ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From Shahiri to Sahitya

Ambedkari Shahiri, in the form of sound and music, took the ideas of the anti-caste movement to the masses, paving the way for Dalit literature.

A t the Mahad Satyagraha in 1927, B R Ambedkar pro-claimed war against the idea and existence of caste society. For centuries, society in India has been governed by internalised norms of castes that have tamed people’s consciousness to the extent that unnatural and inhumane caste structures have been accepted as natural, and these largely remained the public law. Ambedkar described this in his famous essay, “Which Is Worse? Slavery or Untouchability?” “Untouchables” asserting their right to drink water from Chavdar Tale (lake) in 1927 had initiated the first blow to the savarna–Brahminical consciousness and their public law, according to which “untouchables” were prohibited from using the water of this lake.

With water as the metaphor for asserting human rights, the Mahad Satyagraha became the arrival point of anti-caste consciousness in a real sense, according to Bojja Tharakam (Mahad: The March That’s Launched Every Day, 2018). However, this was just the beginning. It was indeed a challenging task to effectively disseminate this anti-caste consciousness within a society where the majority of the masses had hardly acquired the skill to read or write. The work of disseminating this anti-caste consciousness “was being done by Babasaheb himself and his colleagues through various mediums such as large gatherings, conferences, delivering speeches, leading satyagraha, writing in newspapers, etc, but there was a need to tell this to the Dalit masses—who were illiterate, uneducated and superstitious—in a simpler, easier, entertaining manner and especially in their mother tongue” (Bhagwan Thakur, Ambedkari Jalse, 2005; quote translated from Marathi).

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Updated On : 8th Feb, 2019
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