Category Archives: Dalit Bahujan Ideals

Dalit History Month – Remembering Advocate Eknath Awad


Today in Dalit History we remember Advocate Eknath Awad, who is also known as “Jija” fondly, (meaning “the respected”). he was born in Maharashtra on 19th January 1956 in a Potraj (Mang) family. Potraj is an oppressive profession assigned to some Dalit castes. They grow long dreadlocks, smear vermillion on their forehead, wear a multi-coloured cloth around the waist and a whip in hand, whip themselves as they dance.

Eknath’s difficult childhood was steeped in these humiliations of caste, untouchability and poverty. However, Awad was a bright young man, he finished his schooling in village schools and went on to attain his Bachelors of Arts (BA), graduated with a Masters of Arts (MA), Masters in Social Work (MSW) and later LLB.

During his time in college, he was exposed to Phule-Ambedkarite ideology. He became an active member of the Dalit Panthers. As a politically empowered Dalit man, he was at the forefront of Namantar (renaming) struggle of Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University that unleashed violence against Dalits of Marathwada affecting more than 25,000 people in Marathwada.

His time in this struggle exposed him to the understanding of oppressive structures holding caste-marginalized people hostage. He realized that dalits lived as bonded laborers and as slaves in the fields of dominant castes generation after generation. If they asserted for their rights, upper caste landlords countered with gruesome atrocities. Awad realized that tackling just the issues of human rights was inadequate, these issues had to be complemented with economic and social overhaul. With these things in mind, he established Rural Development Centre (RDC) in 1985 with the vision that reform could be effective only if it was supported by peoples’ movements. In 1990, Manvi Hakka Abhiyan or Campaign for Human Rights (CHR) was born inspired from the struggles of Ambedkar, Phule, Annabhau Sathe, Shahu Maharaj, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. This movement worked to legalize barren land in villages under as property of Dalits. More than 24,607 Dalit families submitted grazing land ownership claims from 1100 villages. Awad’s struggle managed to free more than 70,000 hectares of land.

He had a broad vision for Bahujan well-being and worked on not only Dalit rights but the issues of child rights, education, gender justice, conservation and sustainable agriculture in drought-inflicted Marathwada. He advocated for peoples’ to be free of the shackles of caste, patriarchy and superstition. between 1995 and 2012, he started the satyashodhak (truthseekers), debrahminised congregational marriages. in an act of liberation, Along with his thousands of followers in 2006, he also converted to Buddhism in Nagpur.

We honour his work and legacy that are celebrated in Maharashtra and nationwide.

Credit – Nilesh Kumar First published in Round Table India

Advocate Eknath Awad

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Dr Ambedkar Images/Photos/ Wallpapers for 125th Dr Ambedkar Jayanti


Find more Images/Photos/Wallpapers/Articles/Books etc. at Velivada

You can get original photos of Dr. Ambedkar from – Original Photos of Dr. Ambedkar 

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“The Oppressed Indian”, a monthly journal was started by Saheb Kanshi Ram


“The Oppressed Indian”, a monthly journal was started by Saheb Kanshi Ram in April 1979, after the relaunch BAMCEF in 1978, which in his own words was “a vigilant and up to date news service armed and operated by the oppressed Indians themselves creating proper public opinion.” Kanshi Ram himself used to write the editorials. For the editorial of the inaugural issue he wrote

~ “All these people of the backward and minority communities, who form about 85% of India’s population, have little share in the news service of the nation. News regarding them or pertaining to their pressing problems appear in the press in a casual manner. Youth, students, farmers, workers, educated employees, and even leaders of these communities keep groping in the dark and struggling without being fully informed…The caste Hindu monopoly of the press gives only sketchy news about the outrages and the atrocities committed on the oppressed Indians. The aftermath and the actions taken, if any, are not given publicity by the caste Hindu press….Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar realized the importance of our own news service to ventilate the grievances of our people and to create public opinion in favour of speedy redress. He realized this some 60 years ago when there were no literate persons amongst the untouchables….”

Saheb Kanshi Ram, following the Phule Ambedkarite organisational philosophy understood the need of parallel media for Bahujan Mass Movement. Before “The Oppressed Indian” he had published ‘The Untouchable India’ in 1972. In 1984, He started “Bahujan Times”, a daily in Marathi, Hindi and English. Then there were more monthlies like Bahujan Sahitya, Economic Upsurge, Arthik Utthan, Shramik Sahitya etc and weeklies like Bahujan Sangathak, Bahujan Nayak. In the same inaugural issue of “The Oppressed Indian”, Kansi Ram concluded the editorial with saying “Publication of the Oppressed Indian, a monthly news magazine is just beginning. The task ahead is challenging!”

Today on the occasion of the Bahujan Nayak’s 83rd birth anniversary, sharing some images of the front covers of “The Oppressed Indian” issues, featuring the formation of Dalit Shoshit Samaj Sangharsh Samiti (DS 4), it’s political engagements, Issue on Phoolan Devi, significance of Independence for the oppressed Indians etc. Mr Shashikant Humane, renowned Dalit writer and activist from Maharashtra, was subscriber of the journal. I am grateful to him for exposing me to these old issues from his archive. Thanks to my friend Abhiyan Humane.

