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Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 7)
Dalitbahujan Renaissance

Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 7)

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Translated by Gail Omvedt and Bharat Patankar

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

In any case, Rajas of the fifty-six countries here abandoned the democratic regime described above, and because of that the Arya Brahmans were able to bring total ruin to the Dasyus and others, and have caused much destruction up to today. There is no doubt that this was a proper punishment; in contrast, the Greeks from beyond Iran had from the beginning maintained carefully the republican regime. Later, when the main braggart of Iran, Xerxes, brought with great pomp and show an army of lakhs to devastate Greece, and camped on the borders of Greece, then three to four hundred patriotic soldiers of the city of Sparta came one by one at night through the Thermopylae pass and made a surprise attack on their camp, and confounded their army forcing them to drag themselves back to Iran. When this model was taken up by the Romans in the land of Italy, they won through the republican regime such superiority in education, wisdom and wealth compared to all the European, Asian and African lands that great orators and patriotic warriors like Scipio were created among them. Defeating generals like Hannibal of Africa, they established their rule everywhere. Later they took the knowledge of clothing to the barbarian English and others who had worn leather and painted their bodies in red and yellow in the islands of Great Britain in the western sea, and after four to five hundred years gave them the lesson of republicanism and brought them on the proper path. Then among the Roman nobles the great warrior Julius Caesar, sacrificing six hundred thousand Roman soldiers in his round of battles, won victory over the hereditary rulers of so many countries and became so bedazzled with his own grandeur that he became estranged from the original republican regime and got the intention of making all the beloved children his slaves and becoming the ruler over all. At that time the great holy patriots, with one gentleman named Brutus among them, who felt that they could not bear the human destruction that would come from this monarchical power, took daggers in their hands and stood to block the path of Julius Caesar while he was going towards the republican Senate hall with the intention of setting his throne in it. Then when Julius Caesar confronted him eye to eye, Brutus felt extremely abashed and covering his face with his toga, without taking any account of their mutual friendship thrust the dagger into Caesar’s stomach in order to free his countrymen from the future monarchical shackles, and his corpse fell to the earth. However, Julius Caesar had previously used the money of the government treasury to win over all the others to his side. Because of that most of the indolent nobles there had become his dependants, and things fell everywhere into turmoil, the constructions of the republican regime crumbled and at the end of the regime of twelve Caesars in the annihilation of the glory of the Romans, the Romi people left the English and others free in their own lands and came back to their Italian country.

However, at that time the Scotch, Saxons and others living nearby the English, being extremely mischievous, mixed some hereditary chieftains and rajas into that republican form of government, just as sterling gold is adulterated with some copper and brass, and made a great savory stew out of it and got everyone to agree to this. Since there were mountainous areas here and there in that country, there was not enough land for everyone to survive from agriculture; the cold was extreme; thus all were doing various kinds of artisanship and merchant trades and went to the forefront of all the peoples on the surface of the earth in acquiring education, knowledge and wealth. At the same time, the disciples of Hazrat Mohammad Paigambar in Arabasthan annihilated the original political splendor of the Aryans in Iran, and made various forays into Hindustan to take under their control the whole land of those chewed up by Brahmans. Afterwards the Muslim Badshahs became stupefied listening to Tansen’s songs by day and carousing at night in their harems, and with this the greatly intelligent English smashed the turbans of the Muslims and easily clasped the country in their arms. There was no great prowess in that, because the ten percent of Brahmans through their fabricated religious writings had denied education, knowledge, courage, sagacity and strength in religious and political affairs to the remaining ninety percent here and kept them inferior. However, after this when it came to the attention of the English that the nine-tenths Shudras and Ati-Shudras were uncivilised in nature and dull in all their work, and carried on their activities according to the dominant Brahman policy, they showed their covetousness to the greatly cunning Brahmans and left all the administration in their hands. With the aim of having sufficient funds to give all the European and Brahman employees whatever high pay and pensions they wanted so that they should at all times have valuable clothes, horses, vehicles, food and drink, the farmers who ate stale bhakri and toiled in the fields night an day were forced to pay revenue rates raised every thirty years according to the whims of the administrators. Not only this, they made a noisy show of giving education to their ignorant children and imposed on their heads a second tax burden known as the “local fund.” And they (the farmers) toiling night and day with their children in the fields produce grain, cotton, opium, linseed and other crops with great labour to earn money to pay the agricultural tax and the local fund installment; and when they go onto the national highway to bring all of these to the market they find octroi stations every six miles collecting lakhs of rupees. When to overcome their adversities they go to the nearby forests to cut grass or wood or to feed their cattle and sheep, they find that all of these forests have been swallowed up by the government. There is even an octroi tax on the salt they use to maek their simple bhakris palatable.

