The Madness & Fury of Communalism and Free Market; And the ‘why and how’ of our Cultural Revolt against it: Part II

Jayant Pawar

 13th Vidrohi Sahitya
Sammelan, Buldhana, Maharashtra
Whom to revolt against? And, how-
After elaborating so
much on the present situation, the next question is: whom to revolt against?
Well, of course, against the cultural nationalism. Because, in the end, this
kind of nationalism gives birth and nourishes fundamentalism. We have already
witnessed how Islamic nationalism eventually led to forces like Taliban and
their gruesome acts of terror. At the same time, it is amply clear how United
States supported Taliban’s activities militarily, financially and otherwise.
This simply proves our hypothesis that US sponsored capitalist nationalism and
religious- cultural revivalism, fundamentalism are not against each other.
Further, alliance of these two can very well take place over here as well.
Hence we desperately need to go beyond all symbolic protests; all tokenism and
call spade a spade- we need to revolt against this particular unholy ‘alliance’
as such.

But wait! I am
perplexed over how to revolt and against whom? Because, the threat of cultural
nationalist forces we are facing today, are rampant thanks to their active foot
soldiers- which comprise mainly the Bahujan samaj, the working people.
Brahminical, hierarchical, domineering values have infested them. It is this
large stratum of populace which actively supported BJP’s ascent to power in
2014. The bahujans were at the forefront of the recent riots and violence. One
witnesses both facets of exploiter and exploited in the bahujans of India
today. In these times, I am confronted with tricky and grave questions like how
to interpret the dictum of ‘Bahujan hitay, bahujan sukhay’ (for the greater
common good of the common people) and how to construct ‘bahujanvad’, a
coherent, progressive thought as ideology of the common people.
Maharishi Vitthal
Ramji Shinde established ‘Bahujan Party’ on 1st September 1920 and
released its manifesto. He used the term ‘Bahujan’ in political sense for the
first time. While defining the term, he categorized the people of this country
into two sections- one section which is with access to all means of education,
wealth and power; and the other, which remained deprived of the access to them
and hence remained backward. He called the latter as ‘bahujan’. In a sense, he
clarified the distinction between classes and masses. In those times, it was
the upper castes which had concentrated power, education and wealth. Hence, it
was quite clear to which section Maharishi Shinde was referring to as
‘bahujan’. Still, he refused to define it in caste and religious terms. He has
included farmers, soldiers, carpenters, goldsmith, gardeners, milkmen, small
traders, balladeers, midwife, laborers, untouchables and women. He clearly
stated that any person or group of persons can join ‘Bahujan Party’; however,
he put a condition that the interests of the party and people willing to join
should match.
However, later on
after him, the term ‘bahujan’ has been more often used to imply ‘non-brahmins’.
Right from Y.B. Chavan to Kanshiram- Mayawati and present leaders, everyone has
adopted it to mean as ‘non-brahmin’. Shinde’s ‘Bahujan Party’ was a political
move. Even afterwards, everyone approached ‘bahujan’ as a nomenclature for
bahujan politics. Shinde’s politics had the motive of improvement of material
conditions of bahujan, downtrodden lives. It stayed same more or less even
later; however, the broad concept of bahujan suffered several setbacks and it
was reduced to an amalgam of several caste groups. Implementation of Mandal
commission recommendations meant growing social consciousness for several
castes, enabling their distinct identity and voice was a positive, democratic
event. However, this consciousness came with politics of maneuver for power
which led to anomalies of casteist hatred and what we are witnessing now is a
sorry state of fissures- middle castes separated, OBCs are different, tribals
separate, dalits different; it is a sad affair and a mockery of that grand
scheme originally implied in the term ‘bahujan’. Now how this fragmented
society would come together again is the moot question today.
We should actually go
back to Shinde’s definition of bahujan. However, there is a difficulty today.
We cannot simply divide between the powerful and powerless merely on the basis
of caste. It is because many in the bahujans have power of education, wealth
and rights. Teachers, middle peasantry, traders, theatre artists are no longer
downtrodden as they were in Shinde’s times. Rather, they are rapidly going over
to ‘Abhijan’ category of powerful, the ‘haves’ in the society. The middle class
which is trying to cut its umbilical cord from the poor and working class in
its attempt for upward mobility; includes people from all castes and they are
all surrendering to cultural nationalism.
