author to be optimistic; in fact, there is no alternative for him if he wants to survive. For the author, to be optimistic is as inevitable as breathing. What else can he do but to be optimistic?

I am thankful to you for listening to me patiently. Thank you!

Sant Tukaram. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma. Public domain.
Sant Tukaram. Painting by Raja Ravi Varma. Public domain.

© Bharat Sasne

Bharat Sasne is a major figure in the contemporary world of Marathi literature. Senior and expert critics of Marathi literature have classified him as an ‘Outstanding’ author. There is an extraordinary amalgam of high quality and rare variety in his literary writing. With an unmistakably individual idiom and imagination, he has not only handled but also left imprint of his genius on most of the diverse literary forms, formats, genres and styles. They include short story, long short story, novel, one act play and full length play, serious thought provoking articles, children’s literature, radio plays and critical writing on films. As a consequence, no wonder he is conceptualized and adjudged a versatile writer by readers and critics alike.

Although the subsidiary form of fiction called long short story or deergh katha existed even before Bharat Sasne began his writing career, it was not practiced, it was almost dead. Bharat Sasne rejuvenated this form giving it freshness of life and depth. He started writing extended short stories consciously after 1980 and has pioneered the epoch of deergh katha in Marathi fiction.

Bharat Sasne has published 44 books so far from different categories, including children literature. Many of his works are translated into different languages and six scholars so far have completed Ph.D. on his literature. He has received more than 40 renowned national and international awards. Recently he is selected as a president of All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in which he has delivered a speech which is acclaimed and discussed in many circles of the society.

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