APNA English Articles

Balbir Madhopuri’s Changiya Rukh

A Critique of Dalit Identity and Politics

Ravi Bhushan, Ph.D.

From: Language in India www.languageinindia.com, 11 March, 2011

Abstract

The notion that caste is not on par with race appears to be untenable. In fact caste based discrimination is one of the worst forms of racism because it is practiced against one‟s own countrymen. Like race, it is determined by birth and does not end with death but passes from generation to generation. Theoretically, it is possible to escape caste (unlike race) by changing one‟s religion but practically caste follows us into whichever religion we convert to.

Balbir Madhopuri‟s Changiya Rukh is the first Punjabi Dalit autobiography translated into English. Changiya Rukh means a tree lopped from the top, slashed and dwarfed. The writer has used it as a metaphor for the Dalit Indian whose potential for growth has been marred by the Hindu social order.

Its English translation titled Against the Night conveys the hopelessness and pain the author endured and the resistance he in turn put up against the forces of night that tried to suppress him.

Significantly, the lopped tree denotes its inherent and defiant resilience that brings forth fresh shoots of branches and leaves.

A Story of Deprivation

Changiya Rukh is the story of a Dalit‟s angst of deprivation, social exclusion and humiliation, as wel as of resistance, achievement and hope. Born in 1955 in the Ad Dharmi caste, a category of the Chamar caste of ex-untouchables, Balbir Madhopuri is a Panjabi poet with two collections of poems, Maroothal the Birkh (Tree of the Desert, 1998) and Bhakhda Pataal (The Smouldering Netherworlds, 1992).

B.R. Ambedkar pointed out to M. K. Gandhi that the most serious evil in Hinduism was not the practice of caste hierarchy and exclusion as such, but the upholding of the caste system as a religious idea. Madhopuri objects to the obsession with religion and spiritualism among Dalits as an escapist distraction from the larger project of social democracy. Contrary to the Ambedkar‟s idea of political solidarity of Dalits, they are oriented towards distinct caste-based religious identity.

Changiya Rukh is a powerful commentary on the intimate otherness of India‟s subaltern sections of population. Its translation into English has added beauty to Balbir Madhopuri‟s superb literary creation.

A Tree Lobbed from the Top

Chhaangya Rukh (Against the Night) as the title of Balbir Madhopuri's autobiography is significant. It means a tree lopped from the top, slashed and dwarfed. Madhopuri uses it as a metaphor for the Dalit or an 'untouchable' Indian, whose potential for growth has been 'robbed by the Hindu social order'. Significantly, the lopped tree also denotes its

inherent and defiant resilience by its persistent act to bring forth fresh branches and leaves!

Tracing the Social History of the Dalit Community in Punjab

Set in the village of Madhopur in Punjab, Changiya Rukh traces the social history of the Dalit community in Punjab and brings out the caste relations constructed on prejudice and inequality. Madhopuri recounts the bleakness of life, despite all constitutional and legislative measures. The Book poses the question; how a man conducts himself among people who either do not understand him or would like to see him in the slush where they think he belongs. A saga of triumph, this real life story relates a Dalit's angst of deprivation, social exclusion, and humiliation, as well as of resistance, achievement, and hope.

Discrimination

Caste-based discrimination is one of the worst forms of racism because it is practiced against one's own countrymen. Like race, it is determined by birth and does not end with death but passes from generation to generation. In theory, it is possible to escape caste (unlike race) by changing one's religion but in practice, we know, caste follows us into whichever religion we convert to. And, by Hindu belief, it could be part of us even after death.

At first sight, Balbir Madhopuri's Changiya Rukh is a Dalit autobiography like many others with all the ingredients that shock and shame non-Dalit Indians, or ought to. The unimaginable, horrific struggle for the barest minimum of survival and the daily brutalization of human instincts are etched as is the incomprehensible capacity of people to survive, escape the tentacles of caste repression and become people of consequence.

In the words of Madopuri himself, "Many a time, I'm dwarfed like a tree, cut at the top over whom passes the power line, I get pruned out of season when in passing someone is curious to know what my caste is". (Bhakhda Pataal, The Inferno, 1998)

Testimony to the Suffering – Men and Women in the Autobiography

Changiya Rukh is a powerful testimony to the suffering, angst and attempt at rebellion of the dalit community of chamars in Punjab but it is something more. It is this something, which makes it significant as a literary work. It is a lively chronicle of a host of people, each significant and memorable, not as a representative of a caste in one part of the country but as an individual.

There is the sensitive boy in the book, planting a mango sapling, acquired with great labour, in his mud hut to have it roughly snatched by his father (Bhaiya), telling him not to ape upper-caste Jats. He is too small to understand the meaning of caste or of

defilement, for which he is taunted, abused, beaten, and denied basic human needs. But he has no option but to understand quickly or suffer more humiliation.

There is the Dalit grandmother, Daadi Haro who, by sheer force of personality and an acrid tongue rebukes everybody. "If a Jat woman (or any other woman) passed near her without wishing her, she would say loudly, "Wonder which arrogant bitch just passed by." Daadi's authority is unchallenged. One day, Taro Tai (who belonged to a Jat family) and Chachi Chinni are on the swing … when Daadi sees them, no one knows what happened but she shouts, "„Is this the only work left for these wanton women? They are not bothered about their husbands… Loose women! Bad ones!' The swing stopped… the onlookers slunk away."

There is the rebellious Phumman, who tells a Jat landlord, "Threaten someone else; those days are gone when all of us bowed and scraped before you. Think before you speak or else I'll pluck your beard." Alas, „those days' are not really gone, as Madopuri realises when he becomes an Assistant Editor of a magazine in the city. "It seemed to me that the curse of caste had permeated our society and there was no indication of its dying out soon.

The oppressed and hapless father, Bhaiya, too declares time and again in the chamarli of the village, "No one has the time to listen to our plea that this caste system was not ordained by god, but has been made by man for his own selfish motives." Though his ranting and railing serves no purpose and he often ends up thrashing his sons, his rejection is heartening. As is his instilling a yearning in Madhopuri to study and escape the drudgery of his birth and help others do it too, through political action.