So then, whom to
revolt against and how? The answer is revolt against self! Rebellion is
spontaneous; however, revolution is a continuous long drawn process. This is
because it doesn’t just seek to change the system but also the value system
upon which the system is based. If it is taken into account, then one would
realize that the revolt has to begin against oneself. The society torn between
several castes, sub-castes has now sunk to the level of hatred of each other.
With globalization rendering the ‘market’ as the focal point of all social
transactions, everyone is trying to fetch the highest value. Once market becomes
the only value system, the selfishness becomes inevitable. The competition
naturally turns into hatred and leads to violence. False identities are born
and fostered. The castes hating each other don’t stop at the level of castes.
They get torn apart from within. Several sub-castes try to outdo each other in
this strife. This is our reality for hundreds of years. But this hierarchical
domineering is turning into an insanity of manic proportions. Even in 21st
century today, the caste panchayats of bahujans are cementing the walls of
caste in unprecedented manner, they are exploiting the poor and powerless from
their community itself and excommunicate those who refuse to surrender. Why the
bahujan literature doesn’t dare to portray this horrifying reality? There are
exceptions like Asaram Lomate who depicts the internal politics and
exploitation at the level of caste. But I haven’t come across any Dalit
literature elaborating upon the exploitation by caste panchayats. Today, the
girls from bahujan samaj have to face a horrific reality of patriarchy on every
corner, day in day out. From public toilets to schools, the male gaze and
violence is constantly follows them. The young men stalking them are bahujan
only. If we remain silent and see with open eyes the violence being done within
our homes to our mothers and sisters and not utter a word against; do we have
any right to raise our voice against the injustice meted out in the world?  Today, the doctors committing female feticide
are from bahujans. The government officials, who mismanage funds of packages
for tribals and farmers, are from bahujans. And they have no shame nor sorrow
that they are enjoying at the expense of their brethen.
We try to seek root of
our sorrows outside. Once an enemy outside is projected, a system of
exploitation is imagined; then our task is easy. Our battle is easy. Alas, the
reality is far too different. The binary that projects term Hindu as regressive
and rejection of the term ‘Hindu’ is progressive, is not  just simplistic but also false and dangerous.
The politicians who keep swearing by the names of Phule, Shahu and Ambedkar;
what transformations have they brought? By just claiming legacy of
revolutionaries and progressive emancipators, reformers; one doesn’t become
progressive. What are doing of that legacy is more important. I sometimes
wonder that whether our simplistic definitions of such concepts are responsible
for the perilous situation we find ourselves in. The reality is far too complex
today. Be it the massacres at Khairlanji, Sonai, Kharda, Javkheda or murder of
Muslim youth in Hadapsar; the tone and tenor of the pamphlets, agitations,
articles was such that it is humanity that has been murdered. But how many
people thought that it is part of me that has been murdered? It is our strange
bearing that humanity is kind of a thing which exists independent of me and is
something sacred. But once we realize that I am the one who has been murdered
and also, I am the one who has committed it; both these things can very well co-exist
within me, my surrounding society; then nothing remains so simple and
simplistic. Our demand that the accused should be identified and arrested
immediately is very much a justified demand; however, it doesn’t address the
root cause.
This is not to say
that there is no system which exploits the powerless and downtrodden. There
definitely is. It continuously works at a macro level. We should definitely
track its mechanisms. But it is equally true that the system creates new
exploiters from the exploited section itself. It rather creates a chain of
exploitation. Therefore it becomes increasingly difficult to name it, to track
it thoroughly. You put traps for yourself and hunt the ones trapped. How to
remove these traps? These obstacles? It becomes a difficult undertaking. Poet
Yashwant has aptly described this:
जेलर आता शांतपणे झोपी गेलाय
आणि कैदी एकमेकांवर नजर ठेवून आहेत.
