Hanuman, a mythological character from the Ramayana is known as ‘Agradoot’. Portraying his character and personality in his novel ‘Agradoot’, writer Mahabaleshwar Sail tries to highlight his importance in the epic. He talks to NT BUZZ about Hanuman’s role which is often overlooked
SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ
Writer and winner of the Saraswati Samman Award in 2016, Mahabaleshwar Sail presents the mythological character of Hanuman as a messenger in his upcoming book, ‘Agradoot’. The book will be released on August 30 at Sanskruti Bhavan, Panaji. ‘Agradoot’ is a messenger who passes on messages. The writer believes that Hanuman’s entire character is that of being a messenger.
Explaining this further he says that on the first occasion, Hanuman acts as a messenger of Sugriva where he meets Rama and Laxmana; the second instance is when he goes to Lanka to visit Sita, as a messenger of Rama; and the third time is when Rama sends Hanuman again as a messenger to his brother Bharat to look at the situation in Ayodhya.
Although Hanuman is often sidelined as a side character in Ramayana, he has a firm and strong identity. Sail believes that Hanuman is sincere and successfully performs all his duties. “Hanuman is a complete man. He is strong, believed to have a good physique and satisfactorily performs all his services, but he is never given the importance in Ramayana that he deserves,” opines Sail.
Sail has recreated the 5000-year-old scene when there was no proper language, and people would use symbols to communicate, trying to delve in the scenes of mythology. He says that the Ramayana has been written and adapted by many renowned writers and playwrights based on how they perceive history. However, here the writer of ‘Agradoot’ has tried to search the lost and untouched reality of this epic by specifically working on the character of Hanuman.
This book is his venture to seek out the identity of Hanuman, his personality and reality. He adds: “I was always attracted to Hanuman and his personality. I felt that we do not give his personality as much justice as we should. There is always something missing about him in every adaptation that I have tried to cover in my book.”
Sail took about one and a half year to write this book and spent much time in research. He tells us that writing a novel is a difficult task, and that a writer has to stay connected to his story at all times. He should hold on to the atmosphere and keep the flow of the story, the characters, their life, profession, culture, family, struggles, etc.
Sail lost his father, who was in the Indian Army when he was just fourteen and thus had to drop out of school when he was in standard 8. Back then, there was no concept of pension, and hence Sail began working hard in his farm for three years. He made a switch and joined army was fought the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. He tells us that he was disturbed looking around the area which was a mess after the war in terms of appearance. “These made me think… why do we fight and create such a mess? We unnecessarily ruin all our surroundings, nature and affect our own lives. And this refers to our nation as well as all the nations in this world. After the war, I wrote one small story which I consider as planting of the seed of my writing,” he recalls.
He always had a desire to read many books. So, while he was under military training in Pune, he visited libraries and read as much as he could. In 1972, he wrote his first short story for a Marathi magazine competition. This story was selected and well appreciated, that encouraged him to write more. “I think destiny wanted me to become a writer,” he chuckles.
Later, Sail began writing for some Marathi magazines. He wouldn’t be satisfied translating a few writings in Marathi, especially content related to agriculture and agrarian topic. So, when he moved to Majorda, he met Goa’s noted author Damodar Mauzo, and began reading Konkani books. Sail thought of trying to write his thoughts in Konkani and it was only when he began writing that he realised that his original ideas were coming out really well in Konkani. He says: “I remember that I would write fluently, I wouldn’t have to think of a word to write anything, as Konkani is my mother tongue. I didn’t have to struggle and search for a word like it happened while writing in Marathi. Writing in my language comforted and satisfied me as a writer.”
Sail is a writer who writes in Marathi as well as Konkani and this he says validates a fact as people debate over the superiority of languages. He personally believes that a person is free to use any language to express his thoughts. “I feel that a Konkani speaking person will have originality and flair in his writings when he writes in Konkani. I have experienced it; however it is not the language that matters to me. My writings that are based on my experience of living in forest or doing agricultural tasks can be written effortlessly in my mother tongue; I can’t express them so fluently in Marathi. However, there are certain other things that I prefer to write in Marathi,” he says.
“My experiences are my roots for writing,” Sail expresses. His literature in Marathi and Konkani revolves around the experiences he gathered while working on the farm, as an army man and the hardships he faced while growing up. He says that all these experiences live in person’s subconscious mind. In certain books, even if he does not intend to present his experiences, they take a different form and appear indirectly.
Speaking about winning the Saraswati Samman Puraskar in 2016, he tells us that for him it was satisfying that he was recognised for his writing. “This award is considered prestigious by various intellectuals in Delhi. For a writer to get recognition for his writing is a great success. It is motivation and encouragement to keep writing more and better myself.”
Sail has already begun his research on a new subject and is writing for Rajhauns Publications on a topic related to Portuguese colonisation.
(‘Agradoot’ by Mahabaleshwar Sail will be released on August 30 at Sanskruti Bhavan, Panaji.)