The mother, Bua, and other women are more down to earth. They accept their so-called fate but find ways of dealing with it with courage, determination, even benevolence. They somehow manage to retain their personhood and deal with life as women and mothers do, anywhere, anytime. There are innumerable minor characters who, transcending the caste-stereotypes, show their human face, to make the writer title a chapter as „an oasis in a desert'.

Rural Poverty

Changiya Rukh, which means a chopped tree, is a metaphor of mutilation and a symbolic image of enforced stunting of something made small and inferior so that the others appear larger and superior, an excellent parallel to the position of the Dalits in this deeply divided society.

Balbir Madhopuri movingly describes rural poverty and the hunger in the dry, wintry months, the closely-knit relationships among the Ad Dharm community to which he belonged and the centrality of his 100 year old grandmother in shaping the lives of not only her immediate family, but almost every women in that village. Burdened with the

stigma of untouchability in the Jat heartland, he grows up to learn that tea is an inferior drink because only the lower castes drink it, whereas milk was the staple beverage of the upper castes.

The Inner Turmoil

In Changiya Rukh, the author documents the inner turmoil to which Dalits are reduced whenever they have to conceal their caste identity. We observe instances of how, sometimes, the Dalit people themselves internalize the view of caste-Hindu society and develop a feeling of inferiority. Simultaneously, Balbir reveals how he was so upset with his Hindu-sounding surname that he dropped it and instead took up the name of his birthplace Madhopur. By expunging one identity, and taking on another, he succeeds in rejecting an entire history of oppression.

Orphaned Cause

Balbir notes how neither the Communist movement, nor the movement for an independent Khalistan actually addressed the problems of the Dalits. The pleasures of discovering Communist literature and writing revolutionary poems is short-lived since Balbir‟s immediate task at hand is to take up a job and support his family. He moves to Delhi, and with his wife and children, struggles to even find a house since caste-Hindus are unwilling to rent their flats to a person whom they suspect is a Dalit.

The Genre of Dalit Autobiographies

Modern literature is replete with instances of what it means to find one‟s home, and literary discussions are rife with the idea of returning home, but from a Dalit perspective, the stark reality associated with „home‟ is managing to find accommodation.

Dalit autobiographies, address such divisive issues that refuse to go away. Autobiographies are also the most prominent and marketable genre of Dalit literature today.

The caste-Hindu elites‟ interest in Dalit autobiographies spring not only from the fact that they satisfy the voyeuristic curiosity of the non-Dalits by documenting the lived experiences, but they also provide them the necessary guilt-trip.

Om Prakash Valmiki‟s Joothan dealt with the Bhangis in Uttar Pradesh, Sharankumar Limbale‟s Akkarmashi portrayed the life in rural Maharashtra, Vasant Moon‟s Vasti (translated by Gail Omvedt as Growing Up Untouchable in India) spoke of life in an urban Dalit slum, and Kesharshivam‟s Purnasatya highlighted the plight of Gujarati Dalits. Narendra Jadhav‟s memoir Outcaste probed what it meant to be a highly educated Dalit.

The publication of Dalit autobiographies, coupled with their literary assertion has recast and revitalized the literatures of the regional languages.

Semi-fictional narratives like Bama‟s Karukku and Sivakami‟s Grip of Change recorded what it meant to be young Dalit women under the shadow of casteism. Urmila Pawar‟s Aydaan (rendered into English as The Weave of My Life) is not merely testimony but also manifesto—seeking to locate the position of the Dalit woman within the stifling constructs of casteism and patriarchy without sensationalizing or romanticizing suffering.

Every narrative has unfailingly recorded how the rural structure is strict in its segregation: Dalit wadas/ cheris/ colonies/ bastis were all set away from the caste-Hindu village, a banishment that was brutal not only because of the geographic exclusion but also because of how easy it became for the oppressors to launch violent attacks on the Dalit people.

The Effect of First Person Stories

These first-person life stories are a means of expressing angst and assertion, they reverberate with an experience of pain and discriminatory politics, and they uniformly seek to exorcise the ghost of untouchability that has haunted their communities. For a nation that loves to live in denial, such authentic narratives will hopefully lead to a greater engagement with understanding, and possibly, eradicating caste.

Madhopuri uses the metaphor of Changiya Rukh to describe the Dalits' lives, robbed from traditions and slashed and dwarfed by the society. This book is a reflection of Indian society, customs and her social order. The author has used his literary skill very nicely. Words are interwoven gently, prose reads like poetry. The events are described in a well manner and catch the imagination of reader. The humiliation of Dalits is a bolt on any civilized society but this humiliation does not look like, that sort of thing due to the response of Indian society.

Globalization Only Affects Economic Situation, Not the Social Front

The effect of globalization seems to exist only on economical front not in social front. Social front of this nation should develop. People should respect the others life, and regard other fellow beings as their brothers and should give space to every one to grow prosperously. The book is not just an autobiography written by a Dalit, it also shows human suffering.

Focus of Dalit Literature

Dalit literature is always marked by revolt and negativism, as it is intimately linked with hopes for freedom of a group of people who, as `untouchables`, are unfortunate bunches

of social, economic and cultural inequality. Dalit literary movement, therefore, is just not a literal movement but is the logo of change and revolution where the primary aim was the liberation of dalits.

Indian Dalits in post-Independence India had sought new avenues of liberation, which was to later turn into an integral part of the Dalit theology. One of the best representatives of this new wave of Dalit liberation and literary movement was the Dalit Panther Movement in Maharashtra, which made the term „Dalit‟ a household name in nearly every Indian region. Further, as has been witnessed before, there was also seen a rise in Dalit literature during the 1960s. Black American Literature indeed had immensely influenced Dalit literary movements.

The word "Dalit" represents a political identity rather than just a caste name. And this precise idea is the nucleus to the Dalit movement, which aims to raze down the caste system and earn for Dalits the rights and freedoms they deserve. Certainly it would help gain many rights restored and also to obtain essential necessities of education, job, etc. However, the aim of razing down the caste system is only a remote possibility, since the Dalit communities are also prone to assert their distinct "caste" identities. They also may tend to retain the age-old prejudices against each other and caste-ranking notions within the Dalit phylum.

