DHARMAPURANAM (THE SAGA OF DHARMAPURI)
Ootupulackal Velukkuty Vijayan (July 2, 1930 – March 30, 2005) was an Indian author and cartoonist, who was an important figure in modern Malayalam literature. He was born in Palakkad. Best known for his first novel Khasakkinte Itihasam, Vijayan has six novels, nine short-story collections, and nine collections of essays, memoirs and reflections. He is well versed in both Malayalam and English writing and has translated many of his works into English. Vijayan has been honoured with a number of awards. The government of India has awarded him with the Padma Bhushan.
O.V.Vijayan’s Dharmapuranam has gained a lot of critical acclaim. The book is a political and social satire. It narrates the story of Dharmapuri and mocks at the atrocities of the ruler the Parajapati. The Prajapati is stationed at the capital Santhigramam. Every mob of Dharmapuri considers Prajapati as the ultimate soul and his commands, service and presence are all considered to be auspicious. The work criticizes the capitalistic and socialistic patterns of development. Vijayan’s views support an autocratic form of government.
Another major character in the novel is Siddharthan, who is modeled on Gautham Buddha, though not a replica of the enlightened one. He is symbolized as Guru and provides valuable advices to act against the atrocities of the ruler. It is under Siddhartha that the revolt against the existing system is organized under the leadership of Parasharan, who used to be the commander in chief of the Prajapati.
There is also the Rashtrapitavu, referred to as Gosayiammavan, who is jailed. Other major characters in the novel are Lavanya the wife of Vatasenan and their son, Sunandana, who take refuge with Siddhartha. Also there is Hayavadanan, a male prostitute who eventually becomes a minister.
The readers have at first rejected the novel as a dirty work because of the open use of words like excreta of the Prajapati (Teettam). Moreover, sex plays a very important role in the novel. The novelist uses it to bring home the fact that everything is being commercialized in this world. When the ruler enjoys with the wives of his officers, his own wife is with some higher parties. This narration do not find place in the hearts of the common man. But gradually, the essence of symbolism was recognized by many.
There is an instant in the novel, when Dharmapuri goes into war with the neighbouring nation of Smarkhand. But it is soon revealed that the leaders have no enmity but only the nations. No one wins the battle, as each one makes the people believe that their motherland has won. Thus, the real looser in the battlefield are the poor soldiers who loose their lives, family and everything. This throws light on the meaninglessness of the battles fought across the world.
Reference is also made of the human trade of the period, the degeneration of the coming generations which is attributed to the ill mannered ways of the present generation. The children of the so called prostitutes are all born blind, as everything is extracted completely out of them.
Thus, the novel stands out as a piece of satire on the international system. It poses criticism on the existing political, economic and social systems. Viewed critically, the piece stands out as an example of symbolism. This novel has been translated into English by O.V.Vijayan himself.