Similarly, showing superficial concern that farmers should get sufficient water for their fields to save their production and provide them with food to eat and clothes for their bodies, but having in their minds the real intention of giving great interest to the moneylenders of Europe and providing huge salaries for their European engineer countrymen, they have increased the burden of debt upon India and use lakhs of rupees of this loan to build huge canals here and there. Though they take whatever amount they want in tax from the ignorant farmers for the water of these canals, have they ever thought of an arrangement so that these employees will at least provide the water at the proper time to the fields? Because the indifferent engineers of this Irrigation Department have given all their work to the Brahman employees, and carry on their own activities in indolence like begums in a harem. Here the cunning Brahman employees, in order to show their intelligence, whisper false stories in the ears of the engineers and get, at the time they want and in the way they want, tyrannous orders passed by the government. I shall give here one example: —

The Irrigation Department does not face any hazard if all the production of the farmers is dried up and ruined by water not flowing at the proper time. Wouldn’t there be some justice in an arrangement so that all the white and black engineer bureaucrats, who swallow up thousands of rupees in pay every month, could see daily how many gallons of water are in the dam, measure it, and how much demand there is from the farmers so that the water would be sufficient to irrigate up to the end of the season? The farmers are exhausted from giving petitions to so many of the employees in that department who release the water! Finally when the farmers have gotten no water from them and they go to the cunning officials to get some response, they get a flood of arrogant words instead of water.[13] Can this be called justice, when the government employees who beat the drums of justice take huge payments in this way for water from the weak, debt-ridden farmers but instead of giving them the water they have paid for, give only insulting speeches to the farmers out of their highcaste arrogance? In sum, our justice-loving government without any check on either its indolent or cunning employees, and without lessening at all the water tax on the farmers, makes no arrangement to see that water reaches the fields on time. As a result today the farmers’ abundance has vanished and they have to auction their houses and homes to the government and leave all the money in the pockets of the pitiless employees.

Therefore our compassionate government should give to the farmer a tap for water, according to the requirements of his particular land from which he should be able to take no more water than needed. And if this is done, then the government will have no need for workers to release the water, and the money saved on them can be used to reduce the taxes taken from the farmers who use the water. And the irrigation department would not be forced to lay aside the resolution made by our thoughtful government to reduce the taxes.

