September 2014

Apologies to all our readers and contributors who have been waiting for the next issue. It will be out by March 2016! We very much appreciate your understanding and patience. This issue will be dedicated to Gouri Majumdar, Gayatri’s mother who passed away on 1 March, 2015.


“You would not cry if you knew that by looking deeply into the rain you would still see the cloud.” ― Hanh Nhat Thich 


september 2014


i.A Disappeared Person                                                                                                     4 poems
K SrilataA person can disappear

and leave no trace at all.
Such things are known to happen.                                                                  

Missing persons cast no shadows.
They don’t leave used dishes in the sink,
nor square bits of body soap,
nor toothbrushes that have flowered slightly
nor notes declaring love, etc., on the fridge.
But growth, and all sorts of things,
are possible in the life
of a person who has disappeared.
And so, always,
always,
like the blade of a knife,
the guilty thought of that possible presence,
leaving used dishes in some other sink,
and square bits of body soap,
and toothbrushes that have flowered slightly,

and notes declaring love etc. on someone else’s
fridge,

ruining,
ever so slightly,
the geometric alignment

of our lives.
Boundaries
I am standing outside
a house that is no longer mine.
They have slammed the doors
on me and will not  hear my knocks,
hesitant, even to my ears.
Laughter, from the other side,
leaks through like the fragrance of spices.
The October air is colder
than it should be.
It stings like barbed wire.
Behind me, a Slow,
Full Moon
Behind
me,a slow, full moon has risen,
and in its light, a
grove of  banyans,
rest their long,
hennaed
hippie-hair.
Weary
creatures return
by moonlight,
my heart too.
Slender
A café is a good place to begin
this dark, twisted story of love and grief,
a good, neutral place
where everything appears to be about the quality
of the bake,
and the strength of the coffee.
We are having lunch, my friend and I.
She lost her only son five years ago to liver
disease.
(He drank himself to an early death.)
Her husband followed last year.
She is fifty-five, five-feet-four and must weigh
over a hundred kilos.
A decade ago, she was what they call slender.
But even retrieving that word now is to mock
her.
I banish it and watch her order more than she
ought,
try not to look as she proceeds to eat and drink
a disorderly procession of things:
Lime soda, a burger, French fries and cheese
balls (as an afterthought),
half a pizza, and finally, a large sundae.
But she catches my eye and the game is up.
“The thing is,” she says heavily, “I never could
bring myself to drink.”

ii. 

My Failing Eye                                                                                                           poem
Debsruti Basu

 
There is a manner 
in which things shape up, 
inside my head. 
Like well-paved roads, 
leading to fallen houses. 

I know all the stories.
I remember them with the precision 
of how they began
how each eyelash dropped a lie, 
or a truth, combining the two. 

And I have my endings, 
like curtains that were once lace
holding up the window, 
like a body of its own. 

My hands lie folded, 
on my sterile chest. 
With no children to feed, 
neither to own,          

I sleep like an old nostalgia
shop.

But you, you remember to leave this city
leave these walls, 
this village, nameless. 
For when the shutter finally falls down, 
don’t see your face, 
for sale

crumbling within. 

iii. What She’s Become
(the monster inside her)                                                                                         
poem

Ananya Dontula

She sits in front of her laptop
Eyes watering
Heart beating
For now she thinks
Beating for now

Beating for the things she doesn’t know
The things she’s done learning
The people that she doesn’t want to hurt
So she stays
In front of that laptop
Eyes front


Typing rapidly
Scars peeking out from her shorts
And the sleeves
Of the old shirt she loved
It smells like her
But it doesn’t fit like her
Or feel like her


She feels like she’s someone else
Like, she’s not the person
That she grew up as
Cause that person was happy
And never had to fake anything

  
Never faked a smile
Or a laugh
And genuinely sat there
With people she loved
And trusted
Now those people don’t know her

They don’t know her,
But she has to pretend for them
So she does
Eyes front
Heart beating
For now, she thinks
Beating for now  

 
iv. The Marital Rape of Draupadi                                                                                3 poems
Chandramohan S.

Chained to a wedlock with five
keys,

Forced upon every time each of her
husband
Comes and leaves.
She resists and then yields later
Like the earth.
One day she will testify before
The National commission for Women.

Moral Police

when lover couple

hid in a hood of a tree
they chanced upon
love letters
some of them half-burned
some of them centuries old
along with a picture of
Shoorpanaka sans
her
nose, ears and breasts!

Autobiography
of Hidimbi
 
The tribal is out of my poem”
Laments
the English Poet E.V.Ramakrishnan .
 
After
reading Chinua Achebe
Chimamanda
Adichie  realized that
people like her,
girls
with skin the color of chocolate,
whose
kinky hair could not form ponytails,”
could
also exist in literature.
 
Hope after reading this poem
Hidimbi contemplates on her autobiography
without bleaching her self portraits.

 v. Sometimes I Wish                                                                                                poem

Diwakar Anand
Sometimes I wish I could say what’s in my heart,
Sometimes I wish my heart said nothing;

Sometimes I wish what
was said remained unsaid,

Sometimes I wish what was unsaid was said;

Sometimes I wish
silence meant spoken words,

Sometimes I wish spoken words meant silence;
Sometimes I wish I
could make people happy,

Sometimes I wish I could make myself happy;

Sometimes I wish I could live,
But Today, I just wish I died.



vi.                                                                                                                           article      
Untouchability,
Ambedkar and Related Tensions in India’s Independence Struggle

Arturo Desimone
 
Introduction
 
In
this essay I will discuss the phenomenon of Untouchability in India. We will
examine the social and class position and status of Untouchables in Hindu
society. I will explore these topics to the background of the ideas of Dr.
Bhimrao Ambedkar, one of the leading figures of the Indian Independence Movement against British colonialism. This paper will touch upon the
implications of the strife and rivalry that arose between Ambedkar and Gandhi,
showing what Gandhi’s struggle with Ambedkar meant for Indian society and for
the plight of the Untouchables, and the Dalit movement’s rejection of Hinduism,
even the pacifist neo-Hinduism of Gandhi.

I
will argue that Gandhi’s achievements are not the whole story of India’s
independence struggle. The liberation-effort encompassed elements that were not
aligned with Gandhi and that were striving to achieve a much more profound and
thorough upheaval and lasting change in the power structure of India. Elites
such as the Brahmans dominated this power structure. Their exploitation of the
immense under-classes persisted after the departure of the British and the
successes of the National Liberation Movement. These inequalities remained,
even though many activists and movements at one point seemed likely to be
successful in their struggle to change their country more dramatically than
stopping at the ousting of British colonialism.
 
I will also examine the use and abuse of the
Aryan invasion theory by Brahman elites. The Aryan invasion theory is a
hypothesis which Orientalist scholars championed in the 18
th and 19th centuries about an Aryan race invading ancient
India. Brahman upper class groups used this theory, which colonialism brought
to them, to justify what Ambedkar called the ideology of “Brahmanic Supremacy,”
by imagining they were of different ethnic and racial stock than the excluded
lower classes and Dalits.
To the background of this exposé of the Aryan
invasion theory, which Ambedkar was among the first to contest, I will try to
say something about the relationship between class and racism This essay will
also deal with the Dalits’ mass conversions to Buddhism, and the social and
political connotations of this Dalit endorsement of Buddhist teachings or
Neo-Buddhism.
Gandhi,
among others, compared the position and function Untouchables of India to that
of the Jews in Christian Europe. I will compare the plight, status and
experience of Jews and other minorities in Christian Europe to Untouchability
in India, summing up by showing how the National Socialist Movement finally
invoked the Aryan Invasion theory to justify their destruction of Europe’s
Untouchables.
 
