Reception Histories of Bahujan Narrative Identity: The Many Forms of Non-Brahmanism


Saket Moon

saket moon


The trope of the unity of the Non-upper caste, Non-Brahman as the vanguard of the socio-political revolution has one that has, at least since Phule, been an important part of the Maharashtrian discourse. So much so that on the eve of the formation of Maharashtra as a state of independent India, the then future chief minister Y.B. Chavan announced that the formation of Maharashtra would mean the rule of the Bahujan Samaj, the oppressed non-Brahmin majority. The rhetoric paid rich dividends as Chavan became the first chief minister of Maharashtra in 1960. Ironically, the movement for the creation of the state was led by an almost complete Brahman leadership1. However, this was not the first time that this trope appeared. If we are to trace the history of the Bahujan, as an identity, a trope and an idiom, we can start at Phule's conception of the non-Aryan masses. However, it has been argued by Dorothy Figueira, that this was an Anti-Myth to the Aryan Shared Myth propagated by the upper castes. This shall be looked into in greater detail further on in this paper. The case study of this paper shall be conducted upon the many interpretations of this idiom in the texts of the socio-political and literary spheres of Maharashtra, from Phule up to theorists of the present.

The theoretical basis of this paper shall be based upon interpreting the bahujan narrative identity as a social text, trying to trace the reception histories of the identity as well as attempting a socio-rhetorical analysis of these histories. The paper shall also attempt to understand the relation between these receptions and their contexts, and how receptions influenced further interpretations. At the same time the changes in the narrative that occur with its reinterpretations shall be looked at.

Theoretical perspectives

The paper shall begin from Paul Ricoeur's conception of narrative identity as a mode of self identity. For Ricoeur, the interaction between experience, action and narrative is a threefold process that constitutes a hermeneutic circle. The elements of this process are prefiguration, configuration and refiguration. The narrative imagination interprets or prefigures lived experience, or anticipates a symbolic and temporal structure. Events then undergo emplotment that establishes these experiences in a narrative that mediates between individual events and the narrative as a temporal whole. This narrative or text, then moves on as it is encountered by individuals who refigure it to shape their actions2. The process of emplotment then is the act that configures events into a narrative which then allows the symbolic articulation of the human experience of temporality, which by nature is aporetic3. Furthermore, Ricoeur uses this conception to theorize identity. Ricoeur sees Identity (idem) as ontologically distinct from the Self (ipse). The difference between ipse and idem then is the difference between a formal identity and a narrative identity4. While ipse is equivalent to a self reflexive Heideggerian Dasein, idem is the narrative construction that emerges from this reflexivity. Ricoeur further states that the notion of narrative identity can be applied to a community as well as an individual, as both individuals and communities are constituted in their identities by the adoption of narratives that become for them their actual histories5.

This paper shall then consider identities as a 'social text', and thus shall attempt a hermeneutics of identity. Narrative identities, as follows from Ricoeur's works have a textual structure, which are reinterpreted or refigured time and again. However the hermeneutic process here shall attempt to bring to light the underlying meaning from the manifest content of these texts, attempting an exegesis of these narratives. This paper shall employ the method of 'socio-rhetorical' analysis as developed by Vernon K. Robbins. Robbins employs the metaphor of a tapestry in the analysis of texts, where texts have multiple layers of textures that are overlaid upon each other. According to Robbins, there are four primary textures of a text6. These are Inner texture, Intertexture, Social and Cultural texture, and the Ideological texture. The Inner texture designates the linguistic patterns and structural elements of the text, where the inner constituents of a text attempt to communicate a meaning to the reader/interpreter. This texture constitutes, what is called a 'close reading' of the text, where the literary and rhetorical elements of the text become the focus of the analysis. The second level is the Intertexture, where the text references and interacts with the world that is 'outside' the text. These include allusions, citations, events, objects and other such elements.

It is here the text displays its relational nature with respect to other texts, as it is here that the text is in a dialogue with other texts. The next texture is the Social and Cultural texture, where the text interacts with the dominant Social and Cultural norms and modes, by conforming, sharing, transforming or rejecting them. The Ideological texture of Socio-Rhetorical interpretation points to the specific alliances and contestations evoked by the text and its linguistic patterns as well as those enunciated by its interpreters7. For Robbins, Ideology denotes the specific ways in which culturally and socially located speech and action is related to power and the structures and institutions thereof8. By utilizing this method, this paper shall try to uncover the underlying meanings of the Non-Brahmin narrative identities in Maharashtra.

