EMINENT MARATHI playwrights Mahesh Elkunchwar and Premanand Gajvi on Friday warned against growing religious fundamentalism.
They were speaking at the 99th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Sammelan in Nagpur on Friday.
“I am seriously wondering if we should use the word Natyadharmi for those involved in theatre art. The word Dharma is being lent a completely different meaning nowadays. I feel a bit scared due to the new meaning. Dharma had a very broad meaning. Maharshi Vyas has explained it to Yudhishthir. Vyas said that dharma is relieving others of their pain. But today, it is forcefully put forth that a particular meaning of dharma must be accepted by all, else you will be tagged anti-national,” Elkunchwar said at the inauguration of the event.
“I really wonder if we were very tolerant. Particularly our rulers. They were never tolerant. Safdar Hashmi was murdered, Salman Rushdie’s book was banned, Marathi plays Ghashiram Kotwal and Sakharam Binder were banned, Utpal Dutt’s play Kallol had to be staged with police security. So, I wonder if we should use the word Natyadharmi. Our values are testimony to our culture,” Elkunchwar added.
He said, “But why am I raising this point here? Because these things do affect our pursuits in the field of art and literature.”
Elkunchwar, who is rated among India’s topmost playwrights, referred to the Nayantara Sahgal controversy during the recent all-India Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. “I hold Sahgal in great esteem. She had written continuously against the Emergency in The Indian Express. Like her, I have also been asked to inaugurate this Sammelan. And I thought I must say a few things upfront.”
In his speech, Gajvi said, “I am a writer and all that happens around me leaves a great impact on my mind. From the perplexing decimation of Indus Valley civilisation up to the assault on participants of Bhima Koregaon Elgaar Parishad, fear has continued to haunt our lives. Our rulers have devised a new term called urban Naxalism.”
Gajvi added, “We must destroy everything that divides us. Caste is one such thing. Reservation system has become a disease the symptom of which is caste. Ambedkar had suggested to Gandhi that we should do away with the four Varnas and create only one Varna. But Gandhi insisted that we need Brahmins as gurus and that he firmly believed in Chaturvarnya. Had caste been annihilated then reservation would never have been necessary.”
“Nowadays, anyone can hold artists and writers to ransom, threaten with death and even kill. But nobody is penalised. On the contrary, these goons roam freely in the society. Where creation of new thought processes ends, that society is dead. Let’s resolve to make this world free of fear. That’s the only way to make this world a beautiful place,” he added.