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Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal

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[What is the 'Dalit Prerna Sthal'? What is its purpose? Why was it built? The inscription shown in the picture above, displayed prominently in the  'Rashtriya Dalit Smarak' (picture below), provides many of the answers. We are publishing here the full text of the inscription for our readers. It was copied by hand, so some inaccuracies might have inadvertently crept in. We shall correct the errors, if any, as and when we get access to an official copy of the text. We thank Bhanu Pratap Singh for both the text and the pictures- Round Table India.]  

 

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 7)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

After that the Arya Brahmans began to treat with disdain all the Kshudra peasant slaves who had come under their control. They completely stopped giving them education and brought their condition below the level of animals. And since they became illiterate and completely without access to knowledge, the Arya Brahmans plunder them so much on religious and political excuses that even today, compared to them, it can be easily proved that even the condition of the violently enslaved Abyssinians in America was better. However, more recently, some centuries ago the Muslim regime here had with compassion forcibly converted lakhs of Shudras and Atishduras of this country to Islam and made them fellow Muslims, freeing them from the snares of the Aryan religion. This is clear because reports show that among them many ignorant Muslim mullas and bagvans do their marriages according to the custom of the Shudras and Atishudras here. In the same way, the Portugese government had made thousands of Shudras and Atishudras and Brahmans into Roman Catholic Christians by force, freeing them from the fabricated Arya religion and making them happy. That is why we find among them so many have family names like Gokhale, Bhosle, Pawar and other surnames like Brahmans and Shudras. Today with the help of Americans and others, thousands and thousands of moaning Shudras and Atishudras, disdaining Brahman religion, have consciously and willingly struck a blow by accepting the Christian religion, as we have seen with our own eyes. Perhaps you are not certain of the sorrows of these Shudras and Atishudras; if you only take a little thought of what calamities have befallen even such great Rajas and Rajwadas from among the Das farmers as Satara's Shivaji Maharaj, Baroda's Damajirao Gaikwad, Gwalior's Patilbuwa, Indore's Lakhya Bargir, Yashwantrao and Vithojirao Holkar, because of being illiterate, you will get an idea of the situation, and with this I finish this part.

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Why do we choose to forget our past?

 

Mallepally Lakshmaiah

 Is there a single village in India which has no Dalit? There could be a few exceptions but we do find Dalits in most parts of India - who have fought the system relentlessly. Every village has produced its very own Dalit social revolutionary but is there any Dalit reformer with a pan-Indian identity? And how exactly does one acquire a pan-Indian identity? Does one go around the country reforming society or can one confine oneself to a particular area and still acquire a pan-Indian identity. And does one become a national icon either of these ways. What matters most is how mainstream media and academics project a reformer.

BHAGYAREDY VERMA

 Amongst non-Dalits, we have icons in every field. But from amongst the Dalits, barring Dr Ambedkar, it is difficult to think of even one reformer who is famous all over India - even though reformers from within Dalit communities may far outnumber reformers from non-Dalit societies. Dalits don't own any part of the media, they don't own academic institutions, they're not part of the English educational setup and, therefore, they are unable to push forward their own icons. Thus, most Dalit icons remain local phenomenon - a Telugu or Tamil reformer remains a Telugu or Tamil legend forever. The same goes with the Hindi heartland.

The hostile attitude of mainstream society can best be illustrated by citing the great Dalit social reformer and teacher Bhagyareddy Varma's case. He was born on May 22, 1888, and named Bhagaiah. The family guru, a learned man belonging to the Shiva Cult, visited the untouchable family in November that year and renamed the child Bhagyareddy. The father, Maadari Venkaiah, asked why. The Guru argued that the so-called untouchables had been rulers prior to the Aryan expansion towards the South - hence the term "Reddy," from the Telugu word "redu", which means "ruler."

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 6)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 3

How the Arya Brahmans arrived from Iran and the prior condition of the Shudra peasants; and how the current government constantly levies all kinds of new taxes on the farmers in order to provide whatever pay and pensions their employees want; and how the farmers have been forced into arrant indebtedness since their wealth is extracted with such great force.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 5)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Both the money-eating government employees who harass the farmers and the completely illiterate farmers who give them bribes out of their dependence get legal punishment. If the cost of the police investigation is born by the bhakri-eating fearful weaponless ruined farmers along with the Bhat Phadke who organized attacks against the unarmed police; and if the thieves of all castes who steal from the farmers' houses are given the same legal punishment; then by the same standard those farmers whose houses are robbed while they are in the throes of their deep sleep should also be given a legal punishment?! If our Legislative Council would make such a law and free the necks of our spineless police, there will be bells ringing in that Simla so near to heaven.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 4)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 2

Since the white government bureaucrats are mostly in a stupor due to their life of luxury, they have no way of getting any information about the true condition of the farmers, and their overall carelessness allows Brahman employees to dominate all the government departments. Between the two, the farmers are so much looted that they have no bread to fill their stomachs or clothes to cover their bodies.

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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 3)

Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

After that, if some rare combination of sacred events come, the Bhat Brahmans lead so many well-off farmers to Nashik, Wai and other places of pilgrimage and extort large amounts of wealth from them on the pretence of religious donations, wheedling at least one coin from all the remaining poor farmers at the time of bathing in the river.

Finally, on the day of the new moon the Bhat Brahmans greedily get donations for the puja of the feet of the farmers' bullocks.

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Page 3 of 6

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