S. L. Bhyrappa

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S.L. Bhyrappa
Born Santeshivar Lingannaiah Bhyrappa
(1931-08-20) August 20, 1931 (age 82)
Santeshivara, Hassan district, Karnataka, India
Occupation Writer, novelist, professor
Nationality India
Genres Fiction, History


Santeshivara Lingannaiah Bhyrappa (Kannada: ಸಂತೇಶಿವರ ಲಿಂಗಣ್ಣಯ್ಯ ಭೈರಪ್ಪ) (born August 20, 1931), is a Kannada novelist, whose works are immensely popular both within and beyond Karnataka.[1] Bhyrappa is widely regarded as one of India's foremost modern-day writers.[2] His novels are unique in terms of theme, structure, and characterization.[3] He has been among the top selling authors of Kannada language. Books written by him and translated to Hindi and Marathi have also been top sellers for the past several years.[4] Most of his works reveal the theme of Advaita vedanta and search of truth.[citation needed] He has been awarded with the 20th Saraswati Samman for 2010.

Bhyrappa's works do not fit into any specific genre of contemporary Kannada literature such as Navodaya, Navya, Bandaya, or Dalita partly because of the range of topics they deal with. His major works have been the centre of several heated public debates and controversies.[1]


Early life[edit]

S L Bhyrappa (Santeshivara Lingannayya Bhyrappa) was born in a Hoysala Karnataka Brahmin family at Santeshivara, a remote village in Channarayapatna taluk of Hassan district, about 200 km from Bangalore. He lost his mother and brothers to Bubonic plague early in childhood and took on odd jobs and even begging to pay for his education. His childhood influences include the Kannada literature Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar. Bhyrappa briefly participated in the Indian freedom struggle when he was aged 13.

Bhyrappa completed his primary education in Channarayapatna taluk before moving to Mysore where he completed the rest of his education His autobiography, Bhitti (Wall) records a break in his high school education. Bhyrappa impulsively quit school, following his cousin's advice and wandered for a year with him. His sojourn led him to Mumbai, where he worked as a railway porter. In Mumbai he met a group of sadhus and joined them to seek spiritual solace. He wandered with them for a few months before returning to Mysore to resume his education.



S L Bhyrappa was a Lecturer of Philosophy at Sri Kadasiddheshwar College, Hubli, Sardar Patel University of Gujarat, NCERT Delhi, and the Regional College of Education, Mysore from which he retired in 1991. Bhyrappa has two sons, and lives with his wife in Mysore.


Starting with Dharmashree, first published in 1961, Bhyrappa has authored twenty novels in a career spanning six decades.

Vamshavruksha, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, Matadana and Nayi Neralu have been made into films and have bagged major awards. Vamshavruksha has received Kannada Sahitya Academy Award in 1966 and Daatu (Crossing Over) has received both Kannada and Kendra Sahitya Academy awards in 1975.[5] Parva has been the most discussed and applauded among all of his novels. It narrates the social structure, values and the mystery of mortality in the epoch of Mahabharata very effectively. Bhyrappa reconstructed Mahabharatha from sociological and anthropological angle, through metaphors in this novel.[6]


Bhyrappas novels have been translated into most Indian languages and English.[2] Bhyrappa has been the top selling author in Kannada for past 25 years and past 8 years in Marathi. He has also been among the top five best selling authors in Hindi.[4]

Most of his novels have been reprinted several times. His latest novel Aavarana was sold out even before its release. The novel went on to create a record in Indian literary world by witnessing 10 reprints within five months of its release.[7]

All his novels are published by Saahitya Bhandaara in Hubli, Karnataka.


Bhyrappa was the center of controversies in certain quarters because of his themes and positions.[1] Most of Bhyrappa's prominent novels (Vamshavruksha, Tabbaliyu Neenaade Magane, Parva, and Saartha) have strong roots in ancient Indian philosophical tradition, a fact which invited severe criticism initially from the Navya writers and from others later.

Bhyrappa supported N. R. Narayana Murthy when the latter was criticized by the media and the public regarding the controversy concerning playing an instrumental version of the national anthem. He also backed N. R. Narayana Murthy regarding Kaveri issue saying riots and protests are not going to solve the issue.[8]

Bhyrappa had a debate with Girish Karnad in Vijaya Karnataka regarding religious tolerance of Tippu Sultan. In Bhyrappa's novel Aavarana, he had accused Tippu Sultan as a religious fanatic who would not stand Hindus in his court. Bhyrappa had substantiated the argument based on the facts pointing to several historic references written in India during Tippu's rule. One of the references was the usage of Urdu word bin which is used to refer a person as a "son of" in Government of Karnataka offices even today. The source of the word had originated during the Tippu Sultans rule, which was one of the several methods used to influence Islamic rules on Hindus. There are numerous instances in his book, which stated various methods used by Tippu Sultan to convert Hindus to Islam, each of these instances clearly given with a sound historic reference in the book. This was criticized by Girish Karnad, who had glorified Tippu in his plays. Bhyrappa accused Karnad of being untruthful in giving factual account of Tippu Sultan in his plays and suggested him to read the references of his book Aavarana and understand the history of fanatic Islamic rulers in India before glorifying anyone by falsifying the truth.

