Bulbul Reference in Savarakar Essay is a ‘Metaphor’, says Author’s Wife

Following the clamor over a line from a class 8 Kannada second language textbook on VD Savarkar that went viral on social media for apparent “glorification” of the freedom fighter, the author’s wife issued a statement clarifying that the bulbul images are therein “nothing but a metaphor”

“Kalavannu Geddavaru” is a travelogue published by author K T Gatti about his experiences at the Andaman cellular jail, where the Hindutva leader was imprisoned.

The author argues of Savarkar’s jail cell, “There isn’t even a keyhole in Savarakar’s cell, still the Bulbul birds would come flying into the cell and roost on their wings, Savarkar would visit his motherland every day and return.”

Some social media users and others mocked the travelogue writer and the Karnataka government in feedback to this paragraph in the chapter. Gatti’s wife, Yashoda Ammembala, said in a statement her husband was “indisposed” and unable to clarify and that she could not speak on his behalf but could share some relevant details.

She declared, “concerning the bulbul imagery dispute, it goes without saying that it is nothing more than a metaphor. Much of the misunderstanding appears to be caused by the passage’s lack of context/reference, which might be due to an author’s oversight or editorial error.”

According to sources, bulbuls were plentiful in the region and they were an integral part of Andaman prison life, she said, pointing out that Savarkar’s association with bulbuls is part of local folklore, a fact noted in Savarkar’s autobiography and some other sources mentioned.

“We don’t know if the metaphor of Savarkar riding over bulbul was the author’s creation or if it is a story he picked up from any book or local source, but we can say for certain that the bulbul image per se did not spring from the author’s imagination,” she said, adding that many well-wishers of her husband had reached out asking for clarification and that the family was not aware of Gatti’s work being included in the textbook until this controversy broke out.”

The reference to Bulbul and some social media users said, Bulbul is a poetic expression or metaphor used by the author as part of his narrative and should not be taken literally.

Some had tried to poke fun at what was mentioned in the paragraph, tweeting photographs of animation resembling Savarkar perched on a bird, while another portion termed it the “destruction of the education system.” And “worst type of political propaganda”

Ammembala said that the article included in the 8th standard Kannada non-detailed textbook is a chapter from Gatti’s 1996 travelogue, “Nisargakanye Andaman,” and that it was included in the Kannada textbook as an example of “Pravasa Sahitya” (Travel ) has been included literature).”

She says “Note that it is part of the language syllabus, not the history syllabus. Because it is a travelogue, it is not intended as a source of historical fact,”

Further, Ammembala noted that Gatti’s account of Savarkar in the book contains nothing more than experiences of his Andaman prison experiences, and there is no mention of the nature of his role in the freedom struggle, or any detail about his ideology, Ammembala actually said: There is no mention of Savarkar in the author’s writings, suggesting that he had any information about Savarkar besides what is presented in the book.

“About 30 percent of the chapter contains quotations from the book ‘Swatantrya Veera Savarkar’ (Mathoor Krishnamurthy, 1966). Savarkar’s autobiography is also among the sources listed in the bibliography,” she said.

“Those familiar with K T Gatti’s literature are unlikely to assume that the metaphor was intended to glorify Savarkar by an admirer of his ideology, and may not need any clarification regarding this,” she said, recommending that those unfamiliar with his worldviews and interested in learning more read some of his works.

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