Category Archives: Today in Dalit History

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.

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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Postage stamps issued on Guru Ravidas

Issued on 10/02/1971


Issued on 24/06/2001


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Best wishes to everyone on Birth Anniversary of Guru Ravidas

10494743_1608343829395386_6839874921590993925_nGuru Ravidas was one of the brightest luminaries of the Bhakti Movement of the fifteenth century, a religious renaissance in India. As stories of Guru Ravidas’s selfless devotion and philosophy of universal love spread far and wide, he had to face the challenge of the orthodox society. Ravidas was born as an untouchable. However, his true devotion towards God was a great source of strength and he proved that irrespective of caste and creed, all are equal in the eyes of God and only sinful actions bring a bad name and dishonor to a man. Influenced by Guru Ravidas’ teachings, the Maharaja and the Rani of Chittor became disciples of Guru Ravidas. The famous saint poetess, Mirabai, also became a disciple of Guru Ravidas.

Best wishes to everyone on Birth Anniversary of Guru Ravidas.

Read also – I, Ravidas, proclaim all vedas are worthless.

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Shivaji Maharaj – The Greatest Shudra Mountain Warrior

Shahaji Bhosle was a successful general who switched from Adil Shah of Bijapur to Nijam Shah of Ahmednagar to the Moghuls many times during his career in the early part of the 17th century. He kept an army of his own and at one point had declared himself to be a king. Shivaji (b. 1627 – d. 1680) was his son born by his influential wife Jijabai Nimbalkar on Feb 19, 1627 at fort Shivaneri. Shivaji had for his teacher and guides as a great man like Dadaji Kondadev.

At-mkMpjOyP1FZW6fkPL-CfEpPu5rgQeGxUe2Aczj1y0On a certain occasion Shahaji took his son to the court of the Sultan of Bijapur. Shivaji was then not even twelve years of age. Shahaji touched the ground thrice and saluted the Sultan. He asked his son to do the same thing. But Shivaji only retreated a few steps. He stood erect with his head unbent. His dazzling eyes seemed to carry with them his determination that he would not bow down to a foreign ruler. He walked back from the court with a lion-like gait and bearing. When Shivaji was 18 years old he took the oath at Rohedeshwar Temple to establish a nation of the natives which he maintained was the will of the providence . In his next 35 years he lived an epic which thrilled the imagination of his friends and foes alike. His dazzling adventures have inspired generations of young people.

Shivaji had the born leader’s magnetism and threw a spell over all who knew him, drawing the best elements of the country to his side and winning the most devoted service from his officers. His dazzling victories and ever ready smile made him the idol of his soldiers. A royal gift of judging character was one of the main causes of his success. His light cavalry, stiffened with swift-footed infantry was irresistible in the age of Aurangzeb.

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19th February in Dalit History – Birth Anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj

प्रजापालक राजा शिवाजी महाराज की जयंती 19 फरवरी की पूर्व संध्या पर आप सबको बधाई. जय भीम, जय फुले, जय शिवराय, जय जिजाऊ!

पेशवाई ने इनकी याद को मिटा डाला था, तब पहली बार ज्योतिबा फुले ने शिवाजी की स्मृतियों की खोज की और शिवाजी जयंती मनाई. शिवाजी के राजतिलक को लेकर तमाम अपमानजनक बातें प्रचलित हैं.

शिवाजी को बदनाम करने के लिए उन्हें मुसलमान विरोधी बताया गया. जबकि वे सबके हित करने की वजह से प्रजापालक माने गए. उन्हें किसी धर्म का विरोधी बताना गंदी साजिश है.

दिल्ली से कोई भी अगर उनके राज को हड़पने आता, तो वह लड़ते. जो आया उसका नाम औरंगजेब होता तो भी और जयराम राठौर या सिकंदर सिंह होता तो भी. वे किसी से भी लड़ते. इस आधार पर उन्हें मुस्लिम विरोधी कहना बदमाशी है.