(now the jailer has
slept in peace; and the prisoners are keeping watch on each other)
Towards Bahujan culturalism
To overcome these
obstacles in our endeavor to go back to Maharishi Shinde’s definition of
‘bahujan’; it is his qualifying condition only which can serve our purpose
better. He says, people of any caste, religion, country can join our party.
Only their and our party’s interests should be same. Today, we need to
transcend the politics of power and government and strengthen the foundations
of cultural politics. Hence we should replace Shinde’s usage of ‘same
interests’ by the word ‘bahujan culturalism’. 
Bahujan culture is in
contradiction with abhijan (elite) culture and its values are different than
the latter. The culture of elites professes Brahminical values of caste, race,
religious supremacy, and patriarchy. There is always a demeanor of born
supremacy in elite culture which stems from its belief that since it dictates
the value systems of the society, it alone can shape the direction of the
nation. Hence it propagates varna system, ritualistic culture. It creates its
own standards right from grammar of language to lifestyle. It dictates these
standards forcibly upon the non-elites i.e. bahujans. It establishes its
hegemony which leads to a ‘common sense’ acceptance of these values by even the
bahujans. Then, the artists, writes and other creative enterprising people in
bahujans start thinking their arts, writing, other walks of life in terms of
the elites’ values and standards. This creates an inferiority complex regarding
their own language, arts, lifestyle etc. and process of homogenization gains
pace at the cost of bahujan culture. Elite culture is based on ‘mantra’ (spell)
whereas bahujan culture is founded upon labor. Bhalchandra Nemade clearly
spells out this distinction in his recent novel ‘Hindu’ (which depicts the
bahujan sensibilities) where the protagonist Khanderao states regarding the
massive changes after Aryan invasion: ‘after the fall of our Indus river
culture, language became sovereign in the sub-continent as well as rest of the
world. Without chanting hymns, even birth is not established and marriage doesn’t
become a social institution and if last rites are performed without the hymns,
then you would turn ghosts. This is how the autonomous self-sufficient agrarian
culture which gave primacy and central importance to labor; vanished
gradually’. Comrade Sharad Patil recognized this sensibility in the novel and
hence supported it. Com. Patil has made a clear distinction between Brahminical
and Non-brahminical worldview and aesthetics. If we are to reject the notions
of hierarchy based on birth, then even the term bahujan shouldn’t be merely an
amalgam of castes based on birth. If a person born in Brahmin or any other
upper caste is accepting bahujan culture and values, is rejecting the
non-egalitarian Brahminical values, and openly proclaiming and practicing
likewise; he/ she can very well be bahujan. This is because; bahujan culture is
founded on egalitarian values. It accepts the framework of our constitution and
respects all cultures in equal manner. It accepts Freedom, equality, fraternity
as three cardinal principles and necessity of struggle against all kinds of
exploitation. It respects women and their freedom. In short, it respects right
of its every constituent sub-culture to express, articulate, perform. The
person who accepts this ‘bahujan sensibility’ is ‘bahujan’. 
If we accept the term
‘bahujan’ in this sense, then we will realize that along with the battle in the
street, what is required is a cultural renaissance and reform. First, if we are
to battle with ourselves, revolt against ourselves; then it’s imperative to
seek and weed out the ‘elites’ and elite tendencies within bahujans today. In
the process, many will have to do away with their arrogance and pride over
their clan, hereditary legacy etc. etc. This notion of genetic legacy and pride
built around its purity or class, this notion itself is founded on misguided
notions of ‘purity’ of woman and it insults and exploits women. Second, our
manner of protest can prove counterproductive. NCERT textbook printed a cartoon
deriding Dr. Ambedkar. Hence Prof. Suhas Palshikar’s office was vandalized due
to insult of Dr. Ambedkar. Perhaps, this anger is justified. However, through
such acts of vandalism, we consequently provide legitimacy to elitist, class
actions to suppress the voice of the oppressed and in a way; make mockery of
that powerful weapon called ‘freedom of expression’ which Dr. Ambedkar ensured
for the oppressed through constitution.
Till now, there have
been many people from ‘bahujans’ who gained power and were part of government
at various levels; however, barring Y.B. Chavan, none of them could properly
understand and appreciate the meaning and worth of ‘bahujan culturalism’.
