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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 3)
Dalitbahujan Renaissance

Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 3)

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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.

On Vijayadashmi they take donations from farmers for the puja of horses and the tree of Apta, and if possible they grab a healthy share of the farmers’ milk on the day of the full moon of Ashwin. On the day of the new moon, they take gifts along with popcorn and sweet candy in the name of Laxmipuja.

In every month of Kartik, at the time of Balipratipada, while the Mahars and Mangs take a platter of five tiny lamps in their hands and wave it before the farmers with the fundamentally true and original blessing of “let troubles and sorrows go and the kingdom of Bali come,” the Bhat Brahmans only take shawls in their hands and wander from house to house asking for valuable goods, calling them patrons, but never doing them the honour of a blessing.

When the farmers and their families take baths in the river Indrayani during the pilgrimage to Alandi, the Bhat Brahmans take one coin from each on the excuse of getting their wishes fulfilled. This fair is never less than 75,000. Afterwards so many god-fearing farmers are convinced to give ghee and chapatti dinners to the divine Brahman wives, and if any among them are very poor, only a simple donation is taken and the Brahmans along with their whole families get a feast but give only a mouthed hollow blessing to these ignorant devotees.

Besides, the ignorant farmers of Bhovar village are made addicted to the fortnightly pilgrimage, and on the twelfth day of each month by rotation a feast of ghee and chapattis is taken from them. Not only this, but they incite a competition with so many well-off farmers from outside the district that they get thousands of meals from them. Finally some farmers from other villages who are decided maliciously by the Panch to be in that village are judged guilty of the quarrel, and they are shaven and money is taken from them for reparations. Is this a small way of stripping them?

On the twelfth day of the moonlit part of the lunar month, the Bhat Brahmans hold the cloth of a dhoti in front of the tulshi plant before the farmers’ house, and instead of the wedding chant they give two or three verses and celebrate the “tulsi marriage” and then leave, gathering the goods offered to the tulsi in their hands along with the money for the offering.

Every Paush month on Mahasankrant, the Bhat-Brahmans read the astrological forecasts of the Sankrant in the houses of the farmers and take donations from them; and so many illiterate god-fearing farmers are lured by the promise of gaining profound and fathomless merit that they enthusiastically allow the Bhat Brahmans to loot them.

Every month of Magh during Mahashivratra the Bhat Brahmans read the Shivalilamrut in the temples in the farmers’ lanes and take a donation from them for reading the auspicious book.

Every month of Phalgun they do the Holi puja; whether under the name of relieving the bankruptcy of the farmers or whooping loudly in the name of the Hindu religion, still these Bhatji-Buwas never free them to put the dust and dirt on their bodies without taking some donation.

Besides the yearly festivals described above, the solar and lunar eclipses and the circular movement of the planets are all occasions for the Bhat Brahmans to take all sorts of gifts from the farmers; and clasping their holy days in their armpits they wander in farmers’ lanes begging alms. Besides, so that a heavy weight of the Hindu religion should be impressed on the farmers’ minds in order to make them indifferent to their worldly condition and even more addicted, the Bhat Brahmans go at night to the houses of the well-to-do and recite the false sterile legends of Pandava-Pratap and others, and take money along with dhotis and turbans from them. So many perfidious Bhat Brahmans get the daughters-in-law and daughters of their farmer patrons so addicted that they are taught how to say such meaningless chants that sound like illegitimate relations. Then from time to time, when an occasion is found, the Bhat Brahmans get a satyanarayan puja done in the farmers’ houses, first taking one and a quarter measures of pure wheat granules, getting some fine milk, butter, ghee and sugar put in it, and swallowing this prasad, they afterwards get a feast for themselves and their whole families, and after stripping the farmers of so many donations they leave, in return, only the empty lamp in the farmers’ hands before they return to their houses.

If by any chance some weak women and men among the farmers are overlooked, the Bhat storytellers gather them almost every day in some temple and foster an addiction to such legends as those of Radha and Krishna. On the occasion of the completion of these, all are incited to compete to give great donations on a small plate, and finally the Brahmans sit on a great palanquin provided by these contributions and are paraded in a grand procession in front of the entire audience.