In the same way, other new schemes today from the municipalities, such as the local fund, have been imposed on the uneducated farmer. The farmer is tormented all around by an octroi imposed on all the vegetables and fruits produced in his field and brought to the city. Sometimes the farmer takes a cartful of goods to sell in the city, and after receiving the lowest price that can be given after weighing the goods by the cheating middleman in the market, paying the octroi and the cart fee charged by the municipality, he has to return home to his wife and children with only moans. In Pune city alone, today’s yearly income has become equal to that of Sangli state! In the same way, the income of the huge municipality of Mumbai will not be matched by ten to twelve princely states like Pant-Sachiwar. The situation has come like a say, “outwardly it looks very nice but Ram knows what is inside.” Wherever you look you can see huge paved stretching roads with gutters on both sides, everywhere on English columns the glare of lanterns, metal taps, lavatories, dump trucks and all kinds of goods collected there. However, though the previous Rajas were idolworshippers and not wise like the English, still for the protection of their farmers they used the money of the government treasury to build huge national highways with trees on two sides; village walls; bridges; fortresses in mountains; dams in many places; canals, wells, tanks and strong water supply systems with taps and tanks in cities like Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Vijapur, Delhi and Pune; mosques and dharmashalas, toilets, water fountains and so on. Our current ultra-principled truly monotheistic English Sarkar Bahadur extracts the farmer’s wealth through various means on behalf of the municipality and from this wealth, apart from finishing the above-mentioned works, gives them only the kind of education that deprives them of merit and the strength of the farmers to earn their livelihood honestly decreases day by day. It has become openly known that in these times of peace and plenty four crores [14] of farmers don’t get sufficient food to fill their stomachs even twice a day, and they don’t see one day pass without experiencing the affliction of hunger. Truly, if our justice-loving, upright government levied appropriate taxes on the land of the illiterate farmers and gave them education and knowledge about agriculture, then they would not endanger their lives by following the ungrateful rebellious Brahmans like Peshwe, Tope, Khazgiwale, Patwardhan, Phadke [15] and others. Besides, since the British Raj was established in this country, the dextrous educated people of England have begun to sell goods manufactured by machines cheaply and have placed their feet on the stomachs of all the artisans here, from the Dhors and Matangs to the Lohars and Weavers. Actually, the paddy, cotton, linseed leather and other goods produced here are sold at a cheap price to the skilled manufacturers abroad, and on this profit English merchants become millionaires.

To sum up, for all these reasons farmer have to make toilsome efforts even to meet the expenses for their cultivation. Then they go to Marwaris and take loans for meeting the land revenue charges. Do the indolent besotted and purity-engrossed Bhat government employees who have been selected to make a detailed enquiry ever find the time to think of this? Here, in so many Sabhas filled with so many great names, the officious government native employees proclaim that “the farmers have become indebted because they spend extravagantly on marriages.” Once this illusory canard was brought to the attention of our greatly wise state secretary sitting on a carriage of four to six horses, unable to see the hollowness of the farmers’ prosperity, he removed all the customs duties on the goods manufactured by the foreign artisans! Here he showed the height of his wisdom! Without a single doubt in their minds regarding the interest of four to five crore rupees a year taken by his great merchants there, the Legislative Council here, those indolent European and pure native judges, people who have not a single idea of the extent of poverty, brought up the illusion of blocking the interest of the poor deficit native moneylenders. If the mind of the government is truly agitated about our ruined farmers, why don’t they completely stop this accumulation of billions by the English moneylenders? Wouldn’t it be better to do that and see if the farmer can find a foothold?

However, the government should not utilize this saved amount in some newly started campaign abroad or ruin the farmers by opening new banks here, so that their justice will be praised, altruistic generous men like Mr. Weatherburnsaheb should try to open the ears of the government about reducing heavily our English government’s interest payments. Because from this no party’s self-interest is served; not only that, but unless our Governor Generalsaheb sends a petition to the central government in England about reducing the pay and pensions of all the workers who earn more than 100 rupees in the military, justice, forest, police, education and other big and little government departments, the problem of the indebtedness of the farmers and of ensuring that they get food to fill their stomachs and clothes to cover their bodies will not be solved. The farmers toil along with their wives and children night and day in the fields and still, after paying the land revenue and the local fund, they do not even earn three rupees a month per person; and for the ordinary European and native government workers even 15 rupees a month will not be sufficient for trivial expenses and liquor. Then who will hear us if we talk about the unbounded expenses of the Collector and other bureaucrats who live like nabobs?