The primary focus of this paper however, shall be the reception history of the Non-Brahmin narrative identity, which reached a definite form in the Bahujan identity, the essential elements of which shall be delineated later in this paper. While studying the reception of a text, the focus is not on what the text originally meant to the audience it was intended for, but rather on what the text meant to the different people at different times. In short, it is the history of how the text was received and interpreted, and how the text was reconfigured with subsequent receivers.


Ricoeur sees the narrative capability of human action as a consequence of the fact that human action is articulated through signs, rules and norms. Following the work of Clifford Geertz, whose statement "culture is public because meaning is" is endorsed by Ricoeur, and the work of Cassirer whose conception of "symbolic forms" as "cultural processes that articulate experience", Ricoeur sets forth his idea of structured symbolic systems wherein the symbol is a metaphor with an explicit meaning and an esoteric meaning. In this system the symbol brings the idea of a rule, not just rules for description and interpretation of actions, but also normative rules9. On a similar note, Dorothy Figueira's study of the Aryan Myth draws on the theoretical frameworks of Geertz and Cassirer's work on the myth as a discourse that structures the political order. Figueira sees the Myth as a narrative that legitimates a socio-political order, which contains latent symbolic meaning that manoeuvres sentiments of affinity to actuate political reforms. Figueira follows the work of Thapar, who sees the Myth as the self-image of a culture. Thapar sees the Aryan Myth as a method through which diverse groups were integrated by providing a narrative of common origins, as well as enunciating distinction of one group from another. Drawing from Michel De Certeau's analysis on Heterologies, or the discourses of the Other, Figueira sees the Aryan as a Mythic construct that exists solely in relation to its non-Aryan Other10.

In the early days of British colonialism in India, the officers of the British East India Company began to interpret the texts of the subcontinent in order to write the history of subcontinent. This was done to understand the society of the subcontinent in order to govern it better. Early interest in the texts of the subcontinent was mainly historical and philological, and when it encountered the term Aryan it was firstly interpreted as a linguistic marker, it was only later that it began to be interpreted as a biological category, or more specifically, a racial one. This followed largely from the scientific understandings of the day that are reflected in the theories of Comte de Gobineau, and the combination of Sanskritists and Ethnographers11. It was subsequently popularised through the works of Max Müller, and adopted by certain Indian nationalists like B.G. Tilak and Dayanand Saraswati who interpreted it on both racial and caste grounds, where the upper castes constituted the Aryans and the rest became non Aryans12. In her study Figueira shows how the Aryan Shared Myth was engineered and bolstered those who constructed the dominant political discourse, to cater to the demands of the national self esteem. A narrative of the golden past spearheaded by a superior race served some early nationalists to not only constitute the national imagination but also to justify the restoration of the 'Hindu' culture13. This can also be seen as an affirmation of the supremacy of the cultural domain in Partha Chatterjee's critique of Benedict Anderson's theory of nationalism. In Chatterjee's formulation anti-colonial nationalisms in Asia and Africa demarcate the domain of the spiritual as their sovereign, as opposed to the material realm where the colonizers have already proven their superiority. In the Indian context, Chatterjee argues, this can be seen in the second phase of social reform, where British interference in matters of 'National Culture' was strongly opposed14. However M.S.S. Pandian demonstrates that while Chatterjee's argument relocates the agency to the colonized, the constitution of the national culture establishes and enforces the dominance of the national elite over the subaltern whilst affirming the culture of the elite as the national culture15. The Aryan construct can be seen as a narrative identity, with the narrative of the Aryan golden age and its fall and a call to action for the restoration of Hindu culture to facilitate a return to the prelapsarian period. The symbolic order raised by the Aryan narrative also legitimizes social norms, by giving them a 'scientific' validity. The Aryan as a symbol of purity, one which the Dalit can become through a Hindu ritual of purification16 serves to demonstrate this. By prefiguring lived experience in this 'national culture' that was legitimized by the 'scientific' and 'historical' Aryan narrative it legitimized caste hierarchy as not only natural, but also progressive. The Aryan narrative identity thus dictated the categories through which lived experience could be articulated through a symbolic structure.

