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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 10)
Dalitbahujan Renaissance

Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 10)

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Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

Chapter 5

Our suggestions to the Arya Bhat-Brahmans regarding the Shudra farmers and the remedies which the current government should follow: —

Before beginning this final chapter, I would like to make some suggestions to the greatly cunning Arya Bhat-Brahmans of the country, with the aim that they should not obstruct these matters. I would ask God that not only our learned foreign government, but our domestic ignorant “Dasyu” Shudra brothers, should open their eyes and become conscious of the situation. These days these stalwarts of purity have been hiding their sword of religion, with all the ritual weapons that cut the throats of all the creatures of God, under the guise of being great lovers of swadeshi, and without even a glance towards the Mahars and Mangs, have been telling the frolicsome promising offspring of Shudras, Parsis and Muslims through their books, newspapers, Sabhas and similar methods that they should put aside all grumbling about the hierarchies and distinctions among those in the country and become united; and without becoming one, this unfortunate country will never make progress. Such is the instruction they give us. I am making a small effort here so that the illiterate farmers will not listen to this and carry out any adverse actions. On that lies their fate.

From that day that the forefathers of the cunning Bhat-Brahmans won superiority over the (Dasyu) Shudras on the strength of their skills of archery and imposed their harsh regime on them, for their own self-interest they have kept the defeated (Dasyu) Shudras ignorant for thousands of years to this very day. As a result the Shudra farmers have forgotten their basic human rights. Then, because they began to have faith in those selfinterested artificial religious books which began to be considered holy like the Buddhist, Muslim and Christian sacred books propounding a universal human religion, all the Shudras became subject to the Brahmans, and scorning the true religions of other human beings, began to consider it a sacred duty to slander them. As a result they began to behave towards them with all kinds of perfidy, even feeling that to do so was their right. And so that the Shudras should not have even the slightest doubt of the Brahmans perfidiousness, it was said that this was the Shudras’ dharma, and the propaganda started then goes on until this day.

Since the foreign English government and their indolent luxury-loving white employees are misinformed in every way about the true deformity, they have not been able to manage things properly. Thus the situation of each and every Shudra farmer has sunk to a pitiable level.still, with the intention of getting all kinds of important labour done by the farmers and keeping them addicted, the Brahmans have always given the advice in their Sabhas, their newspapers and their books that “unless the Shudra farmers always keep their loyalty to the Brahmans and maintain unity with them, there will be no progress in this unfortunate country.” They seem to have only the intention of deception through their hollow advice in bluffing the ignorant Shudra farmers and giving this notion of progress. The ancestors of the Brahmans, considering themselves Bhoodevas in the intoxication of their power, began to treat the helpless Shudra farmers as slaves, and this extremely base practice has been consciously continued through various means up to this day. Then how can farmers unite with such alien Brahmans?

The great majestic Dr. Franklin and Thomas Paine and other leading gentlemen, labouring constantly night and day, have through the power of learning helped the artisans and the skilled Americans in industry to go ahead of the manufacturers in all the countries of Europe, earning crores of rupees every year. In order that such knowledge should not be given to the Shudra farmers, the ancestors of the Brahmans, in the intoxication of their superiority, wrote extremely forbidding articles in their self-interested books. As a result the knowledge of archery and other military skills stagnated in this country. We see by our own eyes that so many youth of the Shindes, Holkars and other great houses of today sit on excellent horses and make a great show of their skill with spears; however these unfortunates are like mooing cows as far as the knowledge of how to use binoculars or how to forge cannonballs is concerned! Twisting their turbans and ruining the reputation of their fathers, they have only become a great weight on the chest of the Shudra farmers and a burden to the earth itself. Because of this, so many times the “French,” “Portugese,” “Muslims” and other greedy conquistadors have swept into this country and taken away immense wealth to their own lands; so many have also humiliated the self-interested religion of the Brahmans. Finally so many god-fearing Muslims finally took possession of thousands of Bhat- Brahmans, circumcizing them one after another and carrying them into their humane religion. However during all this time they kept permanent the ban in their Sanksrit schools on teaching knowledge to the children of the Shudra farmers. How can farmers unite with such Brahmans?

