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Beau Ramirez
Beau Ramirez

How Dharmapuranam by O.V. Vijayan Changed Malayalam Literature and Indian Society

Dharmapuranam by O.V. Vijayan: A Satirical Masterpiece on Indian History and Society


Have you ever wondered what would happen if a mythical king returned to rule over a modern nation? How would he deal with the corruption, the violence, the poverty, and the injustice that plague our society? How would he cope with the changes in culture, technology, and politics that have transformed our world? And how would his subjects react to his presence, his actions, and his ideology?

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If you are curious about these questions, then you should read Dharmapuranam, a novel by O.V. Vijayan, one of the most acclaimed and influential writers of Malayalam literature. Dharmapuranam, which means The Saga of Dharmapuri, is a satirical masterpiece that exposes the veil of "decency" of our history and our hypocritical society. It is a novel that challenges our assumptions, provokes our thoughts, and entertains our imagination.

In this article, we will explore what Dharmapuranam is about, who O.V. Vijayan was, why Dharmapuranam is important, what it tells us about Indian history and society, how it was received and impacted by readers and critics, and what we can learn from it today.

What is Dharmapuranam?

Dharmapuranam is a novel that was first published in Malayalam in 1985 by DC Books. It is considered to be one of the most controversial and influential novels in Malayalam literature. It is also one of the most translated novels in Malayalam, having been translated into English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Urdu, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and many other languages.

Dharmapuranam is a novel that blends mythology, history, fantasy, satire, allegory, and realism. It tells the story of Prajapati (the creator god in Hindu mythology), who returns to earth after thousands of years to rule over Dharmapuri (a fictional country that resembles India). Prajapati claims to be the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi (the leader of India's independence movement) and promises to bring peace and prosperity to his people. However, he soon reveals his true nature as a tyrant who imposes his will on everyone and everything. He exploits his subjects for his own pleasure and power. He tortures his enemies with cruel punishments. He manipulates his allies with false promises. He destroys his rivals with ruthless wars. He violates his own laws with impunity. He creates his own religion with absurd rituals. He transforms Dharmapuri into a dystopian nightmare where chaos, violence, corruption, and madness reign supreme.

Dharmapuranam is a novel that explores the themes of power, violence, religion, morality, identity, history, and society. It questions the validity of our myths, legends, and heroes. It exposes the hypocrisy of our leaders, institutions, and values. It mocks the absurdity of our beliefs, customs, and traditions. It criticizes the brutality of our actions, policies, and systems. It challenges the reader to rethink their assumptions, opinions, and perspectives.

Who is O.V. Vijayan?

O.V. Vijayan (1930-2005) was a Malayalam writer, cartoonist, journalist, and political commentator. He was born in Palakkad district of Kerala state in India. He graduated from Victoria College in Palakkad and obtained a master's degree in English literature from Presidency College in Chennai. He worked as a lecturer, a journalist, and a cartoonist for various publications such as Shankar's Weekly, The Far Eastern Economic Review, The Hindu, and The Statesman. He was also a founding member of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), a popular science movement that aimed to spread scientific awareness and social activism among the masses.

O.V. Vijayan was one of the most prolific and versatile writers of Malayalam literature. He wrote novels, short stories, essays, memoirs, biographies, travelogues, children's books, and cartoons. He was also one of the most innovative and experimental writers of Malayalam literature. He experimented with different genres, styles, languages, and forms. He created his own vocabulary, syntax, and imagery. He blended realism with fantasy, humor with tragedy, satire with allegory.

O.V. Vijayan was best known for his first novel Khasakkinte Itihasam (The Legends of Khasak), which was published in 1969 after 12 years of writing and rewriting. It is considered to be a landmark in Malayalam literature and a modern classic in Indian literature. It tells the story of Ravi (a disillusioned young man who leaves his city life to teach in a remote village called Khasak) and his encounters with the people and the myths of Khasak. It is a novel that explores the themes of existentialism, spirituality, sexuality, and identity.

O.V. Vijayan was also known for his other novels such as Gurusagaram (The Infinity of Grace), Madhuram Gayathi (Sweet Gayatri), Pravachakante Vazhi (The Path of the Prophet), Thalamurakal (Generations), and Dharmapuranam. He also wrote several short story collections such as Kuttyedathi, Oru Neenda Rathriyude Ormakkayi, Aparanmarude Kathakal, Pithrutharpanam, Kadaltheerathu, Astrologerinte Veedu, Kaliyugam, Aksharathettukal, Pingala Parvam, Kure Kathakal, Mattamatangakalude Kathakal, Kure Sookshikkuka, Nizhalukalude Nattil, Munpe Parakkunna Pakshikal, Kure Sooryan Kure Vazhiyil, Aksharangalude Varthamanam, and Kure Jeevithangal Kure Maranangal 71b2f0854b


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