Untouchables
or Crushed
 
“Untouchables”
are the outcastes of the Hindu Chaturvarna or Caste system in India.
They comprise a wide variety of groups from the lowest social strata of Hindu
society. The Indian National Congress’ Constitution of 1950, which B.R.
Ambedkar coauthored, outlawed the practice of Untouchability. At that time, of
the 300 million Hindus then in India, roughly 60 million were untouchables.

Untouchability
is a class phenomenon rather than an ethnic group. In his book The
Untouchables, Who Were They and Why they became Untouchables?
Ambedkar
compares the plight of the untouchables to certain other neglected classes in
India’s social fabric, namely the so-called Criminal Tribes, who numbered then
20 million, and “the aboriginal tribes,” who numbered 15 million. The “criminal
tribes” were tribes that, like untouchables and “aboriginal tribes,” faced
exclusion from mainstream Hindu society. The “criminal tribes” were apparently
prohibited from practicing any trade that was not illegal or relating to the
criminal underworld. This created a kind of clandestine market or shadow
economy for these tribes to subside on. One could perhaps compare their
situation to how Christian societies more or less forced European Jews to
practice usury and interest rates, business which ecclesiastical authorities
prohibited Christians from doing.

Untouchables
faced exclusion from the system of Hindu worship. They were not allowed to
recite or read sacred texts or attend Yajna rituals. Famously,
Untouchables’ breath, the sound of their voice, their shadow were all allegedly
polluting to Caste Hindus, like an imagined leprosy which Caste Hindus
quarantined through systematic social isolation and discrimination. Dalits
traditionally must perform lowly occupations, such as sanitation work,
janitorial labor, butchering and fishing. They have typically lived in
impoverished ghettos on the outskirts of Hindu villages. Even up to the
present, Caste Hindus such as landlords, subject untouchables to violence.
There are many cases of rapes, assaults, mass-murder and pogroms. There is also
much structural violence in how untouchable communities are marginalized into
socio-economic misery.
Recent
decades have seen the emergence of a “Dalit” movement. “Dalit,” a word
popularized in the 70s, is Sanskrit for “Crushed” or “Oppressed,” an affirmation of the social and historical
reality Untouchables have endured for centuries. India has seen the rise of
such groups as the Dalit Black Panthers,
a militant organization which clearly differentiated, like most Ambedkarites, from
the pacifist politics of Gandhi who sought to create an illusion of unity,
harmony and cohesion among the whole of Hindu society. The “Dalit Black
Panthers,” like other militant organizations around the world borrowed their name and drew inspiration from
the efforts of black nationalists in the 60s-era United States. Thanks
partly to educational efforts that originate largely in Ambedkar’s attempts to
uplift untouchables, a canon of Dalit literature, including influential Indian
poets, has developed.
 
Aryan
Invasion
 
The
Aryan Invasion theory is the claim that an invasion of Indo-Aryan warriors from
outside of India — according to B.G. Tilak, for example, they originated in the
Arctic circle,
whereas others suggest somewhere between Western Europe and Central Asia — swept
into India, colonizing and conquering the more darker-skinned races that
inhabited such places as Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. This hypothesis has come
under fire in recent decades in scholarly debate. The Indian right wing also
now condemns the Aryan Invasion Theory as conjecture, because that theory
suggests a foreign, non-nationally-rooted source for Hinduism and Indian
Culture, which believers of Hindutva and Hindu
fundamentalist superiority find threatening. According to Klostermaier in his
book A Survey of Hinduism, the scholarly debate “has largely degenerated into
an ideological battle. The defenders of the Aryan invasion theory call everyone
not on their side ‘fundamentalist Hindu,’ ‘revisionist,’ ‘fascist,’ and worse,
whereas the defenders of the indigenous origin of the Veda accuse their
opponents of entertaining ‘colonialist missionary’ and ‘racist hegemonial’
prejudices.”
 
Ambedkar
was one of the first authors to contest the theory. His arguments against it,
as early as the 1940s, went unnoticed in a time when most scholars took its
veracity for granted. The political function of his opposition was to resist
“the Brahmanical vision of the Hindu nation, represented
for
him not only by the Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh (RSS) but the Gandhian
Congress as well.”
 
Many
present-day Indian scholars claim the purpose of the theory was to legitimize the
colonial and missionary project of Britain in India by imagining that Indian
civilization’s cultural heritage had come from an invading force that conquered
dark indigenous inhabitants.
Scholarship now points to a much older date
for Vedic culture in India.
Ambedkar
in his book Who Were the Shudras?, according to scholar Arvind Sharma, cites 19th century Indologist Max Muller, who had been the main proponent and
champion of the Aryan race theory but went on to recant and say that there was
no such thing as an “Aryan race,” that by “Aryan” he understood a linguistic
reality, “nothing other than language.” Muller later insisted “I have declared
again and again that if I say Aryas I mean neither blood nor bones, hair nor
skull. I mean simply those who speak an Aryan language.”
Muller
went on to denounce advocates of such a category as “Aryan race” to be guilty
of “downright theft.”
Muller’s attempts to reverse this wrong went
largely ignored throughout much of his lifetime, according to such scholars as
Romila Thapar who wrote half a century after Ambedkar. To further argue for his
conviction that Arya denotes the speakers of the Sanskrit language and
not a race, he point to 31 places in the Rig Veda wherein the word “Arya” is
used, saying “in none of these is the word used in the sense of race.” Ambedkar
goes on to attempt disproving the Invasion theory in his The Untouchables, in
Chapter VII, “Racial Difference as the Origin of Untouchability.” He cites an
Orientalist, Stanley Rice, who in his book Hindu Customs and their Origins
divides the origins of Untouchability into two factors: race and occupation.
The “race” aspect entails a theory that the Untouchables descend from the
pre-Dravidian aborigines, who inhabited parts of India and who an invasion of
Dravidians conquered and enslaved. According to Rice the noble Aryan race
around 1500 BC then invaded, in turn conquering the Dravidians who they made
Shudras.
Ambedkar exposes such theories as speculation
and contrived, going into a study of the real meaning of such names as Aryans,
Dravidians, Dasas and Nagas.
The
advocates of the “Aryan race” theory pointed to a Rig Veda verse mentioning a
defeated people who were “anasas.” These scholars translated “anasa” as
“without noses,” thereby inferring that these were a flat-nosed people.
Ambedkar and more recent scholars interpreted “anasas” as meaning “speechless,”
a more figurative, literary term that is not a racial category. 
Ambedkar
describes an ancient Aryan culture that, rather than being static, homogenous
and monolithic like Aryan Race theorists imagined, was diverse, and complex,
including a spectrum of cultures, customs, mythologies, etc., that differed
across time. Ambedkar differentiates between Rig Vedic Aryans and Atharva Vedic
Aryans. He also proves that many Aryans practiced “unclean” occupations, and
that Aryans often had Aryan slaves, thereby discrediting beliefs in ethnic
origins of an occupational slave-class, of Shudras and untouchables. 
Brahman
elites, according to Ambedkar, used the Aryan-invasion-theory of the 18th
and 19th centuries which they encountered through contact with British
colonialism to mythologize their origins and justify what Ambedkar called
“Brahmanical supremacy.” They imagined themselves to be of another, superior
race than the Atishudras, closer to the British colonists. Indian elites such
as Brahman landlords used this belief to justify their maltreatment of their
lower class subjects.
The
untouchables, however, were not the only group to suffer at the hands of powers
invoking the myth of an Aryan race: during the most intense period of India’s
social upheaval, the Nazi movement in Germany also imagined themselves to be an
Aryan race. These self-described Aryans would invade many countries, subduing Untermenschen
or lesser humans such as the inhabitants of Slavic countries, the way the Aryan
invaders supposedly subjugated Dravidians. They waged pogroms, massacres and
atrocities against what could be considered Europe’s Untouchables, the European
Jews and gypsies, who the Nazis imagined as the exact opposite of Aryans. The
Aryan invasion theory was partly modeled on European Orientalists’ trying to
re-imagine Europeans as a Chosen People replacing the Jews: whereas there is
little proof of an ancient blue-eyed European invasion of India around 1500
BCE, the Old Testament speaks of the ancient Israelites entering Canaan and
conquering it from the Canaanites to seize the Promised Land.
Proponents of the Aryan Invasion theory
initially referred to Biblical belief and estimated that 4005 years before
Christ the God of Genesis had created the world, which is why they claimed the
Aryans invaded India at 1500 BC when in fact the Vedas’ presence in India is
far older.
 
