Aavarana: The Veil – by SL Bhyrappa

aavarana_bookAavarana: The Veil – by SL Bhyrappa

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 ‘Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.’ – George Santayana

Broadly speaking, literature can be divided into 2 parts: 

  • Fiction: which is based on the author’s imagination.
  • Non-fiction: which is based on existing facts researched or consolidated by an author.

By the looks of it, one might feel tempted to conclude that fiction is relatively more challenging because it requires the author’s creativity & imagination skills. But in reality, it is the non-fiction writers who are actually answerable to the society, future generations and also to their own moral conscience, which makes their work not just challenging but influential & accountable as well.

As the popular saying goes “Truth is bitter”, it is precisely this concern which haunts non-fiction writers. More so in the case of those narrating history. Despite successfully embarking upon intensive research lasting several months or years, historians eventually face a moral dilemma of whether to call a spade a spade, thereby offending a few, or whether to sugarcoat it or worse, distort it and remain on the good books of everybody, at the cost of ethics & credibility. Unfortunately, of late, several historians have chosen the latter. They have resorted to manipulation of facts, either due to their political/ideological leanings, or to please their bosses, which has resulted in distortion of Indian history. When questioned about the intention behind such distortions, the authors invariably cite “creative freedom”, thereby not only making a mockery of themselves, but also misleading young minds & future generations into falsified history.

Few years ago, S. L. Bhyrappa (a renowned & respected author), decided to venture in his “quest for truth” and during the process, was dismayed to find that distorted history had become ubiquitous. (i.e Everywhere from schools to colleges to television, newspapers and even serious literature.)

With the help of 59 books, authorized documents from emperors & travelogues from medieval ages as references, Bhyrappa finally came up with his book titled “Aavarana”, which as expected had infuriated several such authors who were distorting history in the name of “creative freedom”. Even without reading it completely, few eminent writers termed it controversial.

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Despite such severe backlash from several sections, the very fact that nobody till date has been able to counter even a single point in “Aavarana”, is sufficient to prove the credibility of Bhyrappa’s work.

Bhyrappa explains the intention & thought process behind the book in his preface itself to alert the reader and cautions him brace himself for a turbulent narration spanning over the next 350 pages. Here is an excerpt from his interview in which he elaborates it further:

prefaceInterestingly, Bhyrappa uses an innovative genre called “Story within a story” ( and takes it further by encapsulating multiple layers of stories within stories which is very rare especially in books related to history) to combine fiction & non-fiction to present findings of his intensive research.  At the surface, this is a story of a Hindu born woman named Lakshmi who associates herself with the ideology called “Progressive” & falls in love with a Muslim man named Amir who also proudly associates himself with the “Progressive” movement. Under the auspices of their Professor & Mentor (Sastry) who was the forerunner of “Progressive” movement, they decide to get married.

But underlying that layer is the story of the difficulties faced due to marriage under Sharia Law. Despite the couple proudly calling themselves progressives, Amir convinces Lakshmi to convert to Islam (Love Jihad ?), assuring her that it is just for the sake of formality and to achieve the “larger purpose” of progressives.

progressive_marriageAlthough skeptical initially, Lakshmi falls for the bait finally, in the pretext of love, much against the wishes of her father, who in turn disowns her from the family. After marriage, her troubles with the husband (due to religious incompatibility) slowly start taking shape. Her in-laws expect her to be orthodox, with full clothing including burqa and avoid going outdoors. Her husband expects her to eat beef. The situation turns hostile to the extent of Lakshmi going back to her village and living alone.

amirWithin this fictitious story of Amir & Lakshmi, Bhyrappa has encapsulated 3 layers of non-fiction which run parallel to each other throughout the book. They are:

1) Atrocities of invaders
Bhyrappa frequently & seamlessly switches to this narration with the help of characters within the story narrating their own stories through dialogues to explain how invaders had ruthlessly destroyed cultures, plundered wealth, forcefully converted millions & created power structures enslaving all other kingdoms. Although the characters are fictitious, the stories they reveal are factual and can be verified from sources & references by the readers themselves.


2) Philosophy of invasions & introspection
It is in this layer that Bhyrappa unveils his philosophical thinking (He was a professor of philosophy for several decades). Using fictitious characters to build this sub-story, he questions the very need of invasions, the philosophy of religious tolerance/intolerance which might not only disturb the reader but evokes introspection as well.


3) Distortion of history by the so called progressives
In this layer, Bhyrappa, equipped with his solid research, uses fictitious characters to form a plot through which he attacks the so called progressive intellectuals and tears them apart using his non-fiction, historical research & rebuttals.  The strategy used by Bhyrappa to construct situations through which he exposes the hollowness of such progressive intellectuals is simply commendable!!


Although 350 pages can be read within a few days, I took almost a month to read this book due to it being densely packed with insights & philosophical introspection over religion & war. Some of the events mentioned in the book sound unbelievable, but thanks to the internet, one can now verify all those from reliable sources. For example, the facts related to Tipu Sultan & Aurangzeb are not only astonishing but disturbing as well which can be cross-checked with the references mentioned by the author at the end of the book, or the reader himself can embark on mini-researches lasting 1-2 hours each to find out facts for himself. Hence, a voracious reader who is interested in further reading and with an inclination for analysis & introspection, might require 2-4 weeks to finish this book.

What is the point in reading this book? Why should you read the book?

  • Firstly, it should be read to become aware of the truth, which our progressive secular textbook authors & historians have desperately tried to distort (maybe to please their political bosses).
  • Secondly, learning true history helps one remain equipped so that the same mistakes are not repeated.
  • Finally, the philosophical introspection this book evokes within you would help you understand the outlook of Abrahamic religions and appreciate the concept of religious tolerance which is the basis on which non-Abrahamic religions have survived for thousands of years. 

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