Journalism for Dalit liberation was a study in contrast during Hindi renaissance

While Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi was writing ‘Draupadi-Vachan Banawali’, portraying women as vile and lowly, Maithlisharan Gupta was singing paeans to Hindutva in his ‘Vyas-Stavan’, and still others were writing poems like ‘Vishnu Bhagwan ka Vamnavatar’. In contrast, the poets of Dalit renaissance were doubting the existence of god, writes Kanwal Bharti

What would have been the objective of Pandit Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi in publishing the Bhojpuri poem “Achhoot ki Shikayat” by a certain Heera Dom from Patna in the magazine Saraswati in the year 1914? This is something that piques my interest. To begin with, in all probability, at the time, Saraswati would not have had a single Dalit reader. How would the Dwij readers have reacted to this poem? Secondly, was this done under the influence of Gandhism? That is unlikely because Gandhi’s “Harijanouddhar” (emancipation of Harijans) programme was still 15 years away. Gandhism started engaging with the Dalit issue in 1932 after the signing of the Poona Pact. Thirdly, was social pressure behind it? That is most likely, for there were enough reasons for that.

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