From
Time Immemorial: Ambedkar’s Demystifying of Untouchability
 
Ambedkar
in his 1948 book The Untouchables aims to systematically deconstruct the claims
and misconceptions that surround the issue of the Untouchables, their origins,
the source of their inferior status. Some misconceptions tackled are based on
the Aryan invasion theory, which we previously looked at. A general belief
about Untouchability was that it was decreed by the Manu smriti, a book of
Hindu religious law, which Hindus attribute to Manu, the first man, the Indian
Adam. A general misconception is that untoucability begins with the Vedas.
Ambedkar finds Untouchability to be, rather than an ancient phenomenon, a
medieval one, which consolidated and took form around the year 400 AD, when the
Hindu Gupta Emperors outlawed the eating of beef and killing of cows and oxen
in their legal code.
This took place after a bloody seizure of
power by Brahmans, headed by Pushya Mitra, who committed regicide, murdering
Buddhist king Brihadratha Maurya who Brahmans conspired against and killed. The
Manu Smriti was written at that time and justified this new order. The Manu
Smriti legitimized regicide, Chaturvarna, animal sacrifice and Brahmans’
resorting to arms.
 
According
to Ambedkar, the origins of Untouchability are twofold: they find root in
India’s Buddhist past, which had until Ambedkar’s time been largely forgotten
and resigned to oblivion; and in the dietary conventions and laws of Brahmins
towards beef-eating and the killing of cows, but this second point originates
in the preceding one: India’s buried Buddhist past.
There
are numerous explanations as to why Buddhism at some point virtually
disappeared from the Indian subcontinent while it flourished in other Asian
countries. Scholars have attributed it to various factors, one being an
economic crisis caused by the demise of the Roman empire. This financial crash
affected the Indian subcontinent — then dependent on trade with Roman
provinces — to such an extent that sanghas, Buddhist monasteries, could no
longer subside or find economic support and had to close.
 
Another
theory is that the similarities between Buddhism and Hinduism made Buddhism so
indistinguishable from Hinduism that there was no longer any point in being
Buddhist as it was not that different from or adding anything novel to the
pre-existing religious tradition. Though this argument has some validity,
Hinduism probably began to resemble Buddhism more and differences began to
erode because the formers’ adherents, proponents and authorities were under
immense pressure from Buddhists and Buddhism. According to Ambedkar,
Buddhists—who, he claims, were at one point the majority in India as many Indians
had converted to the religion of the “Rebel Saint,” Siddartha Gautama
Buddha — among the laboring classes in India objected to the waste and cruelty of
Brahman priestly elites’ Yajna sacrifices of cows. To poor peasant
masses in an agricultural society who subscribed to Buddhist ethics, the
sacrificial killing of cows which could otherwise provide sustenance and
livelihood was an act of excess, outrageous. Buddhists had less qualms
objecting to Brahman behavior as Buddhism does not recognize the Chaturvarna or
Caste division of Hindu society. Ambedkar argues, by citing laws from Hindu
sacred texts including the Vedas, the Brahmans originally practiced beef-eating
and frequently made Yajna sacrifices of cattle.
Buddhist
outrage against the Brahmans’ ritual slaughter of cows, and Buddhist animosity
to Caste privilege, seemed to be a premonition of class upheaval threatening
Brahman power in the Indian power structure, which impelled these elites to
make a compromise. They outlawed the sacrifice of cows and eating of beef,
reinterpreting Rig Veda verses about the cows being sacred animals as meaning
that one could not kill a cow. This injunction is retrospectively imagined as
the Vedas, like many ancient religions, do not see a contradiction between
sacrificing an animal and that creature being sacred, worthy of veneration etc.
Moreover,
Brahmin elites saw a need to compete with rising Buddhism. Therefore, in a
reactionary gesture, they adopted vegetarianism — which was then not a widespread
Buddhist or Hindu practice — to go one step further than the Buddhists who
advocated abolition of animal sacrifices.
It
is possible that Ambedkar’s book also reflects the political reality of his
day. The Brahman elites trying to appease and pacify Buddhist lower classes, in
order to not be overthrown, bears similarities to how Indian elites were
attempting to pacify social and class upheaval in early 20th century
India, such as the various peasant revolts and the unrest created by the
untouchables who later joined Ambedkar’s movement representing them.
Ambedkar saw Gandhi’s attempt at appeasing the
Untouchables by naming them Harijan, People of God, or Folk of Krishna, and
thereby trying to artificially include them in Hinduism, as ignoring centuries
of Brahman oppression and Hindu exclusion and discrimination as well as denying
the alleged Buddhist past of the Dalits. Gandhi, a champion of a new version of
Hinduism — one influenced by the thought of Christian anarchist writer Tolstoy
and the esoteric Theosophical Society, as well as Gandhi’s own ideas concerning
the doctrine of Ahimsa — was seen by the Ambedkarites and Indian Communists as a
friend of the Indian ruling elites and Brahmans. Ambedkar referred to Gandhi’s
esteemed friend President Nehru as “just another Brahman” and said of the
Indian National Congress, which became Gandhi’s party, “Congress is the kept
whore of the Brahmans and the merchants.”
 
Ambedkar’s
Buddhism as a Form of Dalit Resistance
 
Ambedkar’s
mass conversion of 3 million Dalits to Buddhism was an attempt to recover the
lost dignity of the outcastes, who, according to Ambedkar, were originally
Buddhists. Ambedkar’s efforts single-handedly restored the once lost, dormant
Buddhist tradition to Indian religious life. 
Ambedkar
claimed Buddhism’s decline originated in Brahman conspiracies, in the medieval
power grab and destruction of Indian Buddhism that according to him the
Brahmans had carried out in Indian Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
As
mentioned earlier, Ambedkar thought that Buddhism was once a contender for
dominance in Indian religious life, threatening to become India’s major
religion. Ambedkar and his colleagues saw Buddhism as a revolution, a
revolutionary movement opposed to caste and to Chaturvarna, and which
had threatened to topple the Brahmins from power. It is likely that Ambedkar’s
interest in reviving Buddhism was related to this history, to this view of
Buddhism being a revolutionary force threatening and overthrowing a decadent,
reactionary Hinduism and the power of the Brahmins whom Ambedkar despised.
 