The Anti-Myth, or the Emergence of the Brahmaņetara narrative

The social reformer and the founder of the Satya Shodhak Samaj, Jotirao Phule, became the first one to reinterpret the narrative of the superior Aryan race from the point of view of the lower castes. Phule writing in the nineteenth century shifted the discourse from the Aryan Brahman as the foci of the narrative to the Non Brahman or the Brahmaņetara. In reinterpreting the Aryan narrative that was touted as a historical one Phule reimagined the basis of the entire narrative and in the process rewrote the history of the subcontinent. Phule's genius lay in reconstructing the myths and narratives from the Brahmanical textual traditions from the non-Brahman subjectivity. Phule reimagined the Aryan as the barbarian alien invaders and the lower castes as the civilized autochthonous people. Drawing from the same racist studies that legitimized the Aryan narrative, Phule described the Brahmans as the descendents of the Aryans, who he saw as a cunning, arrogant and bigoted race. By inverting many myths in the Indian textual tradition, Phule explained how the heroic and steadfast aborigines resisted the foreigners, a feat for which the invaders described them with derogatory titles such as śudra, mahāri, antyaja, and candala. Phule saw the mythic wars between the Devas and the Daityas as the wars between the indigenous and the invading race and the leaders of both belligerent parties as the legendary gods and demons of legend. Furthermore, he described the indigenous resistance as Kshetrias, or warriors17. Phule saw the Brahmanical claim to divine knowledge as their devious ploy to establish their epistemic dominance in order to enslave the minds of the śudra-atiśudras, and continue their rule over them and legitimize their social power18. In his writings he described the mythic demon king Bali as being the king of the aboriginal people who was defeated by Vamana in battle19. In an act of inversion that reconstructed the teleological horizon of the Aryan narrative, Phule called for a return to the rule of King Bali, or Bali-raj, the original golden age20.

Phule's grouping together of śudra-atiśudras, or the Brahmaņetara, the non upper caste majority into a single category, coupled with the creation of an alternative narrative, that re-signified existing symbols, led to the creation of the non-Brahaman narrative identity. Phule's establishment of the Satyashodhak Samaj in 1871 established an institution that would carry this idea forward.

The emergence of the Bahujan identity

After Phule's death in 1890, the non-Brahman movement lost its tallest exponent and leader. However, even during Phule's lifetime there had emerged some non-Brahman leaders like Krshnarao Bhalekar and Ganapat Sakharam Patil who worked to establish educational institutions for the lower castes in Pune, whilst being staunch critics of the Brahmans21. Then there were others like Narayan Meghaji Lokhande, the editor of the labour weekly Deenbandhu, and the founder of the first labour union in India, the Bombay Mill Hands Association22 and was integral to the organization of the working class in Bombay and the dissemination of Satyashodhak ideology amongst them. Another was Mukundrao Patil, the son of Krshnarao Bhalekar, who was the editor of the village newspaper Din Mitra, and was the author of multiple books and articles. A rich peasant himself, he advocated the Satyashodhak ideology amongst the rural populace23.

This section shall try to explore how the Brahmaņetara identity was reinterpreted by some people associated with the Satyashodhak movement and the emergence of the Bahujan idiom. Bahujan literally means the greater people, or rather the majority. While in current day politics this identity comprises of the SCs, STs, OBCs, and the religious minorities, back when this identity was conceived these categories did not exist. As we saw, Phule combined the Brahmaņetara, or the Non-Brahman populace, along with women in an identity. This conception of Brahmaņetara was reinterpreted and rearticulated by subsequent activists and reformers.

One of the early conceptions of the Bahujan, can be found in the works of Vitthal Ramji Shinde, a social reformer associated with the Prarthana Samaj in Pune who was deeply influenced by the Satyashodhak Samaj. Writing in 1920, he outlined the structure of a Bahujan political party, called as the Bahujanpaksha. In its manifesto, he expounds that Indian society is divided into two parts, one which is endowed with educational progress and material prowess and possesses more rights than the other group, the Bahujans. He then proceeds to enumerate the groups that can be included. The first category he enumerates are the farmers, excluding the rich farmers of the peasant proprietors, and calls for those farmers to be included who have been denied their rights, education and an economic status. The next class he includes are the soldiers, excluding the officers in the army. Next he calls for an inclusion of the teachers in the Bahujanpaksha. Again he enumerates certain categories that need not be included, like the priests, or teachers of scriptures or those teachers whose job is hereditary, the Brahmans. Next come the entrepreneurs, in which he counts the carpenters, goldsmiths, tailors, milkmen, and the oil pressers and all such occupations that were considered to be insignificant. Here Shinde's objective is to include the lower castes that performed these occupations. The next category he lists are the shopkeepers, excluding the moneylenders. After these he names the working class, in which in addition to the labourers, he names even doctors and lawyers in these. The precondition here however is that these should not have engaged in capital accumulation or have occupied official posts with the help of their educational prowess. The next class he includes are the untouchables, whose inclusion he mandates while directing that the party should abolish untouchability. The last class he includes are women24, 25. Here the author's intention is to establish a national and progressive party. Special emphasis should be directed towards the intention to establish a national party and outline its constituents. This indicates that nationalism had entered the discourse and this required the reinterpretation of the narrative identity in a national space. Similarly, the author delineates the inclusion of many occupations, rather than castes. Practically these would have been the same, but the authors' use of a more universal idiom is very telling.

