Monday, February 20, 2012

Re: [ZESTCaste] Stark pictorial tribute to Jotiba Phule


I congratulate you for bringing the book on Fuley. I do not agree to the statement that Fuley was Hindu. He derided Hindu religion and how still he can be called Hindu? He founded "Sarvajanik Satya Dharma" (Religion based on Common Truth) to counter Hinduism. In all his life he was against Hindu ideology. He was also for multy religion family. He said in a single family  the members can adopt different religions like Christain, Islam, Buddha or Sikhism. He did not mention Hinduism. 

--- On Thu, 16/2/12, Siddhartha Kumar <> wrote:

From: Siddhartha Kumar <>
Subject: [ZESTCaste] Stark pictorial tribute to Jotiba Phule
To: "zestcaste" <>
Date: Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 7:59 AM

Updated: Wed, 15 Feb 2012 20:33:56 GMT | By Gillian Wright, India Today
Stark pictorial tribute to Jotiba Phule
Pictorial biography of the Phules who saw education as an antidote to
caste conflict

This startling black and white graphic book is the latest offering
from Navayana, India's first and only publishing house to focus
exclusively on the issue of caste from an anti-caste perspective.
Navayana means New Vehicle, and it was the word that Ambedkar chose to
give to the new school of Indian Buddhists-those who, like him,
renounced the caste system by renouncing Hinduism altogether. Of the
two founders of the Navayana publishing house, one was elected as a
Dalit Panthers MLA to the Tamil Nadu Assembly, and the other is a
former journalist. On their website they invite manuscripts on caste
issues, and this welcoming attitude must have encouraged Srividya
Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan as they created this pictorial biography
of the 19th century Maharashtrian social reformer Jotiba Phule and his
wife Savitribai.

Jotiba Phule had great ambitions for the Sudras and Ati-Sudras, and
saw equal rights to education for all as the means to fulfil those
ambitions. He and his wife ran schools, and stood up not just for
widow remarriage but for a wide range of women's rights. However,
Phule probably never imagined that he and Savitribai would become such
potent symbols in 21st century India for the sections of society they
represented. All over the country, educational institutions are coming
up in their names. I saw one of them beside the highway from Jaipur to
Delhi-the site for a Mahatma Jotiba Phule University.

This book clearly reveals why he and Savitribai, whom he married when
she was just eight years old, were so remarkable and why they remain
such potent symbols today. The title A Gardener in the Wasteland
refers to the fact that they belonged to the Mali caste and spent
their lives trying to clear the wasteland of caste and grow a healthy
society. Their opponents in Maharashtra were the Brahmins, depicted in
the book as hairy, heavily moustached thugs in dhotis, whom Phule
believed had used religion to enslave other castes, especially the
lower castes and untouchables. To fight back, Phule, who himself
suffered oppression, used the pen. In his writings he ridiculed the
scriptures that he was convinced were created as instruments of
enslavement. Ninan and Natarajan's lively pictures illustrate his
spirited and rational demolition of the Vedas, the Puranas, and the
Laws of Manu. For Phule, Parashuram was a genocidal maniac and Vamana
a deceiver and slimebag who destroyed the golden age of Bali. Phule
mocks Brahma's giving birth to the four varnas by arguing that this
meant he had vaginas in his mouth, arms, groin and legs and would have
spent most of the month menstruating.

Natarajan and Ninan also explain why he did not feel any sympathy for
the leaders of the nascent freedom movement. He owed his own education
to a Scotsman and drew inspiration for his cause from the emancipation
of slaves in the United States. He could have had little hope of
justice from any caste Hindu-led organisation.

It's not only the illustrations in this book that are black and white.
The story too is one of stark opposites. The authors admit that in a
graphic book they cannot include all the nuances and details of this
courageous and determined couple's life. For example, although Phule
derided Brahmanism, he remained a Hindu and is said to have adopted a
boy who happened to be a Brahmin. But they can inspire their readers
to try and understand the world from the perspectives of those who
have been underdogs for centuries.


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