Postures toward Dalits among Novelists of Repute

Dalit authors presently are able to show not only the hostile circumstances in which Dalits live, but also their struggle for emancipation from caste. However, non-Dalit authors - such as Premchand (a high-caste Hindu) and Khushwant Singh, are authors based more on a benevolent level as opposed to one urging change and abolishment of caste. Religion has played a decisive part in the writings of both Dalits and non-Dalits.

In one short story (called The Poisoned Bread), a young boy enquires from a Brahmin man supporting Hinduism`s caste system, "if a religion can`t tolerate one human being treating another simply as a human being, what`s the use of such an inhumane religion?"

Millions of Dalits have precisely wondered the same thing. Thus, in the hope of breaking away from their inferior status, millions of Dalits have converted from Hinduism to other religions, yet again leading to a series of Dalit literary movements perhaps ending in no fruitful consequence.

Not Merely a Record of Subjective Perceptions

Madhopuri's narrative of his struggle is not merely a record of the subjective perceptions of a dalit. It opens a window to the objective conditions that existed in the past, as well as to the social relations that have been changing after India's independence. The new generation of Dalits have learnt to confront injustice with reason and with a sense of

confidence. Hopelessness and despair of Bakha in Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable was in the past. An important characteristic of this change was a marked determination in the author's community to overcome obstacles and raise their status.

The key to that change was education: parhai kar ke zaat badalni (altering caste status by acquiring education). This was the mantra that B.R. Ambedkar had given to his people. But the humiliation of caste prejudice persisted even after joining the elite club of the educated. Though Balbir Madhopuri does not expect an early end to the deeply embedded caste mindedness in Indian society, his writings exude confidence and hope.

Madhopuri wants Dalits to raise their status by their individual effort but at the same time suspects that an individualistic "mobility syndrome" negatively impacts their desired collective struggle for justice and dignity. Madhopuri's dilemma is that while he seeks his identity in his dalithood, his Ad Dharm caste, he yet looks forward to a kind of social change whereby an individual would not be identified by his caste.

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References

Madhopuri, Balbir. 2010. Changiya Rukh. Translated by Tripti Jain as Against the Night: An Autobiography. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Puri, Harish.K. Introduction to Changiya Rukh. Translated by Tripti Jain as Against the Night: An Autobiography. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

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Ravi Bhushan, Ph.D.,Department of English, BPS Mahila Vishwavidyalaya,Khanpur Kalan (Sonipat) 131005, Haryana, India, email:bhushanravi_sharma@yahoo.co.in

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Balbir Madhopuri’s Punjabi autobiography Chhangia Rukh (Against the Night) appeared in 2010  and stirred the Punjabi literary world by baring the real rural social life the way it was not done before.
 
As far as the region of Punjab is concerned, Balbir Madhopuri gives us an interesting insight into the issue through a conversation between his father and a few people from Uttar Pradesh, whom the Punjabis preferred to call the easterners. One of the men from UP sings the blues about how they cannot use names like the ones used by Thakurs or Rajputs. If they do they get beaten up. He adds:
 
The conditions in eastern Uttar Pradesh are deprolable – the doli of the bride still goes directly to the Thakurs. They send for our daughters and daughtersin-law whenever they feel like (Madhopuri 72).
 
Another one bewails:
 
Don’t ask what happens during the Holi festival – the Thakurs come in the
evening, drunk and armed with lathis, and order our women to entertain
them... We want to stay here in Punjab, where things are not as bad. There is
less rigidity about untouchability also... We have been living here for the last three-four years and have observed things (Madhopuri 73).
 
 

 
Changiya Rukh an autobiography by Balbir Madhopuri, re-tains its title and refers to a tree that has been deliberately stunted from the top; however, the same tree may also havethe resilience to bring forth fresh branches and leaves. The ti-tles successfully evoke for the English reader (also) the simul-taneity of subjugation and resilience. It is unlikely that wordssuch as the ones described above would easily form a part of living and dynamic vocabulary in English, like other forms of interactions bet ween Indian languages and English, whichcreate creolised mixtures. 
 
 
The phoenixes of banishment and oppression
Author: MeenaKandasamy
Published Date: Feb 28, 2010 10:36 AM
Last Updated: May 16, 2012 2:57 PM
Dalit autobiographies are the most marketable genre of their literature today.
 
Recently I had the opportunity of reading ChangiyaRukh (Against the Night), the first Punjabi Dalit autobiography that has been rendered into English. ChangiyaRukh means a chopped tree — a metaphor of mutilation and a symbolic image of enforced stunting — of something made small and inferior so that the others appear larger and superior — an excellent parallel to the position of the Dalits in this deeply divided society.
BalbirMadhopuri movingly describes rural poverty and the hunger in the dry, wintry months, the closely-knit relationships among the Ad Dharm community to which he belonged and the centrality of his 100-year-old grandmother in shaping the lives of not only her immediate family, but almost every woman in that village. Burdened with the stigma of untouchability in the Jat heartland, he grows up to learn that tea is an inferior drink because only the lower castes drink it, whereas milk was the staple beverage of the upper-castes.
In ChangiyaRukh, he documents the inner turmoil to which Dalits are reduced whenever they have to conceal their caste identity. We observe instances of how, sometimes, the Dalit people themselves internalise the view of caste-Hindu society and develop a feeling of inferiority. Simultaneously, Balbir reveals how he was so upset with his Hindu-sounding surname that he dropped it and instead took up the name of his birthplace Madhopur. By expunging one identity, and taking on another, he succeeds in rejecting an entire history of oppression.
He notes how neither the Communist movement, nor the movement for an independent Khalistan actually addressed the problems of the Dalits. The pleasures of discovering Communist literature and writing revolutionary poems is short-lived since Balbir’s immediate task at hand is to take up a job and support his family. He moves to Delhi, and with his wife and children, struggles even to find a house since caste Hindus are unwilling to rent their flats to a person they suspect is a Dalit. Modern literature is replete with instances of what it means to find one’s home, and literary discussions are rife with the idea of returning home, but from a Dalit perspective, the stark reality associated with ‘home’ is managing to find accommodation.
Dalit autobiographies, since their first, stunning arrival on the literary terrain, address such divisive issues that refuse to go away. Autobiographies are also the most prominent and marketable genre of Dalit literature today. The caste-Hindu elites’ interest in Dalit autobiographies spring not only from the fact that they satisfy the voyeuristic curiosity of the non-Dalits by documenting the lived experiences, but they also provide them the necessary guilt-trip.
 
