Kannada writer and winner of Saraswati Samman S.L. Bhyrappa has questioned the perception that litterateurs should eschew religion and be atheists while reiterating his stance that literary works should reflect the developments in society.
Speaking after inaugurating the Dasara festival atop Chamundi Hills here on Sunday, Dr. Bhyrappa took potshots at writers denying the existence of god, saying their opinions were astonishing when viewed in the light of admission by scientists and astronomers that their knowledge of the universe was limited and they were still learning.
He said the Vedas and Upanishads declared that god could not be described nor could it be comprehended and it was without cause or effect. Scientists too admitted to their limitation of understanding the vast universe, but a few writers had spread the view that to be a litterateur one had to profess atheism, said Dr. Bhyrappa. “By that yardstick I am not a litterateur,” he added.
In the context of the Ayyappa temple issue and the legal dispute over alleged discrimination against women, Dr. Bhyrappa said he did not agree with the views of certain writers that women in Indian society had been suppressed. The ancient traditions of India accorded as much importance to women as to men so much so that it was not rigid about the gender of god, he said. This was evident in the concept of mother goddess and Shakti which embodied god in its female form in the Indian traditions which also espoused gender-neutral concepts while describing primeval force and energy, he added.
Even today, 50% of students entering professional courses such as medical and engineering were women, which was at variance with the view that women were suppressed, said Dr. Bhyrappa.
Referring to the 12th century social reformer Basavanna, Dr. Bhyrappa said his views on eradication of caste system and the concept of “work is worship” was relevant to the present times. The economic independence of women and urbanisation had led to a rise in inter-caste marriages and caste system was now weakening its grip at least in urban areas.
However, the concept of “work is worship” was more ingrained in the western nations than in India and he blamed politicians for playing havoc with work culture, especially of farmers.
Earlier, Dr. Bhyrappa, accompanied by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa and his Cabinet colleagues visited Sri Chamundeshwari temple to offer prayers and made floral offerings to the deity to signal the inauguration of Dasara.
The 10-day festival will see a slew of cultural and sporting events in Mysuru.