यह अच्छा है कि उत्तर भारत के किसान समुदाय के लोगों ने भी शिवाजी जयंती मनाने की परंपरा शुरू कर दी है. पूरे देश को मनाना चाहिए.

संघ के त्यौहारों की लिस्ट में शिवाजी जयंती नहीं है. पिछले साल की इनकी मैगजीन देख लीजिए.

शिवाजी जयंती की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं. 1874 में आज ही के दिन राष्ट्रपिता ज्योतिबा फुले ने शिवाजी जयंती मनाने की शुरुआत की थी.

शिवाजी के वंशज कोल्हापुर नरेश छत्रपति शाहूजी महाराज ने भारतीय इतिहास में पहली बार नौकरियों में बहुजनों को आरक्षण देने की शुरुआत की. बाबा साहेब ने आरक्षण के उसी मॉडल को आगे बढ़ाया.

जय शिवराय, जय जिजाऊ, जय फुले, जय भीम!

Written by – D C Mandal

Read also – 12th January in Dalit History – Birth anniversary of Jijabai, mother of Shivaji Maharaj


A statue of Jijabai and young Shivaji

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Remembering Mata Ramabai Ambedkar

रमाबाई अम्बेडकर

जालिमों से लड़ती भीम की रमाबाई थी
मजलूमों को बढ़ के जो,आँचल उढ़ाई थी
जाति धर्म चक्की में पिसते अवाम को
दलदल में डूबते समाज को बचाई थी

एक-एक पैसे से,भीम को पढ़ाई थी
मेहनत मजदूरी से जो भी जुटाई थीं
गोबर इकट्ठा बना कण्डी के उपले
बज़ारों में बेच कैसे घर को चलाई थी

अमेरिका से लंदन,बैरिस्टर से डाक्टर
हौसला हर मोड़ पर रमाई बढ़ाई थी
भूखे पेट बच्चे कुपोषित ही मर गये
जब रोटी न पैसा न घर में दवाई थी

तड़पते मरते गये गोद में यूं लाल सभी
खुशी की उम्मीदों संग कैसी जुदाई थी
भूखी प्यासी वो बीमार कई रात रही
माँ ने लोगों के लिये खुद को मिटाई थी

रमा की आँसू में भीम विदेशों में बहते थे
मगर इस तूफान में भी कश्ती चलाई थी
विद्वान हो महान भीम रामू न भूल सके
तन और मन से जो उनकी सगाई थी

खून व पसीने से सींचती थी क्यारियाँ
हँसते चमन की कली जो मुरझाई थी
एक तरफ फूले सावित्री थे साथ लड़े
“बागी” भीम साथ वैसे मेरी रमाई थी.


Read also – 26th May (1935) in Dalit History – Death anniversary of Mata Ramabai Ambedkar

आज हमारी महिलाओ (चाहे वे किसी भी धर्म या जाति समुदाय से हो) को उन पर गर्व होना चाहिए कि किन परिस्थितियों में उन्होंने बाबा साहेब का मनोबल बडाये रखा और उनका साथ देती रही। खुद अपना जीवन कष्ट में बिताये रखा और बाबा साहेब की मदद करती रही।
आज अगर भारत की महिलाए आज़ाद है तो उसका श्रेय सिर्फ और सिर्फ माता रमाबाई को जाता है।

हमारा फ़र्ज़ है उनको जानने का।

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5th February in Dalit History – Dr. Ambedkar introduced Hindu Code bill in the Parliament, Hindu leaders opposed it