So many illiterate Bhat Brahmans who don’t have the intelligence to fill their stomachs through reading the almanac make some doltish idiot from among them into a white buwa, put wooden shoes on his feet and a vina around his neck, and get some Shudra to hold a great umbrella and go behind him, beating drums and cymbals and shouting “Je je Ram, je je Ram”, parading and demanding alms from the farmers. Many Bhat Brahmans chose an attractive youth from among themselves and make him into a Buwa in an expansive pavilion in a large temple, putting a vina into his hands and making all the others follow him singing lovingly with gesticulations like boy dancers and saying in chorus, “Radha Krishna Radha.” So they fill their stomachs and have a jolly time out of entrancing all the well-off widows who come for darshan.

Since many dull-witted Bhat Brahmans don’t have even enough intelligence to get sufficient business as priests, they make some credulous clerk from among themselves into a Dev Malhalkari, while the remaining Brahmans go from village to village getting vows to this “revenue officer” from the ignorant farmers and bring in much money through this. Many other Bhat Brahmans who have no capacity to earn their subsistence in a respectable manner by doing the contemplation of the Vedas and Shastras, make a swami of Bagalkhot out of some half-mad fellow, and all the remaining Bhat Brahmans go from village to village saying, “The Swami can discern the desires in everyone’s mind and will show you how to fulfil these.” By giving such various enticing bluffs to the ignorant farmers they bring them to the darshan of the Swami and steal their money.

If the haughtiness of the farmers has not been mowed down by all this religious grindstone, the Bhat Brahmans get them addicted to holy yatras like Bhadra and Kedar and finally lead them to Kashi and Prayag, where they strip them of thousands of rupees and shave off their beards and mustaches and bring them back to their homes. And finally on the excuse of a final ritual, they take huge Brahman banquets from them.

Finally, after the death of the farmers, the Bhat Brahmans in the role of the priests of the cremation ground take various sorts of payments every day from their sons and read daily garuda legends, and on the tenth day they bring the watandar Bhatji from Dankawadi making noises like a crow to give the ritual of the corpse. And along with the daily payment for the reciting, they take copper, brass, umbrellas, sticks, mattresses and shoes as gifts. Then on the day in which all the descendants of the farmer do the dead man’s shraddh ceremony, they have kept a practice of taking donations and gifts according to their capacity. It is this, that with some wheedling and giving of empty titles to the patron farmer, calling one a patil, another a deshmukh, another a karbhari and so on, the Bhat Brahmans extract leaves and free vegetables form them on the occasion of their children’s marriages. At the end, to maintain their hold over them, they invite all on one occasion and seat them in the pavilion, and after first giving a feast to all the women and men of their caste, they collect the leftovers and seat their Shudra servants in a line and serve them all these remains in the same platter from a distance, with great treachery and maintaining their purity. These Brahmans go to the houses of prostitutes from these castes and don’t think it base to kiss them and drink the juice of their mouths, but consider their patron farmers so inferior that they don’t even let a touch of the farmers come into the water tanks on their verandas, leave aside the question of intermarriage and interdining!

On the basis of all these accounts, one might wonder how farmers could be so ignorant as to be looted up until today by the Bhat-Brahmans. My answer to this is that when the original Arya Bhat-Brahman regime was started in this country, they forbade knowledge to the Shudras and so have been able to loot them at will for thousands of years. Evidence for this will be found in such self-interested literature of theirs as the Manusmriti. After some years, four disinterested holy wise men who disliked the prolonged misfortune founded the Buddhist religion and campaigned against the artificial religion of the Arya Brahmans to free the ignorant Shudra farmers from the noose of the Aryabhats. Then the chief head of the Aryas, the great cunning Shankaracharya, engaged in a wordy battle with the gentlemen of Buddhist religion and made great efforts to uproot them from Hindustan. However, rather than the goodness of Buddhism being threatened even a mite, that religion kept growing day by day. Then finally Shankaracharya absorbed the Turks among the Marathas and with their help destroyed the Buddhist religion by the sword. Afterwards the Arya Bhatjis, by banning eating beef and drinking alcohol, were able to impose an awe on the minds of the ignorant farmers through the help of Vedamantras and all kinds of magical tricks.