Now, if we observe the process of nature, it will be seen that aside from knowledge, humans and all other animals are basically alike in their nature. Animals need food, sleep and sexual intercourse; they raise their young, protect themselves from their enemies and understand nothing aide from belching after they have eaten and since there is not a speck of change in this constant behavior of theirs, there is no upheaval or basic change in their original condition. However, one marvellous speciality in the nature of human beings is a specific intelligence. With its help, they have won superiority over all the fish, animals, birds, insects and other creatures; and with this intelligence they have invented the system of writing to put their thoughts down on paper. After this, since the people of the continents all around have kept note of all their experiences up to today, there has grown up a huge mass of experienced knowledge in the world, and with the help of this experiential knowledge and their intelligence, the Europeans send their important messages through telegraph wires thousands of miles to inform each other and bring lakhs of tons of grain by boat and train in the time of drought to save each other. And in the midst of such intelligent human beings, the Shudra Shivaji has brought to ruin the Muslim Badshah who worships one god and advised the farmers to take care of all the cows and the Brahmans and their self-interested religion! Remembering this, the ungrateful Peshwa servants of the completely illiterate Shudra Shivaji kept his illiterate heirs imprisoned in the Satara fort and made the cruel and heartless Trimbakji Dengale an informant. So they established the regime of their Arya Bhat-Brahman jati fellows in Pune city, distributing great gifts of rupees and gold to Brahmans and doing the play of the Black Krishna by night and day, punishing people of the Shimpi and other castes along with the Shudra farmers if they dared to wear long dhotis like the Brahmans. Not only that, the Bhat-Brahmans today consider the urine of the cows who eat the shit of farmers to be holy and become purified by that. And these Bhat-Brahmans on the strength of their self-interested religion [27] consider the Shudra farmers to be inferior. How can farmers have unity with such Brahmans?

Even though so many among the Arya-Brahmans have faced punishment of forced labour in prison for false papers, counterfeit notes and bribery, and even though so many dine on (untouchable) “Mang” women’s degraded food of meat and liquor under the pretence of the “Shakta” cult, still they consider Shudra rulers such as the Bhosles, Holkars and Shindes to be inferior and refuse to interdine with them. Most Bhat-Brahmans do all kinds of despicable practices with the “impure” women of their villages, and yet these same Arya Bhats consider it a sin to exchange daughters with upright Shudra farmers; on this basis claiming that there can be any unity between farmers and Brahmans is like saying that “Z” comes before “A”?

All Bhat-Brahmans refuse to let the Shudra farmers even touch the stone and metal idols in their temples, nor even come near them; they don’t let them sit and eat next to them; they give them the leftover ghee from their plates and get up. With this, how can farmers have unity with such Brahmans?

When the selfless disciples of Hazrat Muhammad Paigambar set foot in this country, on the basis of the strength of their holy monotheistic religion they began to expose the sham of the Arya Bhat’s self-interested religion. When some Shudras with great enthusiasm began to accept the Muslim religion, the greatly cunning Mukundraj Bhat used a few Sanksrit quotations and applied some gilded coating to a bit of atheistic opinion and used this trickery to make a Prakrit book called Viveksindu to put before the remaining illiterate Shudras; and until the time of the establishment of the English regime, the Arya Bhats told the farmers stories from their barren Bharat and Ramayana and got them addicted to warring against the Muslims, but they never allowed the illiterate farmers to think of educating their children along with the Muslims. Because of this when the English regime got established, naturally all the great important positions in the government departments were taken by the Arya Brahmans, and they began to devour the farmers on all sides. And though the Arya Bhats considered the English and European people to be as inferior as Mahars and Mangs, still those Vedas created by their hugely cunning ancestors, the Vedas which they called supremely holy, the Vedas whose tail could not even be seen by the Shudra farmers, those Vedas hidden under veils of purity are taught today by their fat learned men wandering from house to house of the Mlecchas. However, these same Bhat-Brahmans have not even the smallest inclination to give some elemetary education to the ignorant children of the Shudra farmers in the government schools in the villages. How can farmers have unity with such Brahmans?

If the children of farmers who migrated to the big cities begin to get a little education with the help of all the religious missionaries among the Europeans, and if by some oversight due to the compassion of white bureaucrats they are given an official post, all the Bhat workers in the office will tell all kinds of slanders about them to the white employees and finally get them thrown out of work; and so many Bhat employees try to please their white employee superiors by telling them such an abundance of absurd fantastic stories about the ignorant farmers’ crops, laying all kinds of obstacles in the way of the farmers’ getting justice, and so make them shiver with fear. How can the farmers have unity with such Brahmans?

