Memorial, Eulogy and Epiphany
“Hasyam Kama dahanam” is the example for hasya rasa or the emotion of humour… it does not really translate to humour. For a long time I never figured how Kama dahanam could be funny, I mean how can the burning of a man be funny?
Then I realized the word hasyam manifested here as “parody/ironic” that was my experience last Wednesday as I attended U.R.Ananthmurthy’s memorial meet organized by the Konkani writers.
I was never a U.R.Ananthmurthy fan yet I went to the condolence meeting organized by the Konkani Writers guild. There was this anger, the rage I had against this man, who maligned my community.
To me here was a man who maligned my community, and negated the journey’s of people who I revered through my childhood and teenage.
I leave pansies, the symbolic of free thought in memory of the Great Agnostic, who stood for equality, progress, free ideas and free lives against the superstition of bigotry and religious dogma. We need men like him today more than ever. His writings inspire us, and challenges the better angels of our nature when people open their hearts and minds to his simple, honest humanity thank goodness he was here… was the refrain.
I wondered if I was being a hypocrite or if I was at the wrong place.
There was talk of him being a Kannada revolutionary, who stood for the cause of Kannada language, he was made out as the lone Trojan fighting against the onslaught of other languages—Here was a voice that spoke for Kannada very recently the bastion of Kannada language, he was the face that the national media knew when victory was achieved but there have been a long martyrs to this cause like Vatala Nagaraj, Kinihanna Rai,Shankar Naag, and even Dr.Raj Kumar. These are people who nurtured the language and advocated it.
In the book Ghatshraddha he talks of a widow’s pregnancy and its fall out. It could be a story he has seen. I can point living examples of widows who have had discrete affairs and off springs, the community looking the other way allowing both the widow and her offspring dignity.
Samskara, he talks about the conservative Brahmancal society debating about another Brahmin being cremated. again I can quote examples where the Madhwa society has performed final rites, even if a man has broken the rules of the community.
The conservative Madhwa community he talks about has stood by so many women who had to face adversity. Of course they have been nasty to quite a few. Unfortunately the community only got defamed.
No matter how great his penmanship he did not have the depth of Bhairappa’s writing the candidness of Shivaram Karanth or the wit of Kailasam
He says he was thrown out of the community because of his marriage to a non-Brahmin. Would he stand next to shivaram karanth and claim this? shivaram karanth belonged to a generation before Ananthmurthy he married a non Brahmin and he was quite revered he was the keeper of the communities to extent he was referred to as Bhargava Karnatha. There was Mrs.Ruth Hande a German married into a traditional Brahmin house, she lived in the family house at Gangolli and was quite accepted.
My point is not deride Ananthmurthy but to request people not/ to belittle others be it the Madhwa community, the Kannada warriors.
Yet when the same Madhwa community wanted to honour him he accepted it, isn’t that ironic. Of course he claimed that when the community honoured him, they accepted him when they accept him they accept his act, then they would accept everyone who behaved like him. Of course remember the story of the prodigal son?
There is nothing better when something comes and hits you and you think ‘YES’ this was the precise epiphany I had here I was with my tirade against Ananthmurthy, ironically he probably didn’t know that I existed, yet in my eulogy I have to concede that he has carved his name on the heart and not the tombstone. A legacy etched into the mind of others and the stories they share about him. Mine included.
Here is where I perform the very tradition ‘Samskara’ of the Madhwa Brahmin community to its dead. It is called the “Dharmodhaka” where we release the soul from that emotion or Karma that binds us.
Mr. U.R.Ananthmurthy I let you go, by releasing my anger against you, for showing me the truth of my relationship with my community. however unpleasant I accept it Mr.Ananthmurthy my anger not about you and your take on the community, but my own relationship with community you are only instrumental in ensuring that I acknowledge it.