Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 11)

APPENDIX

A So-Called True Maratha

Just while I was taking up some other work after finishing the second part of Asud, a gentleman with a wide Brahman turban, seating himself upon a bolster in front of me, started intensely inspecting everything around him. I was wondering whether to call this gentleman a Marwari, but he didn't have three tufts hanging out of his turban. I would have thought him to be a Shimpi, but there were no needles stuck here and there in the turban. I would have thought him a Sonar, but his chest was not stuck out. And I would have called him a Brahman, but I hadn't heard him speak even two or three words. From this I couldn't tell how to classify him, so I was sitting there guessing, and at that moment he turned his face in my direction and himself asked me the question, "Do you know me?" I said, "No, Maharaj, I don't recognize you. Excuse me." The gentleman said, "I am a Marathi of Marathi lineage." "I – "You may be Marathi, but what is your caste?" Gentleman – "My caste is Maratha." I – "In Maharashtra all, from Mahars up to Brahmans, call themselves Maratha. Whatever caste you may be does not become clear." The gentleman – "Then you can say that I am a Kunbi." I – "OK, what is your occupation?"

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 10)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 5

Our suggestions to the Arya Bhat-Brahmans regarding the Shudra farmers and the remedies which the current government should follow: --

Before beginning this final chapter, I would like to make some suggestions to the greatly cunning Arya Bhat-Brahmans of the country, with the aim that they should not obstruct these matters. I would ask God that not only our learned foreign government, but our domestic ignorant "Dasyu" Shudra brothers, should open their eyes and become conscious of the situation. These days these stalwarts of purity have been hiding their sword of religion, with all the ritual weapons that cut the throats of all the creatures of God, under the guise of being great lovers of swadeshi, and without even a glance towards the Mahars and Mangs, have been telling the frolicsome promising offspring of Shudras, Parsis and Muslims through their books, newspapers, Sabhas and similar methods that they should put aside all grumbling about the hierarchies and distinctions among those in the country and become united; and without becoming one, this unfortunate country will never make progress. Such is the instruction they give us. I am making a small effort here so that the illiterate farmers will not listen to this and carry out any adverse actions. On that lies their fate.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 9)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Well. These days the farmers have to subsist on a bit of leftover bhakri with some red chutney for breakfast; at noon fresh bhakris with some cooked balls of lentils or weak sauce of spiced lentils; at night some jawar or corn granules soaked in clear dal juice; in between, occasionally carrots or rutabagas if they are ripe, and he also doesn't even get bhakri on time. Because of this, if he gets hungry between meals he puts up the plough and grabs some green mangoes, figs, plums, overripe tamarind or whatever edible thing he can find near the fields and gulps a little water to splash it down, and then again takes plough in hand; and whenever he gets sufficient bhakri he eats it in such a hurry without drinking water, and due to that for the whole day he has so many burps and belches that he gets indigestion and many kinds of diseases. And he cannot even get dill seed or ginger and supari as a cheap remedy! Because of this, he finally gets a fever or ague and has to go to the realm of Yama. On festival days, for many houses "superior" food means puran poli made with jaggery, a bit of vermicelli fried in oil, papds etc. and finally rice with watery spiced lentils. In most houses lentils and roti and for sweetening the mouth, dried spicy balls. The remaining destitute farmers who can't get credit with the Gujars and Marwaris have to make out with nacni or jawari bhakris.

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Popular Culture and Ideology: The Phenomenon of Gaddar

 

P Kesava Kumar

(First published in February 2010)

The cultural sphere has its own advantage over politics in terms of pulling people into its fold. Through his songs and cultural performances, Gummadi Vittal Rao, popularly known as "Gaddar", the Telugu poet singer, maintains the historical continuity of people's lives and their struggles. He brings politics into everyday life situations and translates terms like "working class", "new democracy", "revolution", "classless society", "bourgeoisies state", "capitalist class", etc, into concrete life experiences of people. He explains the political economy of Marx or Mao's philosophy in simple songs or words without borrowing any textual language of Marxism. This paper is an attempt to explore the emergence of the Gaddar phenomenon and its significance by focusing on the performance of people's culture.

g2

No death for the song of people's war – A slogan condemning the attack on Gaddar.