U.R. Ananthamurthy was an early and prominent critic of Bhyrappa's novels. Bhyrappa has documented his debate with Ananthamurthy in Bhitti, as well as in a few essays in Naaneke Bareyuttene. Recently Bhyrappa's latest novel Avarana, which Bhyrappa claims as historical truths about what Islamic rule have done to Indian social/cultural life, has stirred a major controversy in Karnataka. There has been accusations that Bhyrappa is a Hindu fundamentalist who wants to divide society on the basis of history, an allegation which Bhyrappa himself anticipates and refutes in his novel Avarana.[9] U.R. Ananthamurthy, well known in Kannada literature, has criticised Bhyrappa and his works, terming Aavarana as dangerous. He said that Bhyrappa was a debater who "doesn't know what Hindu religion stands for" and "does not know how to write novels".[10] However Bhyrappa claims that the novel was result of his search for truth and there was no ulterior motive behind the novel. He urges critics to study the reference books mentioned in the novel before arriving at any conclusion.[11]




  • Gatha Janma (1955) Matteradu Kathegalu
  • Bheemakaaya (1958)
  • Belaku Mooditu (1959)
  • Dharmashree (1961)
  • Doora saridaru (1962)
  • Matadana (1965)
  • Vamshavruksha (1965)
  • Jalapaata (1967)
  • Naayi Neralu (1968)
  • Tabbaliyu neenaade magane (1968)
  • Gruhabhanga (1970)
  • Nirakarana (1971)
  • Grahana (1991)
  • Dhaatu (1972)
  • Anweshane (1976)
  • Parva(1979)
  • Nele (1983)
  • Saakshi (1986)
  • Anchu (1990)
  • Tantu (1993)
  • Saartha (1998)
  • Mandra (2001)
  • Aavarana (2007)
  • Kavalu (2010)


  • Bhitti (1996, reprinted:1997, 2000, 2006)


  • Satya mattu Soundarya (1966) (Doctoral thesis)
  • Saahitya mattu Prateeka (1967)
  • Kathe mattu Kathavastu (1969)
  • Naaneke Bareyuttene? (1980)
  • Sandarbha: Samvada (2011)

Bhyrappa's works translated into other languages[edit]

  • Dharmashree  : Sanskrit, Marathi
  • Vamshavruksha  : Telugu, Marathi, Hindi, Urdu, English
  • Nayi-Neralu  : Gujarati, Hindi
  • Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane  : Hindi
  • Gruhabhanga  : All 14 scheduled languages of India, English
  • Nirakarana  : Hindi
  • Daatu  : All 14 scheduled languages of India, English
  • Anveshana  : Marathi, Hindi
  • Parva  : Telugu, Marathi, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, English
  • Nele  : Hindi
  • Sakshi  : Hindi, English
  • Anchu  : Marathi, Hindi
  • Tantu  : Marathi, Hindi
  • Sartha  : Sanskrit, Marathi, Hindi, English
  • Aavarana  : Sanskrit, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil,English
  • Naneke Bareyuttene  : Marathi, English
  • Satya mattu Soundarya  : English
  • Bhitti  : Marathi, Hindi
  • Mandra  : Marathi, Hindi

Bhyrappa's novels on screen[edit]


Television series[edit]

  • Gruhabhanga
  • Daatu

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Still on top of the charts". Online webpage of The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu). January 28, 2005. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  2. ^ a b "S L Bhyrappa". Online Webpage of India book club. The India Club. Retrieved June 23, 2007. 
  3. ^ "Novelist S.L. Bhyrappa". Vikas Kamat on Kamat's Potpourri. Kamat's Potpourri. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b "Personalities of Mysore". Online Webpage of Dasara Committee. Mysore city corporation. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Awards 1955–2005". Online Webpage of Sahitya Academy. Sahitya Academy of India. Retrieved June 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Bhyrappa to receive Deraje Award". Online Webpage of The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu). February 10, 2007. Retrieved July 10, 2007. 
  7. ^ "Bhyrappas work speaks volumes; goes for 10th edition". Online Webpage of Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved June 23, 2007. 
  8. ^ "I stand by NRN: Bhyrappa". Online Webpage of Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  9. ^ "Masks of untruth". Online Webpage of The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu). June 8, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  10. ^ Bhyrappa a debater, not a story-teller, says URA Deccan Herald – May 28, 2007
  11. ^ "Bhyrappa hits out at critics". Online Webpage of The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu). June 5, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  12. ^ "T Bhyrappa given NTR literary award". Online Webpage of The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu). May 29, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  13. ^ "Change education system to protect literature: Bhyrappa". Online Webpage of The Hindu (Chennai, India: The Hindu). January 21, 2006. Retrieved June 22, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Mysore: Writer S L Bhyrappa Chosen for Rare Honour‍". 


  • Bhitti (Mural) by S.L. Bhyrappa, an autobiography
  • Naaneke Bareyuttene by S.L. Bhyrappa, a collection of essays about writing
  • S. L. Bhyrappa Badaku-Baraha by Nagaraj Neeragunda on S.L. Bhyrappa's life and works

External links and further reading[edit]

  • Interview with S L Bhyrappa – Times of India [1]
  • Pampa Award to Bhyrappa in 2001
  • Belagere Krishnashastri, Mareyaladeete, for a warm hearted interpretation of the author's experiences with Bhyrappa.
  • Bhyrappabhinandana, a feliciation book on S.L. Bhyrappa
  • S.L. Bhyrappa Avara Krutigala Vimarshe a collection of literary criticism on S.L.Bhyrappa's works compiled by Sumateendra Nadig
  • Mandra-Manthana, a collection of essays about S.L. Bhyrappa's novel, Mandra, by various literary critics