Therefore, it led to an ironical situation where the rulers were bahujans but
the ruling values of elites and upper castes, classes remained steadfastly
intact. This resulted in corrupting the sense and sensibility of ‘bahujan’.
Therefore, be it rule of any political party, the political, social practice
merely reinforced the hierarchical, anti-egalitarian Brahminical elitist
culture and infested all the social strata. States can definitely be captured
through bullet or ballot; but they retain their dominance only by hegemonizing
the culture. One should therefore appreciate the extent of threat cultural
assault poses and thus strengthen the forces of reform and education. Those
sections in bahujans which have gained access to education and public sphere
such as intellectuals, doctors, teachers, engineers should participate in this
struggle and take a stand openly. The kids who drop out of schools today are
the children of tribals, dalits, small farmers, agricultural laborers, workers.
To stop it, what measures, what actions the bahujan teachers are going to take?
I must mention here the leading novelist in Marathi, Ramesh Ingale Utradkar,
who himself is a teacher. His novel ‘Nishani Dava Angatha’ (Symbol Left Thumb)
does a brilliant dissection of ills of education system and corrupt elements
therein. I know a few more exceptions that are teachers- writers and are fighting
back the system actively through their writing. However, a large section
normally keeps mum over this unjust system of education which denies access to
lower castes, classes. I would like to raise a similar question regarding the
eerie silence over the incidences of casteist bullying, ragging in higher
education institutions like IIMs and IITs. Whether the intellectuals and highly
education bahujans will ever protest openly against these? The lowly treatment
meted out to lower castes and poor in the government hospitals, the insults and
denial of treatment even- are our bahujan doctors going to remain silent about
it? Or are they merely going to set up private hospitals and turn them into
looting shops sucking the blood and money of poor and downtrodden? Will the
artists ever come together and raise their voice in unison against the attacks
taking place on art expressions of bahujans? We talk of big moral values; but
can’t we behave with each other with a least bit of humility and sense of
humanity? Bertold Brecht’s famous play ‘Galileo’ has a brilliant quote: ‘the
one who doesn’t know truth is a fool. However, the one who, despite knowing the
truth, lies to hide it, is a criminal’. I believe it is important for us to
remember and act accordingly. And certainly it is not at all necessary to raise
voice only against the injustice taking place in one’s specific field. Those
who are in position to voice out their anger, those who can lend their voice to
collective anguish of the poor, downtrodden, victims of caste-class-gender
assaults under this exploitative patriarchy, caste system and capitalism.
Hence bahujan culture
is the only counter to the rising cultural nationalism, long endured and
dominant caste- varna-religion hegemonic elite value system and culture as well
as neo-feudalistic capitalist system. Our honorable friend Dr. Sadanand More
has professed the need to establish ‘sarva-jan-vaad’ (ideology that comprises
all people). It is a noble thought and should be welcomed. But at the same
time, it is equally true that till the time ‘abhijan-vaad’ (elitism,
Brahmanism) is persisting sarva-jan-vaad cannot be established. For this to
happen, elitists will have to give up their monopolies and hegemonies over
culture and economy. Till the time it doesn’t happen, bahujan-vaad will remain
our position and bahujan values should be embraced by entire society will
remain our motto. Only through this can we envision transition to
Position of bahujan writers
In bahujan
culturalism, it is the primary responsibility of writers to take the lead in
the revolt against themselves. A bahujanvaadi writer is committed to notion of
social responsibility; he accepts the importance of collectivity and its
values. This is first sign of recognizing such writer. Therefore his topics and
subjects typically move away from self towards the collective. Today, many
writers are coming from lower castes, poor class. Many have enriched the
bahujan literature through their works bahujan sensibility. Vidrohi cultural
movement has proudly associated itself with them. However, this process has not
worked so effectively from other side. I.e. many times, the writers find it
awkward or inconvenient to associate themselves with the movement. They think
it is kind of labeling them and thus limiting them. Many try to safeguard their
autonomy. A writer doesn’t have the strength to fight out the battles on the
street. Therefore he thinks that his writing is his political act. It is
justified as well. However, at times, this action through writing alone proves
insufficient in order to respond to social reality. And during challenging
times, times of conflicts, when it is necessary to take open positions; if
writers stay silent, it turns out to be surrender to regressive forces.
