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  1. #1
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    Jul 2012
    Tumkur, Karnataka, India

    Operation LIquidus, Author Interview

    Interviewed by Writer V B Rawat, Delhi

    VBR: What is the idea behind the murder of the Pope in this novel? Is it a real life incident when attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II was made or is it purely fictional? Many time fictional works reveal real life stories even when they are claimed fictional. How do you think Catholics would react to it?

    Raj: In this novel the Pope is poisoned by a group of Cardinals in the church. I have read the many volumes of the History of the Popes and have also studied Church history. Some of the happenings in the church are just horrible. My concoction of the killing of the pope is just an imagination of how financial stakeholders work in the church. The Vatican itself has many business connections and is a financial empire. The intricacies of business are the same all over the world. There have been also speculations about the death of Pope John Paul I. But I am not going into the truth or non-truth of what has happened in the Vatican. My mind has played with the gleanings I gathered from my readings on the underbelly of the Church. I always thought that if Jesus came a second time to this world the Pope, Cardinals and Bishops would be the first set of people who would murder him. Perhaps Operation Liquidus has woven a story from many possibilities. As for Catholics, it is left to them to react in a way they deem fit. I have no guess on that.

    VBR: More than killing of the Pope by a group of Cardinals, it may be your audacity to have got Jesus married to two Muslim women that may shake the conscience of the Christian world. The Catholic Church does not allow its priests and nuns to marry precisely because of its negative views on sex. On this score I think even the protestant Christians will be scandalized by your ‘fictitious imagination’ of Jesus marrying two Muslim women in his second coming. Is this for this that the Christian world waited? Your take on this.

    Raj: The second coming of Jesus may mean many things to many people. For me Christians are only chasing a mirage by waiting for his second coming. This novel is a way of looking at a young man Jesus who was in love with two young girls in the Bible. I have stretched that a bit in my novel. He may come as a gay, as a married man, as a man who wants to bring Christian Muslim unity through his marriage… I don’t know. Sex is a normal human behaviour. I don’t know why people should be scandalized by a fiction. Just as believers have freedom to fantasize on next life, a novelist enjoys the freedom to fantasize on this life. I have also imagined a lot about love that can never be limited by the paradigm of one man – one woman only. In any case most women in the Churches believe that Jesus is their ultimate lover. Some scandals are good for the progress of humanity.

    VBR: Speaking of audacity, I also am dazed that you dared to equate Jesus and Karl. I am sure it is Karl Marx that you mean. In fact you have stuffed your novel with meaning by making Karl die when Cardinals make an attempt on the life of Jesus. What is your equation of both?

    Raj: In one of the international conferences in Bad Boll in Germany I told the audience that Jesus was the first Marx and Marx was the second Christ. It was a Theology institute. The audience took it very well. One does not need extraordinary courage to say this. Both these have lived at different times in history. If they happen to live in our times I am sure they will be identical twins. I have equal admiration for both.

    VBR: Operation Liquidus is true to many things, which many of us could not do ideologically. I mean, it looks like an iconoclastic fiction where most revered figures are dealt with albeit in fictitious ways. Christians may not issue death threats to you for ‘killing’ the Pope and for marrying Jesus with two Muslim women. But what about other important characters whom you have dealt with in this novel? How about the Gandhians, the Ambedkarites, the Buddhists, even the RSS? You do not seem to have spared any power. Is there any message in your demystification of important personalities of our times?

    Raj: Though Operation Liquidus is a fiction its axis is the second coming of Jesus, for which all Christians all over the world are waiting. I have just turned round this idea and made him come in the form of Kris to encounter many icons of history and of our time. As an author I have used my daydreams to create many encounters with such icons. Some masks that some of them wore are bound to fall. Even waiting for the second coming of Jesus by Christians can be said to be a grand fiction and nothing more. I have made use of one historical imagination to create many fictitious possibilities. The encounters with the Pope, Rocky and Saul, Karmachand, Bhim Raj, Karl, the gay Mueller, Buddha, Thalai Mama, the two gladiators, the judge Sitamata etc. have provided the scope for unlimited fantasies. It is left to the readers to draw their own messages. As an author I have opened up the avenue for multiple messages. All these are obviously coupled with an idiosyncratic style of fiction writing.