Om Prakash Valmiki’sJoothan dealt with the Bhangis in Uttar Pradesh, SharankumarLimbale’sAkkarmashi portrayed life in rural Maharashtra, Vasant Moon’s Vasti (translated by Gail Omvedt as Growing Up Untouchable in India) spoke of life in an urban Dalit slum, and Kesharshivam’sPurnasatya highlighted the plight of Gujarati Dalits.
NarendraJadhav’s memoir Outcaste probed what it meant to be a highly educated Dalit. The publication of Dalit autobiographies, coupled with their literary assertion has recast and revitalised the literatures of the regional languages. Semi-fictional narratives like Bama’sKarukku and Sivakami’s Grip of Change recorded what it meant to be young Dalit women under the shadow of casteism. UrmilaPawar’sAydaan (rendered into English as The Weave of My Life) is not merely testimony but also manifesto — seeking to locate the position of the Dalit woman within the stifling constructs of casteism and patriarchy without sensationalising or romanticising suffering.
Every narrative has unfailingly recorded how the rural structure is strict in its segregation: Dalit wadas/ cheris/ colonies/ bastis were all set away from the caste-Hindu village, a banishment that was brutal not only because of the geographic exclusion but also because of how easy it became for the oppressors to launch violent attacks on the Dalit people. These first-person life stories are a means of expressing angst and assertion, they reverberate with an experience of pain and discriminatory politics, and they uniformly seek to exorcise the ghost of untouchability that has haunted their communities.
 
For a nation that lives in such denial of a basic truth, such authentic narratives will hopefully lead to a greater engagement with understanding, and possibly, eradicating caste.
 
—The writer is a poet and critic based in Chennai.
meena84@gmail.com
Source Courtesy: The New Indian Express

Chhangiya Rukh (Aganist the Night) Reviews
 

Literature of Protest
Balbir Madhopuri’s Changiya Rukh: A Critique of Dalit Identity
Dr. Moola Ram⃰
Department of English,
Ramanujan College (University of Delhi), Kalkaji, New Delhi-19
 
