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Evolution of Telugu Dalit Literature

Telugu dalit literature entered a significant phase when dalits began writing about themselves. During the independence struggle, dalit writers, under Gandhian influence, touched upon casteism and untouchability but imitated mainstream writing in form and content. From the mid-1980s, however, dalit angst, protest and an alternative vision started reflecting in Telugu literature. Writers of the Dandora movement, for example, who belong to the Madiga caste, have begun adding the caste name to their surnames, a practice hitherto followed only by the upper castes. Madigas are placed so low in the hierarchy that the term is considered an abuse and its usage can attract the provisions of the Atrocities Act. This group also writes about the "satellite castes" who are considered untouchable even by the Madigas. Telugu dalit writing would have truly come of age when even these castes - the ostracised among the ostracised - begin writing about themselves.

SPECIAL ARTICLE

Evolution of Telugu Dalit Literature

K Purushotham

Telugu dalit literature entered a significant phase when dalits began writing about themselves. During the independence struggle, dalit writers, under Gandhian influence, touched upon casteism and untouchability but imitated mainstream writing in form and content. From the mid-1980s, however, dalit angst, protest and an alternative vision started reflecting in Telugu literature. Writers of the Dandora movement, for example, who belong to the Madiga caste, have begun adding the caste name to their surnames, a practice hitherto followed only by the upper castes. Madigas are placed so low in the hierarchy that the term is considered an abuse and its usage can attract the provisions of the Atrocities Act. This group also writes about the “satellite castes” who are considered untouchable even by the Madigas. Telugu dalit writing would have truly come of age when even these castes – the ostracised among the ostracised – begin writing about themselves.

K Purushotham (kpku62@gmail.com) is with the Kakatiya University, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh.

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T
he rich heritage of dalits as a community has been left unrecorded except for a number of negative comments in Sanskrit epics and plays. Despite being from the productive castes, they were illiterate and could not themselves record the innovations and experiences of their occupations. This has caused irreparable loss to productive technology. Having been neglected even in modern historiography, dalits began to represent themselves through different forms of literature.

While oral Telugu literature dates back 1,500 years, written Telugu dalit literature goes back hardly 300 years though it was not necessarily known by the same nomenclature. It may be traced back to the 17th century saint poet Potuluri Veerabrahmam,1 a sudra social reformer who used to go through dalit wadas (settlements) educating the people against caste and untouchability. Hymns written and sung by him and his disciples were popular among the illiterate dalits. A tradition thus started, continued at different periods of Andhra Pradesh’s history. Another significant writer in this lineage was the saint poet, Yogi Vemana, a non-brahmin, who wrote simple verse on various forms of superstitions and evil practices including caste and untouchability. Other noteworthy writers like Gurajaada Apparao and a few o thers too dealt with the same subjects. However, it should be noted that the dalits were written about during this period by non-dalits.

Songs from the Margins

In the subsequent period, dalits began writing about themselves especially during the nationalist movement. They confi ned their concerns, by and large, to the problem of untouchability under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi. Continuing the dalit tradition set by such writers as Jala Rangaswamy, Kusuma Dharmanna Kavi, Nakka Chinavenkataiah, Nutakki Abraham, Premaiah and Boyi Bhimanna among others, modern dalit poets dealt with themes like untouchability and denial of access to public places like schools, temples, streets, hotels, and village-wells. Though dalits began writing about themselves, they were still imitating mainstream writing both in form and content.

Telugu poetry movements like bhava kavitvam (romantic p oetry) and navya sampradaaya kavitvam (neoclassical poetry) got de-linked from the contemporary socio-political reality. The writers of the former school wrote about themselves while the latter were concerned with the revival of traditionalism. The elements of subjectivity, revivalism and de-linking of social life from literature were questioned by Gurram Jashuva, the fi rst modern Telugu dalit poet known for his outstanding work, Gabbilam (The Bat).2 Jashuva questioned the tenets of the established literary aesthetics, and created dalit poetry in classical form. He is considered the pioneer of not only Telugu dalit literature, but also of Telugu literature itself.

In the post-independence period, Telugu littérateurs became complaisant and self-serving. It was at such a time that a group of Telugu poets, who christened themselves digambara davulu (naked poets) and included Cherabandaraju, Bhairavaiah, Jwalamukhi, Nagnamuni, Nikhileshwar and Mahaswapna provided the much-needed jolt to Telugu literature. Their contribution lies in re-linking literature to society. This was apparent in the way they chose their themes such as poverty, unemployment and political indifference in respect of upliftment of the downtrodden. Their concern for the underdogs was explicit even in the way they released the anthologies of poems. The fi rst of their anthologies was released in 1965 at a street-corner meeting by Nampalli Pandu, a rickshaw puller and the second in 1966 by Jangala Chitti, a hotel worker. Their third anthology was dedicated in 1968 to an untouchable from Krishna district, Kanchikarla K otesh, who was burnt alive by the caste-Hindus on an accusation of theft. Thus they anticipated the modern social discourses which were to assume the forms of dalit, feminist, adivasi and other subaltern movements in the times to come.

While the first generation of educated dalits was content with the spoils they gained in the form of political offi ce and employment without contributing much towards liberating their brethren, the second generation took part in agitations, rallies and public meetings besides making intellectual contribution in the form of academic research, journalism and literary output.

The “dalit phase” in modern literature and politics began late in Andhra Pradesh as compared, say, to Maharashtra. In Andhra Pradesh, as in Tamil Nadu, dalit discourse gained currency in the 1980s .

It was in 1985 that the infamous Karamchedu massacre3 of dalits took place. The Dalit Mahasabha, a social outfit was founded in this year to fight for dalit rights and it was in this year that a major shift in ideological debate and praxis from class to caste was initiated. K G Satyamurthy, also known as Sivasagar, a member of the central committee of the then People’s War (Marxist-Leninist) challenged the leadership of the party on account of what he termed caste-based discrimination within its hierarchy. Having walked out of the party in 1985, Satyamurthy formed a few socio-political groups, pioneered dalit poetry and became a staunch follower of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Following the mayhem of 1985, a series of incidents at other places like Neerukonda, Thimma Samudram, Chundur, V empenta and Cherlapally took place. Besides the atrocities, the pro- and anti-reservation agitations – the backward class reservation a gitation of 1986 in Andhra Pradesh and the Other Backward Classes (OBC) (Mandal reservation) of 1990 helped the dalits to garner support and solidarity for their agitations. Educated dalits, who were the second generation benefi ciaries of Ambedkarite reservations, led various socio-political movements and waged agitations for self-respect, dalit rights, equality, and empowerment.

