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Archive for the ‘Oriya’ Category

Coaching centre

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Oh learned men!

You surely know

that impurities of touch

completely dissolve

when a high caste man

takes a dip in water

and changes his clothes


But look at the untouchable hordes!

Howsoever much

they rub themselves

with soap and water

and splash and dip

and scrub and polish,

they cannot shake off ‘untouchability’,

which clings to their bodies.


That is how and why

they have remained untouchables

over the millennia.

No-one has been able to decide

if untouchability

is a colour or a touch,

a feeling or an ideal;

whether it resides

in the one who touches,

or the one who is touched.


A learned high caste man

could start a coaching center

and make good money

if he could simply teach untouchables

how to shake off untouchability

with a single dip in water

and a change of clothes.


Basudev Sunani is an Oriya poet; his poems have been translated by Rabindra K Swain and  J P Das. His poetry collections include Asprushya (Untouchable), Karadi Haata (Bamboo Shoots Market) and Chhi (Sneer), and several critical essays and short stories. He is a veterinarian by training, and blogs here.

Courtesy: The Poem Hunter

Smell of untouchability

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

It is just as well
that I got to know 
your blindness
from the very start.

Simply because my feet
touched the ground
you are seeking to purify it, 
sprinkling holy cowdung water.

Had I requested 
your house on rent
you would have been enraged
and driven me out
like a pariah dog.

Perhaps you do not know
that the land your house stands on
is surrounded by air
suffused with my dirty breath.
The bricks of your house
have been made from clay
from the river bed
where my humble hut stands, 
moulded by the supple hands
of men whom you have discarded, 
calling them untouchable.

Now you have moved
into your beautiful house
you preach that untouchables
are not human beings, 
that they are worse than animals, 
to be despised.

Dear sir, 
if you have the moral courage, 
strip open the walls
and look at the rubble 
and see, 
how each atom of brick and sand
bears the sweet smell
of untouchability.  


Basudev Sunani is an Oriya poet, his poems have been translated by Rabindra K Swain and  J P Das. His poetry collections include Asprushya (Untouchable), Karadi Haata (Bamboo Shoots Market) and Chhi (Sneer), and several critical essays and short stories. He is a veterinarian by training, his blogposts can be found here.

Courtesy: The Poem Hunter

Famine of 1866 -Bhima Bhoi

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

nothing to eat

nothing to wear

boundless is the anguish

who indeed can bear to see such misery

among the world’s creatures

let my soul be condemned to hell

but let the Universe be redeemed. 


The Orissa Famine of 1866 saw 1 million people die, a third of the state's population. Over the next two years the impact of the famine took another 4 million human lives. These immortal words of Bhima Bhoi record his anguish over the ravages of this famine. Food and relief aid could not reach across the flooding waters which had cut of Orissa into an island, a Noah's ark with the living creatures quickly starving and dying on it.

Source: Biswamoy Pati in Religion and social 'subversion', Re-examining colonial Orissa (EPW, July/2010)., Bidyut Mohanty in Orissa famine of 1866 Demographic and economic consequences (EPW, Jan/1993)., Siddhath Satpathy in Bhima Bhoi Prayers and Reflections.

Stuti Chintamani, Canto XXV

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010


Where will I hide my self?

How will I escape?

How long will I bear

Suffering on this earth?

How will I weather

The imminent danger?                                                 (1)


I have knowingly kept

Tidings of the future

From devotees all.

If they happen to know

About the times to come,

They will, for sure,

Die of fear.                                                                        (2)


Yavanas will come invading.

They will raze the woods to ground.

Trees will be felled;

Not a single branch or leaf

Will escape the felling.                                                (3)


Earth will be strewn with corpses.

The stench will be revolting.

Shorn of grass will be the pastures;

Fleets of elephants and horses

Will be grazing on them.                                                (4)


The kings will shy away from war.

Some of them, however.

Will put on a show of bravery,

And will command their retainers-

“resist, O, resist.”                                                            (5)


None will be able

To bear the blows of battle.

In utter confusion,

People will run

Hither and thither                                                            

To seek shelter.                                                            (6)


The firingi will continue

Their violent charge.

But will not be able

To win and advance.

They will stay

Where they are.

Gods in heaven

Will witness all.                                                            (7)


Battle cries

Will pierce the skies.

The earth will tremble

For eighteen days,

A river of blood

Will course through Jambu-dwipa                                     (8)


These evil times of Kali.

The high tide of

Injustice and mishaps,

Will come to end

So says Vima Bhoi.                                                            (20)           



Bhima Bhoi was an Adivasi Saint-poet from Orissa. His compositions include the Stuti Chintamani, Brahma Nirupan Gita, Adi Anta Gita, Astaka Behara Gita, Nirbeda Sadhana, Shruti Nisedha Gita, Chaustia Madhuchakra, Manusabha Mandala, Mahima Vinod and Bhajan Mala.

He popularized the Mahima movement of the Adivasis: this religion characterizes a formless, timeless, indescribable, eternal god. It draws elements from Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Vaishanavism and Tantra yoga. The spiritual and social movement spread a deeply felt protest against the caste system and feudal practices of western and central Orissa and it was termed as an anti-hindu religion by the Hindus.

This week, The Shared Mirror will feature a selection of cantos from the spiritual autobiography of Bhima Bhoi –Stuti Chintamani. In Canto XXV the poet captures the anxieties of the Adivasis against the British colonization, as they were experiencing the ruthless exploitation of forest resources and their marginalization in their own land. Bhima Bhoi’s verses are apocalyptic; they perform the historic and literary anchoring of the Adivasi protests against the internal oppressors, the hegemonic Brahmanical Indians as well as the external firingi colonizers.


Source: Bhima Bhoi: Prayers and Reflections. Translated by Siddharth Satpathy.

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