 
The intent of my paper is to focus on theorising Dalit experiences and to attempt how the primary motive of such writing like Changiya Rukh (Against the Night), becomes the mode of Dalit liberation, their struggle against the inhuman Brahminical social system and posing a challenge to mainstream literature. Dalit literature is precisely a literary weapon of social protest and resistance of the Dalits against the Brahmanical culture of hegemony and  inhuman social order that not only denies human dignity but it also violates their basic human rights and excludes them from the mainstream of the society. It strongly believes in bringing about social change by making a public display of the injustices and inhuman behaviour of the caste Hindus inflicted on them is indeed the purpose of Dalit literature. Since 1980’s onward, Dalit autobiography has become a dynamic genre of Dalit literature. It is not just an account of Dalit life; it is also a kind of tool by which Dalits can claim their political identity and self-respect. It creates a public platform for a Dalit writer to speak against the social institutions of caste and untouchability. Dalit autobiography functions as a chain in terms of uniting and increasing the relations between the individual Dalit writer and his wider community. To conceptualise a Dalit autobiography, one should go through the specific context of the authors’ writings. The attempt of recalling their past is not just remembering their bygone days but proposing a powerful political philosophy, which is differentiated on the idea of egalitarian discourse. Memorising expression and systematic synthesis of living expression creates a kind of outlet for the voiceless people. Dalit autobiography is an agency of liberation from historical suppression, because in its dealing with history, it questions the superstructure and the attempt of this questioning is itself a beginning of the history of suppressed.
         Balbir Madhopuri was born on Tuesday, July 24, 1955 in a family of the Ad Dharmi sect of the Dalits in Punjab, is a Punjabi writer, journalist, translator and a poet, with two collections of poems, Maroothal Da Birkh (Tree of the Desert, 1992) and Bhakh Da Pataal (The Inferno, 1998). Currently, he is working as Deputy Director (News), All India Radio, New Delhi, and as an editor of the Punjabi edition of the monthly magazine, Yojana in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. He has translated various novels from Hindi and English into Punjabi. His autobiography-Chhangiya Rukh, originally written in Punjabi and published in 2002. It has been translated into English as-Changiya Rukh (Against the Night), published in 2010, is set in a village of Madhopur in Jalandhar district of Punjab province. Changiya Rukh is the first Punjabi Dalit autobiography translated into English. Until now, the book has gone through five reprints in the last six years, and subsequently translated into Hindi. It is because of this book, he achieved recognition in the literary world.
         Changiya Rukh means a tree chopped from the top, slashed and dwarfed. The author applies this particular term as a metaphor for the Dalits, whose potential for growth has been robbed by the Hindu social order. The author recounts the bleakness of life, despite all constitutional and legislative measures. The book raises a question like how a man conducts himself among people who either do not understand him or would like to see him in the slush where they think he belongs. It is a saga of triumph; this real life story relates a Dalit’s anguish of deprivation, social exclusion and humiliation, as well as of resistance, achievement and hope. While writing social history of his community people, he looks very carefully at the systematic social composition, humiliation, cultural and economic exclusion of the Dalits. His attempt of stressing on the past creates a space of collective emancipation for the Dalits, and this may mark the beginning of the Dalit liberation movement. Apart from being the most important characteristic of Indian society today, the notion of caste has not only become a marker of identity for the Dalits in their day-to-day lives, but it has also become the most used weapon for their social humiliation and exploitation by the dominant section of the society. Just because of their low caste identity, whatever education and position they achieve, do not make any sense in the eyes of the upper caste Hindus. Whether seen from a social, economic, religious, academic and political aspect, the Dalits of this country have been humiliated, marginalised and excluded from the basic human rights.
         In the very beginning of his autobiography, while recalling his ancestral past during the colonial period and post partition, the author describes how the people of his own community have been segregated from the rest of the village and located on the periphery of the village. He condemns the notion of caste and reminds us that having a low caste identity for the Dalits in India is really a sin or curse whereas it is a blessing for the non-Dalits. It is only because of their low caste identity, they become the victims of ill-treatment and inhuman behaviour inflicted on them by the dominant Sikh castes such as Jats, Khatris and Sodhis. He writes, “If a low caste boy were to come out on the lanes of the village, all bathed and dressed in new clothes, his hair combed, one or the other of the Jats sitting under the trees would get up and throw mud on him. If he protested, he was sure to be beaten up. If an untouchable appeared in the village dressed in new clothes, he was certain to be given a beating on the pretext that the low castes were trying to become the equals of the higher castes; no one knew or could predict when such an incident would occur and where.” (Madhopuri, 2010:4)
         During the colonial period, the local British government executives, agents and spies such Zaildar, Jagirdar, Safedposh and Numberdar forced the only lower caste people, particularly untouchables to work in their fields as slave. The treatment of these people shown towards Dalits is very oppressive, exploitative and terrifying. The author gives a clear image of his ancestral village. He writes, “The zaildar compelled them to do begaar in his field and on his construction sites. If there was no such work available, then he got them to dig up the fields and throw the mud excavated in this way outside the village. A Jagirdar also compelled the untouchables to work free of charge for him, and often the only return they got were blows. The Zamindars were encouraged by them to assault the untouchables. Innumerable such incidents are still related by scheduled caste people who are about seventy years of age-the generation before mine.” (Madhopuri, 2010:5)                      According to the records of 1914-15, Madhopuri’s birth-place seems a very small village of having a population of about 1200 and of 250 years old, the total area is about 505 acres, there are twelve wells in this village and the common land of the village is around 17 acres as the author recalls. The fact is that Dalits have no wells and no land for farming and the place where their houses are built covers a very small piece of land. Why Dalits have no land or why they have been excluded from natural resources like this? During the colonial power in India, the British government made three land settlements. The first was in 1849-50, the second in 1880 and the third in 1914-15. Gradually, they became a part of our tradition and later known as ‘Rules and Regulations. The author studies various restrictions and responsibilities for the different Dalit communities laid down under Regulation number10 and comes to the conclusion that the rights meant for the Dalits were included only the right to provide free labour to the dominant castes. The author reminds us that in return for the unpaid labour given by the Dalits, they were dispossessed of all basic human rights, which raise various painful questions in his mind regarding the attitude and treatment of the British towards the Dalits. He writes, “The British came to Punjab at the end of their conquest of India. Why did they not give the untouchables the rights of equality, education, property, and freedom of expression? It is evident that they were in league with the staunch adherents of the caste system and were influenced by them. During the hundred years of British rule in Punjab, the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887, remained in force, which prevented the untouchables from buying land even when they had the money. The untouchables depended on the mercy of the landlords and jagirdars and spent their lives in fear. The landlords were oppressive in their behaviour and extracted the free labour that they were entitled to, and more. If the low castes tried to say ‘no’ to begaar, they were humiliated and beaten up. Those were enslaved by the British demanded freedom, but they too did not bother about the freedom of those who were their own slaves. On the other hand, they asserted their right to keep them in bondage and justified it on the basis of sacred books.” (Madhopuri, 2010:7)
         The author does not much criticise the policies and rules and regulations introduced and implemented by the British regime in India, particularly in Punjab. Neither he does not make a serious complaint against its attitude and treatment towards Dalits nor does he hold it responsible for the violation of their basic human rights. Rather he holds the inhuman Brahminical social division as solely responsible for the violation of their basic human rights, socio-economic inequalities and various injustices thrust on them by the dominant castes. He writes, “There is no other example in the whole world of such an unjust, oppressive, and discriminatory social system that has survived for thousand years. There is no other religion in the world that is the flag bearer of a system which upholds customs which incite hatred, and traditions that are discriminatory and inhuman. In no other country in the world is such oppressive and exploitative behaviour towards women and the working class tolerated, the process of slotting and dividing men has continued down the centuries, and some Indians take pride in it and proclaim that it is this system which has prevented social tension and violence from manifesting here. Such an unjust system would not have survived for so many centuries, had not books like Manusmriti laid down strict regulations against Shudras and atishudras. It is in this context that Dr. B. R. Ambedkar has written that these so-called sacred texts, which are full of conspiracies and are political in nature, are biased, their aim and intention being fraud and deceit.” (Madhopuri, 2010:7-8)   
         The author feels pity for the entire Dalit brotherhood and anger for Brahminical social order, which has always kept them marginalised and excluded from the mainstream of the society and basic human rights, when he looks back and thinks about his childhood and adulthood days that he has spent in his native village. He brings out a very clear image of rustic Dalit life, where the caste system and untouchability are openly practised even after sixty-five years of India’s independence from the British rule and almost sixty-three years of implementation of its constitution. He feels that no much difference has taken place in the rustic life of Dalits and no change has taken place in the mind-set of the dominant castes towards the Dalits. He writes, “The settlements of the untouchables are always in the lower end-the western part of a village, in Punjab, as it is all over India. This is because this class of people, in accordance with the Hindu social system, are not a part of the caste system and do not belong within the four varnas; even their shadows are to be avoided. Though it is asserted that they are within the Hindu fold, actually this statement is meant to keep the Dalits permanently enslaved. That is why they have been kept out of the mainstream. The second factor was that the dirty water of the village flows towards the west, which is the lower part of the village; and it is believed that they not only pollute clean water but also that these people should live in dirt, mire and slime. This hateful and inhuman system still prevails in the villages of India. The constitution gave equal rights to all citizens and the untouchables traversed the road from Harijans to Scheduled Castes. But the attitude and behaviour of the higher castes towards Dalits have changed as much as they should have in this scientific age. Many laws were not implemented properly, and thus the purpose for which they were made was not achieved.” (Madhopuri, 2010: 9-10)
