Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Durgastamana(ದುರ್ಗಾಸ್ತಮಾನ ) by TaRaSu

Written in flat four and half months amidst illness and hospitalisation "Durgastamana" brought TaRaSu the Kendra Sahitya Academy award posthumously in 1985. It is inspiration on overdrive. It is TaRaSu's swan song. TaRaSu's forte is historical novels and he has reached the pinnacle of excellence in  Durgastamana.  TaRaSu has breathed and lived the life of Madakari Nayaka. The book is a  testimony to that fact.

Madakari Nayaka is a footnote in Indian history but he is the heart and soul of Durgastamana. Madakari Nayaka is Chitradurga and Chitradurga is  Madakari Nayaka. So complete is the identification. And for the people of Chitradurga Madakari Nayaka was not just a king  a ruler, he was  "our Madakari Nayaka" one of their own.  And so it is for TaRaSu another son of Chitradurga. He has paid his due to his homeland in full by writing Durgastamana .

Madakari Nayaka  son of Bharamappa Nayaka of Jaanakalludurga (a small fort town close to Chitradurga) becomes the king of Chitradurga  on the death of Kasturi Rangappa Nayaka II who dies childless. He is trained by the able Prime minister Kalli Narsappyya  and the dead king's mother. TaRaSu tells the tale of Madakari Nayaka as he first helps Hyder Ali as Hyder Ali goes about gobbling up all the small kingdoms more by guile and less by bravery. Time and again he betrays Madakari Nayaka and finally  Madakari Nayaka learns some hard lessons and switches sides. And finally dies protecting his beloved Chitradurga in an epic confrontation. 

What powerful imagery TaRaSu creates as  he tells the story of Chitradurga's and Karnataka's  brave heart Madakari Nayaka. Betrayed by  his  kith and kin and finally his own lieutenants Madakari Nayaka fights alone for his kingdom. Hyder Ali and his trusted Prime minister Purnayya spin a web of lies and deceit, erode the unity of Chitradurga's people in the guise of Jihad and win Chitradurga by guile what they could not by bravery.Yes all is fair in love and war, but the soul can feel, see and recognise valour, integrity, honesty  and bravery. And so it is here, Hyder Ali stands exposed naked. There would have been no Tipu Sultan fighting the English  if Madakari Nayaka had got him in one encounter. And now perhaps  I will never cry over the picture of Tipu sending his two children as guarantees to the English. So tarnished is the image of Hyder Ali and Purnayya.

Knowing history, with mounting dread I read the last 100 pages. I could  neither read nor put down the book over  the last 50 pages.  Frustration overwhelms you as you see Hyder Ali's tricks paying dividends and Madakari Nayaka losing.  TaRaSu builds up so strong a case in favour of Madkari Nayaka. The author identifies himself with his protagonist and takes you along with him. 

I close my eyes and  I hear battle cries. Night falls as Madakari Nayaka falls defending his beloved Durga(Chitradurga)  and his brother's cry " Anna , anna, Madakarianna" roams over the battlefield like a ghost. It seemed Durga  itself was  yearning for Madakari Nayaka. And  I, the reader yearned for him too. "Darkness fell. And day never dawned".  Symbolically on this sad and poignant note  TaRaSu  ends  his epic novel "Durgastamana".

TaRaSu plays with  the language so deftly to create the ambiance, the intrigues and the times of  Madakari Nayaka [mid 1700]. Every detail of the political and regional turmoil, the administrative and defence setup of Chitradurga and the  battle scenes are crafted exquisitely. Madakari Nayaka the person, the moral  conflicts that he faces and the choices that he makes are all detailed with great care. The detailing and emotions are so rich.  At no point does the pace slack, it moves from scene to scene with a fluidity that is  beautiful.  

Did TaRaSu get all the facts right?  Don't expect someone of TaRaSu's stature to deviate from it. Wikipedia itself says TaRaSu has actually set the record straight on Madakari Nayaka.  TaRaSu himself talks about the meticulous research that he did to unearth the truth about some myths surrounding Madakari Nayaka. There is a list of all  his references at the end. 

I always wondered why all tales of valour  were about the  Rajputs until now. Here is our own Madakari Nayaka  with a heart so big and brave and with none to rival him. And yes the "vanakay obbava" episode is chronicled in the novel. Jayanti who plays that role in the Kannada movie "Nagara Haavu" has aced it. My hair stands on end even now when I watch her.

Now I have got  to see Chitradurga's fort and salute Madakari Nayaka

Extracted from the review of : Suchetha

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