Dalit literature

Dalit Literature, literature about the Dalits, the oppressed class under Indian caste system forms an important and distinct part of Indian literature[1][2]. Though Dalit narratives have been a part of the Indian social narratives since 11th century onwards, with works like Cekkilar's Periya Puranam portraying Dalit women like half-naked and sexually exploitable and praising the killing of thousands of Dalits on "Kazhumaram" in the hands of Gnanasambandan, Dalit literature emerged into prominence and as a collective voice after 1960, starting with Marathi, and soon appeared in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil languages, through self-narratives, like poems, short stories and most importantly autobiographies known for their realism, and for its contribution to Dalit politics[3][4][5]. It denounced as petty and false the then prevailing romanticism with the bourgeois Sadashiv pethi literature treated the whole Dalit issue, ignoring the social reality of appalling poverty and oppression of caste Hindus which was the result of the bourgeois character of this culture. It is often compared with the African-American literature especially in its depiction of issues of racial segregation and injustice, as seen in Slave narratives[6]


Ambedkari (Literature) Sahitya

In 1993, Ambedkari Sahitya Parishad, Wardha organized first "Akhil Bhartiya (National) Ambedkari Sahitya Sammelan" in Wardha, Maharashtra to reconceptualize and transform "Dalit Sahitya (literature) into "Ambedkari Sahitya" after the name of its modern age hero and inspiration Dr.B.R. Ambedkar. Ambedkari Sahitya Parishad then successfully organized Third Akhil Bhartiya Ambedkari Sahitya Sammelan in 1996 and became a strong advocacy force of this transformation. Since then ten similar sahitya sammelans were held in various places. Ambedkari Sahitya Parishad was formed in 1992 with the goal to connect people with common ideals and aspirations, to provide a platform to those who are inspired by Dr B R Ambedkar's thoughts and philosophy to express their anguish through their literature against the oppression and bigotry, and to make their presence felt in the world.


One of the first Dalit writers was Madara Chennaiah, an 11th-century cobbler-saint who lived in the reign of Western Chalukyas and who is also regarded by some scholars as the "father of Vachana poetry". Another poet who finds mention mention is Dohara Kakkaiah, a Dalit by birth, six of whose confessional poems survive.[7]

In the 20th century, the term "Dalit literature" came into use in 1958, when the first conference of Maharashtra Dalit Sahitya Sangha (Maharashtra Dalit Literature Society) was held at Mumbai, a movement driven by thinkers like Jyotiba Phule and Bhimrao Ambedkar[8].

Baburao Bagul (1930–2008) was pioneer of Dalit writings in Marathi[9]. His first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (जेव्हा मी जात चोरली) (When I had Concealed My Caste), published in 1963, created a stir in Marathi literature with its passionate depiction of a crude society and thus brought in new momentum to Dalit literature in Marathi; today it is seen by many critics as the epic of the Dalits, and was later made into a film by actor-director Vinay Apte.[10][11]. Gradually with other writers like, Namdeo Dhasal (who founded Dalit Panther), these Dalit writings paved way from strengthening of Dalit politics[12].

Dalit Writers


Arun Kamble, Shantabai Kamble, Krushna Kamble, Raja Dhale, Namdev Dhasal, Annabhau Sathe, Bandhu Madhav, Laxman Mane, Laxman Gaikwad, Hari Narake, Sharankumar Limbale, Waman Nibalkar, Bhimsen Dethe, Bhau Panchbhai, Ambadas Shinde, Murlidhar Bansode.

Tamil Nadu (Tamil)

Ka.Ayothi dass Pandithar is the pioneer of the Dalit literature and Philosopher in India as well as south India.

Rev.John Ratnam (Editer, Dravida Pandian), Rettamalai Srinivasan(Editer,Parayan), k.Appadurai (Editer Tamilan), Periasamy Pulavar (Poet)and many writers were contributed to dalit literature.

Anbu Ponnoviam, T.P.Kamalanathan, Arya Sangaaran, x-ray manikam,and some others were worked on Dalit hostory and Dalit political magzines. Sakya Mohan who edited "Dhamma" in English and Tamil authored the first book on Dalit History of Tamil Nadu titled "History of Dalit Struggle for Freedom (2001)". Sakya Mohan has introduced "KalaParayar Empire" (Buddhist Era) in the history of Tamil Nadu supported by a lot of primary sources negating the hegemonist historians view that KalaParayar period "the dark age" in Tamil Nadu.