         Having a low caste identity for the Dalits, is the only reason to invite the higher caste people to commit injustices on the Dalits and makes them the victims of their day-to-day humiliation and insult inflicted on them by the higher caste people. Therefore, it will be appropriate to say that the problem of the Dalits in India is caste based humiliation and untouchability, not deprivation. Sometimes, they are humiliated and insulted by the higher caste people in such a bad manner as if they think that they have no connection with this land and are worse than animals. The author goes through all such humiliations and insults inflicted on him by the higher caste people during his childhood days. He further writes, “My father worked for different zamindars, and we would go to houses of these zamindars, sit in their courtyards and put our bowls for rotis. Their women threw the rotis from the top and we would adroitly catch them. On such occasions, I would often think of paste events. I had seen my father storing the grain in the granaries and bins at Iqbal Singh’s house, and heard him mutter, ‘Today, we walk barefoot on this mound of grain, but once it is stored, we would not be allowed to touch it, our touch contaminates it.’ Who will let us come in here tomorrow? I would think of the care the zamindars took of their animals-scrubbing and bathing, and tending them tenderly. Their dogs roamed freely in the courtyard and even entered the kitchen. Their children petted the cat all the time, feeding the kitten milk and…Bhaia and others like him have to carry their own tumblers and bowls from home, work hard for them the whole day, and still their animals are treated better than we human beings!” (Madhopuri, 2010: 33-34) 
         The author seems very serious about the living standard of the Dalit women within the house and outside the house in comparison with the Non-Dalit women, the treatment shown to them by their husbands and some other difficulties faced by them in their daily life. The Dalit women are considered inferior by the women of the higher castes and they have no right to mingle with them on social events. They work as bonded labourers in fields of the landlords. Madhopuri recalls one particular event of Gugga navami and through this event he brings out a very clear picture of the life of Dalit women in comparison with the women of non-Dalit communities. He writes, “The two-wheeled well stood on the eastern edge of the village, and only the women of Jat, Brahmin and Goldsmith communities went to this well with their offering of sawain. They carried trays with lacy white covers, delicately balanced on the outspread palms of the left hand, with a glass or lota or milk and water in the right. Dressed in beautiful new clothes, they walked confidently, compelling me to calculate, multiply, subtract, add and divide all sorts of things. The pitiful conditions of the women of my community with their dirty tattered clothes flashed through my mind. Their listless faces flickered before my eyes. Their diffident walk held none of the confidence and arrogance of the high caste women. Barefoot, a hoe in one hand, supporting a bundle of grass or clothes on the head, collecting garbage, dry dung pats, or beating their children with the other-that was the picture.” (Madhopuri, 2010:63)
         The caste minded higher caste people think that Dalits are meant for their use only, because they think that they have become habituated to injustices and cannot protest or fight back with them. Whether it is be a forced labour in their fields, or be any other kind of hard manual labour, they do not even receive a word of appreciation in return. This kind of attitude and inhuman behaviour of the higher caste people towards the Dalits brings a sense of anger, protest, self-assertion, resistance and revolution against the social system in the mind of the educated Dalits of the present generation, particularly when the author recalls one of his father’s advice when he returns home after beating the drum for the athlete event and feels that the time has come to fight it back and not to tolerate it for any longer now. He writes, “When I recalled the sarcastic comment, another thought occurred to me and my father’s dark visage flashed before my eyes. It was not imagination, but a reality. When I reached home, Bhaia tried to advise me, ‘The athletes have twisted around and hurt themselves, but these zamindars have not given them even a word of praise! I say this stigma of low and high will never end in this country without a violent struggle. If only we had a few acres of land, then we would have not bothered about these mean zamindars!” (Madhopuri, 2010:68)
         When the author and his uncle’s son Roshi happen to be in their primary standard, the school teacher Mr. Sodhi, instead of teaching them unlike the other upper caste boys, he forces them to clean the school ground in the morning, and then he sends them to tend his animals in the fields, cut the grass and then bring it to his house in the evening. This is the reason, why most of the Dalit students drop out from schools in their primary standard only. There are very few like the author, who fight back to such injustices and continue their study ahead despite of all the humiliation and exploitation. He writes, “‘Gudd, you and Roshi (Roshan Lal) go home and cut some fodder and chop it up!’ ordered Master Sodhi, suddenly coming out of his opium haze. Taking a pinch of snuff from a long, round iron box, and sniffing it, he added, ‘Go quickly! The buffalos must be hungry and bellowing away. Wash them also.’ Like obedient student, we neither made any excuses, nor did we refuse. We set off for Master Sodhi’s home, which was about three kilometres away from school in village Sohalpur, in the southeast. My thoughts came to sudden halt as if I had put a full stop to them, the way I used to, while taking dictation at school ‘He sends us every third day, but he never tells the Jat boys that they should fetch and chop the fodder for his animals!’ Abruptly, and for the first time, I showed my resentment.” (Madhopuri, 2010:69)     
         After finishing the work assigned to them by the teacher, the author and his cousin feel thirst, and so they both go to the nearby hand pump, when they are about to touch the hand pump, suddenly Mr. Sodhi’s wife stops them from touching the hand pump and rather she herself pours water to them. The author abuses both the teacher and his wife for the unpaid forced labour and humiliation in his heart, though, he is unable to articulate the words but they remain echoing in his years. He writes, “She made a sign and we went to the back near the gutters, and cupped our hands, as she poured water from a jug, held above our heads. As soon as we stepped out, Roshi exclaimed, ‘First our brothers were serving these masters and tending their animals, and now we have to do all this-Sodhi will not change nor will he die! Stupid fool! Addict!’”(Madhopuri, 2010:71)
         After hearing many stories from his father and the blind sadhu about the Hindu beliefs, values, customs and the entire social system, which in fact made the Dalits its slave for centuries and still it holds them captive; Madhopuri develops a very critical understanding about the system and he starts hating it seriously when he happens to be in his school days. After the completion his graduation from Khalsa College Jalandhar, he changes his name from ‘Balbir Chand’ to ‘Balbir Madhopuri,’ because he thinks that the later part of his name ‘Chand’ however, resonates with Hindu belief. He recalls an event of a day when he happens to be in the seventh class at that time. On that day, his elder Bakshi brings home a calendar with a picture of ‘Sita-Ram on it, the moment he sees it, he immediately snatches it from his brother’s hand, tears it off into pieces and throws it on ground and stamps on it. Seeing it all, though his father understands his intention, but he also scolds him by saying that this only attempt of yours cannot change this inhuman Hindu social system. At this, his reaction is worth to be noted down. He writes, “It is said that it is this Ram who murdered Shambuk rishi because he believed in God, I repeated what I had heard, in all innocence, and added, ‘Raja Ramchandra and his people are “Arya Putras”, from alien lands, and they felt that they were superior to us-the real inhabitants of this country. They snatched power from us, and made us untouchables, they tricked us into slavery and they were extremely cruel to us. If a fortress was to be constructed, then it were theachchuts who are to be sacrificed, if there is any ‘sacred’ work to be performed, then an untouchable is to be made a scapegoat, and all this evil is being perpetrated in the name of religion.” (Madhopuri, 2010:167)           
         After listening carefully Madhopuri’s arguments about the incident, his father tells him many things about the past that he has been an eye-witness. He asserts and makes his views clear about Hindu social system and its fraud to his son with full confidence as if he is trying to see his future in his son. The author writes, “I also want us to strike at the deep-rooted hypocrisy of Hindu society, the way our banyan trees were uprooted and cut into pieces. But one man cannot do anything, it must be a joint effort, and it needs a courage and dedication.” (Madhopuri, 2010:167)    
     When Madhopuri is working as store keeper in FCI at Bhogpur in Punjab, One day, he meets a Bihari young man of about twenty-three, Rajendra Yadav by name, at the bus stop. Madhopuri is filled with pity when he sees that the young man has lost both hands. Rajendra looks at him with helpless eyes and asks him for financial help. He tells him the whole story about how he lost his hands and he assures him to make some arrangement so that he can get back to his native place in Bihar. He writes, “The next day, I took Rajendra to meet my good friend Purshottam Sharma. I had also brought a bagful clothes from home for Rajendra. After dinner, he washed his amputated hand and coming into the room, looked at the pictures on the wall carefully. Then he asked, ‘are you a Chamar?’ Sharma had put up some pictures of Hindu devi-devtas, the Sikh gurus and various saints on the wall. ‘What is the matter?’ Isn’t that Raidas’ picture? Sharmas are not Chamars! Rajendra asked. After a moment he went, ‘now that I have eaten…’ ‘Why don’t you throw it up if you feel that way,’ I remarked. ‘My right hand is still intact, thank God. I can eat and rinse my mouth and perform all other tasks,’ he said a little shamefacedly, and trying to change the direction of the conversation. Anyway, we brought his ticket and also dispatched some money which we had collected from various friends to his address. For many days the thought that this Bhaiya, who has lost his hands and was destitute, was still not willing to give up the caste system, troubled me.” (Madhopuri, 2010:178-179)   
      Madhopuri quits FCI after his selection through UPSC in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and joins as a class 2nd non-gazetted officer at the Jalandhar office of Press information Bureau in June 1983. After the completion of probation, having been promoted, he becomes a gazetted officer in 1986, and the next year i.e. in 1987, he is transferred to Delhi. After living a couple of years with his elder brother in Delhi, he gets married and starts looking for a rented accommodation. After a long search and various difficulties, finally he gets a renting room in Munirka. One day, when he returns from his work, the house owner directly asks Madhopuri about his caste. He writes, “‘Bhai, don’t be annoyed, but which caste do you belong to?’ ‘We are Sikhs’; I would answer, adjusting my turban. Don’t be angry, once I was travelling by train from Agra to Delhi and a sardar and his wife were also travelling with me. They were well dressed and the man appeared to be educated. And I asked him about his caste. Like you, he also said, that he was a Sikh. I told him, ‘Sikhs also have caste’ which caste do you belong to? He hesitated at first, and then he said he was a Ramdasia. ‘When he told me that he was a Ramdasia, what more could I talk to him about-I turned my face the other side’, the elderly Gujjar proudly told me.” (Madhopuri, 2010:202-03) At this, Madhopuri feels that the first phase of his humiliation in Delhi has begun. He immediately leaves this place and moves to Sector VIII in R. K. Puram, and then to Jain Mohalla in Palam village and finally, before buying his own house, he moves to Mahavir Enclave in Palam village. At all these later places where he lived, he feels very humiliated and realises that the stigma of having a low caste identity for the Dalits, is really a curse which keeps on humiliating them wherever they go. His dilemma is that while he seeks his identity in his Dalithood, his Ad Dharm sect, he yet looks forward to a kind of social change whereby an individual would not be identified by his caste. Thus, he strongly condemns the inhuman Hindu social system and feels that there is a serious need of rational philosophy and collective efforts to fight against such forces which support it; so that we can bring about social change and equality. And this is how Balbir Madhopuri in his autobiography describes that how one’s caste and especially belonging to Dalit community shapes one’s identity in the social framework of India.
 