A similar narrative builds in the book, Deśāce Duśmana (The Country's Enemies) written by Dinkarrao Javalkar in 1925. Javalkar, himself a member of the Satyashodhak Samaj, wrote this powerful polemic against B.G. Tilak and V.K. Chiplunkar, the leaders of the Brahmans of Pune whom he described as enemies of the country. Here Javalkar, in a poetic prose, describes the history of the non-Brahmins with a special emphasis on the Peshwa rule, which was praised by Tilak and Chiplunkar. In a trope quite similar to that found in B.R. Ambedkar's Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Ancient India, Javalkar chalks out the binary of the Brahman and the non-Brahman in history like Waman and Bali, Shivaji and Ramdas, Shahu Maharaj and Chiplunkar, and Phule and Tilak. In 1926, the sons of Tilak and Chiplunkar moved to the courts against Javalkar and his comrade Satyashodhak Keshavrao Jedhe, who was also the publisher of the book. As a result both were imprisoned and the book was proscribed. However after a trial, in which Ambedkar gave legal counsel to Javalkar and Jedhe, they were released. The book however remains proscribed to date26.

In Deśāce Duśmana, the tailors (śimpī), goldsmiths (sonāra), gardeners (māļi) and the Marathas are said to be the true representatives of the people. Other than being occupations, these are also caste names that have traditionally been regarded as Shudra by the Brahmans27. In Tilak and Chiplunkar, Javalkar sees the embodiment of all that are the enemies of the Bahujan28. The author also sees the Brahmans, as not only the enemies of the Bahujan, but also the enemies of their country and religion29. Here the author makes an interesting departure from Phule. While adopting nationalism as a unifier and excluding Brahmans from it, Non Brahman leaders like Jedhe and Javalkar also adopted the trope of Hindu unity that was against both the Brahmans and the caste system. The idea of Hindu unity was also to be found in the narratives of the Hindu Mahasabha (The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was founded the same year Javalkar's book was published and was too young to have any influence on the discourse in Pune.), however such a fierce opposition to Brahmans, the caste system and Hindu traditions was not to be found in the Mahasabha's narratives30.

The Many Variations upon the Non-Brahman identity in Post-Independence India

Ambedkar did not subscribe to the theory of the Aryan invasion, or that it was a racial term and that caste did have a racial origin. In his opinions the reasons or the rise of the Hindu social order were cultural rather than racial31. His choice of praxis was radically different than that of Phule, a detailed exposition on which would be outside the purview of this paper.

Ambedkar's crusade against caste was based around the critique of the Vedas and the sacred texts of the Hindu tradition that gave legitimacy to the caste system32. To Ambedkar the Aryan religion that was deemed to be the point of return for the Hindu social reformers was not a religion but a conglomeration of social and political norms, or a collection of ordinances that robbed its adherents of all moral freedom33. For Ambedkar those who did not adhere to these codes were designated the epithet dāsa, and these became the Shudras while Buddhists who presented the single greatest challenge to Brahman authority became the untouchables34. However, the non-Brahman identity still remained a rallying narrative which could conjure much mass support even after Ambedkar's death, even amongst the neo-Buddhists.

As has been noted at the very beginning of this paper, the creation of the state of Maharashtra was an event where the non Brahman identity in its Bahujan incarnation played a decisive role in the power play within the state. The death of Ambedkar and factionalism within the RPI led to a lack of leadership in the Dalit movement. The Non Brahman identity endured these times, and manifested itself in some unique ways. The first of these was with a prominent influence of Marxism, that there was an attempt to rearticulate the non-Brahman narrative with a Marxist vocabulary. The first generation of educated Dalits came to the Maharashtrian political scene in the 1960s. The factionalism in the erstwhile political movement along with the oppressive conditions under which the Dalits prevailed led them to articulate their anger through an anti-establishment literary movement. In 1972 the leading poets and authors of this movement, inspired by the Black Panthers of America, founded the Dalit Panthers35. The Panther ideology found an expression in the Dalit Panther Manifesto of 1973, however the manifesto did not represent the views of all Panther members as the organisation subsequently fractured due to disputes that arose from the content of the manifesto.

