Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rajasthan's literary heart beats in Borunda

Presenting a shawl to Vijaydan Detha at his humble residence in Borunda village in Rajasthan

The week before last I was in Borunda village which is located in the Marwar region of Rajasthan about 120 kilometers from Jodhpur. This non-descript small town has a local population of about 10,000.
Borund was in limelight due to the saturated media coverage of the infamous Bhanwari Devi murder incident that rocked Rajasthan and beyond.
En route, while seeking directions to the village, a teashop owner told me the way of Bhanwari Devi’s house in the village. But my reason for visiting Borunda in this punishing hot weather was very different. The purpose of my visit was to meet the great scholar-cum-writer, Vijaydan Detha aka Bijji, who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature. His is the voice (rather the rebel voice) of the rustic folk.
Mr Detha, at 86 plus years, is not able to move around. He stopped writing in 2007 but still carries out editing work. In this context, he once said to me,“Every time I find new mistakes in my work.”
Humble attitude and profound depth of knowledge personifies Detha who spends much of his time these days in his spartan 10 ft by 12 ft room. What he told me about his situation would echo in my ears forever:
Main zinda hoon lekin likh nahi sakta, yeh maut se kahni bari tragedy hai.
(I am alive but cannot write; this is a far greater tragedy than death)
Who would believe that a village boy, who used to tend goats would one day become a doyen of Rajasthani literature, would reside in this small picturesque town of Borunda 30-40 kilometers from Meerta Road Town or Meera Bai's home town.
Detha's contribution to the Rajasthani literature remains unrivalled. The famous movie Paheli was based on his work Duvidha. He was influenced by the 19th Century Russian literature. In the early 1950s he responded to an inner voice that said - “If I didn’t return to my village and write in Rajasthani, I would remain a mediocre writer.” This indeed was a momentous decisionfor the future of Rajasthani literature.
Vijaydan Detha considers Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay to be first major inspiration or guru. Chekov and Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore (much later in life) were the other pillars of inspiration. In fact when I met him he said that he was very happy to see me as I was from Bengal which is Tagore's land.He said two of the three persons who inspired him are from Bengal. However, it has been decades since he last visited Kolkata and that old world imagery of Calcutta remains etched in his mind.
One of his early works (1948) - Bapu ke Teen Hatyare - a critique of literary luminaries Harivansh Rai Bacchan, Sumitranandan Pant and NarendraSharma, created a storm at that time. Detha wrote, “Nathuram Godse may have killed Gandhi physically, but these three writers killed his soul.” And thus began the epic literary journey of this folk rebel who has never looked back since.
My trip to Borunda to meet the octogenarian one-man institution was quite like a pilgrimage. To sum up, I think the literary heart of Rajasthan beats in Borunda, and in Detha.
It is said that genuine work never demands publicity to acheive some thing. Who has an idea that a person living in this small village will be nominated for Nobel Prize. No wonder pen is mightier than the sword.
I will be be leaving for Jaipur today afternoon.
ess bee

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