Especially during recent past, there were regular instances when freedom of
expression was under attack and leading intellectuals, writers who enjoyed
respect in society, didn’t take any open stand which resulted in erosion of the
moral pressure over regressive elements as well as the government. To build
such moral pressure and force, one is ought to possess a vision for ‘welfare of
greater commons’, to be aware fully about the bahujan culturalism. For this, it
is necessary to remain associated with movements and agitations of people to
fight injustice, to raise political and cultural consciousness among the
masses, even if one is not able to actively participate, one should maintain a
dialog, should have an open perspective towards these movements. This is duty
of the writers today. It is only through such engagement that writers can
enrich their social consciousness, improve their understanding of structures of
exploitation and realize the importance of participating in cultural struggles.
Rather, it assumes paramount importance for the writer in such circumstances to
take position, fight back the cultural attack, and intervene against
enforcement of regressive values. It is because these things spoil further the
prospects of the egalitarian utopian vision such writer possesses.
Of course, the
interface and cooperation between movements and writers should not extend
beyond this, and writers should rather go deeper into the reality. This is
because of the several inherent limitations movements face to mitigate
contradictions. However, writer is alone. He should remain faithful to the
truth, to the sensibilities, and the experiences while arranging them
aesthetically. Here he has to give up the pressures and fears imposed by
relatives, society, social norms, and ideologies. Then only can he reach closer
to the truth experienced. Sometimes he has to become brave to refuse oneself
and one’s previous positions and views. Comrade Sharad Patil is one such
glowing example with us. He consistently and ruthlessly reviewed and revised
his views, positions in theoretical writing.
This is easy to advise
but difficult to practice. I understand this dilemma. Especially new bahujan
writers will certainly find it tough. This is because we typically write about
the collective, and through commitment to collective cause. Therefore, often,
our writing is about collective and their exploitation, their battles etc. This
certainly makes for portrayal of an exciting and enduring fight of common
people. But this is a one sided view for writing. In order to think of life in
comprehensive manner, it is necessary to think of individual as well. As much
there are conflicts between different individuals or different social groups;
there is always a tension, a tussle between individual and social group. Every
individual in itself comprises of a universe laden with several inherent
contradictions. At times, the dynamic of the social group and that of the
individual are in direct contradiction to each other. And they lead to several
intricate situations of life. It is not the responsibility of a writer to
resolve them. Rather, it is his responsibility to acknowledge them, their
causes and capture them in such a manner so as to broaden the horizons of the
readers, to provide them with new insights of life. Writers should not try to
resolve the social ills; rather they should dissect the exploitative system
working behind and lay bare its modalities and facets of exploitation.
Right vision, compassion and cruelty                       
A writer will have to
first wage a battle with self to seek truth. Any good literature begins with
self-criticism. A good writer shall have to develop a right vision, a right
perspective to witness inherent contradictions of one’s own life, the exploiters
and exploited within, our compassionate as well as cruel sides which almost
seem to co-exist; and then will have to rigorously construct suitable narrative
structure. A human being is comprised of good and bad things simultaneously.
Black and white binaries aren’t useful here. If a writer tracks how these
contradictions develop, how they manifest, and how that leads to tragedies and
conflicts in life; then he will not really need to make separate efforts to
demonstrate social commitment. Of course, he should have a social awareness. An
individualistic, idealist literature will not possess the bahujan sensibility.
I will give an example of renowned Hindi poet Vinodkumar Shukla’s one poem: In
this poem, the poet travels a long way to a village of his relatives. Seeing
him, all gather around and keep discussing about his village, weather, rains,
and crops. A long time passes by. The poet also keeps answering their
questions. The poem ends like this: ‘in this entire gossip, it just missed the
poet’s mind to inform them about his father’s death’.