The Dalit Panther Manifesto defined a Dalit as "Members of scheduled castes and tribes, Neo-Buddhists, the working people, the landless and poor peasants, women and all those who are being exploited politically, economically and in the name of religion"36, 37. This broad definition encompasses the breadth of the Bahujan identity envisaged by Vitthal Shinde, and accommodated the non-Dalit low castes within it. It can be argued that this was a result of the left leaning views of Namedo Dhasal, one of the founders of the Dalit Panthers. However, the inclusion of the working class and the peasantry among the Bahujan can be traced back to Phule, Shinde and Lokhande. The narrative created by the Panthers looked upon the independence as a movement led by feudal landlords and capitalists that led to the transfer of power from the British to the feudal congress led by Gandhianism that was an ideology that preserved the status quo of the Brahmans. A Marxian influence can be seen clearly in the manifesto of the Panthers, where they count the true left parties as their friends and those parties oppose the caste system and the class rule while amongst their enemies are enumerated capitalists and landlords along with those that wish to preserve the caste system38.

A similar but quite different attitude can be read in the works of Sharad Patil. Patil, born in a Satyashodhak family, was a member of the Communist Party of India, and worked extensively with the trade unions in Dhule, and then amongst the adivasis. Upon disagreements with the Communist Party of India (Marxist), of which he was a member in 1978, upon his methodology of abrāhmaņī (non-Brahman) historical materialism he resigned from the party and founded the Satyashodhak Communist Party. Its guiding philosophy upon conception was of Marxism-Phule-Ambedkar-ism. However, Patil soon decided that Marxism-Phule-Ambedkar-ism cannot be a philosophy, for 'Phuleyism' [sic] and Ambedkarism are ideologies and not philosophies. Hence the author deriving from the epistemological school established by the Buddhist Philosopher Dignāga, propounded his own philosophy of Sautrāntika Marxism and the aesthetics of Socialist Sautrāntikism39. Patil went back to Phule negating Ambedkar's narrative on the origins of caste. He traced the term 'Bahujan' back to the Buddha who used it to denote the masses while the Brahmaņetara to the Vedic age40. Patil developed a highly complex and unique system of thought through his study of Marxism, Indian History, and the aesthetic theory and epistemology of Dignāga. In his conception the present day stage of history was that of the caste-ending bourgeois democratic revolution, where the Brahmanical intelligentsia combined with the Bania capitalists and the elite peasantry were situated as inimical to the śūdra-atiśūdra castes along with the poor of all classes and women of all religions. This according to Patil was the struggle for the equalitarian democratic revolution41.

The second major reinterpretation of the Bahujan narrative identity that happened around this time was related to the classification of the non Scheduled Caste, non Scheduled tribe castes into the category of Other Backward Classes. Those who ascribed to this identity were the beneficiaries of the reservation policies and were forming a middle class that constituted of the lower castes that articulated a radically different modernity than the upper caste42. These combined the narratives of Phule and his racial theories of the origins of caste with the demands that arose out of the exigencies of the Post independence context. An example of these narratives can be found in the narratives espoused by the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employee Federation (BAMCEF). The BAMCEF was founded in 1973 by Kanshi Ram and D.K. Khaparde. The organization43 seeks to organize the Bahujan Samaj, amongst whose constituents are the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, and religious minorities. The BAMCEF was formed to protect the interests of government employees from the backward castes and religious minorities against systemic discrimination and at one point boasted a membership of 200,000 members at which point state harassment forced the organization to go underground temporarily44. It is clear that the nature and composition of the organisation had a considerable impact on its terminologies and narratives. The use of terminologies like the SC, ST and OBC points to a constant dialogic relation between the members of the organisation and the state. Also there seems to be an effort to demarcate the boundaries of the Bahujan through terminologies legitimized by the state. The manifestos45, 46 of the two largest offshoots of the BAMCEF are quite similar in the narrative structures that they present. They both largely agree with the narrative of Phule, where the Brahmans are the descendents of the foreigner Aryans who oppress the indigenous or Mulnivasi non-Aryan population, comprised of the SCs, STs, OBCs and the converted religious minorities. The aim of BAMCEF is thus to organize the educated Bahujans to form an intellectual class that could counter the Brahmanical intelligentsia and to force the intellectual class to discharge its duties towards the Bahujan Samaj unwaveringly. In addition it seeks to unite the variegated Bahujans into a single identity. Here the terms of engagement are completely different as the aim is to create a dialogue with the state and to ensure representation in the various spheres of government and bureaucracy while at the same time the organization strives to perpetuate its narrative among the numerous castes to unite them under a single narrative identity. Its intended constituents being the educated government employees, its language and nomenclature is quite similar to the one used by the government.