If we compare the situation of a shudra farmer owning eight bullocks together with his four or five sons and their daughters and daughters-in-law, who have to trod with one foot on top of another and toil night and day to earn without taking even a tiny loan from a Brahman, Gujar, or Marwari moneylender with the condition of an ordinary white soldier in a European battalion here, the difference will be more than that between Kashi and Rameswar. Here the Shudra farmer dresses in a loincloth with a bag for tobacco tied around his waste, a rag of a turban on his head, and goes bare-bodied and barefooted, holding the handle of the plough throughout the blazing heat of the day, singing a song as ploughs in the field with pointed remains of crops, overturning the clods of dirt; there the white soldier has pantaloons on his legs, a red broadcloth jacket to cover his body during the day, a flashy hat covered with red gilded embroidery on his head, strong and soft boots of English leather covering the cloth pajamas on his legs, a leather belt with cartridges around his waste and, with a rifle on his shoulder, does a parade for a half an hour or so at morning and evening on an airy field. Here if we are to describe the Shudra farmer’s traditional court dress, it would be coarse thick khadi breeches, underwear, a cotton rug, a shawl, a dark red cotton turban and village shoes made of rope clasped on his feet. His nourishment and meal in the afternoon and evening is a dry bhakri of sorghum, nandni or a dry chappati; and vegetables of carrots or roots; there may be a sauce of dry fish, and if this is not available then there is nothing to eat with the bhakri but chatney. Even chutney and bhakri may not be available on time! Since his home is next to the bull’s shed, with three calves and she-buffaloes tied there in the muck, there is a squalid smell of urine on all four sides of the house. A torn cloth or worn-out black blanket is spread for sitting or lying down; there is a pond made filthy by all the buffaloes of the village sitting in the water; beside it a well for drinking water and his toilet; this is his rural mansion. If he should get cholera or a fever he would be extremely blessed to find good medicine and a knowledgeable doctor; besides this the sword of concern about finding money to pay the land revenue and other funds and taxes is hanging over his head. Would any skilful white or black doctor put his hand on his heart and vow that the mind of such a luckless farmer would not become numbed?

In contrast, the government buys and brings from England high quality clothes, broadcloth, handkerchiefs, slippers and boots for the white soldier’s clothes, and provides here for his food superior wheat, rice, lentils, mutton of sheep or goats, a healthy young cow, etc. and good quality liquor like English port, unadulterated oil, ghee, milk, sugar, tea, salt, chillies, spices, a knife and fork, etc. and then they get a Christian acharya to approve its fresh packaging and feed him every day on time. For his residence the government spends lakhs of rupees to build imposing two-story barracks, which have iron cots, bedspreads and pillows, woollen coverlets and a lamp hanging above for light. On the veranda of the barracks, a bathroom is made with a ‘filter’ for the bathwater. In the same way a clean convenient toilet is made. If, in spite of this, a few coughs or fevers should come due to indigestion, there is a clinic ready with medicine worth hundreds of rupees, equipment and a doctor paid thousands of rupees every month ready to serve him; and a porter is kept at his service along with a carriage. Along with this, he has no worry about gifts or demands, about maintaining a house, toilet, trees, water, roads, fields and paying the local fund; and no care at all about natural or gang-related political calamities. And from all this, we say with condemnation to our pure native employees making the indolent Europeans happy, taking bribes from the ignorant farmers, see this native worker! What is this prodigality? What shall we call it? Really, the English government which prays to the formless God with closed eyes here should pay absolutely no attention to the rosy writings in the newspapers or the Samajes created by the cunning Brahmans, and instead heavily reduce the unlimited pay of the white and black employees in government departments and give education to the Shudra farmers caught in ignorance and weakness; and if they do not lessen the burden of the land revenue, tolls and other payments, in a short time the result of this will be very terrible. Saying this in the ears of our indolent extravagant government, I end the chapter.


13. This accusation does not apply to many gentlemen like our disinterested popular Mr. Vishwanath Daji. Such men of pure mind are found occasionally among the Brahman government employees.

14. Journal of the East India Association, No. 3, Vol. VII, page 124

15. A Sepoy Revolt, by Henry Mead, pages 133 and 134.

Read Jotirao Phule: Shetkaryaca Asud (Part 6) here. And (Part 8) here