They produced a powerful body of dalit literature. Telugu dalit literature in general and poetry in particular, written in the 1990s and to the present period, need to be understood against this background. It was in 1995 that the first anthology of Telugu dalit poetry entitled, Chikkanavutunna Paata (Thickening Song) was brought out by G Laxminarsaiah and Tripuraneni Srinivas, which was followed by another anthology, Padunekkina Paata (Sharpened Song) by G Laxminarsaiah4 in 1996. Both the anthologies, though not exclusively dalit, were concerted efforts on the part of the poets and the anthologists to focus on dalit ethos, angst, p rotest, heritage, myth and an alternative vision with a strong element of conscientising the dalits and non-dalits including the oppressor. Some of the dalit poets included in the anthologies went on to become among the most powerful voices in dalit literature thus inspiring the young and emerging dalit poets.

Springtime for Novels

It took a fairly long time for the Telugu dalit novel proper to evolve to its present form. As in the case of poetry, the nationalist struggle influenced the Telugu dalit novel, the most important of which was Unnava Laxminarayana’s Malapalli (A Mala Hamlet) in 1922 followed by N G Ranga’s Harijana Naayakudu (Harijan Leader) and Dasarathi Rangacharya’s Chillaradevullu, translated into English as The Lesser Deities. The other noteworthy name in this lineage is Muppala Ranganayakamma, known for her Balipeetham. Kesava Reddy, popular for his Athadu Adavini Jayinchaadu (translated as He Conquered the Jungle); and Aruna, who wrote Elli and Neeli, are known for their writings that deal with Erukala, the pig-tending community. But what is noteworthy about the evolution of the dalit novel is that while the post-1985 period – a period of dalit awareness – produced vibrant dalit poetry, the same was not true of the dalit novel. G Rama Mohan Rao’s (Spartacas) Kakibatukulu (1982), Chilukuri Devaputra’s Panchamam (1998), Boya Jangaiah’s Jatara (1997) and Maromaarpu (2002) are some of the novels that came out during the period. The dalit novel came of age decisively with the publication of Vemula Yellaiah’s Kakka and Siddi (2006) and G Kalyanarao’s Antaraani Vasantham (Untouchable Spring), a revolutionary novel finds a solution in extremist violence.

The Telugu dalit literature movement from its genesis to the present may be classified into four phases though it may not be possible to demarcate the phases in terms of accurate periodisation. Dalit poetry – the novel was not yet on the scene – of the early period can be classified under the humanist phase because it opposed untouchability and caste without questioning the religious and social sanction given to these practices. The nationalist and the pre-nationalist dalit writing may be termed the harijan phase, as most of it was an outcome of Gandhian infl uence during the nationalist movement. Dalit poetry (by dalits) and novels on dalits by non-dalits were written during this period. The writings of the post-independence period by first generation educated dalits could be termed the scheduled caste (SC) phase. It was imitative of the themes and forms popular with mainstream writers who wrote about dalits. The works of the following period could be rightly termed the dalit phase and were produced by second and third generation educated dalits, who subscribed to Ambedkar’s ideology, questioned the predominant left, and attacked casteist hegemony. It may not be out of place to state that dalit discourse – both in politics and literature – strengthened itself

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and expanded ever since dalits began to question, and deviate from the Left in Andhra Pradesh.

Subordinating the Language

Dalit heritage and tradition including art and aesthetics had been subordinated at various stages of history under different guises. They were considered Adi-Dravidians, the original inhabitants of the land,5 and it is in this context that a famous poet, Boyi B himanna attributed the authorship of the Hindu scriptures to the dalits.6 The Aryans in the subsequent period subordinated the Dravidians socially, politically and economically and imposed their language and culture on the Dravidians. This was the beginning of the suppression of the language and art forms of the Dravidians, the lowest of whom were ostracised and assigned the most menial jobs. The remnant forms of the original Telugu language that might have existed during the non-Hindu religious periods like the Buddhist and Jaini periods were not allowed to surface. The language of the sons of the soil was successfully suppressed, and Sanskrit-centric Telugu was institutionalised under the patronage of Telugu kings like Rajaraja Narendra of the 11th century. This process continued from the 11th to the 16th century. The poets who actively involved themselves with translations were not creative writers but simply transliterated the Sanskrit texts into the Telugu script. They simply affixed the morphemes of du, mu, vu to Telugu words. Those involved in the translations included Nannaya (11th century), the first of the trio who translated the Mahabharath; Ketana (12th century) who translated Dandi’s Dasakumara Charitra; Hulakki Bhaskarudu (14th century) who translated Valmiki’s Ramayana; Sreenadha (15th century) who translated Srungara Naisadham; and Potana (also 15th century) who translated Veda Vyasa’s Mahaabhaagavatam. The translations of various Sanskrit texts could not be understood by the sudras due to the predominance of Sanskrit elements. C P Brown (1798-1884), an English officer, who had learnt the Telugu language, observes that “Sanskrit speech has infl uenced the Telugu language as much as, if not more than, Latin has infl uenced English”.7 The extent of the influence of Sanskrit has been such that writers have been putting in sustained efforts to enliven the Sanskrit tradition in literature. Even after the emergence of Telugu prose as the medium of literature, many writers continued using the pedantic and Sanskritised Telugu. Chinnaya Suri (1807-61), for instance wrote Nitichandrika (1853), the Telugu counterpart of Panchatantra in pedantic and plodding Telugu that ordinary readers find quite unreadable. Ranga Rao, who brought out two volumes of Telugu short stories translated into English, observes that the pedantic Suri’s style “affected literary Telugu, setting it back by at least 50 years. And the Telugu short story too has suffered.”8

This can be viewed as a disguised form of suppression of the Telugu spoken by the sudras and the untouchables. The main preoccupation of the brahmin writers lay in either extolling the kings or preserving the Vedic cult in lieu of the patronage they had received in the form of agraharams (gift-villages). The tradition of competitive extolling of the patron kings and preserving of the religious cult continued through the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result, argues Chinna Rao, either the “society or the

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s ocietal aspects of life was never the subject or the object of literature”9 until the 16th century. There was no way of representing dalits in the writings of the upper castes. If at all they figured in the writings, they did so negatively as demons and sinners. These forms of subordination – of the language and their lives – have been challenged by different agencies at different points of time culminating in the dalit movement in the modern times.

