Friday Review

The critical insider


Inti Namaskaragalu, by Nataraj Huliyar, is an important historical document since it tries to understand two major Kannada intellectuals, P. Lankesh and D.R. Nagaraj


A narrative on P.Lankesh and D.R.Nagaraj

by Nataraj Huliyar

Pallava Prakashana, Rs.180

P. Lankesh, one of the most vibrant social, political and cultural icons that Karnataka has witnessed, and D.R.Nagaraj, an author and a cultural theoretician par excellence are consciously brought together in this narrative by one of their admirer-associates, Nataraj Huliyar, a writer and critic. The nature of the association between the three, to start with, was that Huliyar worked as a contributing editor in Lankesh Patrike andNagaraj was his guide for writing his doctoral dissertation. He has edited two volumes of Lankesh’s editorials – Teeke Tippani and has written a deferential blurb to D.R.Nagaraj’s seminal book – Sahitya Kathana. He seems to have spent his intense intellectual moments with these two, particularly during the last years of their lives, which has enabled him to draw pictures of these two from his own perspective. The time that has elapsed, it is about fifteen years between their deaths and the present narrative, has made it possible for Huliyar to assume a bystander’s role in evaluating their lives and works. He is indeed quite candid about the two. He recognizes inherent merits and demerits of the two in all their contradictions and complexities.

Lankesh, according to Huliyar, was straight-forward and stiff; his bounteousness and meanness were not compatible; he was mischievous, at the same time had the temerity to oppose anyone with courage and conviction; he always felt ‘quarrels’ are the harbingers of creativity; he had the piercing eye for the details; he had the uncanny ability to catch the deceit in others; but was sometimes partially blind to insincerity; he was internally suffering in his efforts to make miseries of others his own; felt anxious if he was not praised but whenever he was, he got suspicious of praises; he was acutely sensitive amidst people who praised him; wanted to rule, but was aware of the predicament of power; was consciously impish if only to avoid becoming a sage.

On the other hand, as said in the narrative, Nagaraj was an eternally ablazing intellectual; strongly believed in intellectual power; had a strong urge to bring everything within a theoretical framework; could take cerebral leaps according to the occasion; wanted to become a child though fully aware that he could never be one. Huliyar feels that while Lankesh took a high moral stand on issues of public importance, Nagaraj tried to relate these issues through theory. Huliyar sometimes assumes the role of an arbitrator between the two. He finds the moral stand of Lankesh more desirable than the intellectual fervour of Nagaraj.

Huliyar takes us through all the writings of Lankesh and Nagaraj to delineate his understanding of the two. While concrete evidences are offered from their writings, most of the gaps in the narrative are filled up by his own views about them culled out from his own writings and interviews. He also makes use of their views which they purported to have expressed privately to him. The book places the two in a particular socio-cultural context in Kannada. Hence, historically, this book is valuable.

But, even if we agree that Lankesh and Nagaraj had certain weaknesses as portrayed in the book, they are of no importance to anyone.

It is not desirable to bring such issues into the public domain in a book like this as if their weaknesses were a part of their creativity. It is unfortunate that Huliyar seems to be eulogising their weaknesses if only to rationalize his own problems. This is not only being unsympathetic to the two, but also being unfair to them as this narrative is written when they are no more — they can neither disagree nor defend themselves. Besides, because of the lengthy excerpts from Huliyar’s own writings, the narrative gives an impression that he talks about himself more than the other two on whom the book is written.

It is apparent that Lankesh and Nagaraj shared almost the same ideological positions. Their socialist concerns were similar if not the same.

But, unfortunately, their differences were blown out of proportions by their own associates. The disagreements that were borne out of human follies (call it jealousy or intolerance or complexes) no doubt limited the scope of Lankesh-Nagaraj debates on various issues which could have made the intellectual climate of Karnataka much better.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:32:13 PM |

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