Image 01

Archive for February, 2012

Thousands of Rivers

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

But yesterday,

they came like a mountain,

my people.

They arrived in hordes

my men,


Black faces bearded with silver

burning eyes red with rage

burst through the blankets of sleep

breaking the barriers of day

breaching the bounds of night.

Earth heaved in the mountains of my men

and quaked to their dance of rage

and those who crawled in lines of ants

rose in paws of jungle beasts

and those who crept like reptiles

rose in cobra hoods.

They rose, my men, in mountains

shouting the red song

Down, down inequality

Down Caste Hierarchy

Down the bug that fattens on money.

Ah, they flooded and flowed in rivers,

my people, yesterday!

The town and village they inundated

they plunged to depths of unknown roots

they floated to heights of unseen stars.

See how by the bushes and under the trees

in the streets and in the alleys

they gather in hordes,

my people,

flushing down the ranks of Headman’s power

and the files of Money-lenders away.

These shout a shriek of defiance

those are struck dumb,

these thunder from angry throats

those fall silent.

Ah, the winds of Revolution,

my people,

have seized the throats of those cut-throats.

See how in the whirlwind

twist the police batons

and knives of secret agents.

See how the twigs and dry leaves

spin the debris of Vedas,

of Puranas and Shastras.

See how the dirt of ammunition

and hardware of gunmen

whirl in the whirlwind

of Revolution!

Ah, my people

how they flooded in thousands of rivers

to swell the Revolutionary Sea.


Siddalingaiah's Kannada poem translated by P Rama Murthy. Source: A string of pearls, Edited by H.S.Shivaprakash and K.S.Radhakrishna. Please read Siddalingaiah's interview here and a review of his book Ooru Kheri here

A Song of Poykayil Appachan

Friday, February 17th, 2012

No, not a single letter is seen

On my race

So many histories are seen

On so many races


Scrutinize each one of them

The whole histories of the world

Not a single letter is seen

On my race


There was no one on this earth

To write the history

Of my race in the olden days

What a pity!


Think of it

Regret fills within

Let me add something

In my own melody


The story of

A people who lived in Kerala

Since the ancient times

And how they became demons


No shame have I

To say the faults of my caste

Though all blame me

A cursed offspring on earth


How is it possible

That all blame us

Till the end

Of earth and sky


How can God

Who shaped everything

Allow this to happen

On earth today?


Translated from Malayalam by Ajay Sekher. Today is the 134th birth anniversary of Poykayil Appachan, the dalit social reformer of Kerala. 

More of his songs can be read in the book, Unknown Subjects: Songs of Poykayil Appachan. Edited by V V Swamy and E V Anil. Translated by Ajay Sekher. Kottayam: IPRDSS, 2008.

Service in the nude

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

The usual male priest
was praying to the deity – right, mother?
"The whole time I'm inside the sanctum,
the life in me is rotting away,
I have no entertainment," he said.
Ellamma appeared to him –
"Ask your heart's desire", she said.
"Once a year at your festival
the womenfolk should go naked
in your presence. The whole body
should be revealed to us,"
he replied.
"Granted," said Ellamma, and holding
her sari tight around her,
she climbed the hill.
In this way
an atrocity
was sanctioned by the gods and became
"service in the nude"

Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy's Kannada poem 'bettala seve'  translated by Prof. Rowena Hill. Read his other poems here and here

About Bettale Seve: The Dalit movement in Karnataka has had to deal with some of the most exploitative caste-based religious practices. These days various dalit organizations and leaders are engaged in raising awareness about 'Made Snana', and are struggling with the political process to get this practice banned. Back in the 80's and 90's dalit organizations worked hard to expose another reprehensible caste & gender  exploitative practice called 'Bettale Seve' or Nude-worship described in this poem.

Eventually in 1992, a ban was imposed on Bettale Seve at Chandragutti temple.

"Chandragutti, a village in Shimoga district is situated at a distance of 16 km, west of Sorab taluk. There is a temple of the goddess, built in 14th century, at the top of Chandragutti hill. The faithful from Dalit and bahujan communities were (are?) made to believe that the speciality of this temple is that Dalit women and men must go naked to worship this devi since the puranas says that if people go naked and pray to the devi they get all their wishes fulfilled, and people who do not follow these traditions meet with a lot of calamities . Hence, for hundreds of years, in the month of March, thousands of men and women were seen marching into the temple completely naked and offering their prayers to the goddess. Some emancipated youth tried to stop this practice in 1984. But these activists were thrashed by goons and supporters of the temple-priests, paraded naked, and made to worship the devi. The victims included police officials even women police officers.

A committee investigated the religious sanction of Nagna-puja gave a report in 1988 stating that there is no such sanction in Hinduism. Amidst hue and cry the practice was stopped. Still incomplete in implementation, the law stems out of a central objection that the presentation of nude women invariably is a prelude to their enticement into prostitution."

Welcome The Shared Mirror

Log in

Lost your password?