I want to draw your
attention to oft-quoted and misunderstood statement that a writer should be
compassionate. Now, it is true that every writer should have a broad humanistic
compassionate world view. However, he should use it with abundant caution while
writing. Rather, he should be ruthless while writing. Compassion should remain
as a backdrop and shouldn’t be visible distinctly in writing. Otherwise, this
regular demonstration of compassion turns into sympathy. It leads to
one-sidedness on writer’s part when he is dealing with exploitation and its
manifestations. It is the biggest hurdle for a literary work to turn into
masterpiece. Writer should definitely have what Nemade calls as ‘animal
instinct’. Writer should be ruthless and cruel while writing and putting forth
the truth. Only if he writes with such ruthlessness, his work can generate
compassion in the readers. Ultimately, a true literature aims to make the
reader take a compassionate view and thus broaden his horizons. I don’t find
anybody comparable in Marathi to Bhau Padhye, the great story- novel writer, in
this regard.
I want to dispel
another misconception that our commitment ought to be to content; not to the
form because the content is powerful, so vast that there is no need to
separately reflect over the matters of form. This is simply not true. If we are
having a proper foundation of values and worldviews along with ability to see
through life; then it is certainly true that our narrative will be full of content.
But it is equally important how it is narrated as much as what is narrated- not
just today but it always has been the case. Any product of art should have
aesthetic value and the producer should be aware of its aesthetic. At times,
the stories are the same, but they are narrated in different manner and
received and interpreted in different manner. It is very important which aspect
you highlight, how you interpret the reality. The oppressed society has always
had this skill of multiple narrations of stories. This is because only through
this story telling, the society could imaginatively fill details of life in
order to create anti-reality, could create a fictional universe of its own. The
great Indian stories literature has evolved through this great art of imagining
a reality which transcends the present real. 
The origin of this story literature lay in tribes. One way to come out
of the present trap in which bahujan literature finds itself, is through search
of the tribal literature. The kind of illustration of human life, its facets
and complex dilemmas as depicted through tribal literature, are rarely
encountered even in modern literature. Even Ramayana and Mahabharata owe their
origin to oral tradition of literature. Its diversity is a worthy proof of the
same. Ramanujan’s essay ‘Three Hundred Ramayanas’ is instructive in that sense.
We should continue to collect tribal stories, should edit and update them. We
should support those who are carrying out this task. My favorite Italian
story-writer Italo Calvino and great Rajasthani writer Vijaydan Detha spent
their life in collecting the tribals’ stories. This in fact marks the worth of
this task. I realize the importance of tribals stories in another sense. It is
because this literature thinks of entire environment, world. In modern times of
industrialization, a human-centric thought of universe became predominant and
everyone proclaimed that ‘man is the ultimate truth’. However, I find this
inadequate especially in today’s times. This is because, the selfish
destruction of environment which has led to environmental disaster; it is the
strata with least nuisance value, least power which will be getting destroyed.
Man is inherently linked to environment and hence to save humanity, we need to
go back to environment while developing a bahujan sense.
Thoughts about myths
While developing a
bahujan sensibility, it is the first step to recognize what is elitist
sensibility and Brahminical value culture. One of the reasons a particular
culture is able to establish its hegemony is because of its ability to
successfully weave myths. Myth is such a weapon in politics which penetrates
deeply within psyche without any bloodshed. The Brahminical value system and
elitist culture which is predominant today was also propagated in same fashion.
The old puranical tales, popular tales was deployed to construct myths by
Vaidik tradition and were enforced upon us in impressionable age of childhood.
Senior respected intellectual Dr. A.H. Salunnkhe has consistently done the
decoding of myths and their origins in order to expose this politics of
culture. He has traced the origins of these myths, these tales and this
original form is in a sense, a productive raw material for our new literature.
Using these, we can definitely produce plays or new stories. Right from Mahatma
Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar to Vishwanath Khaire, many have deconstructed the
Hindu myths. Present writers should consider these materials to destroy the
foundations of exploitative value system. Further, they should use their
imagination to construct narratives which profess new values. Not only
literature, these materials can be a good source for even the theatre as well
as cinema. Playwright Sanjay Pawar, in his play ‘Kon Mhanata Takka Dila’, has
given a new, different dimension to the story of Kach- Devyani to sharply
critique the caste system in the context of the Mandal commission. Before I
conclude this rather stretched narration, let me elaborate upon senior story
writer Vilas Sarang’s story ‘Eklavya’: 
it is interesting to note how Vilas Sarang has produced a new myth
through the story of Eklavya. As per the conventional story, Dronacharya asks for
Eklavya’s thumb as consideration for his tutorial services. Eklavya cuts his
thumb and gives it to him. Dronacharya goes away with delight thinking that he
has finished a great challenger to Arjuna. However, in few days, he comes to
know that Eklavya has challenged Arjuna to a duel. The venue is fixed as one
plain inside the forest. Both Arjuna and Eklavya stand in front of each other.
