Why do we choose to forget our past?

 

Mallepally Lakshmaiah

 Is there a single village in India which has no Dalit? There could be a few exceptions but we do find Dalits in most parts of India - who have fought the system relentlessly. Every village has produced its very own Dalit social revolutionary but is there any Dalit reformer with a pan-Indian identity? And how exactly does one acquire a pan-Indian identity? Does one go around the country reforming society or can one confine oneself to a particular area and still acquire a pan-Indian identity. And does one become a national icon either of these ways. What matters most is how mainstream media and academics project a reformer.

BHAGYAREDY VERMA

 Amongst non-Dalits, we have icons in every field. But from amongst the Dalits, barring Dr Ambedkar, it is difficult to think of even one reformer who is famous all over India - even though reformers from within Dalit communities may far outnumber reformers from non-Dalit societies. Dalits don't own any part of the media, they don't own academic institutions, they're not part of the English educational setup and, therefore, they are unable to push forward their own icons. Thus, most Dalit icons remain local phenomenon - a Telugu or Tamil reformer remains a Telugu or Tamil legend forever. The same goes with the Hindi heartland.

The hostile attitude of mainstream society can best be illustrated by citing the great Dalit social reformer and teacher Bhagyareddy Varma's case. He was born on May 22, 1888, and named Bhagaiah. The family guru, a learned man belonging to the Shiva Cult, visited the untouchable family in November that year and renamed the child Bhagyareddy. The father, Maadari Venkaiah, asked why. The Guru argued that the so-called untouchables had been rulers prior to the Aryan expansion towards the South - hence the term "Reddy," from the Telugu word "redu", which means "ruler."

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 6)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 3

How the Arya Brahmans arrived from Iran and the prior condition of the Shudra peasants; and how the current government constantly levies all kinds of new taxes on the farmers in order to provide whatever pay and pensions their employees want; and how the farmers have been forced into arrant indebtedness since their wealth is extracted with such great force.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 5)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Both the money-eating government employees who harass the farmers and the completely illiterate farmers who give them bribes out of their dependence get legal punishment. If the cost of the police investigation is born by the bhakri-eating fearful weaponless ruined farmers along with the Bhat Phadke who organized attacks against the unarmed police; and if the thieves of all castes who steal from the farmers' houses are given the same legal punishment; then by the same standard those farmers whose houses are robbed while they are in the throes of their deep sleep should also be given a legal punishment?! If our Legislative Council would make such a law and free the necks of our spineless police, there will be bells ringing in that Simla so near to heaven.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 4)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 2

Since the white government bureaucrats are mostly in a stupor due to their life of luxury, they have no way of getting any information about the true condition of the farmers, and their overall carelessness allows Brahman employees to dominate all the government departments. Between the two, the farmers are so much looted that they have no bread to fill their stomachs or clothes to cover their bodies.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 3)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

After that, if some rare combination of sacred events come, the Bhat Brahmans lead so many well-off farmers to Nashik, Wai and other places of pilgrimage and extort large amounts of wealth from them on the pretence of religious donations, wheedling at least one coin from all the remaining poor farmers at the time of bathing in the river.

Finally, on the day of the new moon the Bhat Brahmans greedily get donations for the puja of the feet of the farmers' bullocks.

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Our Icon- Ayyankali

A Pioneer. A Revolutionary. A Hero.
 

Ayyankali+photos

 

He was born on 28 August 1863 in Travancore, Kerala. He was one of the seven children of Ayyan of Pulaya caste (agricultural labour). Ayyankali grew up to be a tall, well built and handsome young man. He was known for his physical prowess and proficiency in the martial arts.

One particular child hood incident made Ayyankali aware of the caste prejudices prevalent in Travancore society. While playing football with children of his age the ball kicked by Ayyankali fell on the roof of a Nair house. The Nair warned him not to play with diku young men. Deeply hurt, he took oath never to play with them. Then he went into a period of deep thought. He came out of a month of contemplation, a la Buddha, with a secret agenda - civil liberties for the untouchables.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 2)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 1

Due to the dominance of the selfish Bhat-Brahmans in all government departments, they have been able to so deceive the ignorant farmers with the sham of their self-interested religion that they have no resources left to send their tiny children to school, and even those who have some resources have no desire to do so because they are misguided by the Brahmans.

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