The silencing of Perumal Murugan

Another tragedy – the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan has decided to withdraw all his books and never write again after being bullied by Hindutva groups.

A week after the police advised Tamil writer Perumal Murugan to leave his home in Namakkal following protests by caste- and Hindutva organisations against his book Madhorubagan, the author has announced that he will withdraw his entire body of work from publication and will never write again.

The announcement came after four hours of negotiations with the groups that had objected to the book.

“Negotiations” forsooth! What is there to negotiate?!

Last month, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh burnt copies of his novel  in Tiruchengode in Tamil Nadu on Friday, The Hindu reported, saying that parts of the book insulted the Kailasanathar temple, Shiva and female worshippers.  They claimed to be offended by the sexual permissiveness described in the book, which is set around 100 years ago at the time of an annual festival in Tiruchengode.

After repeated threats on the phone, the writer decided to flee his hometown a few days ago.

On Monday night, Murugan posted a note on his Facebook wall announcing his decision to stop writing altogether. He offered to compensate his publishers and readers if they incurred any loss and asked people to leave him alone.

Here’s a translation of that note by Aniruddhan Vasudevan – it’s heartbreaking:

Author Perumal Murugan has died. He is no god, so he is not going to resurrect himself. Nor does he believe in reincarnation. From now on, Perumal Murugan will survive merely as a teacher, as he has been.

He thanks all magazines, media, readers, friends,writers, organisations, political parties, leaders, students and anyone else who supported Perumal Murugan and upheld the freedom of expression.

The issue is not going to end with Madhorubagan. Different groups and individuals might pick up any of his books and make it a problem. Therefore, these are the final decisions that Perumal Murugan has taken:

1. Other than those books that Perumal Murugan has compiled and published on his own, he withdraws all the novels, short stories, essays and poetry he has written so far. He says with certainty that none of these books will be on sale again.

2. He requests his publishers – Kalachavadu, Natrinai, Adaiyalam, Malaigal, Kayalkavin not to sell his books. He will compensate them for their loss.

3. All those who have bought his books so far are free to burn them. If anyone feels they have incurred a waste or loss in buying his books, he will offer them a compensation.

4. He requests that he be not invited to any events from now on.

5. Since he is withdrawing all his books, he requests caste, religious, political and other groups not to engage in protests or create problems.

Please leave him alone. Thanks to everyone.

Pe. Murugan

On January 7 he wrote an eloquent defense and explanation of his work, and now he’s been driven to this.

People can be so sickening.



  1. PatrickG says

    Since he is withdrawing all his books, he requests caste, religious, political and other groups not to engage in protests or create problems.

    Even given his utter capitulation (not blaming, just describing) to their demands, I somehow doubt this will happen.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    A quick check on reveals at least four titles by Perumal Murugan (well, one is listed as by “Murugan Perumal”) in English, and one in Polish.

    Snap ’em up quick, folks – they’re now official Collectors’ Items!

  3. John Morales says

    Hinduism, this time.


    Pierce, a man’s life has been ruined, so let’s benefit from it?

    (Levity has its place)

  4. Mario Stradale says

    So glad to see Muslims are not the only assholes with terminal offenditis. What a sad state of affairs.

    I am going to go vomit my dinner now. It’s one way to keep my fair figure. I am only worried that if things continue along these lines I will starve to death one day.

  5. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Can we convince him to emigrate someplace where he can publish his writing? Then people who are offended by it will still have the opportunity to protest, or even, you know, not buy it, but at least he would be safer.

  6. says

    Thank you Ophelia for highlighting Murugan’s plight on the World stage. We are hoping that pressure from his well wishers and freethought activists he can be persuaded to change his decision. But I am sure he will never be able write freely again.

  7. says

    Thank you back, Arun. I hope love and solidarity and support from his well wishers and freethought activists can encourage him to change his decision, rather than pressure. I think that’s probably what you meant! He must have felt such terrible pressure to have made such a decision in the first place – it’s heart-breaking.

  8. Pierce R. Butler says

    John Morales @ # 3: … let’s benefit from it?

    So let’s promote a market for Muruganana that shows the Hindutva hooligans their efforts have backfired in the same way as did the Rushdie fatwa, the Bamiyan vandalism, the protests against Last Temptation of Christ & Life of Brian, last week in Paris, etc, etc. Murugan, having severed himself financially from all his works, would not benefit from this, but it would still rebuke his oppressors and boost Murugan’s message.

  9. John Morales says

    Pierce, perhaps. But it would be explicitly contrary to the person’s wishes.

    Is that really how you would show respect?

    (Count me out)

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