Ambedkar
saw religion as a “social force” and “source of power.” Contrary to popular views on religion,
Ambedkar stressed that religion should not aggrandize or ennoble poverty. He
did not interpret the Buddhist and Christian messages of non-attachment to
material possessions as an exhortation to tolerate social and economic
inequalities, that pious people living in misery should accept the wealthy
exploiting them. Instead, Ambedkar claimed that Buddha and Marx both agreed on the
need to abolish private property. He stated these beliefs in his speeches on
Buddha and Marx at the Buddhist conference in Kathmandu in 1956. He thought
Buddha to be more radical and severe in his teachings on relinquishing
property, pointing to the lack of possessions among monks in sangha
orders. He also thought the Buddha’s methodology of fighting social injustice,
through pedagogical efforts, teaching, and action rooted in love, was more
effective that Marx’s alleged strategy of power and violent revolution.
Ambedkar was a new kind of Buddhist, and an
Indian nationalist with ideas of a kind of radical social democracy influenced
by John Dewey (who Noam Chomsky often refers to in his critiques of corporate
power in the United States) and not a communist, despite that his later
followers in the Dalit movement, who see Ambedkar as their father and
liberator, are often of a socialist or leftist bent. 
Ambedkar
thought that Marxism emphasized industrial labor and industrial workers, rather
than agricultural labor and peasants. Much of the untouchable community
comprised peasants involved in agricultural work. Part of India’s population
still lived under feudal conditions, in serfdom. Marxists during and after the
Russian revolution have commented on how Leninism contradicted basic Marxist
theory, by organizing a so-called communist revolution in Russia, a country
still living under feudalism and aristocracy. According to Marxist dogma, a
country must first pass from feudalism to the capitalist order and mode of
production, in order to create the superfluity of goods that will make a
communist society possible after the workers’ revolution.
The fact that Marx largely neglected the
plight of peasants, favoring industrial laborers, might have been a factor in Ambedkar’s
rejection of communism, along with Ambedkar’s loathing of violence and his
espousal of and firm faith in democratic institutions. He founded the
Independent Labour Party in 1936, and according to his biographer Keer he was
the first legislator in Indian history “to introduce a bill abolishing serfdom
of agricultural tenants.”
 
Ambedkar
had formerly said that the identity of a minority disappears once that minority
no longer faces exclusion, oppression and discrimination from the majority. But
he turned 3 million of the Dalits, from a socioeconomic class of oppressed
people, into a religious minority, thus further articulating and defining a
Dalit identity different from the Hindu majority in ways other than class. He
hoped his revival of anti-Casteist, democratic and socially conscious Buddhism
among the Dalits would spread to the rest of India, thereby unifying India
across class and sectarian lines despite that the Untouchables would initially
differentiate themselves from the rest of their country people by adopting another
religion that had become near-obsolete there. This political take on Buddhism
as a rational, democratic movement of liberation prepared large segments of the
Dalit community who did not choose Buddhism to later adopt ideas of Liberation
Theology, a Christian movement typically associated with Latin America and
South Africa. The intellectuals who developed the Liberation Theology movement
tailored it to the needs of the politically oppressed and economically
impoverished, making post-independence Indian Dalit
communities fertile soil for their ideas.
 
I
think that the Buddhist belief in liberation from Samsara, the chain of
rebirths, was in this case a metaphor for liberation from a repressive
hierarchical and class-based society. The Ambedkarite Buddhists certainly
identify the dukkha or suffering they experience as being largely rooted
in their socio-economic misery.
Many Christians, such as the rebel peasants in
the Rhineland and Germany during the time of the Reformation in Europe, who
rose up against feudal authorities and landed nobility in the 16
th century, saw the message of Christian
redemption and salvation as a metaphor for their building a classless,
egalitarian society where they would not be hungry, humiliated serfs living
under feudalism. They imagined salvation in the form of such a classless New
Jerusalem.
 
Similarly
the Nirodha (or cessation of suffering) and Nibbana of Buddhist
salvation for Dalit Buddhist converts must have been a metaphor for not merely
transcending and abolishing Samsara but of hoping to transcend harshly
stratified class-society.
 
Untouchables West and East: Parallels Between
Indian Untouchability and  Europe’s
Minorities
 
Gandhi
is an essay touching on Palestine and his criticism of Zionism in 1938 wrote
“My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South
Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came
to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of
Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the
treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been
invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out
to them.”
 
Gandhi
said of Indian Untouchability: “The nearest approach to it found in the West is
the untouchability of the Jews who were confined to the ghettoes.”
This comparison is, I think, not at all
far-fetched, even though there are significant differences between Jews in the
Middle Ages and Indian Untouchables. Untouchability is more a class
denomination whereas Jews are typically identified as an ethno-cultural and
religious minority, even though class did play an extremely important role in
the treatment of Jews.

Not
only the European Jewish experience resembles Untouchability. There is also the
position and status of the “gypsy” or “Romani” communities in Europe since the 14th and 15th centuries. During the Holocaust, Nazis massacred
gypsies.

The Romani word for the genocide they endured,
Porrajmos, means “the great Devouring.”
Ironically, many contemporary scholars believe
that the gypsy ghetto populations of Europe possibly originated in migrations
from Northwest India. The Romani language bears close similarities
to Sanskrit. Some Hungarian gypsies have, like Indian Dalits, even converted to
Buddhism with the help of an Ambedkar-inspired pedagogical institution that has
a Hungarian division to educate Romanis.
 
European
Jews for centuries inhabited ghettoes and faced exclusion and discrimination
from most institutions that were open to Christians. Medieval society, what we
typically understand under the word “feudalism” — which is a modern word
was
arguably organized according to the class division of the Pre-Christian
Indo-European society. This society was divided into what the medieval
Anglo-Saxon monk Aelfric called the bellatores, oratores and laboratores,
translatable as the fighting class (bellatores), the praying class (oratores)
and the toiling, laboring classes (laboratores).
There are also studies indicating that the
ancient Latin word for priest, Flahen, is directly etymologically
related to the word Brahmin.
The medieval aristocracy and landed nobility
descended from the warrior or fighting class. The priesthood and monks of the
middle ages inherited the status of the praying class and the serfs underneath
them were the laboring class. Jews, who were forbidden to carry weapons or farm
land and for obvious reasons were not in the Christian priesthood, seemed
excluded from this hierarchical threefold division of feudal society. In this
sense we could perceive them as similar to outcastes, who, like the Indian
untouchables, also gained the status of despised outsiders because of reasons
related to faith. In the Untouchables’ case it was their past Buddhism; in the
case of European Jews, their religion and related power struggles with ruling
elites and religious orthodoxy who had adopted different versions of
Christianity as the official state religion. The oppressive policies of
Christian clerical officials towards Jews were also important in strengthening
and defining a particular version of Christianity that was different from other
“Christianities” that were prevalent and popular in Late Antiquity.
Both
populations lived in ghettoes and originated as economic immigrants and migrant
populations. According to Ambedkar, the ancestors of untouchables were
originally “Broken Men” from defeated and economically bankrupted tribes who
emigrated into quarters on the outskirts of prosperous agricultural villages to
gain subsistence from the agricultural-based economy. The Broken Men had been
formerly from nomadic cattle-herding, pre-farming societies.
In the case of Jewish groups, Jews were often
migrants and immigrants who lived in special, marginal quarters. This immigrant
aspect of Jewish life has persisted into the 20th and 21st
centuries: Jews have consistently been economic immigrants to places like the
United States, Palestine — now Israel, a recently established immigrant
country — Argentina etc. The Russian Tsar before the Russian revolution banished
Jews from Eastern European urban centers condemning them to live in an
elaborate system of migrant slums called the Pale of Settlement.