Bhakti Writings

The first form of challenge to this hegemony came in the form of social reformation by the Bhakti writers. The social praxis of saint – poets like Potuluri Veerabrahmam, Siddaiah and Yogi Vemana of the 17th century is credited with the reformation of the dalits and the sudras. Incidentally all three of them were nonbrahmin writers: Veerabrahmam, a social reformer was a goldsmith; Vemana was a Reddy and Siddaiah was a Dudekula, a backward caste. During their respective historical periods, they actively took part in moving through the dalit and sudra wadas educating them in social equality and against untouchability. They became popular because of their social mission. In the subsequent period, their writings as well as their lives had been relegated to the margins or even ignored completely. For example, Veerabrahmam, who was on the way to becoming a cult fi gure, was said to have committed sajiva samadhi (burying oneself alive). Dalit intellectuals of the modern period say that he might not have committed sajiva samadhi; the upper castes who could not digest his reformative mission, might have buried him alive or forced him to commit sajiva samadhi. Similarly, Vemana who had already become popular because of his questioning of the brahminical order was dubbed mad. Besides their lives, their writings and preachings were either pushed into oblivion or misinterpreted. It was Brown, who edited and recorded for posterity, the lost verses of Vemana. He served the Telugu language by recording in his dictionaries even the “lowest” element of Telugu extant among the ancient Dravidians. He had to depend upon the local educated brahmins, who worked as his scribes for tracing out and recording the Bhakti writings, especially Vemana’s works. In the process, the brahmin scribes, who worked for wages, had either suppressed or misinterpreted most of the Bhakti writings. What is available of the Bhakti tradition today is in spite of their best efforts to annihilate the dalit tradition – both the oral and the written forms.

The beginnings of the Bhakti period brought in a drastic change in the history of the Telugu language and literature because for the first time, the untouchables became the subject of literature. The saint poets undertook reformation around the same time in the other parts of the country too.10 The Bhakti movement in Andhra desa holds a special place in the social history of the dalits. Sudra saints led a movement against the retrogressive elements of Hinduism in the direction of religious reformation. Since Hinduism as a religion has been averse to reformation and modernisation, the movement assumed the form of social reformation, instead. The reformers questioned the basis of social inequality and discrimination. It had a bearing on the T elugu writings too. Vemana questioned various sociocultural aspects of the orthodoxies.11 However this tradition was to suffer a break in subsequent times.

Social Reformation

After a protracted hiatus of about 200 years, an attempt at social reformation was made in the late 19th century. The fi rst of such writers was Gurajada. As a part of the movement, Gurajada and Kandukuri Veereshalingam (1848-1919) championed the concerns of women – especially of the upper caste brahmins. What signifi es the reformation movement is that it expanded its scope from the rights of women to include education against social evils like untouchability, child marriage, bride-money, dowry, religious hatred and to encourage widow remarriage. Gurajada used the short story to propagate reforms in the society. He deviated from his predecessors in choosing both his themes and language. The themes of his stories were didactic; and the language he preferred was the spoken mode. The first version of his famous story, “Diddubatu” was written in the semi-classical style but revised later making it easily understandable. Gurajada and Kandukuri “broadened the base and scope of literature as well as transformed the traditional character of Telugu literature into the modern tool of communication”.12 The reformers used the short story for propagating the need for reformation. Gurajada is considered the harbinger of modernity in Telugu literature.

There were however certain limitations to the reformation movement. The reformers did not question the socio-religious bases that sanctified the evil practices. Their attempts were aimed at reforming select aspects of Hindu society specifi cally in respect of liberating the upper caste women. They did not attempt to question and negate the caste system. Thus, the social reformers of modern Andhra did not continue the medieval Bhakti tradition. There was a break. The social reformation must be understood as a reaction to the incorporation of dalits into Christianity and the missionary education of the Europeans. The questioning of caste and the concomitant evils like the untouchability, discrimination and oppression were absent in the most famous literary works of Gurajada Apparao’s play Kanyasulkam and Veereshalingam’s novel Rajasekhara Charitam, the fi rst T elugu novel.

The Dalit Challenge

The third challenge of dalit subordination was the one waged in the name of the Adi-Andhra movement in the form of political mobilisation. The first conference having taken place in 1917, a series of conferences and public meetings under the leadership of Bhagyareddy Verma were held. In the subsequent period the movement took different forms in the names of Adi-Andhra and Adi-Dravida movements. Bhagyareddy Verma played a pivotal role in radicalising and organising dalits.

As a part of this movement, Kusuma Dharmanna wrote against caste oppression, untouchability and discrimination. He stressed that the dalits were the original inhabitants, and demanded that the term “Adi-Andhra” be used to refer to them. Boyi Bhimanna called for unity between the Mala and the Madiga, whom he termed the ma-ma castes and claimed that the highest order of the dalits were descendants of Arundhati and Vasistha. Another dalit writer, Jala Rangaswami denounced the Aryan conquest that enslaved dalits, and wrote about the glory of the pre-Aryan past. The poets of this generation were vociferous in attacking the brahminical order. Thus, following the Bhakti tradition and the limited appeal of the social reformation movement, dalit intellectuals played a vital role in radicalising dalit thought and polity. In this regard Adapa Satyanarayana, a noted historian, writes “The dalit intellectuals of the pre-independence period were the forerunners of the contemporary dalit literary and cultural movements in the state.”13

Dalit struggles were particularly decisive during 1900-1930 but in the subsequent period, the mainstream political parties, especially the Congress suppressed dalit struggles in the name of the independence movement. This too needs to be understood as a form of the hegemony of the upper castes. The dalit movement suffered a setback with the death of Bhagyareddy Verma in 1939 and in the period that followed both the Congress and the communists successfully diverted public attention from the dalit question. By the 1950s the dalit movement almost came to an end for want of leadership, and did not recover until the 1980s.