As was noted in the very beginning of this paper attempts to outline the reception histories of the Bahujan identity in Maharashtra. The narrative of the Bahujan identity, on the level of intertexture, refers to the pre-existing narratives of Aryan invasion and racial superiority. However, in an attempt to invert the social norms that were established with the symbolic structure raised by the Aryan narrative, Phule reinterpreted the narrative with a symbolic inversion. The superior Aryan was reduced to a barbarian invader and the noble culture to an enslaving ideology. However, even Phule's narrative retained the teleological structure where a return to a prelapsarian past was sought. However, the creation of the Bahujan identity did have a socio-economic background. An analysis of the Maharashtrian Class Structure from 1818 to 1931 concludes that the long term effects of the colonial land relations were the restructuring of the village economic dimensions that increased impoverishment and indebtness, and thus strengthened an alliance between the non-Brahman castes. The enemies of the Bahujans as described by Phule were the śethjī, (capitalists and moneylenders), bhatjī (priests) and Brahmans. While the bhatjī denoted the trader castes and class that engaged in usury, it also included a large proportion of Brahmans. Bhatjī was a term that did not just mean the priests, but all the Brahman elite in general47. This caused the non Brahman castes to adopt a narrative identity that could let them forge a larger solidarity and translate an economic contingency into a narrative. After Phule this narrative identity was refigured by subsequent thinkers who adopted it to their lived experience and utilized it to articulate certain socio-economic contradictions that continue to exist till the present day. Certain contemporary thinkers and activists have refigured the narrative to present it as the best offense against the rise of the Hindutva ideology. A notable example of this can be that of Sachin Mali, an under-trial cultural activist currently incarcerated on the charges of being involved with the Maoist insurgency. In his book Jātyantaka Sanskŗitika Krāntice Ātmabhāna (The Self-Consciousness of the Caste-Ending Cultural Revolution), published in 2016 he proposes a program for developing a non-Brahmanical conception of aesthetics, nationalism and culture to counter the rise of Hindutva as well as large scale land reform and resistance to neo-liberalism to end the caste system. It is a quite interesting work as while it critiques the left's understanding of caste it proposes a program to end caste in India that takes into account the economic nature of caste. With essays that range from a critique of topics from postmodern philosophy to Hindutva nationalism to a conceptualizing non-Brahmanical aesthetics, nationalism and pedagogy, it is a foray to develop the narrative identity into a complete and independent school of thought.

The various interpretations of the Bahujan identity that have been presented are reconfigurations of the same narrative that are representations of their context. While this paper does not boast to deal with all conceptions of the Bahujana narrative identity in Maharashtra, as such would be more of a descriptive activity than an analytical one, it does see the examples presented as representatives of their time in a limited way. While the inner texture of all these narratives remains nearly the same, as the narrative structure presented is more or less similar, they differ largely on the other levels of the textual texture. Contingencies that arise out of the particular temporal and spatial contexts influence the socio-cultural and ideological texture. Another difference is the terminologies employed. While it may not seem like much on the level of Inner texture, the difference between the terminologies deployed to define the constituents of the narrative identity radically structure both the nature of the constituents as well as the ontological constitution of the constituents of the narrative identity. Also they radically shape the perception of different concepts in the ideological texture. Thus, while the Bahujan narrative structure remained more or less the same from the early days to its modern reconfigurations, it was reinterpreted multiple times, in other words was reconfigured time and again with the contingencies of the times. However, the reinterpretations differed in their terminologies giving the narrative a different meaning. We also see that in approaching different problems, from that of nationalism to neo-liberalism, the narrative is reconfigured that leads to an increase in the complexity of its multiple textures.