 
European
elites reinterpreted Christian scripture and theology to justify a traditional,
Pre-Christian, Indo-European structure of society, the feudal socioeconomic
order, and cast the Jews as an accursed race guilty of being a polluting force.
(Medieval beliefs attributed the Jews with poisoning of wells and defiling the
sacred Host).
They used the inferior position and persecution of Jewish and other lower
strata populations to consolidate power, and probably to direct the aggressive
energies of the laboratores or toiling serf class away from the oratores
and bellatores onto a seemingly external enemy, allegedly foreign to
this social fabric. This history bears
strong similarities to how Brahman elites reinterpreted and reworked the texts
of the Mahabharata and the Manusmrti to justify their power; changed their
religious practices of Yajna cattle sacrifice and re-imagined their
history, while mobilizing popular aggression of lower castes like the Shudras
away from them and onto the inhabitants of Untouchable ghettos. This agitating
propaganda probably gave Shudras the satisfaction of having a caste ranked
beneath them, inferior to them. The untouchables and their misery in the Indian
case were probably useful for the rulers’ consolidation of power and of this
class system, a system which Gandhi would, more than a millennium later, come
to uphold and sentimentally defend, much to the horror of the Untouchables and
Ambedkar.
Gandhi chose to defend the righteousness and
sanctity of Chaturvarna despite that his pacifism and philosophy of
Satyagraha largely developed through his discipleship and
influence under Leo Tolstoy, a nobleman turned Christian anarchist who
sympathized with the suffering of Russian and European serfs and oppressed
peasantry, and who believed in striving towards a stateless and classless
future society. 
As
earlier mentioned, the perpetrators of violence against Europe’s Jews and
gypsies, like the assailants of India’s Untouchables, would justify their
oppressive measures by referring to the Aryan Invasion theory as scientific
fact.
Ambedkar
supported the formation of Pakistan when Gandhi and many Indians opposed it,
saying that if Indian Muslims had “the will to live as a nation,” then their
claims of nationhood were legitimate and so was Pakistan. (To support his
arguments he referred, ironically, to writings of the notoriously racist
 Orientalist, Renan, on the nature of
nationhood.)
This is similar to the case of the Zionist movement in Palestine, who formed
the state of Israel around the same date as the creation of Pakistan, 1948,
also in the aftermath of a partition resolution.
 
Gandhi,
Ambedkar, Congress and the Pacification of Class Upheaval
 
Ambedkar
in his book What Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables
called Gandhi “a mad man” “with the genius of an elf” who “can never grow up and grow out of caste
ideology.” 
The
reason for this harsh language towards Gandhi — who is the subject of many
modern-day hagiographies and who much of Western popular culture holds to be a
saint of the 20th century — was that he, in the eyes of the untouchable
movement upheld Chaturvarna and strongly opposed the untouchables’
battle for self-determination and dignity.
Ambedkar
accused Gandhi of harboring hatred towards machinery, Western civilization and
technology. Gandhi legitimized and defended this belief system by referring to
Western thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau, Ruskin and Tolstoy.
Gandhi allegedly thought mankind should do
away with machines and advanced technology, even though it would be impossible,
according to Ambedkar, to have such things as leisure and culture without them.
Gandhi did not, however, reject class society or condemn the hierarchies of
Indian civilization. Gandhi went to great lengths to justify the Brahmans’ privilege.
His coining the term Harijan for the Untouchables in order to emancipate
them was, in Ambedkar’s view, more evidence that Gandhi believed the
Untouchables had to remain an isolated, separate population that could never
integrate and unite with the rest of Hindu society or hope to obtain equal
rights and dignity.
Gandhi
is famous for his habits of peaceful protesting and making suicide threats of
fasting to death in order to achieve political ends without violently
assaulting the persons and property of others. Many would find it hard to
believe that even pacifism can be at times a violent, oppressive political
force that can serve ends which are not necessarily for humanity’s betterment. 
In
the early 1930’s, Ambedkar, against the background of the Untouchables’
campaign of satyagraha to gain access to public wells in the village of
Nasik, at the Round Table Conference demanded that the Depressed Classes (the
Untouchables) receive “constitutional safeguards through separate electorates,
prior to devolving a measure of sovereignity to India, whether within or
outside the British Commonwealth.” Temporary separate voting constituencies for
the Depressed Classes would have awarded them a degree of self-determination
they had never previously attained. Gandhi fiercely rejected this proposal.
Though he had conceded to special electoral constituencies for Muslims — perhaps
hoping this concession would satisfy the Muslims and thereby prevent the
emergence of Pakistan — he maintained that untouchables were Hindus, insisting “I
cannot possibly tolerate what is in store for the Hindus if these two divisions
(caste and untouchables) set forth in the villages and therefore I want to say
with all the emphasis that I can command that if I was the only person to
resist this thing I would resist it with my life.” According to B.A.M.
Paradkar’s study The Religious Quest of Ambedkar, when British Prime
Minister Ramsay MacDonald “announced the ‘Communal Award’ which conceded
separate electorates to the Untouchables,” Gandhi immediately declared a fast
unto death to protest it, threatening suicide, “the object of which was to
deprive the Untouchables of the benefit of the Communal Award by this extreme
form of coercion,” according to Ambedkar’s 1945 j’accuse-like text.
This quarrel and subsequent negotiations
between Gandhi and Ambedkar resulted in a compromise, damaging to the
Untouchables, called the Poona Pact. Paradkar suggests that the closure of a
political outlet — the thwarted dream of separate electorates — for the Depressed Classes’
frustrations, might have led to their mass conversions to Buddhism, a religious
answer to replace the political one.
 
Furthermore,
Gandhi condemned the 1929 Satyagraha of Untouchables against Hindus for
admission to wells and temples. Gandhi at one point became president of the
Indian National Congress. Ambedkar accused the Congress of acting in the
interests of Indian and Brahman elites and upholding Untouchability. Former Congress member Annie Besant, founder of the Theosophical Society and instrumental
in proclaiming a Brahmin child, J. Krishnamurti, as Theosophy’s messiah, in her
argument for maintaining the institution of untouchability, claimed every
society has naturally “as the basis of the social Pyramid, a large class of
people, ignorant, degraded, unclean (. . .) who perform many tasks necessary for
Society. It springs from the aboriginal inhabitants (. . .) conquered and enslaved
by the Aryan invaders.” She went on to elaborately describe how untouchables in
their filth are as disgusting as British slum-dwellers, and defended the
religious righteousness of Caste society and Untouchability.
 
