The elite class has divided the society. So long as society remains divided, literature will also be divided. It is this division that gave birth to Dalit literature, Tribal literature, women’s literature, OBC literature, etc, the canvas of which is very wide and which, in fact, is the literature of the entire society.”
This was stated by Ramanika Gupta, well-known author and editor of Yuddharat Aam Admi (Belligerent Common Man), while addressing a UGC-funded seminar at Shivdeni Ram Adyodhya Prasad College, Barachakia on 24–25 May. The college is affiliated to the BR Ambedkar Bihar University.
She said that elitist literature was status-quoist and self-aggrandising while the Bahujan literature was revolutionary and all-embracing; Whereas Tulsidas was the icon of elitist literature, Kabir was the icon of Bahujan literature.
Referring to Ramanika Gupta’s OBC background, famous Dalit writer Mohandas Naimishrai said that although Phule had counted all women among Shudras/Ati Shudras but in his view, not all women could be classified as Dalits. “Women who take their own decisions are not Dalits. In this respect, Ramanika Gupta is not a Dalit. Women are also not caste-neutral. Dalit literature is based solely on Ambedkarite philosophy; Gandhi has no place there. The OBC literature has failed to build a positive philosophy using the teachings of Gandhi and Ambedkar”, he said.
On the other hand, well-known linguist Dr Rajendra Prasad Singh, who had come from Sasaram, said that “OBC literature is the literature of the farmers, artisans, workers and animal rearers. From Bhartendu to Prasad to Renu to today’s OBC poets and authors – OBC literature has an enormous corpus. Its presence can be discerned in every period of Hindi literature”. Dr Lallan Prasad Singh said, “Only the literature of 5,042 castes can be described as OBC literature”. He said that Sanskrit literature was divided into Vedic and worldly. Vedic literature belonged to Brahmins while worldly literature (including literature of Prakrit and its derivatives) belonged to the OBCs. The entire literature of the ancient Magadha Empire was OBC literature.
The discussions in the seminar were centered on topics like “Elitist literature versus Bahujan literature”, “Dalit literature” and “OBC literature”. Yuvraj Singh Bechain, Ramesh Ritambhar, Buddhasharan Hans, Ripusudan Shrivastava, Harinarayan Thakur, Musaphir Baitha and Sanjay Kumar, among others, expressed their views.
Published in the July 2013 issue of the Forward Press magazine