Monday, April 3, 2017

Doctrate on my writing

There is now a doctorate published on my writings. A bright young man from a university in Pune, now has a Ph.D after reading my novels and non-fiction works. You can check this out on this web link:

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Murari leaves his readers with almost a Sudoku, which until solved, the reader cannot put the books down. Thus, shifting the power to the reader, Murari manages like an astute dramatist to pull his reader into his plot, involving him, engaging him or her, till he has found the answer. He must now join the famous six teenagers searching the meaning of those numbers, put singly, or in a combination, or whatever. - GOODREADS


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Emperor Ashoka

We forget the wisdom from our own past.

Emperor Ashoka 304-232 BCE.

Rock Edict XII.

'Restraint in speech'.


That is not praising one's own religion or condemning the religion of others without good cause...whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought 'Let me glorify my own religion' only harms his own religion. Therefore, contact between religions is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved of the gods, King Piyadassi (Ashoka), desires that all should be learned in the good doctrines of other religions.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PEN Charlie Hebdo

I've not read Charlie Hebdo. My French is inadequate for satire. I've not seen their cartoons either. Last week in Paris, I asked my French publisher, Marie-Pierre, for her opinion. She was fiercely dismissive, calling the magazine crude. She was angry too. Twelve people were killed in January. One, a friend, was visiting the magazine that fatal day. He died too. For what? She asked. A cartoon of Mohammed. The magazine was irresponsible in taunting Muslims.

            Last month, American PEN, awarded Charlie Hebdo its “freedom of expression courage award”. It split writers. Rushdie and others supported PEN's choice. Rushdie wrote: "It is quite right that PEN should honour [Charlie Hebdo’s] sacrifice and condemn their murder without these disgusting ‘buts." Peter Carey, Teju Cole, and others, condemned it for 'cultural intolerance and Islamophobia.'  PEN responded, praising “their (Charlie Hebdo) dauntless fortitude patrolling the outer precincts of free speech.”

            I agree with PEN. What distinguishes a democracy from a totalitarian state is the freedom of speech.  The freedom to think imaginatively and to give expression to these thoughts. Freedom of speech cannot be neatly hedged by 'ifs' or 'buts'. It either exists or it does not.  Unfortunately, irresponsibility comes with the package. Charlie Hebdo insulted many aspects of French life, including attacking the extreme right wing Le Pen political party. The party did not respond with machine guns. Islamist extremists did.

            People can be as insulted by mocking their political beliefs, sexual preferences, social positions, history, race. Name it, there's an insult to someone out there. As the world opens up, the minds close. People are frightened by the swift changes. And to new thinking.  If we all picked up guns, it would not be a revolution but bloody mayhem. Guns are for those who lack the intelligence to counter the insult or even make a comment with their own words.  A few days ago, ISIL executed 30 Yazidis. I wondered how they had insulted the Prophet.

            Annually, fifty to sixty journalists, writers or artists are killed because of their work.  Many more imprisoned.  I admired their courage to express their thoughts in mostly these despotic nations. They were aware of the dangers. Sometimes, even a Tweet was their death sentence. Words and drawings frighten the State, as they do extremists of any kind.

            India teeters between democracy and despotism. Recently, leaning more to the latter. The State has banned books, the list grows longer daily. Publishers retract; they cannot afford long court cases. The writer abandoned. Two Tamil writers were driven from their homes by extremists. Tragically, one stopped writing. Art is dangerous. Films are tripped up by State appointed censors. If the film passes (with cuts), others lie in wait to attack it.  Or storm the theatres, forcing it off the screen.

            Anyone can rush to court and take out an injunction against a book, a writer, an artist if his or her "feelings are hurt". There are 1.2 billion possible feelings to hurt.  Every writer and artist faces this minefield daily. Some self-censor their thoughts. The State did nothing to defend or protect our most famous artist, M.F. Hussein. He died in exile. The writer, Shobha Dey, mocked the Maharastrha government's edict on Marathi Films. She was summoned to the legislature.

            At times, India is beyond satire. Charlie Hebdo would have a field day here. For a day or two at least, before our home bred extremists burned it down.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014


The link to the interview with me on my new novel, CHANAKYA RETURNS,  in The Hindu Literary Section.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


My new novel published by Aleph.

