Monday, September 17, 2007


When I wrote the post about Pu La Deshpande as an introduction to the review of "Vyakti ani Valli", one of my friends suggested I make it a regular feature on my blog.

Given my schedule (and other excuses I can give if you want), here finally is the second post in the series, about Shivaji Sawant (August 31, 1940 – September 18, 2002), the author of one of the most celebrated Marathi novels, "Mrityunjaya".

At the age of 27, Shivaji Sawant wrote his famous novel, "मृत्युंजय" (Mrityunjaya - translation: "Conqueror of Death") about the life of Karna, one of the most complex characters in whole Mahabharat (which is filled with grey shaded individuals). The novel is in semi-autobiographical form, with many other characters near Karna telling the story of his and in turn, their lives. The novel won several accolades and awards, and was translated into 9 languages including Hindi and English (a fate I hope more Marathi books share).

He followed the success with "छावा" (Chhava - translation: Lion Cub), a novel based on the life of controversial Chhatrapati Sambhaji, the second Chhatrapati of Marathi kingdom. Sambhaji is also a very complex character, with life full of differences with his father and his father's ministers, and warring for 9 years against European and Indian enemies surrounding the kingdom as well as against his internal enemies, culminating in his torture and death at the hands of Aurangzeb. This “Warlike Prince” (as he was called by his Portugese enemies) was also a scholar and a poet, who wrote among other things, “Budhbhushanam”, a treatise on politics and other related fields.

The trioka of Shivaji Sawant's famous novels was completed by "युगंधर" (Yugandhar - yuga = Age, I am not so sure of translation) , a novel in the same mould as "Mrityunjaya" on the life of Krishna. Although Krishna is considered a God (in fact, one of the "avatars" of Vishnu), the novel concentrated on the exploits of Krishna as a leading man of his Age, a visionary with strong sense of justice and truth, shedding the layers put on the man, Krishna, by millenniums of mythology and stories.

I haven't read any of Shivaji Sawant's other novels. But the three novels I mentioned all show his prowess as an author, as well as his command on language. Apart from being thoroughly researched (even the fictional additions he made to classical Mahabharat story in his novels don't rankle), his novels are full of lyrical descriptions in true traditions of classical literature.

A former teacher, vice president of Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad and president of Baroda Sahitya Sammelan, Shivaji Sawant died of heart attack while contesting the post of president of 76th 'All India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan'.

Update: The review of Mrityujaya is up at "Lazy Habits".

- The Great Eagle Has Spoken

Quote of The Day:

A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.
- Edith Wharton (1862 - 1937)


silverine said...

Sorry for the OT comment, but I would love to know how a Punekar will handle questions like "Where is Maharashtra?" and "What do Maharashtrians drink?" etc :P

Fleiger said...

@Silverine: The answer to the first question would depend on whether you are a northie ("to the south") or southie ("to the north").

The second question would be answered by "water, like any normal human. So try and make an habit of it."

You see, the sarcasm of punekars doesn't stop at answering the question. The real art is to use double-entrande to make the person in front feel what he s, i.e. an inferior simpleton.

Keshi said...

**Conqueror of Death

and how do we do that?


Fleiger said...

@Keshi: How do we conquer death? By performing our duties, no matter at what cost. By being true to our selves, the world and our words. And doing all this, without expecting anything in return, but because it is our moral duty as a human.

The idea is not to do it by living forever, but by the deeds.

Keshi said...

I like that. cos deeds somehow last forever. THANKS!


Fleiger said...

@Keshi: It is one of the concepts told in Geeta.

Hinduism has a concept of 8 Chiranjeev (immortals), too. But characters like Karna, Pandavas, and others live on through their deeds (and sometimes mistakes) in collective concious.

Sandhya said...

I have just come across Mrityunjaya and Shivaji Sawant nad have been trying my best to get hold of it. The other books that you have mentioned by Sawant are very interesting...will look them up as well. thanks!!!

Fleiger said...

@Sandhya: Welcome to my blog... Glad you liked my post.

Shivaji Sawant is truly one of the best authors in Marathi. And Mrityunjaya is a book every person should read (Incidentally, have you read my review?). Do try and get your hands on it. And other books are also great, but for Chhava, you will need a bit of background on Sambhaji and maratha kingdom.

Also, can I direct you to my post on Pu. La. Deshpande?