After some time had passed, since the world-heroic disciples of Hazrat Mohammad Paigambar were smashing the idols of temples like Somnath with their swords along with the fraudulent religion of the Aryabhats, and beginning to free the Shudra farmers from the clutches of the Arya religion, Mukundraj and Jnanoba from among the Bhat-Brahmans took some imaginary parts of the Bhagwat legend and made tactical books named Viveksindhu and Jnaneshwari. These so much corrupted the farmers’ minds that they began to regard the Muslims along with their Koran as inferior and hate them. After some more time passed a sadhu by the name of Tukaram arose from among the farmers. Fearing that he would give enlightenment to Raja Shivaji of the farmers and liberate them from their noose by procuring from his hands the unceremonious removal of the fraudulent Bhat-Brahman religion, the cunning Vedic pandit Ramdas Swami, with the help of the clever Gagabhat, whispered in the ears of the illiterate Shivaji and prevented friendship from growing between the ignorant Shivaji and the selfless Tukaram. Later the legitimate heirs of Raja Shivaji were kept captive in Satara fort by their Bhat-Brahman prime minister (Peshwa).

Later on, in the regime of the Peshwas, without making any expenditure on dams or other construction to provide water to the farmers’ fields, they took up the ferocious assault of distributing shawls and cloth to twenty to twenty-five thousand Brahmans as bakshish, feeding them in the pleasure park of Parvati on the taxes taken from the farmers who had to live on roots and carrots, and bhakri and chatni. The farmers were ruined by the huge wealth forcibly extracted from them in the constant assault of these bandit kings, spent profusely every year to teach the self-interested Brahmanical religious texts to the Bhat-Brahmans, while not giving even a piece of a coin for giving even vernacular education to the farmers. And Bajirao Peshwa raced to distribute gold coins like rice in huge ladles in the pleasure park of Parvati. But we feel no wonder at all of this. Raobaji was after all a true Arya caste Brahman! All these partisan heroic donors made no arrangements in estates like Parvati for any widows or orphaned children from among the farmers, but only for the Bhat-Brahmans of their caste, giving some singing priests and four or five wandering patronized Bhat-Brahmans hot water daily for baths in the morning, and two meals a day, milk and sweets for everyone, and for breakfast and for all festivals a copious amount of cooked food, with arrangements for enjoyment and listening to songs with kettledrums around the clock.

This practice has been continued even today by our cowardly English government, and for that the toiling Shudra and Ati Shudra farmers contribute thousands of rupees every year in expenses out of the sweat of their brow.

These days, because so many Shudra and Ati-Shudra farmers are accepting the Christian religion and arriving at a humane life, the importance of the Bhat-Brahmans has decreased and they are faced with the situation of working themselves to fill their stomachs. Observing this, so many Bhat-Brahmans have established various kinds of Samajes to defend the mad Hindu religion. In these they attack Christianity and Islam with all kinds of backhanded methods and create false ideas in the minds of the farmers about these religions. Let it be. However, if those Brahmans like Kaka and the Sarvajanik Sabha leader Joshibuwa, who want to stimulate the traditional idol worship, had torn away from their eyes the veil of chauvinism of caste differences in the Hindu religion, and seen the situation of the farmers, they would not have dared to describe as “ignorant” those unfortunate poor farmers caught in the restrictions of a partisan religion. And if they had given some kind of information about the tyranny of religion on the farmers to our English government, then perhaps some compassion would have trickled down and they would not have taken the counsel of the Bhoodev Bhat-Brahman employees about giving education to the Shudras; probably a different scheme would have been used.

To sum up, the farmers who have been kept ignorant for generations are so much exploited of their time and wealth by the Bhat-Brahmans that they have no vigor left to sent their small children to school, and besides this the tradition of the Arya-Bhats coming down from very ancient times that “Knowledge should not be given to the Shudra farmers” has left so much fear stamped on their minds that they don’t dare to send their children to school. It is true that these days our compassionate Governor Generalsaheb, following the model of the great leader of the American republic, George Washington, has declared that the ignorant Shudras and Ati-Shudras, who call what the Brahmans give as religion and what the English do as law, also have the right to be elected to municipalities along with the learned Bhat- Brahmans. However, in these matters, the Bhat-Brahmans with their haughty airs of purity play such devious tricks on the ignorant Shudra and Ati-Shudra people that they are deceived; and I hope the responsibility for the failure and letting the Bhat Brahmans wash their horses in the Ganges does not fall on the head of the compassionate Governor Generalsaheb.


Read Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 2) here. And (Part 4) here.