Their struggles and challenges to subordination in various forms have not been represented in the literature of the brahmins and other upper castes. The beginnings of the nationalist movement in Andhra under the leadership of Tanguturi Prakasham, Pattabhi Seetharamaiah and Burgula Ramakrishna Rao too privileged the translation literature at the cost of Telugu. The language of literature became alien to the Telugu-speaking peopleand as a consequence, its unique “Telugunenss” was destroyed. It was written off as the language of the sudras, a phenomenon comparable to English which had been considered the language of the poor by the Latin and Greek scholars during the formative years of that language.14 Established writers continued to depart from the dalit tradition during the independence movement and nationalistic literature failed to reflect the problem of the dalit masses. It was generally believed that national liberation would solve the dalit problems too. Unnava Laxminarayana’s novel, Malapalli (1922) and N G Ranga’s Harijana Nayakudu (1933) represent this aspect. The Gandhian agenda of “harijan upliftment” was criticised by certain writers like Jala Rangaswami. Thus, the nationalistic writings of the 1920s failed to explore dalit issues. Similarly, the progressive literature of the 1940s too sought to sideline the sociocultural specificities like the caste, gender and ethnicity. The Marxists failed to understand the caste-specifi c character of Indian society.15 The liberation of dalits was not on the agenda of either the social reformers, the nationalist fi ghters or the leftists. It is in this context that Gail Omvedt explains why the Phule-Ambedkar movement was overshadowed by the discourses of the left and the right. The nationalist movement was idealised as totally inclusive by the nationalist historians who saw pre-independence history “only in terms of political opposition to a foreign power”.16

Regionalisation

Telugu produced a galaxy of short story writers including Sripada Subramanya Shastry, Chinta Dikshitulu, Vishwanatha Sathyanarayana, Gudipati Venkata Chalam, Karuna Kumara,

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Kodavatiganti Kutumba Rao, Gopichand, Chaganti Somayajulu, Palagummi Padmaraju, Buchi Babu, Rachakonda Vishwanatha Shastry, Kalipatnam Ramarao, Muppala Ranganayakamma, R S Sudarshnam among others and whose names are synonymous with short stories in Telugu. A characteristic feature of these writers was that they belonged to the upper castes and to the fertile plains of the coastal district, and wrote in the “standard” idiom. Their writings overshadowed the writers of the lower castes and the writings from the Telangana and Rayalaseema regions, which have a distinct language. These two regions are known for their different ethos because of the backwardness and poverty they suffer from. Northern Telangana, especially, is known for the people’s movements it has waged. The rise in literacy and awarenesshas led to a shift in the genre. Ranga Rao writes, “With the spread of education and the democratic spirit, writers in impressive numbers have started coming from the other two regions.”17 Their stories are remarkable for the use of dialect and depiction of the struggles of the people for socioeconomic equality.

The writers from west Rayalaseema like K Shobha, Madhuranthakam Rajaram, Krishna Reddy, V R Rasani, Kesava Reddy and Namini Subramanyam Naidu and those of northern Telangana like Allam Rajaiah, B S Ramulu, Boya Jangaiah, Thummeti Ragotham Reddy, Jukanti Jagannatham and others wrote differently from their counterparts in the coastal region by using the respective dialects of their regions. In the subsequent period, there has been an “epochal shift”18 in the direction of representing the regional ethos of the Telangana and Rayalaseema regions. The second half of the 20th century is known for its “movement” (about struggles against poverty and exploitation) literature. The Abhyudaya Rachayithala Sangham (Progressive Writers’ Association) of the 1950s, the Digambara Kavulu (Naked Poets) of the 1960s, and the Viplava Rachayithala Sangham (Revolutionary Writers’ Association) of the 1970s all had perceivable impact on the thematic concerns of the short story. Telugu short fi ction underwent a transition when the writers of the two backward regions questioned the tenets of the coastal region’s writing as the canon. The de-centring and regionalisation of the genre thus l egitimised the use of dialects and sociolects thus paving the way for the emergence of “dalitness” in literature.

Dalitisation

Another aspect of Telugu short fiction has been its “dalitising”. The first generation writers were social elites who were brahmins. But what is noteworthy is that quite a few of them wrote with the zeal of humanist reformers. The beginning of the Telugu dalit short story has to be traced to the writings of the brahmins. A number of them wrote on the subject of untouchability, exploitation, caste, agrarian relations, bonded labour and so on. It is against this background that the first ever anthology of Telugu dalit short stories, entitled Dalita Kathalu (Dalit Stories 1996),19 jointly edited by R Chandrasekhar Reddy and Laxminarayana included the stories of non-dalit writers. Of the 25 authors, only four – Kolakaluri Enoch, Chilukuri Devaputra, Boya Jangaiah and Shanti Narayana – are dalits, while the rest are mostly brahmins or from the upper castes. Besides this anthology,

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Laxminarayana archived most of the available stories dealing with dalits and which were published between 1910 and 1998 in seven volumes entitled Dalitha Kathalu. The volumes, each one containing about 28 stories, are classified into as many subthemes. Hardly one-fifth of the stories in each of the volumes are by dalits and the rest are by brahmin and upper caste writers.

The non-dalit writers write with sympathy and compassion about dalits. But they lack the essential dalit aspects of selfrespect, assertion and protest. The most noteworthy non-dalit writers writing on the dalit themes include Sripada Subrahmanyasastry, Banda Kanakalingeswar Rao, Veluri Sivarama Sastri, Karunakumara, Anisetti Subbarao, Adavi Bapiraju and Gopichand. Their stories are confined to the description of the inhumanity of untouchability and exploitation. These stories can at the most invoke pity and sympathy but not conscientise or radicalise the reader. These stories were written against the background of Gandhi’s agenda of harijan upliftment. Therefore, there is a view that holds that these stories cannot be considered dalit stories. The second-generation non-dalit writers like Madhuranthakam Rajaram, Pulikanti Krishna Reddy, Singamaneni Narayana and Kethu Vishvanatha Reddy attempted to write on different aspects of dalit life. Their themes include the failure of the State in transforming the lives of dalits and exploitation by the upper castes. What is characteristic of the non-dalit writers and their writing is that the dalits were written about with sympathy. These volumes include stories by the young generation of dalit writers like Endluri Sudhakar, Paidi Tereshbabu, Madduri Nageshbabu, Shanti Narayana and Kalekuri Prasad and women dalit writers are conspicuously absent since they had not yet begun to write at the time when the anthologies were published. The general anthologies that have come out in the recent past gave adequate representation to the dalit short story writers, including women writers.