REFERENCES
Primary Source(s)
Madhopuri, Balbir. Changiya Rukh (Against the Night). New Delhi: OUP, 2010.
Secondary Sources
Ambedkar, B. R. In Mulk Raj Anand (Ed.), Annihilation of Caste: An Undelivered Speech. New Delhi: Arnold Publishers, 1990.
Baker, S. Caste: At Home in Hindu India. New Delhi: Rupa Publication, 1991.
Bama. Karukku. Trans. Lakshmi Holmstrom. Chennai: Macmillan India Limited, 2000
Basu, Tapan. (Ed). Translating Caste. New Delhi: Katha, 2002
Bose, N. K. The Structure of Hindu Society. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1994.
Limbale, Sharan Kumar. Towards an Aesthetics of Dalit Literature: History, Controversies and Considerations. Trans. Alok Mukherjee. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2004.

 
Dr. Moola Ram is teaching as Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Ramanujan College (University of Delhi), Kalkaji, New Delhi. He has earned his M. A., M. Phil. and Ph. D from CES, SLL & CS, JNU, New Delhi-110067 (India). His areas of specific interests are Indian English Writing, Dalit Literature, Afro-American Literature, Feminist Theory and Contemporary Literature. He has published a book, i.e. Mulkraj Anand’s Untouchable: A Mirror of Dalit Life (2010) and has presented and published a couple of research papers and articles in various National and International Conferences and peer-reviewed journals. Apart from these, he is also a member of editorial board for Creative Forum: A Journal of Literary & Critical Writings and Literaria: An International Journal of New Literature across the World. 

