I have been active in leftist politics. I always saw and understood history through the lens of class struggle. From 2011 onwards, I started reading Phule, Ambedkar, Jagdev Prasad and other anti-Brahmanism personalities. Sometime in 2014, litterateur Premkumar Mani gave me an issue of FORWARD Press to read. Till then, I had never even heard the name of this bilingual magazine. I liked the magazine and found it thought-provoking. I became its regular reader.
I found every issue of FP readable and collectable. The issues that carried stories on Mahishasur as well as the booklet on Mahishasur edited by Pramod Ranjan impressed me immensely. Soon, I stopped viewing history from the angle of class struggle. FP gave me a new parameter to evaluate history and historical personalities.
Our country had two cultures – Shraman and Aryan/brahmanical – and both had their corresponding social systems. From time immemorial, these two cultures were in conflict. Ultimately, the brahmanical culture prevailed and a social system in conformity with its principles and values was put in place. The Shraman culture is that of the original inhabitants, of the Bahujans. The brahmanical culture is that of the foreign invaders, of the Aryans. The anti-Brahmanism cultural movement launched by Mahatma Phule in the 19th century is gradually gaining ground. FP and its contributors have played an important role in strengthening and developing this movement.
FP helped me understand the differences between these two cultures. I could also grasp Phule-Ambedkarism. And most importantly, it inspired me to glean history from mythology. I realized that while mythology may not be history, it does reflect history, just as literature reflects society.
I now have a touchstone to evaluate history and great personalities – what/who is in favour of Bahujans and who/what is against it. And what/who is in favour of Brahmanism and what/who is against it. I have been able to develop this approach only because of FP.
The history of India has been written either from a brahmanical angle or a leftist angle. What is needed is to view, understand and document Indian history as that of a struggle between the Shraman and brahmanical cultures.
Published in the final print (June 2016) issue of the Forward Press magazine