1. Suhas Palshikar, 'Politics in Maharashtra: Arrival of the Bahujan Idiom', The Indian Journal of Political Science , Vol. 55, No. 3, Special Issue on State Politics in India (July - September 1994), pp. 271

2. Douglas Ezzy, 'Theorizing Narrative Identity: Symbolic Interactionism and Hermeneutics', The Sociological Quarterly , Vol. 39, No. 2 (Spring, 1998), pp. 244

3. Hayden White, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation, Baltimore, 1987, pp. 173

4. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative Volume 3, Chicago, 1990, pp. 246

5. Ibid, pp. 247

6. Here Sacred texture is not taken in account, as it was not a part of Robbins original conception of Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation. Also some, like Gowler, consider it as a part of the Ideological texture.

7. David B. Gowler, "Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation: Textures of a Text and its Reception", Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2010, pp. 195

8. Vernon K. Robbins, The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology, London, 2003, pp. 36

9. Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative Volume 1, Chicago, 1984, pp. 57-58

 10. Dorothy M. Figueira, Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, New York, 2002, pp. 3-4 

11. Romila Thapar, The Aryan: Recasting Constructs, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 30

 12. Ibid, pp. 39-40

13. Dorothy M. Figueira, Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, New York, 2002, pp. 140

14. Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, New Jersey, 1993, pp. 6

15. M. S. S. Pandian, "One Step outside Modernity: Caste, Identity Politics and Public Sphere", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 37, No. 18 (May 4-10, 2002), pp. 1736-1737

16. Romila Thapar, The Aryan: Recasting Constructs, New Delhi, 2015, pp. 41 

17. Jotirao Phule, Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule, ed.and tr. by G.P. Deshpande, Delhi, 2010, pp. 27-28

18. Ibid, pp. 36-37

19. Ibid, pp. 59-60

20. Dorothy M. Figueira, Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, New York, 2002, pp. 148

21. Rosalind O'Hanlon, Caste, Conflict and Ideology, London, 2002, pp. 275

22. Nalini Pandit, "Narayan Meghaji Lokhande: The Father of Trade Union Movement in India", Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 32, No. 7 (Feb. 15-21, 1997), pp. 327

23. Gail Omvedt, "The Satyashodhak Samaj and Peasant Agitation", Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 8, No. 44 (Nov. 3, 1973), pp. 1972

24. Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Bahujanpaksha, Pune, 1920

25. Translations are mine, the text can be found in the collected works of Vitthal Ramji Shinde, an abridged and untranslated version of it appears on:,-%E0%A4%9C%E0%A5%80%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%B5-%E0%A4%A4%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%A4%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B5%E0%A4%9C%E0% A5%8D%E0%A4%9E%E0%A4%BE%E0%A4%A8/535-%E0%A4%AC%E0%A4%B9%E0%A5%81%E0%A4%9C%E0%A4%A8-%E0%A4%AA%E0%A4%95%E0%A5%8D%E0%A4%B7.html [Accessed on 25-10-16]

26. Gail Omvedt, "Non-Brahmans and Nationalists in Poona", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 9, No. 6/8, Annual Number (Feb., 1974), pp. 208-209

27. Satyashodhak Dinkarrao Javalkar, Deśāce Duśmana, Pune, 2005, pp. 10

28. Ibid, pp. 11

29. Ibid, pp. 39-40

30. Gail Omvedt, "Non-Brahmans and Nationalists in Poona", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 9, No. 6/8, Annual Number (Feb., 1974), pp. 207

31. Arvind Sharma, "Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on the Aryan Invasion and the Emergence of the Caste System in India", Journal of the American Academy of Religion , Vol. 73, No. 3 (Sep., 2005), pp. 864

32. Dorothy M. Figueira, Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, New York, 2002, pp. 152-153

33. Ibid, pp. 154

34. Ibid, pp. 155-156

35. Janet A. Contursi, "Political Theology: Text and Practice in a Dalit Panther Community", The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 52, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 326

36. The Dalit Panther Manifesto, 1973

37. [Accessed on 28-10-2016]

38. Ibid

39. Sharad Patil, Caste-ending Bourgeois Democratic Revolution & Its Socialist Consummation Vol. III, Pune, 2005, pp. 238-239 

40. Sharad Patil, "Dialectics of Caste and Class Conflicts", Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 14, No. 7/8, Annual Number: Class and Caste in India (Feb., 1979), pp. 287-289

 41. Sharad Patil, Caste-ending Bourgeois Democratic Revolution & Its Socialist Consummation Vol. III, Pune, 2005, pp. 104

42. A more detailed account of the alterity between upper caste and lower caste modernity can be found in M.S.S. Pandian's paper "One Step outside Modernity: Caste, Identity Politics and Public Sphere".