Mudhouse Dalit Writers and Cultural Assertion

The first dalit short story proper (in terms of the writer being a dalit) was the “Oorabaavi” (Public Well 1969) by Kolakaluri Enoch containing aspects like search for self-respect, the angst and language of dalits. The other dalit writers like Boya Jangaiah, Shanti Narayana and Chilukuri Devaputra wrote stories in what may be termed the “received” language as against the dalit language. Their target readers were the educated dalit middle class.20 In the beginning, the dalit middle classes produced literature meant to be read by educated dalits. This phase is indicative of the emergence of the dalit middle classes. and it failed to radicalise the dalit masses. Instead, their objective has been to struggle for acceptability, and to be a part of the literary canon and the agency of the canon making. As against this kind of writing, there has emerged a group of writers that produces writing in raw and unrefined forms in defiance of the canonical literary forms. Their target readers are not the middle classes and their objective is not acceptability, but the ascertainment of their marginalised, subordinated and othered self. They have been able to accomplish the assertion of the dalit self by writing in the oral tradition and making use of diction which could be described as obscurantist and obscene. But they are not ashamed of it; they are rather proud of their attempts at cultural assertion from below. A host of contemporary dalit writers have been producing poetry, novels and short stories in this category. This kind of writing in Marathi dalit literature is termed “mudhouse dalit writing”. In one of his insightful articles, Gopal Guru classified the Marathi dalit writers into mudhouse dalit writers and elite dalit writers for the purpose of what he summed up, as “the double task of tackling the dalit literary establishment, on the one hand, and colonising the state, on the other”.21 The mudhouse dalit writers, who follow the oral tradition, have been condemned and criticised as “vulgar and obscurantist”22 by the canonical writers. Their mudhouse counterparts in Telugu have been producing remarkable writings in the new millennium, especially expressing themselves in short stories. Other noteworthy mudhouse works have been exclusive anthologies of dalit women’s writings that have produced a remarkable body of work.23 Most of the dalit women writing in T elugu deal with social violence as against domestic violence.

The Telugu dalit short story has traversed a long un-tread path to grow from mere “dalitness” to the historical dalitness – that is, dalitness by birth. The present anthology consists of the short stories representing the most experienced dalit short story writer like Kolakaluri Enoch to the youngest, Nallala Laxmirajam. These stories represent the dalit ethos in the dalit language; retain links with their identity and the past. The dalit identity, representation and authenticity are some of the common themes of the stories indicating how closely they are grounded in dalit reality.

Just as it took several years for the Madiga writers to pen their experiences and achieve visibility, when compared to his Mala counterpart, it is likely to take as many years for the remaining 56 dalit communities to write their respective experiences, and be known as writers. This is certainly a shortcoming on the part of the Telugu dalit writing, and the state is to be held responsible for keeping them away from literacy even 60 years after independence. However, Eleanor Zelloit viewed the Marathi writings as “a little more pessimistic and dark in tone than…the dalit movement itself.”24 The Telugu dalit writings in general are not pessimistic; they represent the contemporary dalit movement. Telugu dalit literature is vibrant and seems more promising adding as it does new anthologies and authors to its lists year after year.

Dalit Language

Some of the contemporary Telugu dalit writers have accomplished the uncommon feat of recording dalit lives in the dialects of the regions concerned. They include Vemula Yellaiah, Jupaka Subhadra, Gogu Shyamala, Jajula Gowri, and Yendluri Sudhakar, among others who capture in their writings those aspects of Telugu which were unaffected by the influence of Sanskrit. The language used by them is the culmination of the privileging of two most important aspects of the dalit language.

The first one is related to the privileging of the dialects of the corresponding regions and the sociolect of the dalits. The latter, especially, would have been detested if used in literature in the earlier times. The translated literary works brought into the Telugu language the use of Sanskrit words which got legitimised. The literary movements and various periods like the Kavithraya Yugamau, Shivakavi Yugamau, Prabhandha Yugamu, Ksheena Y ugamu and Bhavakavithva Yugamu strengthened the elements of Sanskrit. The subsequent literary periods – Abhyudaya Y ugamu, Digambhara Yugamu and Viplava Yugamu – which were under the influence of the left too did not attempt to free Telugu. Srirangam Srinivas, who is popularly known as Sri Sri, used Sanskrit words and imagery abundantly despite which he has been given the title Prajakavi and glorified as the embodiment of revolutionary writing. The other modern periods like Streevada Yugamu and Prantheeya Yugamu too prioritised the themes and neglected the question of language. The marginalisation and subordination of the native elements of the Telugu of the sudras and the dalits continued to be brushed aside as the language of illiterates and the uncivilised. Over the ages, this process had dented the Telugu language in two ways: subordinating and marginalising the native Telugu treating it as the language of the low castes; and importing Sanskrit into Telugu via literature and court practices. As a result, the Sanskrit words got assimilated, by and large, into the spoken Telugu of the educated and the m iddle classes.

However, what is noteworthy is that the ancient and original forms of Telugu have been preserved in a different form. This aspect of preservation remained unnoticed till the consolidation of dalit literature. In other words, there has been a continuity in the native Telugu in use during and after the period of Sanskritised Telugu. The continuity of the ancient Telugu was latent in the language spoken by the dalits, especially those belonging to the Madiga and their dependant castes. There are three primary reasons for this.

The first reason is the social ostracisation of the dalits from the mainstream. The curing of cattle hide, sewing cheppulu and other leather items required in agricultural work and transportation; eating cattle meat; preserving the leftover cattle meat; and other aspects of the Madiga occupation – were all part of the productive process until the development of technology and its application to production. But these practices were also the source of their social exclusion and untouchability. The Madiga forms of occupation, associated with untidiness and pollution, became the raison d´être for their politico-economic subordination. What is conspicuous in the case of the social exclusion of the dalits is that they have been made to feel conscious of it; they have been constantly reminded of their subordination by different forms of undemocratic practices in their everyday life. Untouchability as a form of social ostracisation is a characteristic feature of Hindu society.25 The seclusion of the dalits, thus, prevented them from social contact with the village mainstream and led, in turn, to losing contact with the corrupted forms of Telugu. The homogeneous nature of the dalit groups thus helped preserve the ancient forms of the Telugu language.

The second reason is the spatial ostracisation of the dalits in the village which had been a kind of cementing of the social

o stracisation. The topography and the demography of every village had been structured in such a way that the clusters of the houses were and still are separated by caste lines. The houses of the brahmins, upper caste landed gentry, backward castes and the most backward castes are situated in the main village in a corresponding hierarchical order. The Mala-wadas followed by

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the Madiga-wadas are secluded even from the sudra castes, and are situated far outside the village. The dependent castes like the Dakkalis, who are themselves untouchable to the untouchable Madigas, are not a part of any village. The dependent castes are excluded from any form of contact with the language and culture of the main village.