    VBR: Your description of Sabarmati is interesting. Do you think that western readers would ever mind Karmachand sleeping with naked girls, as that is entirely an individual affair? And why do the Indian followers do not react to it where sex is really a taboo? Why don’t Indian mates in the ashram revolt against Karmachand on his sexual demeanours?

    Raj: Indulging in sex is not a taboo in India. Only talking about sex honestly is a taboo. Indians indulge in sex as much as or perhaps more than all others in the world, if you go by the sheer number of children India produces. It is the double standard that is attached to sex that is an issue. This particular scene of ‘experiment with truth’ is equated with naked girls. There are two strong reactions in the novel. One is from river Sabarmati and the other is from Mataji who is the wife of Karmachand. The crux of the issue is not one man sleeping with naked girls leaving his wife alone in the next room. It is his profession of making experiments with truth that is an issue. Linking one’s sex proclivities with truth and making it look sublime, is what the novel is dealing with. Why aren’t the Indian followers not reacting to it? Prospective readers may raise it. There are many subtleties in the creation of this scene and it will be good that I do not expose these now as the author of the novel. The readers must plunge themselves in these subtleties and come out fully drenched.

    VBR: You have very interestingly rebutted the theory of ‘Dooms Day’ for which everyone is waiting for their ‘God’ to arrive and ‘ save’ them from ‘sins’. Do you believe that the Church will ever allow any one to challenge the supremacy of the Pope? Was Kris assassinated because he was not really following the religious diktats and could have become a larger than life size himself endangering the very institution of church?

    Raj: The question is whether religions and churches can survive without ‘sin’ and ‘salvation’. Just as Europeans keep kings and queens in their democracies they will keep Papacy as a symbol of European pride even if they are ‘enlightened’ atheists. Kris, the hero of the novel is not a Christian in the first place. If you read the novel carefully you will realize that Jesus has no religion in his second coming. He was assassinated not because he questioned the religious diktats or the articles of faith of the Church. He was assassinated by a group of powerful American Cardinals who could not stomach the fact that the Pope decided to revamp the finance system of Vatican. This was because Kris challenged the Pope on the Church’s priority for the poor and its identity with capitalists. The confrontation between capitalism and communism and the role of Kris in both are brought out with utmost subtlety in the novel. There was no fear in anyone that Kris would endanger the institution of the Church. The thread of the novel connects the reader to the financial interests of the Vatican.

    VBR: And what is the symbolism in the end when Selvan turned the volume of his music loud saying ‘come back as Jesus, come back as Allah, come back as any one.’ For me it is the most interesting symbol to decry all these religious beliefs, which actually put people into blind faith. Is that what you call Cosmosity in one of your books? It is not superfluous but is based on human relationship with nature. Is it the culture of Dalits that they should not wait for any messiah to lift them up and believe in their own power and draw their energy from nature?

    Raj: The novel actually ends with the assertion that Jesus comes to the world many times again and again. It is only that people do not recognize him, as it also happens in this novel till the last minute. He may come back in any form. Not only he but also all ancestors come back into the world. He asserts that he is not God but is just a human being. The cosmic world, culture of Dalits and all other such things do not belong to this novel. I have written about them in my books of philosophy. Since you have read my other books you are naturally connecting the end to those books. However, the desire in me to see a world that will be free of all conflicts, violence and war may have found a natural reflection in the song from ‘Colonial Cousins.’

  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    Jesus is Marx and Marx is Christ? I guess you didn't bother to actually read about Christ and Marx, did you? They're polar opposites.

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