43. Currently there exist two organizations with the same name, after a split between the B.D. Borkar and Waman Meshram. Both claim to be the original organization.

44. Christophe Jaffrelot, "Caste and Politics", India International Centre Quarterly , Vol. 37, No. 2 (AUTUMN 2010), pp. 108-109

45. Introduction to the BAMCEF, [Accessed 30-10-2016]

46. About BAMCEF [Accessed 30-10-2016]

47. Gail Omvedt, "Development of the Maharashtrian Class Structure, 1818 to 1931", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 8, No. 31/33, Special Number (Aug., 1973), pp. 1430


1. About BAMCEF [Accessed 30-10-2016]

2. Chatterjee, Partha, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, New Jersey, 1993

3. Contursi, Janet A., "Political Theology: Text and Practice in a Dalit Panther Community", The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 52, No. 2 (May, 1993)

4. Dhasal, Namdeo et. al., The Dalit Panther Manifesto, 1973 at [Accessed on 28-10-2016]

5. Ezzy, Douglas, 'Theorizing Narrative Identity: Symbolic Interactionism and Hermeneutics', The Sociological Quarterly , Vol. 39, No. 2 (Spring, 1998)

6. Figueira, Dorothy M., Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority Through Myths of Identity, New York, 2002

7. Gowler, David B, "Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation: Textures of a Text and its

Reception", Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2010

8. Introduction to the BAMCEF, [Accessed 30-10-2016]

9. Jaffrelot, Christophe, "Caste and Politics", India International Centre Quarterly , Vol. 37, No. 2 (AUTUMN 2010)

10. Javalkar, Satyashodhak Dinkarrao, Deśāce Duśmana, Pune, 2005

11. Mali, Sachin, Jātyantaka Sanskŗitika Krāntice Ātmabhāna, Mumbai, 2016

12. O'Hanlon, Rosalind, Caste, Conflict and Ideology, London, 2002

13. Omvedt , Gail, "Development of the Maharashtrian Class Structure, 1818 to 1931", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 8, No. 31/33, Special Number (Aug., 1973)

14. Omvedt, Gail, "Non-Brahmans and Nationalists in Poona", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 9, No. 6/8, Annual Number (Feb., 1974)

15. Omvedt, Gail, "The Satyashodhak Samaj and Peasant Agitation", Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 8, No. 44 (Nov. 3, 1973)

16. Palshikar, Suhas, 'Politics in Maharashtra: Arrival of the 'Bahujan Idiom', The Indian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 3, Special Issue On State Politics In India (July - September 1994)

17. Pandian, M. S. S., "One Step outside Modernity: Caste, Identity Politics and Public Sphere", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 37, No. 18 (May 4-10, 2002)

18. Pandit , Nalini, "Narayan Meghaji Lokhande: The Father of Trade Union Movement in India", Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 32, No. 7 (Feb. 15-21, 1997)

19. Patil , Sharad, "Dialectics of Caste and Class Conflicts", Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 14, No. 7/8, Annual Number: Class and Caste in India (Feb., 1979)

20. Patil , Sharad, Caste-ending Bourgeois Democratic Revolution & Its Socialist Consummation Vol. III, Pune, 2005

21. Phule , Jotirao, Selected Writings of Jotirao Phule, ed.and tr. by G.P. Deshpande, Delhi, 2010

22. Ricoeur , Paul, Time and Narrative Volume 3, Chicago, 1990

23. Ricoeur ,Paul, Time and Narrative Volume 1, Chicago, 1984

24. Robbins, Vernon K., The Tapestry of Early Christian Discourse: Rhetoric, Society and Ideology, London, 2003

25. Sharma, Arvind, "Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on the Aryan Invasion and the Emergence of the Caste System in India", Journal of the American Academy of Religion , Vol. 73, No. 3 (Sep., 2005)

26. Shinde, Vitthal Ramji, Bahujanpaksha, Pune, 1920

27. Thapar, Romila, The Aryan: Recasting Constructs, New Delhi, 2015

28. White, Hayden, The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation, Baltimore, 1987 


Saket Moon is doing his M.Phil in Centre for the Study of Discrimination and Exclusion, JNU


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