CHANAKYA RETURNS covers a vast canvas of power, love, history, politics, betrayals, sex and more.  It is narrated by Chanakya (370-282 BC), reincarnated in the contemporary world as the adviser to Avanti, the daughter of the head of a nameless state in India. In the course of the novel, Chanakya poses an eternal question: What shapes our lives—The Power of Love or the Love of Power? His protégée, Avanti, has to choose between love and power. The choice Avanti makes has all sorts of implications not just for herself and her dysfunctional family, but for the people of the state her family has ruled for years…

In his previous existence, the historical Chanakya was exiled from his homeland and took his revenge on the king, who was the cause of his misfortune, by defeating him in a war. He was then responsible for anointing Chandragupta as ruler of the Mauryan Empire, and advising him on every aspect of statecraft. In the novel Chanakya is acerbic, witty and ruthless, and provides the same services to Avanti. He manoeuvers the awkard young daughter of a charismatic powerful politician across the chessboard of power to become a brilliantly successful politician in her own right.

Available at:



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Letter to Hon'ble PM of India

As we have such a social media savvy PM, I went to the PMO website as I wanted to write to the Prime Minister. The website does impress, a few boxes to click and the one on the top right has 'Interact with Hon'ble PM'.

Exactly what I wanted, a dialogue with our PM and I imaged that, as two giant intellects conversed in cyberspace, our mail would enter the archives of history. I felt he was just waiting for someone to talk to him, a human being, not another politician or a bureaucrat. I clicked on 'Interact with...' and find I have a choice of subjects. Ahh, knowing how loquacious we Indians are there is, not a word limit, but a character limit. One thousand characters, max.

I click on 'Subject' and discover there are 16, ranging from 'Agriculture' through 'Education' to 'Social Injustice'. I believe this makes it easier for the PM, a very busy man, so that he is immediately prepared to respond and converse on the subject. There can be nothing more confusing when opening a mail on 'Agriculture', and turning one's mind in preparation to discuss the price of onions,  to find the letter is on 'Women's' Issues' or 'Defence'.

I dither over such a wide choice. I have to think carefully as I don't want to confuse my PM. I hover over 'Social Injustice'. It isn't quite right - I haven't been beaten/raped/imprisoned by our cops. Yet. I wish there was one more category 'Other Important Issues'. It takes a good ten minutes of such dithering to decide which subject my letter comes under.

I choose 'Law & Order'. I click on it, fill in my name, address (correctly), and then compose my 1,000 characters. I don't want to dazzle him with my examples, I just want to discuss the subject with him and expect him to keep within the 1,000 character format when he replies to my letter.

When I finish my abbreviated note to the PM, I copy the 'Verification Code' and hit 'Submit'. The site responds immediately, a complaint about commas. It does not like too many of them, so, despite a great reluctance, I delete a few of them to keep the site happy. Once more, I copy the code and hit submit.

There is a pause. I imagine my letter instantly appearing on the PM's screen and him leaning forward to read it carefully. His hand hovers over 'Reply' even as he composes his response to my letter. A moment letter, a line pops up on the screen. 'Thank you for writing to the PM. Your letter has been forwarded to the department concerned'.  

Whatdoyumean? I wrote to the PM, not to a department. I expect him to read it and to reply. I want to have a discourse.  That's the whole point of 'Interact with the Hon'ble PM' at the top of the website.

I don't want to interact with a minor babu, somewhere in labyrinth of the Minister of Home Affairs, now staring at my letter on his screen. Is he thinking :Should I print it and rush over to show it to the PM, and wait for him to read, cogitate and reply? Or should I just hit the 'Delete' button and return to sleep?


Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on your astonishing victory and I am confident you will lead India to a great future. As a writer/filmmaker, I am very concerned with the extreme right wing Hindu elements, who have taken it on themselves to censor and intimidate writers, artists and filmmakers with their narrow interpretation of our ancient religion. We hope they are not encouraged to further extremism due to the BJP victory. This is a law & order problem when they physically attack artists, filmmakers or publishers. As a democracy, we must respect the opinions of others, even if we do not agree with them. As Prime Minister, you have spoken of the inclusiveness of all Indians, and this must include those who hold different views to the extremists. I hope you will discourage their activities. With my best wishes for your leadership. Timeri N. Murari.