Gummadi Vittal Rao, popularly known as "Gaddar" is a revolutionary poet singer and has emerged as a powerful and popular cultural icon in India. He has established himself as an institution and a household name in Telugu society and other parts of India. Gaddar has captured the public sphere by bringing out the activities of the masses that were considered to be the domain of the private sphere. Through his cultural performances lakhs of people have got influenced and attracted towards the radical democratic struggles of India.

Gaddar and his Jana Natya Mandali (JNM) are a unique cultural phenomenon representing the revolutionary cultural struggles of the contemporary world. His work seems to be a culminating point of people's culture and revolutionary politics. This paper is an attempt to explore the emergence of the Gaddar phenomenon and its significance by focusing on the use of people's culture for inculcating revolutionary consciousness among the masses.

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Ravidas: 'Flowering above the World of Birth'

 

Gail Omvedt

 (An excerpt from the book 'Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste')

While Nandanar has become well-known only in Tamil Nadu and has had no recorded influence on other bhakti sants, the Chamar or leatherworker, Ravidas, who lived in the 15th century, is one of the most famous of sants in north India and has influenced many others. Many of his songs survive in some form or the other. There are countless stories about him and he is widely known as one of the greatest of saguna devotees, i.e., devotees of God 'with form', who take Shiva or Ram or Krishna or one of the many incarnations of Vishnu as their personal deity.

Ravidas is associated with the other great north Indian sant, Kabir, in a story where a great debate between them is represented as a saguna versus nirguna (without qualities) devotion debate. He is also linked to the Rajput princess Mirabai, most famous of the women devotees, who took him as her guru. His compositions are included in the Adi Granth, the scriptures of the Sikh community (Hawley and Juergensmeier 1988: 9–23).

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The return to Muthanga

C.K Janu and M. Geethanandan

(Written in May 2003)

The Adivasi decision is to return to Muthanga. The Adivasis had become victims of untold brutalities. Yet there is no other way but to return. And the Adivasis have been made refugees in their homeland. There are the spirits of the dead in the forestlands of Muthanga. Not only Jogi, but also the bodies and souls of all those who had lived here as one with nature have merged irrevocably with the soil. None can separate them now. Anyone who enters Muthanga can see the scattered coins in front of the Sacred Temple at Thakarappady. There is also a splintered bamboo there. This was the hundi ( Coin collection box) of the Adivasis, smashed by the police officers and the goondas as though it was some part of the weaponry of the Adivasis. No one would pick up the coins. These coins representing the beliefs and dreams would still be there when they return....

Those Who See the Theyyam*....and Those Who Hear Also...

2-3 January 2003: Adivasis who commenced their journey from various villages from different parts of Wayanad district belonging to different communities assemble at Pulithookky and Thiruvannur colonies. Pulithookky is a colony ravaged by hunger deaths. Pulithookky has been in the news in full glare. Those who reached Pulithookky – the aged, the ailing, the women, the youth, those who stopped their formal studies, the infants – came for a new life.

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I, E.V. Ramaswamy

[On the occasion of Periyar's death anniversary (24th December), we remember him through some select quotes from his speeches and writings-- Round Table India]

Periyar

'I, E.V. Ramaswamy, have taken upon myself the task of reforming Dravidian Society so that it shall be comparable to other societies of the world, in esteem and enlightenment, and I am solely devoted to that service.

I express, plainly and openly, thoughts which occur to me, and which strike me as right. This may embarrass a few; to some this may be distasteful; and a few others may even be irritated; however, all that I utter are proven truths and not lies.

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