All the Vaidiks, Shastris, myth-makers and storytelling Bhat-Bhiksuks among the Arya Brahmans, using all kinds of opportunities to tell the tumultuous patter of their empty religion to the Bhosles, Shindes, Holkars and other rulers who have risen from the ignorant Shudra farmers, continuously call them “patron” and grab from them hundreds of Brahman feasts, gifts of cows and other religious donations daily. But the representatives and secretaries of the Bhat-Brahman caste or the Sanglikars and other Brahman princes never feed even a simple meal to their patron Shudra farmers, pray to them or take their blessing, even in times of drought. And most of the learned Brahmans among them take thousands of rupees yearly allowance from Gaikwad and other Shudra ruling princes while none among the Brahman ruling princes remembering such daily grabbing has ever given clothes to a farmer boy and gotten him educated. How can farmers have unity with such Brahmans?

In the house of all the rich Brahmans, the Brahman beggars daily have their choice of food like rice being distributed, while the Shudra and Muslim beggars are lucky to be given a pinch of jawar, if they are not told to go away. Compared to the Arya Bhat-Brahmans, shouldn’t the mleccha Europeans like Judge Thackersaheb from foreign countries and foreign religions who distribute lakhs of rupees be called compassionate? He has fed from his own earnings many orphaned Brahman and Shudra children and educated them in English, they can now match the white employees and exchange government bills. Oh, that is what we mean by understanding! That is what we mean by graciousness! That is what we mean by avour! Otherwise, the Arya Bhat-Brahmans say one thing for the purposes of their work, and when that work is done, “you in your place and I in mine.” According to the world-famous saying, “you eat your seed and plant mine,” the Bhat-Brahmans will get the expansive benefit. The Arya educated people who really want to unite all the people and truly help this country to make progress should first drown their evil religion which they propagate among the victorious and among the conquered. And unless they dance on the chest of casteism along with their Vedanta and, without making distinction among persons, leave aside their cruelty and began to behave purely and honestly in the presence of the Shudras and Ati- Shudras, there can be no true unity and no true progress of the country.

However, even if the Arya-Bhats, with their hereditary cunning, should hold hands with fifty to a hundred half-raw educated Shudras and make a temporary unity with all the people of the country for limited purposes and achieve a momentary progress, this will not last for long. My prediction is that if the Bhat-Brahmans absorb a few meddlesome people from among the Shudras who start becoming yes-men to these belly gods, like setting up a framework for ripening fruit that breaks off the young raw mangoes, this will only mean destroying the valuable mangoes along with them, and in doing this all the capable Shudras will have to keep their heads bent. I explicitly ask them to keep this prediction in the mouths of the gods in their temples.

Now I will take some rest in the cool air of the pleasant Simla hills and make some suggestions to our supremely compassionate Governor Generalsahib in the restful atmosphere, calling upon the name of the government beyond our seas, for reforming the condition of the Shudra farmers.

Now, unless our moral religious government, putting aside its greed for wealth, appoints some detective doctors to keep their eyes on the farmers’ behavior and give them some punishment if they do low acts of theft or dissoluteness, and controls the undisciplined behavior which is destroying the farmers’ health, they will not become moral. The lineage of the Shudra farmers will not become strong unless there is a law forbidding them from arranging child marriages or taking more than one wife. Because the white government employees are misinformed about everything, and let the Bhat-Brahmans hold government positions greater than their proportion in the population, these never have to face the situation of working in the mud of the villages to cultivate the fields or sending their wives on fruitless errands to the bazaar in the middle of the day to fill their stomachs. Besides, since the farmers are ignorant, the Bhat-Brahmans get endless benefits from caste differences. The Brahman puraniks, story-tellers and teachers in the schools along with the government employees work night and day with all their shrewdness to prevent the breaking of caste differences. In reality, until the children of farmers become capable of taking charge of the government administration, Brahmans should not be given governmental positions beyond the proportion of their caste, and the remaining governmental posts should be given to Muslims or British people in India. Unless this is done they (the Brahmans) will not stop obstructing the education of the farmers. Since they occupy nearly all the government posts, any means of bringing their cruelty to the attention of the white bureaucrats has been closed. Because of this, only the Brahman caste becomes learned and wealthy, and the Shudra farmers who toil on meager food and clothing sometimes become blind followers giving their lives for Brahmans by joining in their revolts. Along with this, the Bhat-Brahmans have made such an impression of their cruel religion on the Shudra farmers that they consider it a merit to bear the punishment for the murders or crimes they have done upon the Brahmans’ urging, without mentioning the names of the Brahmans. Because of that any labour spent on the police or justice department is wasted.