Conclusion
 
Untouchability
did not originate in a social order that an Aryan invasion created. It is not
ancient, but stems from medieval India. Its origins are not racial or ethnic.
If Ambedkar’s thesis is correct, Untouchability arose due to an attempt of
medieval Indian elites to consolidate their power after the threat of social
upheaval and after Brahmans organized political coups d’état. More than a millennium
later, Gandhi, to whom many attribute the liberation of India from colonialism,
seemed to fear the social chaos that Untouchables, later to be known as Dalits,
might create if they succeeded in their power struggle. Gandhi, though radical
in his philosophy, championed adherence to Caste society, at least according to
Ambedkar and authors whom the latter influenced. 
Ambedkar’s
Buddhism bore some similarities to the approach to Christianity that the
Liberation Theology movement advocated and was a medium for expression of Dalit
ambitions for liberation from class oppression. 
During
the time India was struggling for independence, minorities in Europe, namely
the Jewish population, became victims of the same Aryan invasion theory that
Brahmans, influenced by colonialism, invoked to justify maltreatment of
Untouchables. It appears European Jews were not alone in the darkest hour of
their suffering.  
 
Works Cited
 
Ambedkar, B.R. The
Untouchables, Who Were They and Why They Became Untouchables
, New Delhi,
October 1948
Ambedkkar, B.R. What
Congress and Gandhi have done to the Untouchables,
Thacker and Co.
Bombay 1945
Berryman, P Liberation theology London: Pantheon, 1987 –
globalchristians.org
Chidester, David Christianity:
A Global History
, Harper Collins New York 2000
Contursi, Janet A. ‘Political
Theology: Text and Practice in a Dalit Panther Communityp. 2,
The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 52, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 320-339 Published by: Association for Asian Studies
Dharwadker, Vinay ‘Dalit
Poetry in MarathiWorld Literature Today, Vol. 68, 1994.
Gandhi, Mohandas K.
‘Passive Resistance and Anti-Semitism’, 1938, in The Selected Writings of
Mahatma Gandhi
, Ed. Duncan, Ronald, Beacon 1951
Joshi, Barbara H. Untouchable!:
Voices of the Dalit Liberation Movement,
Zed Books, London 1983
Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism (Third Edition), State University of New York Press,
2007
Lewy, Guenter The Nazi
Persecution of the Gypsies
, Oxford University Press, 2000.
Manian, Padma, Harappans
and Aryans: Old and New Perspectives of Ancient Indian History
p. 31
The History Teacher, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Nov., 1998), Published by: Society for History Education
Massad, Joseph ‘Zionism’s
Internal Others: Israel and the Oriental Jewsp. 61 in
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Summer, 1996), pp. 53-68 Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Institute for Palestine Studies
Omvedt, Gail. ‘Gandhi
and the Pacification of the Indian National Revolution’, Bulletin of
Concerned Asian Scholars
, Vol. 5, 1973. 7 pgs
Sharma, Arvind ‘Dr B.R.
Ambedkar on the Aryan Invasion Theory and the Emergence of the Caste System in
India’,
Journal of the American Academy
of Religion
, Volume: 73 Issue: 3
(September 1, 2005), pp: 843
Tamas, Judith, ‘A Hidden
Minority Becomes Visible’, Journal article by Judith
Tamas; Childhood Education, Vol. 77, 2001.
Wikinson, T.S., Thomas, M.M.(editors) Ambedkar
and the Neo-Buddhist Movement
C.IS.R.S. Social research Series Madras
1972
 

vii.

Bishnupada Ray                                                                                                    2 poems                                                                                        
Brain Mapping
the colours of a twilight
take on the colours of my thought
longitudes and latitudes crisscross
and an in-built GPS starts tracking
the elusive motive dots
in the hypothalamus a desert rock
under denudation and exfoliation
torn away from the better days
of enriching environment
looks at the sky where lines meet
and the linearity of lost pathways
twinkles with a galactic matrix
the archetypal fossil relics
open up the mystical lines of loss
of articulation
on this map of an ancient mindset
my articulation gets lost in sand
like the people of the wind
and my psychotropic words
roll past the desert gland
like all freelance tumbleweeds
and hang on some lonely acacia
to form a weird architecture.
Palmystery
the road hits an exhausted space
driving through night the eyes get
an imprint of the overstretched highway
that morphs into an obscure lifeline
the wheel unsettles the line of fate
by tending to obliterate the light
to be in-different with the night
to follow the motion of the stars
this motion the brain cannot hold
the muscles rebel to come to a halt
reflex falls dead upon the indicators
as the road hits an exhausted space
in the parenthesis all road signs
create the norms of stern sun signs
to regulate all moments and miles
outstretched
on a palm of allegories.
viii.
Twilight                                                                                                                2 poems
Shipra Agarwal

The
light is fading 
bit
by bit 
both
around me 
and
inside. 
 
I
turn away 
from
the setting sun 
to
the shimmering lights 
of
the city, 
they
attract my attention 
but
repulse my soul. 
And
then, there is the darkness 
growing
stronger every minute 
threatening
to engulf me. 
 
Should
I run to the lights 
and
kill my soul? 
Or
should I wait for the dark 
to
drown it, drown it?
 
On the Threshold


Long
ago
you
painted a picture for me 
of
a house with purple walls,
somewhere
between the city and the beach. 
I
had closed my eyes then 
and
heard you sing 
of
a love found and lost. 
I
tried to find it again, but 
it
was gone,
that
fleeting look of tenderness in your eyes,
so
was the picture 
and
I thought it to be 
another
one of my reverie. 
 
And
yet, months later 
here
I stand 
on
the threshold 
of
that figment of your imagination. 
How
did you make it real? 
When
did you show me the way to it? 
I
think I know the answers deep down . . . 
But,
what I don’t know 
is
the way forward from here. 
Should
I knock on the door
or
should I just walk past it? 
Would
you smile when you see me, 
would
you let me in? 
and
if you do 
would
there be a way out again
for
me?
ix.


A Fan                                                                                                                   poem
Mohd.Shakil Kidwai

Working continuously
with all its blades
like in the competition of life
a man self-made
moving clockwise in only one direction
so as it is firm
to move forward with attention
like the rigidity of a man
towards its duty
without any reward
of gratitude

 Throwing down ward
the air cold as in a
wrestling competition like a bold
Challenging all the competitors
of his agewithout losing
any courage.

x.
 
Evensong                                                                                                              4 poems
Ranjani Neriya
 
of an evening
an oriole comes to rest
in the eucalyptus tree
and someone in the house next door
begins to sing
 
it is as if a magical dust mote
has landed on the pond’s periphery
to rein in the
thrown-out circles of time
back to the vortex
 
and a landscape stirs,
it is hackney carriages
coconut groves, cowbells
lusty green fields
 
a house of polished floors
with niches for Buddha icons
blue gods, silk embroidery
hung in intricate frames, as
a quiver of moon rays dart
from silver cups of
fragrant saffron milk
on a rosewood tray
 
she sings of the body’s cavern
where the heart began
as she awaits
the daedal peal of a
lamp-lit voice calling home.
 
