Did You Know These Books Are Banned in India – II
I am back with more banned books and looking at the history, I might continue this column for quite a long period! India has always thrown strong reactions to books that stir up some dirt from different layers of the society. It is not solely about books dealing with religion, there is every sphere that holds a record of works being banned for various reasons.
In the second part on banned books (read the First Part here), my focus is on books written in regional languages and banned in a few states or across the country. You will be surprised to find a whole lot of interesting books on this list:
Rangila Rasool (1924) – It is probably the first documented instance of a book to be banned in India, in as early as 1924. The book was more like a pamphlet, written in Urdu by an author whose name was never revealed by the publisher. The book is supposed to be retaliation by the Arya Samaj against a Muslim youth who published a pamphlet depicting Sita as a prostitute. Rangila Rasool was written primarily to describe Prophet Muhammad’s relationship with women and was banned in Punjab. The publisher was arrested and later acquitted because, quite funnily, there was no law to counter insult to religion in the British era. The publisher, Rajpal, was stabbed to death by Ilm-ud-din, who was sentenced to death later. Maulana Sanaullah Amritsari in his book Muqaddas Rasool refuted all the allegations made in Rangila Rasool.
Is it still banned? Yes, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Goodreads claims it is written by Pandit M. A. Chamupati and people have read and reviewed it too. You might want to check out the reviews here: Rangila Rasool on goodreads.com
Dhundhi (2013) – This Kannada novel literally means search. Yogesh Master wrote this one and stirred controversy by suggesting that Lord Ganesha is the result of Parvati’s illicit relationship. Quite the outrageous topic that it is, it booked the author under the Indian Penal Code too. Several Hindu organisations protested against the author and demanded a ban. This is surely a hell of a topic to be included into a novel!
Is it still banned? Yes, not listed on any online portal.
Madhorubhagan (2015) – When award winning writer and poet Perumal Murugan asked his publishers to recall all copies of this book and announced that he is quitting writing, the news created a huge stir in the Indian literary scenario. Madhurobhagan has been translated into English (One Part Woman) and published by Penguin Books. The ruling political party and other Hindu organisations raised protests against the book alleging that Murugan had portrayed the Kailashanathar Temple and its women devotees in a negative light. Murugan has been highly praised for the other books he wrote and was even shortlisted for the Kiriyama Prize in 2005. His books have been translated in English and widely read.
Is it still banned? No, the English translation is available.
Prajapati (1967) – Samaresh Basu has been floating in controversy since long with more than one book teetering on the edges of being banned. Prajapati (Butterfly) was published periodically in Desh, a reputed Bangla magazine. The story begins as Sukhen, a young boy in a dysfunctional family tries to catch a butterfly. Samaresh Basu is well known for portraying and exposing the maladies in various layers of our society. A lawyer filed charges of obscenity against the book, its author and publisher. His allegations were backed by the lower and higher courts and the book was banned in West Bengal in 1968. After 17 years, the Supreme Court gave a positive verdict and the ban was lifted. Since then, the book has sold more than 50,000 copies.
Is it still banned? No, it is available in Bangla.
The Epic of Shivaji by James Laine (2001) – This book is a translation of Kavindra Paramananda’s Sivabharata, who was the court poet of Maharaja Shivaji. The original is a Sanskrit epic with poems on Shivaji, Maloji and Shahji’s feats. It is a historical book as well as an epic with laudatory poems. The translation was published by Orient Longman in 2001 and faced controversy regarding derogatory references, being subsequently banned in Maharashtra.
Is it still banned? Looks like that is the case. The book is listed as out-of-stock in every online book portal.
I will be back with more such books in India while you pick up any of the ones available in this list. If you manage to read any of them, do let me know if you think it deserved a ban?