The geographical distance as well as the social othering of the dalits made it possible for the Madiga language to remain mostly unaffected. The extent of Sanskrit words used in Telugu is similar to the demographic division of the population in the village and the caste hierarchy: while the Telugu of the brahmins is most affected, the Telugu of the Madigas is least affected by the process of import of the Sanskrit words.

The third reason is the illiteracy of the dalits. Literacy, education and employment, and the effective means of social ascendancy, could provide an easy way for the Sanskrit words into Telugu. In fact, the literacy and education of the savarnas (upper castes) legitimised the elements of Sanskrit in the Telugu language while the illiteracy of the Madigas and the other most backward sudras prevented the Sanskrit words from entering into their language. The socio-spatial and academic ostracisation indirectly helped the dalits preserve the forms of spoken Telugu in the early period. Mallemoggala Godugu provides a source m aterial for the enthusiastic Telugu philologist to explore the historiography of the morphological features of the original or ancient Telugu. To gather more authentic forms of the unpolluted or ancient forms of Telugu, an empirical data of the Telugu spoken by the castes, who are untouchables within the untouchables, would be more reliable.

Oral Storytelling

The second aspect of the language of the Telugu dalit literature has been the use of the oral tradition. Ever since the beginning of the translation literature and the subsequent Telugu literary movements, the written mode had been institutionalised by privileging it over the oral mode. The use of the Sanskrit-centric Telugu in literature as well as in the royal courts continued to be used unchallenged. It remained in force in some form or the other throughout the history of Telugu language and literature.

The written mode of expression had been subjected to scrutiny by the emergence of the reformation movement in Andhra Pradesh led by Kandukuri Veereshalingam (1848-1919) and Gurajada Appa Rao (1862-1915). In the subsequent period, Gurajada and Gidugu Ramamurthy (1863-1940) advocated the use of the oral mode in literature. The tradition which thus started as a part of the social reformation movement also reformed the language to the extent of the formation of the Free Verse Front by a writer called Kundurthi in the 20th century. The shift from the written to the oral mode by any reckoning is a major leap in the reformation of Telugu language and literature. However, this movement suffered from its own limitations. The oral mode that the writers proposed and used was the one spoken by the upper castes, especially the educated brahmins. The language reformation movement including the free verse movement did not take into account the use of the language of the masses, like for instance, William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge proposed in the

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Preface to their popular Lyrical Ballads (1798). Therefore, this shift from the written mode to the spoken mode was very limited for it ignored the language of the masses; the language of the dalits and sudras.

The twin shifts – from the written mode to the spoken mode; and from the oral mode of the educated speakers to that of the i lliterate low caste speakers – became complete with the emergence of contemporary Telugu dalit writing. Telugu dalit literature itself underwent a drastic transition from Gurram Jashuva, its forerunner who authored Gabbilam (1941; 1946) to the modern phase. The former used the classical form padyam (rhymed verse of metrical feet) to portray the dalit suffering, angst and protest. The spurt in dalit writing from 1985 onwards heralded a new era. The Madiga literature is a departure from the tradition of Telugu dalit literature: it represents “Madiganess” in all its manifestations across four generations of Madiga life in Andhra Pradesh. The form and technique of the writing is, in fact, shaped by the content. By subordinating the form to the content; by privileging the subject matter over technique, dalit writers unveiled dalit ethos in literature, an unimaginable feature as far as conventional writing is concerned.

Little Traditions

Robert Redfield, an American anthropologist classifi ed tradition into two types: the “little tradition” and the “great tradition”. The great tradition is made great through the sociological process of assimilation by subordinating the native traditions. Yet the native elements of the traditions invariably retain their character because of their socio-spatial exclusion from the great tradition. The retained forms are termed the little traditions. The Madiga tradition, like those of various castes and tribes in India, forms part of the little traditions which withstand the attempts of assimilation and retain their original character. What characterises the tradition of the Madigas is their exclusivist occupation of working with leather which is not undertaken by any other caste. By the nature of the occupation and exclusion, the Madiga caste corresponds to the Chakkiliyas of Tamil Nadu, the Chamars of north India and the Chambhars of Maharashtra. The main duty of the Madigas is to cart the deceased cattle out of the village; cure its hide; process the skin into fi ne leather; and sew sandals and various leather items used in agriculture, irrigation and transport. Besides the leather work, the Madigas are the main source of field labour for the landowning communities for which they are entitled to mirasi, the rights of support and wages for the routine field labour. They also render other services like cleaning the streets, notifying the villagers by oral announcements accompanied by the drumbeat and manual cleaning of human excreta. For rendering these services, they may or may not get remuneration. In the early period, the Madigas were treated as etti, bonded labourers.

The Madigas eat cattle meat because of its affordability and nutrition. On the occasions of ceremonies and festivals, they procure discarded/aged bullocks for preparing feast meals. In the subsequent period, their meat eating and leather work became the source of their untouchability. They are detested by all the castes. The Madigas are considered crude, vulgar and impolite and inferior to the rest of the untouchables. There is no intermarrying among the Madiga sub-castes and also between the Madiga and the rest of the dalit castes. They are autonomous and independent in terms of their economy, occupation and culture, which may be due to their exclusion from the mainstream society. N S Reddy, therefore, comments that the Madiga caste “looks like (a) parallel full-fledged community within broad limits of Hindu society.”26

One of the striking features of the little cultures of the Madigas and their dependent castes is the absence of patriarchy in the family and domination in the society. Chinna Rao, who worked on the dalits’ struggle for identity comments, “In dalit culture, family and community relations are basically democratic in nature”.27 Unlike in the Hindu family system, Madiga men and women work on equal terms. The Madiga women take equal and active role in the domains of production (as labourers), decisionmaking concerning marriage, family, monetary and other matters. The extent of domestic violence against the Madiga women is less when compared to their counterparts in the Hindu society. Their social institutions like marriage and family are not rigid and straitjacketed. The practices of rituals and conventions d iffer from region to region within the Madigas. They pray to the principle of Shakti as manifest in the form of the female cult-deities of the family and caste which include, Kuntamma, Kolhapuramma, Batamma, Peddamma, Maisamma, Pochamma, Ellamma and Poleramma in different regions of the state. Unlike the Hindus, the Madigas do not worship idols. The Shakti- worship is mostly based on the formless images; not a defi nitive idol. For instance, the dalits worship Ellamma, Maisamma and her sub-cults, P ochamma and her sub-cults, and the famous biennial tribal jatara, fair of Sammakka-Sarakk in Telangana have neither definitive shape nor any idols. An important requisite of the religious practices of the dalits is the inevitable animal sacrifi ce.