In order to make the children of the Shudra farmers truly educated, teachers of their own caste should be appointed, who can themselves demonstrate how to use the plough, weeding and sowing instruments, and laws should make it compulsory to send their children to school. For the first few years the examination given to them should be simple, giving them as incentive the degree equivalent to those of the Brahmans’ children. And there should be no tyranny of alien castes regarding the marriage ceremonies for the weddings of their children. Without such controls, no relish for education will develop among the Shudras. Then, the children of the Shudra villagers who show their merit by passing examinations in using the plough, weeding and sowing instruments along with the Marathi sixth standard should be given the headmanship rights in the village. When our compassionate government makes such laws, thousands of farmers will gladly send their children to school in the competition to win headman rights. And, once there are such educated and meritorious Patils in every village, all the cunning Bhat-Kulkarnis in the rural areas will not be able to entice the ignorant farmers into mutual quarrels, and there will be such excessive benefit from this for the farmers and the government that in a short time the farmers will gain the capacity to provide even higher land revenue than today. And the police and justice departments which have been so senselessly bloated can be easily minimized. Along with this, the government should realize that the Bhat-Brahmans are absolutely incapable of doing the administrative work in Hindustan, and as the Shudra farmers become educated in the government schools, they should be given all the big and little official positions in the government offices. Without teaching them such work, without the farmers getting a shelter for their feet, the government revenue will never be increased. These days our government has fixed its gaze upon the perfidiousness of the Gujaratis’ and Marwaris’ moneylending, but even more than this they should attend to their practices of keeping false measures and rotting goods in the stores and to the drunken Patils.

Now I will make some suggestions for improving the agriculture of the barren fields of the illiterate, ignorant farmers:

Our compassionate government should give to all farmers the knowledge to do equivalent to that of European farmers, and until they gain the understanding sufficient to do mechanical agriculture like them, at present instead of the Muslims and others including all white people killing calves, bulls and cows for eating beef, they should eat mutton from sheep and goats here, or they should buy cattle from abroad to eat for beef. Without the enforcement of such a law, the bullocks of the Shudra farmers here will be insufficient to plough their fields, and they and the government will not get the benefit of their manure for fertilizer. The decomposed leaves and flowers of all the grass and trees on the hills and mountains should be compososted together with decomposed dead insects and beasts and their bones. After heaving raining, so that the water should not simply flow into the streams and rivers and get washed away, our industrious government should bring the police and all the white and black soldiers to build small embankments from place to place to that the water can get channeled first to the fields and then sent to rivers and streams. If this is done the fields will become very productive and at the same time the soldiers in the army will get the habit of industrious work in open air and will become strong and free from disease. By making them work worth one anna’s worth every day, the government’s revenue will increase more than 25 lakhs a year. Because these days there are around two lakhs of soldiers along with the police at the command of our alert government.

Similarly, our compassionate government should build as many tanks and ponds as it can, and in the most convenient way, in the valleys and gullies of mountains and hills. In this way, even in the middle of the summer there will be water to supplement the streams of the countryside below, and with small and big dams everywhere there will be water to fill all the wells. And all the area will become irrigated and the government along with the farmers will benefit. In order to prevent the fields from become eroded and barren, the government should regulate the bandhs on the side of the watershed area.

Our compassionate government should do a survey of all the fields in the province, using water-diviners to discover sources where there is water and to get a rough calculation, and marking all those places and noting them on the maps of the villages, only without the help of the government along with the water diviners showing the path. Awards should be given to the Shudra farmers who dig wells and make embankments; and all the silt in the rivers, canals and reservoirs should given free of charge as before to the farmers. Finally, the government should return all the grazing land of the villages that it has turned into “forest” and give it freely with only a strict law that wood should not be cut for selling but for fuel for cooking and burning the fields, and so make a holi of (burn up) the tyrannical Forest Department. Our government with its own exertions, should undertake a little expense from the treasury and purchase various types of fine goats and sheep from abroad and bring them to this country so that along with increasing production here, they will provide from their urine and excreta high quality fertiliser in such quantity that the fields will become very productive, and the Shudra farmers will get great benefit. If the government does not have the courage to let the farmers keep their pompous old rifles to protect their fields from wild animals in the government forests, then it should assign black police to do this work. All the losses caused by wild pigs and other animals eating up the produce of the fields should be cut from the pay of the high officials of the Police Department or taken from the government treasury and given to the farmers as compensation. Without the benefit of this the farmers will not be able to sleep at night and work industriously during the day. This is called, “I can’t do it and cannot bear it if you do it”!