Of Distances         
“oh, the school is just four rosaries away”
 
on those long-ago days,
for a way home, we
measured the sky
 
fabled a fantail of stars
heard streams glide
combed winds going by
 
soon, barleycorns in a row
cubits in the palm of the hand
calculated the stretch
 
patterns engrailed on trees
stele in loam, marked
a traveler’s need 

*
geodesic flight of pixels
electric-hued notes, screened 
in thickets of mined light
 
wise us today,
to catch the spring
before the robin does, or
 
clouded in wild surmise
we say it is a stone’s throw
or as far as the crow flies, but
 
for Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Mercy
their life soul-lit and haven a prayer,
footsteps are numbered in rosaries.


Calling Long Distance

 
in the empty  house,
the phone rings
and I pretend you are there
entering the room,
your slippers flapping,
brow furrowed, wondering
 
here it is a polar morn
windless maple, deplumed sky,
there the sun is perhaps
diminishing, stretched like lustring
in a shellacked squall of crows,
silvering the far creek
by the huddle of gray huts
 
the sisal periphery
calendula siege
gorge of allamanda
pliant after rain
 
across wavelengths of dark
into the echo of nothingness
through the hyaline which keeps
our once-bonded elements
so strangely separate, I call
 
to wish you were there for me
but the coda tapers off
into the din of a silence
deafening and long.
 
Vignette
 
you could toss a grain of sand
and create a storm
so breathless is the morn  
 
bobwhite in the mimosa
spills lazuli of
last night’s rain
 
dwellings froth
hush into cleansed  
waves of glass  
 
the paved stone has knurled
tales of wilderness to tell
compiles new history    
 
in the coppery weave 
languid conifers stretch
like tired pilgrims
 
somewhere, a peddler
on a broken street sings
the worn-out tape of his wares
 
his knotted knees keening
to the safe geometry of ever
circling back to where he left. 

xi. I Want to See a World From the Window                                                                      3 poems 

Pushkar Bisht
I want to see a world from
the window, 

A happy world, 
A quiet world, 
A beautiful world, 
I want to see a world from the window, 

A true world, 
A holy world, 
A bloodless world, 

I want to see a world from the window, 
A world full of shining colours everywhere, 
A world fully dedicated to love, 
A world which knows only the way of humanity, 

I want to see a world from the window, 
A world which starts its day with a smile, 
A world which ends its days with a thanks to the
Almighty, 

A world which sleeps at night in a tuneful song,

In Hour of Darkness, I Remember You

In hour of darkness, 
I remember you
And the darkness of my life quickly flutters
away

In hour of happiness, 
I remember you
And the happiness comes much more

In hour of difficulty, 
I remember you
And my faith goes stronger 

In hour of death, 
I remember you
And I breathe my last with a smile

In hour of losing courage

I remember you
And I become more confident 
In hour of failure, 

I remember you
And my failure turns into success due to you

In hour of seeking you
I don’t remember you
Because you are in me and I am in you

Here Lies a Poet Dead

Here lies a poet dead, 
After going through deep melancholy of life 
In the bed of death 
Sorrow doesn’t engulf the poet any more, 
And silence takes him in its core, 

The poet does not cry now, 
The world mourns to lose a shining star, 
Which always shone in the dark . . .
Who will come again to love? The sad world
ponders 

But I must come in other forms again to love 
And compose beautiful poems 
For my beautiful world that has shed its tears
in my memory . . .

A man of thoughts, 
No more poetry he pens down 
But he sleeps peacefully 
In his grave, 
And the grass grows green, the dew fallen upon 
What a beautiful morning 
To a poet, 
We wake up with Mother Nature 
The sun shines bright upon that, 
And the poet smiles to feel all this 
Over his grave 
The birds sing their song 
In the early morning 
And the poet rests at peace for long

The stars like little drops of rain twinkle, 
In the sky . . .
With a poet they all mingle 
And the night hugs him tight 
In its sweet dreams . . .

I miss all the creatures.

xii.

The Strong Man                                                                                             
2 poems

Amy Sandra

How can a faceless man be seen?
How can a voiceless man be heard?
All he bears is a pliable spine
that no body can break.
“I am a strong”, the man says.
His strength desires games
of resistance and loftiness.
Little he knows,
he soon will break
with the spine that melts away.
He will never stand again.



Ugly Poem


It keeps on growing like the moss on the old building in the rainy season, like the fungi on an old man’s “rusted weapon”.
It keeps on showing like the stray dog’s itch, like the chain smoker’s yellow-brown teeth.
It keeps on stinking like a vagabond’s armpit, like the big momma’ 3-day
old bra, like the fish in the dump, like the dead rat hiding under the
sofa.
It keeps on giving in like a man with no spine, like a drunkard who finished all the wine.
It keeps on repelling like the one white strand on a strange man’s mole, like the greedy pig’s burp.
It is ugly, i know.
He is the ugly, i say.
I tell him everyday.
I mean them all in every way.
Love is the only beautiful part of you tonight.
Your ugly tests love everytime.
It is ugly, i know.
He is the ugly, i say.
And, I mean it all in everyway

books 









xiii.  

Promise 
Ranjani Neriya                                                                                                                    book news
(excerpt from review)

PROMISE – A Life, a collection of poems by Ranjani
Neriya and published by Leadstart, Mumbai, is beautiful, lyrical and
unusual. Just a month shy of her 80th birthday, the poet is no stranger
to the world of publishing. Her articles and short stories have
featured in many Indian and American journals, including The Indian
P.E.N
and the Midwest Poetry Review.
It seems like a
natural progression to move on to a full-fledged book. That’s books,
actually. These 64 poems constitute a second collection of poetry. 
(Neriya’s poems are featured in this issue of brown critique. Read on. . . http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-collection-of-poems-written-by-the-nearly80yearold-ranjani-neriya/article6405521.ece – September 12, 2014)

xiv.

Where I Live
Arundhathi Subramaniam  

                                                               

 

“Where I Live combines Arundhathi Subramaniam’s first two Indian
collections of poetry, On Cleaning Bookshelves and Where I Live, with a
selection of new work. Her poems explore various ambivalences – around
human intimacy with its bottlenecks and surprises, life in a Third World
megalopolis, myth, the politics of culture and gender, and the
persistent trope of the existential journey. Her new poems are a
meditation on desire in which the sensual and sacred inextricably
mingle.”



Where I Live, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Bloodaxe Books Ltd; Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)

xv.

Mirrored Reflections
Antonio Gomes

Dr. J. Anthony Gomes takes the reader on a voyage in verse that
traverses the globe – from Goa (India) to Staten Island (NY), the
Algarve in Portugal, Rio in Brazil, the Asturias in Spain, Caracas in
Venezuela, and Yagamata in Japan. His verse connects the reader with the
Orinoco (one of the longest rivers of South America), the Inca site of
Machu Picchu, Bahia in Brazil, street scenes in NYC, and the varied
experiences of an expert dealing with the heart. Back home, his youthful
memories take us to dusk in Loutolim village, Goa; the legend of an
attempted robbery at Aldona village; the streets of Bombay; and the
nostalgia that many a Goan migrant feels for home.
Grace Schulman, poet and distinguished professor of English, says the
second poetry volume of the cardiologist-who-writes “captures the
landscape and rhythms of his native Goa, his travels, and his patients.” 

