Girish Karnad’s diatribe against Sir V.S. Naipaul (Nov. 4) is baffling. The Nobel laureate did not write a cultural treatise for him to sing paeans of the Muslim contribution to India. As for his being silent on music, for a theatre artist like Mr. Karnad, music may matter a lot — even more than emblematic structures like temples, monuments, libraries, etc., whose destruction wouldn’t matter to him because they are apparently not the concern of the man on the street. For an anthropologist like Mr. Naipaul, chronicling an average Indian’s intellect, which he profusely attributed to centuries of intellectual stagnation and cultural slavery, it is the material and intellectual well-being that is paramount. Mr. Karnad’s needless criticism of a literary genius just because he did not raise a toast to the music of the Muslim era is unacceptable.
Mr. Naipaul has written extensively on issues of global significance in his travelogues. He may not be a connoisseur of music but calling him “tone-deaf” or “anti-Muslim” is unfair. Mr. Karnad was invited to give his views on theatre, which is his forte. Instead, he indulged in a political diatribe at a literary festival. Sir Vidia is not an Indian but he is of Indian ancestry.
By terming the Nobel laureate “tone-deaf” and an “unreliable” writer of non-fiction, Mr. Karnad has crossed all limits.
As a theatre artist, he should have confined his comments to the occasion and his subject.
It is not correct to say that Mr. Naipaul is against Muslims just because he has talked about certain happenings during the Muslim invasion of India. After all, history is only an interpretation, and Mr. Naipaul’s interpretation may not be as secular as that of Nehru.
In his India: a Million Mutinies Now, Mr. Naipaul is critical of both Hindus and Muslims and in The Enigma of Arrival (The Nobel Prize winning novel), he makes a Pundit say that the Gita is like the Koran and the Bible.