Untouchability within Untouchability

Untouchability within untouchability is the unique inhuman aspect of the caste system practised in India. While the Madigas are untouchable even to the Malas, the Madigas too treat certain other sub-castes as untouchable. The Madigas constitute the main supporting caste to certain other dependent castes. T R Singh terms them the “central caste” and the “satellite castes” respectively. He explains, “the main supporting caste has been called central caste; the others economically dependent upon, but complementing the socio-cultural life of the former, have been satellites”.28 The dependent or satellite castes are treated as the untouchable castes by the Madigas, the central caste.

Varying from region to region, there are several satellite castes among the Madigas. Some of these include, Dakkali, Chindus, Baindlas, Erpulas, Madiga-Mastins, Kommuvaru, Binedu, Jambavas, Matangis and Pambalas. They remain at the periphery of the caste system; and at the periphery of the Madiga-wadas. The satellite castes are considered professional groups since each is identified with a particular profession, which is directly or indirectly connected to the Madigas but not to the rest of the castes in the village. The satellite castes therefore do not form part of the village in any respect.

The Dakkalis, for instance, are the beggars; they beg from the Madigas during the harvest days. They are one of the most d etested castes among the dalit castes and are not even allowed to enter the Madiga-wadas. The Madigas consider the Dakkalis “half-caste”. this means that the Dakkali caste has not been incorporated into the village or the caste system, and does not have any particular occupation or service to render to the upper castes of the village. They sing songs in praise of the Madigas and receive alms.

Some of the other satellite castes include the Chindus, who stage dramatic scenes from the epics, the Ramayan and the M ahabharath not necessarily for the Madigas but also for the rest of the people in the village. The Chindus spare a woman for the Madigas, who use her as a collective wife besides worshipping her as Goddess Yellamma; the Baindlas who discharge the priestly functions for the Madigas and perform their religious rites to the music of Jamadika, a musical instrument characteristic of their occupation; the Madiga-Mastins who beg by playing on a particular musical instrument.

Among the dalit castes, the Malas have been in the forefront. Geographically spread across coastal Andhra that is rich with fertile lands and irrigation facilities, the Malas have relatively overcome the social handicap. Further, since the coastal region was under British rule, the missionary activities – mostly in the spheres of health, education and Christianity – helped them in their upward mobility. The Madigas outnumber the Malas in the Telangana region, which had been under the feudal regime reeling under economic backwardness and social oppression. The Telangana region is known for barren lands due to lack of water resources. As a result, the Madigas lag far behind the Malas in all respects including literary output.

The Malas began to produce their literary oeuvre right from the beginning of the nationalist struggle and their writings received critical acclaim both then and in the subsequent periods. Noteworthy writers among them include, Kusuma Dharmanna, Gurram Jashuva, Boyi Bheemanna and Jala Rangaswamy. It is noteworthy in this context that the Madiga writers were neglected, though a few of them were writing at different points of time. For instance, the works of Dunna Iddak, said to be a contemporary of Potuluri Veerabrahman of the 17th century, remains unknown even to this day, and there is a need to discover his works. Mention may also be made of Vemulapalli Devendar, a contemporary of Jashuva and Mothkuri Johnson another promising Madiga writer of the times of Boyi Bhimanna, who did not receive due recognition. The first Madiga writer to be acknowledged as a potential artist was Kolakaluri Enoch, whose stature as a writer has been recognised both because of the dalitness in his writings and his academic and administrative career as a professor of Telugu and vice chancellor of a prestigious university. Having overcome regional and social prejudices, a group of Madiga writers have been giving voice to “madiganess” since the 1990s. The emergence of powerful Madiga writers like Yendluri Sudhakar, Vemula Yellaiah, Nagappagari Sunderraju and the Madiga women writers like Jajula Gowri, Jupaka Subhadra and Gogu Shyamala, among others proved that the writers from

may 29, 2010 vol xlv no 22

“below” can alone produce the literature that tells the story of The Dandora movement has been a step in this direction. Its exclusion, suffering and rebellion and their aspirations for free-main agenda, under the leadership of Krishna Madiga, has been to dom, dignity and equality by going back to the sociocultural wage a relentless fight for the sub-classification of the dalit castes. roots. These features of the Madiga writings enriched Telugu The state government granted them sub-classification into what is dalit writing at a time when it was almost on the wane. popularly known as the ABCD. However, it has been legally ques-

Another important feature of Madiga writing is that it is about tioned and stalled on technical grounds. But what the movement their satellite castes too. The contemporary Madiga writers give has achieved on the social front has been immeasurable especially equal importance to the representation of the identity of the sat-insofar as the Madiga identity and self-respect is concerned. The ellite castes – the castes that are not even the part of the outcaste-very term, “Madiga” used to be considered derogative and unmenwadas. There have been quite a few short stories and poems deal-tionable and could attract the atrocities act if the non-dalits ading with the Baindlas, Erpulas, Dakkalis and Chindus by contem-dressed them by it. A term associated with filthiness became a porary Madiga writers. Just as the dalits had been written about symbol of identity and self-respect ever since Manda Krishna and by the savarnas from 1910 to 1940s; the satellite castes are being others of the Dandora movement began to attach it to their names. written about by the Madigas since the beginning of the new mil-The rest of the castes too are now adding the names of dalit castes lennium. However, the satellite castes – the most ostracised of to their names just like the uppercastes who suffix the names of the ostracised – are yet to write themselves. They need to grow their respective castes (like Reddy; Rao and Chaudhury). This is a from being written about to writing themselves. In this respect, symbolic achievement of the self- respect movement. Mallemog-Telugu dalit writing has a long way to go. gala Godugu represents this aspect symbolically.

