Cleavage – that is what I want to talk about in the context of Bahujan culture. No, not Deepika Padukone’s much tweeted cleavage but how within Indian society there has been a longstanding cultural divide and yet an uneasy union. ‘Cleave’ (as a verb) is one of the most interesting words in the English language – it has two completely opposite meanings: to cut or split something apart, as with a sharp instrument (cleaver), or to stick to something/someone like glue! The one place it is perfectly used in both senses is in God’s command to the new bridegroom: For this cause shall a man (c)leave father and
mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh.
In the Indian cultural ‘marriage’ what does cleaving mean? First of all, with rare exceptions like the remote Tribals (adivasis), the majority of India has been wedded by cultural force. It is certainly not a ‘love marriage’ and only in name an ‘arranged marriage’. It is as if the Bahujan bride has been dragged from her father’s house by the brahmanical bridegroom. Hence, the cleavage between very disparate partners.
Unlike most other cultures, India’s is replete with dualism: starting with the Vedic Advaita to the later Samkhya (purusha-prakriti), Indian philosophy has explored and developed dualism to the extreme. Religion and even bhakta follows one of two separate streams based on the concept of deity as either saguna (with attributes) or nirguna (without attributes). On the sociological front we have the Dwij-Shudra duality to this day. As Prem Kumar Mani observes, in India there are only two traditions or cultures – the Brahmanic and the Shramanic. Brahmanism has recast all the subcontinent’s narratives under the mythology of devas versus asuras.
We do not believe that the majority Bahujans can break out of this mythological trance without coming to grips with their true origins and identity. The discourse begun by FP in October 2011 jumps to a whole new level with this issue’s Cover Story. A regular visitor to India, Dr Paul E. Larsen opened up some interesting new lines of enquiry on the Asurs. I picked up from where he had left off and dug a little deeper and wider to hit upon what is bound to be some thought-provoking truths that should cause Bahujans to better understand their identity, and then their destiny.
While I was researching this Cover Story I became more convinced than ever that Bahujan academics and researchers need to devote themselves to these tasks, to this mission – who else will do it for us? It goes without saying that most academic research and analysis today is done in English. The research resources even on Bahujan subjects are richer in English. Therefore, FP exhorts Bahujan academics to master English and investigate, document and analyze India’s rich Dalitbahujan cultural heritage. It is when you push the boundaries from brahmanically approved research topics and lines of enquiry that you face resistance. Hence, the brahmanical conspiracy to keep English education from Dalitbahujans. Like Savitribai wrote, “…Mother English imparts true wisdom / With love revives the oppressed one. / Mother English embraces the downtrodden / Caressing and bringing up those who are fallen. …”
Having researched and published in English for a national and international audience, let us not forget to also publish in popular journals in Hindi. That is how our culture can be transformed. FP as a bilingual Bahujan journal plays its role in bringing the fruit of research available in English to Hindistan. Our aim is to bridge the dualism between academic and popular, English and Hindi in a marriage designed to bless, in the Buddha’s words “Bahujan hitay, Bahujan sukhay”.
Until next month … Truthfully,
Published in the October 2014 issue of the Forward Press magazine
Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +917827427311, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)