5 February 1951: Hindu Code bill was introduced in the Parliament

Following India’s independence Jawaharlal Nehru entrusted his first Law Minister Dr. Ambedkar, who belonged to the Scheduled Caste Federation, with the task of codifying the Hindu personal law as the first step towards a uniform civil code. Dr. Ambedkar formed a committee with himself as its chairperson. The other members were K Y Bhandarkar. G R Rajagopal of the Ministry of Law and S V Gupte of the Bombay Bar. The committee made only minor revisions to the draft that was presented to the Consituent Assembly in 1947 before Independence. But even before the bill could be put up to the Constituent Assembly (Legislative) some vocal sections of Hindu public opinion raised the bogey ‘Hinduism in danger’. Dr. Ambedkar and his team, however, was undaunted and continued with their efforts with all seriousness and presented the draft bill to Nehru’s cabinet, which unanimously approved it.  Emboldened by this exercise, on 5 February 1951 he introduced the bill to the Parliament. But to his utter surprise, many Hindu members, including some who had approved it in the cabinet earlier, now resisted it. Sardar Patel as the home minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, Syama Prasad Mookerjee as the industry minister who belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha, and Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, a tradionalist Congressman, strongly opposed the bill. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, the Congress president, also opposed it, particularly keeping in view its negative impacts on Hindu votes in the election of 1951-52. Mookerjee said it would ’shatter the magnificent structure of Hindu culture and stultify a dynamic and catholic way of life that had wonderfully adapted itself to the changes for centuries’. Even women belonging to the Hindu Mahasabha came to the forefront to oppose the bill. Already a year ago, in a long letter to President Rajendra Prasad, Janakibai Joshi, the President of the All India Hindu Women’s Conference that belonged to the Hindu Mahasabha, had written on 4 February 1950 that any move to replace the concept of Hindu marriage as sacrament by making it contractual would destroy the entire family system of the Hindus. ‘The Hindu family should be taken as a unit and fragmentation of the property should not be allowed so as to go away to other family through daughter’.

Check also – 5th February (1988) in Dalit History – Remembering Dalits’ fight to get publish Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Books

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5th February (1988) in Dalit History – Remembering Dalits’ fight to get publish Babasaheb Ambedkar’s Books

5 February 1988: Massive counter demonstration of Dalits to pin the Government of Maharashtra to publish the “Riddles in Hinduism”

With the death centenary of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and the birth centenary ofDr. Babasaheb Ambedkar due in 1990-91, the state government of Maharashtra had begun the project of publishing the complete works of both.  As part of this project, it brought out a volume that contained Dr. Ambedkar’s hitherto unpublished work, “Riddles in Hinduism” (volume no 4) in October 1987. In this, he made a rational and dispassionate analysis, from the standpoint of social justice, of the life stories of Hindu deities. The work also had a section (appendix 1) which was called “the Riddle of Ram and Krishna”.

Get Dr. Ambedkar’s books  – [PDF] Writings & Sppeches of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar

30OEB_AMBEDKAR_JPG_1443196eThe Shiv Sena party in Mahatashtra pounced on “Riddles”, branded it as an intolerable insult to Hindu religion and Hindu deities and demanded a ban on its publication.  It held a huge demonstration in Mumbai on 15 January 1988 and began disturbances all over the state, abusing Dr. Ambedkar and widening caste-communal divisions.  It was only after an even larger counter-demonstration by all Dalit groups that was led by Prakash Ambedkar (grandson of Dr. Amebdkar) on 5 February 1988 that the publication could further proceed with a note from Government that it does not concur with the views expressed in the chapter on Ram and Krishna.

It is worthy to note that as per Nanak Chand Rattu, Dr. Ambedkar had planned to write a separate book on “Riddle of Rama and Krishna”.  Compilation of material under different headings in the form of rough notes, written in small note books and loose sheets, some typed extracts, markings and references put together in file covers and paper bags, under different headings, indicated his ambition to bring out the following books one after the other – (i) Buddha and His Dhamma, (ii) Buddha and Karl Marx, (iii) Revolution and Counter-revolution in Ancient India, (iv) Riddles in Hinduism, (v) Riddle of Rama and Krishna, (vi) Riddle of Trimurti and (vii) Riddle of Woman.

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