Depressed Castes”, PhD Dissertation, Lucknow

Notes Legitimacy”, Social Scientist, Vol 21, Nos 1-2, 1993: 71. Ghanshyam Shah (ed.), Dalit Identity and
1 2 3 4 5 6 Potuluri Veerabrahmam, whose preachings were recorded in Kaalajnaanam, was famous in the 17th century for his preachings. He entered Jeeva Samadhi in the year 1693.Gurram Jashuva, Gabbilam, translated by K Madhava Rao, Jashuva Foundation, Hyderabad, 1996. Karamchedu is a village in Prakasham district of Andhra Pradesh, where six dalits were killed and three dalit women raped by the forward caste men on 17 July 1985; 17 dalits were massacred at Chundur on 6 August 1991; at least 26 such indcidents of murder or large-scale arson took place killing a total of 57 dalits and setting on fi re 430 houses. For a detailed account, see K Balagopal, “Post-Chundur and Other Chundurs”, Economic & Political Weekly (19 October 1991). G Laxminarsaiah and Tripuraneni Srinivas, Chikkanavutunna Paata, Vijayawada: Kavithvam Prachuranalu, 1995; and G Laxminarsaiah, Padunekkina Paata, Vijayawada: Dalit Sana Prachuranalu, 1996. Sambasiva Rao, “Panchamula Pracheenatha”, Andhra Patrika Ugadhi Sanchika, cited in Chinna Rao, Yagati, Dalits’ Struggle for Identity (New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers), 2003: 36.Gnaneshwar, GanuMala (ed.), Boyi Bhimanna Sahiti Sastipurti Sanchika, Hyderabad: Sahiti Sastipurti Prachurana, 1983. This book consists of the studies of Boyi Bhimanna in different per 13 14 15 A Satyanarayana, Dalits and Upper Castes: Essays in Social History (New Delhi: Kanishka Publishers), 2005: 94. English used to be considered a language of the poor and the working classes in England. The status of English changed only when Henry IV made it an official language of England. It was only in 1894 in Oxford and 1911 in Cambridge that English was allowed as a subject after a great deal of resistance. Charles Grant recommended the i ntroduction of English as the medium of instruction in 1772, almost a hundred years prior to its being recognised by the Oxford and the Cambridge Universities. Till then English used to be treated only a dialect. Kancha Ilaiah, “Caste or Class or Caste-Class: A Study in Dalit Bahujan Consciousness in Andhra Pradesh in 1980s”, History and Society: Research in Progress Papers, NMML, New Delhi, 1995. Ilaiah, a well known dalit ideologue, observes that a few dalits emerged as leaders especially in the Congress, but not among the communists, who claim to struggle for the empowerment of the oppressed. Damodaram Sanjivayya of the Congress was made the first dalit chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in 1960; he was also the fi rst dalit to become the president of the AICC. In spite of the political ascendancy of the dalits, they could not serve their people. Shanti Narayana’s “Steel Foot” in the present anthology exemplifi es 22 23 24 25 26 Politics: Cultural Subordination and the Dalit Challenge, Vol 2 (New Delhi: Sage Publications), 2001: 192. Arjun Dangle (ed.), No Entry for the New Sun: Translations from Modern Marathi Dalit Poetry (New Delhi: Disha Books), 1992: 50. Gogu Shyamala (ed.), Nalla Poddu (black sun): Dalita Streela Sahityam 1921-2002 (Hyderabad: Hyderabad Book Trust), 2004 and Jupaka Subhadra and Gogu Shyamala (ed.), Nalla Regati Saallu (Furrows of Black Soil) (Hyderabad: Mysamma-Sabbanda Prachuranalu) 2006. The former contains writings by dalit women and the latter is an exclusive anthology of short stories on the Madiga women. Eleanor Zelloit, “A Bibliographic Essay”, From U ntouchable to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement (New Delhi: Manohar), 2005: viii. The seclusion of the women from the mainstream of the family as well as the religious rituals during their menstruationg on the pretext of pollution is a form of exclusion of women making them conscious of their subordination within the Hindu patriarchy. Similarly, within the brahmin family, the other members of the family are not supposed to pollute the one who is in the madi, at the time of offering prayers and cooking. N S Reddy, “Transitions in Caste Structures in Andhra Pradesh with Particular Reference to

spectives including ascribing the ancient writing this aspect. University, Lucknow, cited in Ghanshyam Shah to the non-Aryans.

16 Omvedt, Gail, Dalits and the Democratic Revolu-(ed.), Dalit Identity and Politics: Cultural Subordi7 C P Brown, “Introduction”, Dictionary: Telugu-tion: Dr Ambedkar and the Dalit Movement in

nation and the Dalit Challenge, Vol 2 (New Delhi:

English, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Colo nial India (Delhi: Sage), 1994: 16. Sage Publications), 92.

1986 rpt, v.

17 Ranga Rao, 261. 27 Chinnarao Yagati, Dalits’ Struggle for Identity (New8 Ranga Rao, “Afterword”, Classic Telugu Short

18 Ranga Rao, “Afterword”, That Man on the Road: Delhi: Kanishka Publishers), Distributors, 42.

S tories (New Delhi: Penguin Books), 1995: 258.

Contemporary Telugu Short Fiction (New Delhi: 28 T R Singh cited in Shah, 93. 9 Chinna Rao, 28. Penguin Books), 2006: 227.

10 The Bhakti saints and poets who wrote the verse 19 R Chandrasekhar Reddy and K Laxminarayana, include Nandanar, a Shaivite poet of the eighth Dalitha Kthalau (Hyderabad: Visalandhra), 1996. century from Tamil Nadu, Tiruppan, a Vaishnavite

20 The Telugu dalit short story mirrors both the dalit of the same period, Chokkamela, a Mahar of the

middle classes and the lower classes, a feature 14th century from Maharashtra, Ravidas, a Chamar

that does not characterise the Gujarati dalit short (cobbler) of the 15th century from the north and

stories as observed by Rita Kothari, “Short Story Kabir from Varanasi from Hindu Muslim back

in Gujarati Dalit Literature”, Economic & Political ground inveighed against untouchability.

Weekly (30 November 2001). 11 Apart from Vemana, the other Bhakti saints who

21 Gopal Guru made a detailed analysis of the rewrote poetry with a reformative mission against

treating of the dalit cultural movement in Macaste and untouchability include Chandidas in

harashtra. The reasons are said to be academic Bengali, Kabir in Hindi, Nanak in Punjabi and

orientation, quest for literary recognition and Sarvagna in Kannada.

materialism on the part of the writers as noted by 12 V Ramakrishna, “Literary and Thatre Movements in him in “The Interface between Ambedkar and Colonial Andhra: Struggle for Left Ideological the Dalit Cultural Movement in Maharashtra” in

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