Raj Gowthaman, Ravikumar, Gowthama Sannah, Kudiarasan, Vadivel Ravanan, M.P.Ezhilarasu, Yakkan, Stalin Rajangam, Aranga Mallika, Manivannan, Meena mayil, these are all the major contributors to the Non fictional Dalit Literature and first few are ideologue of Dalit ideology in contemporary Tamil Dalit field.

P.Sivakamy wrote first modern dalit fiction and Bhama,Artist Chandru,Abimaani, Azhagiya Peruyavan, Poomani,Poet.Sukirtharani,Poet.Pratibha Jayachandran,Chanakya, Dharman, vizhi.Pa.Idhaya vendhan,Yazhan Adhi and some others are worked on Dalit modern fiction literature and poetry.

Senchattai Panjacharam, A.Marx, S.V.Rajadurai, V.Gheetha, MSS.Pandian,are Non-Dalit writers for dalit ideology and dalit literature.

Andhra Pradesh (Telugu)

Gurram Jashuva, Kusuma Dharmanna, Boyi Bheemanna, Kolakaluri Enoch, Siva Sagar (KG. Sathyamurthy), Gaddar, Boya Jangaiah, Chilukuri Devaputra, Kathi Padmarao, Bojja Tharakam, Endluri Sudhakar, Vemula Yellaiah, G. Kalyana Rao, Satish Chandar, GR. Kurme, Madduri Nageshbabu, Kalekuri Prasad, Gogu Shyamala, Jupaka Subhadra, Jajula Gowri, MM. Vinodini, Sujatha Gidla, Thullimalli wilson Sudhakar

Gujarati Neerav Patel, Dalpat Chauhan,Raju Solanki,Sahil Parmar, Mohan Parmar Harish Mangalam, BHI.na.Vankar,Jayant Parmar,Pathik Parmar, Shankar Painter, Raghavji Madhad,Madhukant Kalpit,,

Further reading


  1. ^ Dalit literature
  2. ^ Brief Introduction to Dalit Literature
  3. ^ "‘Dalit literature reflects oppression of Dalits’". The Hindu. March 19, 2002. http://www.hindu.com/2009/09/09/stories/2009090958010200.htm. 
  4. ^ "TAMIL: Dalit literature". The Hindu. February 26, 2008. http://www.hindu.com/br/2008/02/26/stories/2008022650051400.htm. 
  5. ^ "Healing with languages". The Hindu. August 06, 2006. http://www.hindu.com/lr/2006/08/06/stories/2006080600160400.htm. 
  6. ^ Dalit literature and African-American literature. Ed. N.M. Aston. Prestige Books , New Delhi. 2001. ISBN 81-7551-116-8.
  7. ^ Western Chalukya literature#Bhakti literature.
  8. ^ Natarajan, Nalini; Emmanuel Sampath Nelson (1996). "Chap 13: Dalit Literature in Marathi by Veena Deo". Handbook of twentieth-century literatures of India. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 363. ISBN 0313287783. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=1lTnv6o-d_oC&pg=PA363&dq=Dalit+literature&cd=2#v=onepage&q=Dalit%20literature&f=false. 
  9. ^ Issues of Language and Representation:Babu Rao Bagul Handbook of twentieth-century literatures of India, Editors: Nalini Natarajan, Emmanuel Sampath Nelson. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996. ISBN 0-313-28778-3. Page 368.
  10. ^ Mother 1970 Indian short stories,1900-2000, by E.V. Ramakrishnan, I. V. Ramakrishnana. Sahitya Akademi. Page 217, Page 409 (Biography).
  11. ^ Jevha Mi Jat Chorali Hoti (1963) Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2. Editors Amaresh Datta. Sahitya Akademi, 1988. ISBN 81-260-1194-7. Page 1823.
  12. ^ "Of art, identity, and politics". The Hindu. Jan 23, 2003. http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/mp/2003/01/23/stories/2003012300470200.htm. 

Sakya J. Mohan, History of Dalit Struggle for Freedom (2001), Dhamma Publications, Pondicherry Sakya J. Mohan, Dalit Kudigalin Marukkappatta Varalaaru (2003), Dhamma Publications, Pondicherry

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