 

Mirrored Reflections, Antonio Gomes, published by Goa 1556 in 2013

xvi.                                                                                                                                       book review

Caged Vision and the Creative
Breakthrough: 
Jaydeep Sarangi’s A Door
Somewhere?
Bishnupada Ray
 

Creativity
is a dream, a dream of idealism, by which the poet separates himself from his
indifferent existence, an existence that suffocates his being and from which he
strives to obtain a release, to get a creative breakthrough, to find a door
somewhere. Surrounded by the contingent world of survival and crass
materialism, he gathers his sensitivity into a creative sensibility around this
caged vision of his trapped being and struggles to redeem himself by the
creative urge of breaking himself free, by breaking through the cage, door or
no door. The tormented vision of the poet demands a creative justice.
Jaydeep
Sarangi’s latest book of poetry is all about this caged vision and creative
breakthrough, which Jaydeep portrays with simple touches of narrative and
feeling. The floating verse of the philosophy of the surface of this quotidian
world moves on with an unmistakable sense of banality and a lack of punch, for
the poet does not express anger or distress or makes a strong statement of
being, but collects the surface things with delicate care and records them with
an artistic neutrality that appears to go well with his kind of poetry.
The
poem “Each Time” is a testament of his poetic faith:
Each time
it rained
I looked at
my caged bard
Observed its
summer dance
With wings
wide.
It prompted
words for my poems
I waited
till I could meet someone near the doorway
Of my dream
Wet trees
looked at me in amazement.
 (“Each Time”)
Or we may
take his poem “A Door” as an example of his poetic motto:
A poet is a
translator
He translates for his reading world
Through a door
Whispers in
time
To another
door somewhere.
(“A Door”)
Jaydeep’s
persona is, as Wordsworth says, ‘a man speaking to men’, and we now know this
persona needs to communicate through his creative process to someone outside
the door, to see someone on the other side of his being. After Silent Days Jaydeep listens to all sorts
of sound, perceives all sorts of colour, gets drenched in all sorts of
feelings, and he needs to break himself free in order to communicate, for he is
confident that someone waits for him. This someone is possibly the reader who
is a precondition of the poet’s redemption and who will bring to him a bag of
happiness through the joyful reading of his poetry, and the poet finds his
nirvana through a tribute to this reader.
A Door Somewhere?: Poems by Jaydeep
Sarangi
, Jaydeep
Sarangi, Cyberwit, Allahabad 2014.

contributors

A poet and fiction writer, K. Srilata is a Professor of English at the Department of
Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras. Srilata was a writer-in-residence
at the University of Stirling, at Sangam house and at the Yeonhui Art Space in
Seoul. Her debut novel Table for Four, long
listed in 2009 for the Man Asian literary prize, was published by Penguin.
Srilata has three collections of poems, Writing
Octopus
(Authorspress, 2013), Arriving
Shortly
(Writers Workshop, 2011) and Seablue
Child
(Brown Critique, 2002). She also co-edited the anthology Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of
Tamil Poetry.
Her work has been featured in The BloodAxe Anthology of Indian Poets, The Harper Collins Book of
English Poetry, Wasafiri, Recours au Poeme, Caravan, Fulcrum
, The Little Magazine, Kavya Bharati and in two anthologies published by the
Sahitya Akademi. 

Debsruti Basu, 22, is from Calcutta.
Currently she is pursuing a post graduate degree in Literature in English under the
University of Calcutta. In her words “I basically write poetry to live in the abrupt,
incomplete silences that dwell out of all my experiences. If asked to choose between
sweltering heat and the rain on any useful day, will jump to the dry, bright
side at the drop of a hat.
I swear by hugs and tragedies and believe that
there’s nothing a long conversation and a cup of tea cannot solve.

And yes, still waiting for that Hogwarts
letter, Headmaster.

Ananya Dontula is a 16-year-old poet based out of Hyderabad. Chandramohan. S is an English poet based
in India. His poems reflect the socio-political struggles of the marginalized ,
the working class and the nomadic  outcasts of the World who are victimized
and then forgotten as nations clash and wage relentless war. His work has been
profiled in New Asia Writing, Mascara Literary Review and About placejournal.Counter-Punch poetry,Thump Print magazine,The
Sentinel, American Diversity Report, Poetry 24 online , Green Left
Weekly(Australia), The Baroda Pamphlet, Art in Society ,News Verse News , Chronogram
etc
.

Diwakar Anand is a
budding entrepreneur in the food industry who loves to travel and amaze at the
natural and man-made beauty. He loves to write poems and short stories on
topics relating to life, love etc.

Arturo Desimone was born and raised in Aruba (Dutch Caribbean) to parents of immigrant
origins foreign to the island (an Argentinean father and Russian-Polish
mother). When
he was 20 he emigrated from Aruba to the Netherlands, where he lived
for 6 years, then left to lead a nomadic way of life better enabling
writing fiction, poetry and making drawings. 
Now he is based in Buenos Aires Argentina, his grandparents’ home town. His poetry and fiction have been in Horror Sleaze Trash, Small Axe Salon, Hinchas de Poesia Unlikely Stories and at the blog A Tunisian Girl .Arturo’s has been published in brown critique before.

Bishnupada Ray is an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Bengal. An Indian English poet and his latest book of poetry Winter Sky and Selected Poems was published
by Brown Critique in 2013.

Shipra Agarwal is a day dreamer, whose head is incessantly
filled with words and lines and songs and stories. A thirst for life has taken
her down many winding roads: Medicine, Marketing, Verse, Prose, Dance Schools,
Book Stores, Yoga Camps, Theatre Groups; she’s still searching for the one that
leads to her, still wandering!

Dr Mohd. Shakil Kidwai is a reader (Chemistry) in Lal Bahadur Shashtri (PG) College (Gonda).
Ranjani Neriya’s poems, articles, short stories have appeared in several Indian magazines. In the U.S. her poems have been featured in journals. She has published 2 collections of poetry –  BATIK in 1994 and PROMISE – A LIFE – in October 2013.
Pushkar Bisht was
born on 26 June,1985, in the town of Pithoragarh, the Queen of
the Mountains. He now lives in New Delhi (India) , with his parents.
Pushkar studies Philosophy, English Literature & Science in college.
Bisht’s poetry is drawn from
his observations of the world around him. He takes inspiration from the
simple, and often routine, events of everyday life, and from the
relationships he forms with family, friends and casual acquaintances. He
is touched by the plight of people who are less fortunate than he, and
this is clearly reflected in his work. Bisht often
breaks the rules of poetry. However this is done intentionally, in order
to appeal to readers from all walks of life. As with most poets,
Pushkar’s personal beliefs and values mould his thought patterns, and he
creates a variety of visual images with his carefully chosen words and
phrases.

Amy Sandra works
and lives in Delhi and Mumbai. In her words: “Being a faithful lover of
freedom, people and art, and an ‘intentional’ stumbler, life has given
me only a voice as my comforter, my identity and my resource. Skeptical
of my beliefs and slowly drifting into my ‘illusions’, introspecting and
observing, I dared to bring a stammering voice into the ears of the
deaf and the deafened. I CHOSE TO WRITE — write till I could reach
myself and many others bringing out their voices within. The journey has
not been a walk by the beach, but I believe that is what I chose to
make it, even though my ‘destiny’ was said to be set. A passout from
Miranda House, Delhi University, adorning my volatile experiences of
life and the corporate, I am glad to share my work in Brown Critique. I hope you would have something to nudge you, even if, at the farthest end of you.”

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