[Round Table India shall be publishing his notes and posts in social media on the issue of Arundhati Roy ‘introducing’ Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ‘Annihilation of Caste’ in a new edition of the book. Please read his earlier “Misogynistic and Xenophobic Rants”, as some savarna academic researchers dubbed them.]
The Mandal may be asked to explain why it has disobeyed the Shastric injunction in selecting the President. Accoding to the Shastras the Brahmin is appointed to be the Guru for the three Varnas; varnanam bramhano garu, is a direction of the Shastras. The Mandal therefore knows from whom a Hindu should take his lessons and from whom he should not. The Shastras do not permit a Hindu to accept any one as his Guru merely because he is well versed. This is made very clear by Ramdas, a Brahmin saint from Maharashtra, who is alleged to have inspired Shivaji to establish a Hindu Raj. In his Dasbodh, a socio-politico-religious treatise in Marathi verse Ramdas asks, addressing the Hindus, can we accept an Antyaja to be our Guru because he is a Pandit (i.e. learned) and gives an answer in the negative. What replies to give to these questions is a matter which I must leave to the Mandal. The Mandal knows best the reasons which led it to travel to Bombay to select a president, to fix upon a man so repugnant to the Hindus and to descend so low in the scale as to select an Antyaja— an untouchable—to address an audience of the Savarnas. As for myself you will allow me to say that I have accepted the invitation much against my will and also against the will of many of my fellow untouchables. I know that the Hindus are sick of me. I know that I am not a persona grata with them. Knowing all this I have deliberately kept myself away from them. I have no desire to inflict myself upon them. I have been giving expression to my views from my own platform. This has already caused a great deal of heartburning and irritation. I have no desire to ascend the platform of the Hindus to do within their sight what I have been doing within their hearing. If I am here it is because of your choice and not because of my wish.
~ Babasaheb Ambedkar, in ‘Annihilation of Caste’.
You need Omprakash Balmiki’s Jhootan’s English version to know the caste horror. Need Fandry to get shocked. You required 60-70 years to discover Ambedkar..You also require your own high priestess to now interpret Ambedkar for you. To tell you what was right and wrong with Ambedkar. To force you to even start reading him..
How long this will go on man, just how long!
No I have not read Ms Roy’s essay. I have even very consciously avoided reading her quotes from the essay put up by my various Dalit friends on FB, ripping her essay apart. I will read her but not so early. Will read her at my own pace. I do not miss anything on caste, whatever I could lay my hand on. Have even read Subramanian Swamy’s ‘introduction’ of Ambedkar for his followers with great relish. So will read her too for sure.
I do not want to lose my focus here, do not want to fall in the trap laid by her various promoters who are very arrogantly suggesting to me to ‘first read her essay and then prove whether she has done justice to Ambedkar or not’ on how wrong I am calling her as anti-dalit.
~ Voice far voiceless ~
In none of my rants I suggested that it is about her essay actually. I do not care what she has written on Ambedkar or on anything else she wrote about in her essay. My rants are about something else. My rants are about what she actually represents before us, not as a person, but as someone who gets two national magazines simultaneously to provide her ample space – to talk about her essay, about caste, about dalits, about Ambedkar – which is so cruelly denied to us, is shut for ever. Not even Ambedkar could ever breach it, till he got discovered by people like Ms Roy.
Closely related with what she represents to us is another issue of the whole politics of her introducing Ambedkar’s seminal text to the world, to upper castes, to western world as has been continuously professed by her publisher and his friends – both desis and whites- telling me in no uncertain terms that this publication is actually not meant for me, for dalits, for all those who know their Ambedkar but for upper castes who have refused to read him and for western academia who have yet to discover Ambedkar. Your introducing him will make them all to read more about Ambedkar they say.
And they are accusing me of wrongly calling you a messiah!
You are already a messiah, Ms Roy!
Declared and accepted by many, all those who actually matter in this country. It is not for nothing that national magazines provide you so much space on issues they care two hoots about. What is it if not the ardent belief of your followers on your miraculous power to make people read something that they have avoided their whole lives?
And like what happens with every messiahs, you already have very cunning followers who are quoting your messiah status for their private gains, cheating gullible masses who believe in your messiah-ness.
I am merely resisting your messiah status now being thrust on us. Just for the simple reason that it is more difficult to dislodge a messiah, a mahatma, than to create one. We spent some seven decades and enormous efforts in dislodging one, thrust on us quite forcefully, by others who also were as persuasive as you are today in claiming that it was only in our best interests.
But the truth was, as Babasaheb put it so poignantly in his discussion with Gandhi in 1931 “history tells that mahatmas like, fleeting phantoms, raise dust but raise no level.”
However, I am fighting a losing battle actually. It has already been won by others.
Please also read other articles on the same issue:
Introducing Arundhati Roy and Friends: Karthik Navayan
A tale of two prefaces: by Karthick RM
Between Savior and Seller: Critiquing Preface Politics: by Praveena Thaali
A Glass Menagerie for the Bahujans—Annihilation of Caste and Gandhi’s Wards: by James Michael and Akshay Pathak
Stigmatizing Dalits, From the Wadas to the Web: by Nilesh Kumar
Caste in the Name of Christ: An angry note on the Syrian Christian Caste: by Nidhin Shobhana
The Not-So-Intimate Enemy: The Loss and Erasure of the Self Under Casteism: by Gee Imaan Semmalar
Flaunting noble intentions, nurturing caste privileges: by Asha Kowtal
The Question of Free Speech: by Vaibhav Wasnik
An Open Letter to Ms. Arundhati Roy: by Dalit Camera
The Judge, the Jury and the Goddess: by Akshay Pathak
Anoop Kumar‘s email id is: anoopkheri(at)gmail(dot)com
Cartoon by Unnamati Syama Sundar.