If our compassionate government truly takes it to heart to increase production by seeing to the welfare of the ignorant Shudra farmers, then every year during the month of Shravan they should organize exhibits and during the month of Ashwin give tests on driving ploughs and on various crops and give prizes to the top farmers. Every three years they should give titles to the top farmers, and in order that the educated children of farmers should carry on their agriculture in a superior manner, the government should give some minor examinations in iron work and woodwork, and send them on its own expenses to survey agricultural schools abroad so that agriculture here can be immediately improved and they can be happy. Our moral government should keep a close eye on all the Jogtins, Muralis, Aradhinis, Kolhatins and Kasbins and maintain a locked hospital for them in every taluka, and so that the Kolhatins, Tamashawallas, dramatists etc should not sing improper songs; without this the health and morality of the ignorant Shudra farmers will not improve. With a big recruitment of Shudra and Ati-Shudra farmers in the military and police departments of all provinces, they are competing with the tough people of “Egypt” and “Kabul” and beginning to match the white soldiers’ courage and power.

All the Shudra and Ati-Shudra farmers along with their wives and children toiling on the fields night and day give crores of rupees to the government in taxes, cesses, funds and octroi every year. However, our religion-loving government does not give any suggestions or knowledge or material to read regarding agriculture to the Shudra farmers’ children either in books or in articles in the vernacular press. And since hundreds of thousands of farming families have fallen into difficulty getting even bhakri to eat on time or clothes to cover their body, all our law-abiding government does in the name of their happiness and protection is to give huge pay and pensions to the employees of their military, justice and revenue departments, and extracts excessive wealth from the farmers; what shall we call that!! So many spoiled children of our government, the black and white government employees, eat thousands of rupees in pay every month and after thirty to thirty-five years, they get hundreds of rupees pension every month. When most black government employees make a show of being too weak and blind to do the work of the government offices, they throw dirt in the eyes of the numerous European doctors to live off their pensions; the white pensioners bolt for England and many of the black pensioners, as if they have risen from the dead like Jesus Christ Yogi Maharaj rising from the dead, regain their youth, and giving a black die to their mustaches, and take highly paid jobs in the muncipalities or offices of merchants earning thousands of rupees to fill their bowls. Our alert government should, without a change in the meager pay of the military soldiers, ironsmiths and carpenters for construction, slowly reduce the extremely excessive pay and pensions of all the remaining great black and white employees in all the departments. Without considering these things I have written, the current starving condition of the illiterate farmers will never end, and the foundation of the government’s rule in this country will not become firmly established.

In sum, I have not written in any chapter of Asud about the great princely rulers or the ignorant small estate-holders among the Shudras, and have said nothing about the humiliating situation of the Ati-Shudras. The reason is that the first due to their hollow glory and the second due to their misfortune have become alienated from the Shudra farmers. Here I have only given some solid points for a clumsy description of the situation of the lower and middle-class farmers in order to inform the Governorsaheb in the cities and the regime of the Governor Generalsaheb here as well as our excellent English government beyond the seas. Even after all this, if it is truly the desire of our government that it should be given the last gulp of water before death from the hands of Brahmans’ children, then they can continue to spend huge sums every year to educate the children of the Brahmans from the Royal Fund which is collected from the crushed bones of the Shudra farmers. I am not saying anything about that at present.[28] However, if they at least begin to spend all the local funds collected under the bluff of educating the farmers’ children to give them credible (honest) education, I will very happily consider this the fruit of the many days labour I have spent. However if this is not done they will all be responsible to the God.

I remember with gratitude my debts to my neighboring Muslim playmates, who first gave me when I was young a true idea of the self-interested nature of the Hindu religion and its many false ideas such as casteism. After that I remember the Scottish mission in Pune and the government institution which I got a bit of knowledge from due to their help and began to understand what human rights are; and those European gentlemen of religion who gave financial help to them. And I express my gratitude to the government for the independent political system of the English which made it possible for me to fearlessly put forward my thoughts, and praying to all natural powers that my unfortunate ignorant Shudra farmers’ eyes should be opened and that they should come to consciousness, that they should be inspired, holding on to this hope with fortitude, for the present I sit quietly to see who will turn around due to the blows of this my Asud.

28 July 1883, Pune, Junaganjpeth,

Jotirao Govindrao Phule, Member, Satyashodhak Samaj


27. The Laws of Manu, son of Brahman, by Sir William Jones, Vol II, page 224. It is indeed a system of despotism and priestcraft, both limited by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support, though with mutual checks; it is filled with strange conceits in metaphysics and natural philosophy, with idle superstitions and with a scheme of theology most obscurely figurative and consequently liable to dangerous misconceptions; it abounds with minute and childish formalities with ceremonies generally absurd and often ridiculous.

28. A Sepoy Revolt, by Henry Mead, pages 69 and 235.

Read Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 9) here. And (Part 11) here.