Source – Pinak Banik Facebook post

“The Oppressed Indian”, a monthly journal was started by Saheb Kanshi Ram
“The Oppressed Indian”, a monthly journal was started by Saheb Kanshi Ram Continue reading

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Mahishasura, Asura… – What Dr. Ambedkar said


A comparison between the Vedic and Puranic Goddesses raises some interesting questions. One of them is quite obvious. Vedic literature is full of references to wars against the Asuras. The literature known as Brahmanas replete with them. But all these wars against the Asuras are fought by the Vedic Gods. The Vedic Goddesses never took part in them. With the Puranic Goddesses the situation has undergone a complete change. In the Puranic times there are wars with the Asuras as there were in the Vedic times. The difference is that while in the Vedic times the wars with the Asuras are left to be fought by the Gods in the Puranic times they are left to be fought by the Goddess. Why is that Puranic Goddesses had to do what the Gods in Vedic times did? It cannot be that there were no Gods in Puranic times. There were Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva gods who ruled in the Puranic times. When they were there to fight the Asuras why were the Goddesses enrolled for this purpose. This is a riddle which requires explanation.

Sarasvati and Lakshmi are the wives of Brahma and Vishnu who along with Shiva are recognized as the Puranic Gods. Parvati, Durga and Kali are the wives of Shiva. Now Sarasvati and Lakshmi have killed no Asura and have in fact done no deed of valour. Question is why? Brahma and Vishnu had Sakti which in conformity with the theory must have dwelt in their wives. Why then did Sarasvati and Lakshmi not take part in the battle with the Asuras?

…the Brahmins do not seem to have realized that by making Durga the heroine who alone was capable of destroying the Asuras, they were making their own Gods a set of miserable cowards. It seems that the Gods could not defend themselves against the Asuras and had to beg of their wives to come to their rescue.

– Dr. Ambedkar, Riddles In Hinduism

Asura

Asuras were members of the human family and not monsters.

– Dr. Ambedkar, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India

~~~~

Few other thoughts ~

Durga

Mysuru

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23rd February (1876) in Dalit History – Birth Anniversary of Gadge Baba


Gadge Baba was social reformer born in Amravati district of Maharashtra.

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Check out also – संत गाडगे बाबा जी की जीवनी पर आधारित एक डॉक्युमेंटरी।

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Brahmins’ attempts to appropriate Guru Ravidas


Ravidass‟s low caste but high spiritual status, however, posed a serious challenge to the oppressive Brahminical structures of domination. The traditional Brahminical institution of varnashrama dharma failed to confront Ravidass‟s pragmatic and revolutionary reasoning based on equality, dignity and fraternity. Instead, the Brahmins attempted to undermine his low caste profile by appropriating him in the Hindu fold. They concocted stories to project him as a Brahmin in his previous life. Thus challenged by the surging popularity of Ravidass, among the lower and upper castes alike, Brahmins knitted layers of mythological narratives about his mythical high caste in his previous life. This was done, probably, to preclude the lower castes from rallying around his name. Yet another device adopted by the twice born to diminish his popularity was to present him as a Guru of the Chamars only.“This was the final masterstroke to minimize his influence on the society as a whole”. Significantly, though Ravidass was himself a Chamar, his egalitarian social philosophy has historically won him many disciples among the upper castes too. Jhali, Queen of Chittor; Mirabai, Rajput princes and daughter-in-law of King of Mewar, Sangram Singh; Prince Veer Singh Dev Vaghela of Rewa of Madhya Pradesh; and Prince of Kanshi have been among the most prominent ones.
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Guru Ravidass shown on the back leg, near feet, of cow by RSS people.

 
Dalit activists and academics have been condemning the process of Brahminisation of Ravidass. They ridicule the so-called Brahminical narratives and interpretations about Ravidass and also refuse to accept Ramanand as his Guru. Ravidass never mentioned the name of Ramanand in his most authentic bani recorded in the Guru Granth Sahib. Instead, he mentioned the names of various Sants such as Jaidev, Namdev and Kabir. Some radical Dalits claim “that his Guru was Sardanand, and emphasize his ability to defeat Brahmins time and again in debates”. Thus the process of Brahminisation has not only failed to assimilate Ravidass in the fold of the upper castes, it further strengthens the bond between him and the ex-untouchables. The latter feel proud of being known as only Ravidassias. They consider Guru Ravidass and his bani as a paragon of their struggle for social equality, justice and dignity.
Source – Paper, Ravidass, Dera Sachkhand Ballan and the Question of Dalit Identity in Punjab by Ronki Ram

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‘Shri Guru Ravidas Di Jai’ songs by Hans Raj Hans


‘Shri Guru Ravidas Di Jai’ songs by Hans Raj Hans

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Postage stamps issued on Guru Ravidas


Issued on 10/02/1971

1971-Guru_Ravidas

Issued on 24/06/2001

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