Everybody laughs looking at the bow hanging in Eklavya’s four fingers. Arjun
releases the bowstring and the arrow travels like wind. However, suddenly
Eklavya drops his bow, takes our AK-47 rifle and pulls the trigger. You don’t
need a thumb to pull the trigger. Before the arrow of Arjuna could reach him,
Eklavya’s bullets hit him. Arjuna is dead. Dronacharya starts shouting ‘not
fair, not fair, this is Adharma’. Then Eklavya quips, ‘my  Adharma is better than your Dharma, your
so-called righteousness’. And then he disappears in the woods like Clint
Eastwood or our Sunny Deol hanging the bow around. A Dalit story writer Eklavya
Kamble, writes this story. He becomes a recognized and celebrated author by
publishing collection of such stories. Then he takes up an ambitious project of
writing ‘Varnashram-Dharma-rahasya’ (the secrets of varna system and religion).
Maharishi Vyas in heaven comes to know of this project. ‘how dare this fellow
blemish the Varna system? He will have to pay the price’ says he and in order
to stifle this project, challenges Eklavya Kamble to update the entire
Mahabharata- with a condition that he should not stop in between, just like
Lord Ganesha. Eklavya Kamble takes up the challenge, writes ceaselessly.
However, afterwards, his thumb starts paining. The pain becomes unbearable. He
stops writing. As the agreement is broken, Vyas throws away the papers of this
project in the vacuum in the space. Kamble is disappointed. However, after few
days, he realizes that one can do typewriting without the thumb. He gets the
typewriter. However, it has English keyboard. Marathi keyboard had not been
developed till then. Then he learns English. It is not that he becomes
proficient with it, however, he writes in his own way and develops own style
and writes the stories of the downtrodden on the typewriter. The English
literary world isn’t aware of Dalit literature till then. Kamble’s work gets
noticed and he again is recognized and his work is well received and
appreciated. Thus, once again, this Eklavya beats Vyas and Brahminical, elitist

I believe that the
revolt born in this story pertains to new sensibilities, today’s sensibilities.
Sarang’s message is clear through this story: Howsoever you may try to crush
us, deploy new and cunning means; the coming new age will continue to provide
us with new weapons and we will surely overcome you. Friends, I put forth the
need of a rebellious literature of bahujan culturalism through my entire
address. But let me reiterate: the primary aim of this new literature would be
to target the darkness within all of us and which engulfs us from all sides. ‘अभिव्यक्ती के सारे खतरे उठाने होंगे, तोडने होंगे मठ और गढ सब’ (we will
have to take all the risks associated with expression and break all old
shackles) the verses of Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh is the slogan of Vidrohi
cultural movement. Therefore in order to dispel the darkness around and within
us, we will have to destroy all old shackles and fetters. Then only, we will be
able to see clearly the distant manors and monasteries of the Brahminical order
which really exploits us and enforces cultural slavery upon us. To reach there,
this battle is inevitable. 

Jayant Pawar is a renowned story writer and dramatist in Marathi. His well known play ‘Adhantar’ is a tale about lives of textile workers in Mumbai in the backdrop of the failed textile strike of 1980s. He has been awarded with Sahitya Academy award in 2013 for his collection of stories ‘Phoenixchya Rakhetun uthala Mor’ (there arose a peacock from the ashes of Phoenix).Jayant Pawar, a journalist, currently works with Maharashtra Times. The speech was a Presidential address by him at Vidrohi Sahitya Sammelan at Buldhana, Maharashtra in January 2015. The original speech in Marathi is being translated by Rahul Vaidya and we are thankful that the speaker has kindly agreed to publish it in Vikalp.
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