In search of form

The Hindu, July 31, 2010

MRIDULA GARG

A powerful literary testimony to the angst, suffering and attempted rebellion of a dalit community in Punjab…
I could see a vibrant and unique novel straining to get out of the pages of this autobiography.

Changiya Rukh, Against the Night: An autobiography, Balbir Madhopuri, translated from Punjabi by Tripti Jain, OUP, 2010, p.215, Rs. 395.
Before I review Changiya Rukh( Against the Night), I must record my strong objection to the semantic quibble asserting that caste is not on par with race; or else, I lose the right to review this or any dalit work. Caste-based discrimination is one of the worst forms of racism because it is practised against one's own countrymen. Like race, it is determined by birth and does not end with death but passes from generation to generation. In theory, it is possible to escape caste (unlike race) by changing one's religion but in practice, we know, caste follows us into whichever religion we convert to.

At first sight, Balbir Madhopuri's Changiya Rukh is a dalit autobiography like many others with all the ingredients that shock and shame non-dalit Indians; or ought to. The unimaginable, horrific struggle for the barest minimum of survival and the daily brutalisation of human instincts are etched as is the incomprehensible capacity of people to survive, escape the tentacles of caste repression and become people of consequence.

In the words of Madopuri himself:

Many a time

I'm dwarfed

Like a tree cut at the top

Over whom passes the power line

I get pruned out of season

When in passing

Someone is curious to know what my caste is.

Sensitive portrayal

Changiya Rukhis a powerful testimony to the suffering, angst and attempt at rebellion of the dalit community of chamars in Punjab but it is something more. It is this something, which makes it significant as a literary work. It is a lively chronicle of a host of people, each significant and memorable, not as a representative of a caste in one part of the country but as an individual.

There is the sensitive boy, planting a mango sapling, acquired with great labour, in his mud hut to have it roughly snatched by his father (Bhaiya), telling him not to ape upper-caste Jats.“My heat wilted like the plant. A storm had blown away the flowers of my desire. Even so, I thought we too should have a tree in our courtyard, so the sparrows, doves, and parrots may come to perch and bicker on the branches.” I heard the future poet in the little child as I read the lines and my heart wilted too.

He is too small to understand the meaning of caste or of defilement, for which he is taunted, abused, beaten, and denied basic human needs. But he has no option but to understand quickly or suffer more humiliation.

There is the dalit grandmother, Daadi Haro who, by sheer force of personality and an acrid tongue, holds her own against everyone. “If a Jat woman (or any other woman) passed near her without wishing her, she would say loudly, “Wonder which arrogant bitch just passed by.” Daadi's authority is unchallenged. One day, Taro Tai (who belonged to a Jat family) and Chachi Chinni are on the swing … when Daadi sees them, no one knows what happened but she shouts, “‘Is this the only work left for these wanton women? They are not bothered about their husbands… Loose women! Bad ones!' The swing stopped… the onlookers slunk away.”

Still around

There is the rebellious Phumman, who tells a Jat landlord, “Threaten someone else; those days are gone when all of us bowed and scraped before you. Think before you speak or else I'll pluck your beard.” Alas, ‘those days' are not really gone, as Madopuri realises when he becomes an assistant editor in the city. “It seemed to me that the curse of caste had permeated our society and there was no indication of its dying out soon. Then it suddenly occurred to me that the Muhay formula may be the most effective method of establishing social equality.” The Muhay formula is no different from the Phumman formula, deliver a sharp slap, termed a ‘humanist slap on the face of casteism', by the writer. Muhay gave a Punjabi poet a resounding slap, when he kept taunting him about his caste, saying, after retirement, he could sit under the Neem tree and polish shoes.

Seeds of hope

The oppressed and hapless father, Bhaiya, too declares time and again in the chamarliof the village, “No one has the time to listen to our plea that this caste system was not ordained by god, but has been made by man for his own selfish motives.” Though his ranting and railing serves no purpose and he often ends up thrashing his sons, his rejection is heartening. As is his instilling a yearning in Madhopuri to study and escape the drudgery of his birth and help others do it too, through political action. The mother, bua, and other women are more down to earth. They accept their so-called fatebut find ways of dealing with it with courage, determination, even benevolence. They somehow manage to retain their person-hood and deal with life as women and mothers do, anywhere, anytime. There are innumerable minor characters who, transcending the caste-stereotypes, show their human face, to make the writer title a chapter as ‘an oasis in a desert'.

As I read this personal saga full of brutality and pathos, I could not help wish that Balbir Madhopuri had used the powerful yet intensely humane material, gleaned from personal experience, to weave a novel rather than an autobiography. It would have given him the freedom to edit and prune the repetitive and sometimes inane details. It is a paradox of human psychology that fictionalising facts does not reduce but increases their credibility and poignancy. A well-honed novel has a greater impact as a chronicle of truth than a recital of unedited events. I could see a vibrant and unique novel straining to get out of the pages of this autobiography. The fact that I finally read it as a novel is a tribute to the literary sensibility of the writer and the compassionate participation of the translator Tripti Jain.

Editorial : GSP Rao
Veli, Tiruvananthapuram. Courtesy- Kerala Tourism
 

Contemporary poetry from Kerala
Kerala competes with Bengal in its literary and cultural fervor and energy. In no other Indian State is high-literacy-rate as widespread and reading-habits as deep-rooted across all social strata as in this State. This milieu has consistently produced works of high merit in literature and other creative fields like films and fine arts. The State is endowed with a long coastline of enchanting beaches, dense and rich flora, and meandering backwaters that run across several regions, offering nature's benevolence to its people. Marketing mandarins have capitalized on this bounty to call the State 'God's own country', a label that is now recognized worldwide. This natural splendor has no doubt served as a powerful muse to all creative effort.
There are several literary luminaries in Malayalam literature, including KumaranAsan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, Kavithrayam of Cherusseri, Ezhuthachan and Kunchan, and Jnanpith awardees SankaraKurup, Pottekkatt, Sivasankara Pillai, Vasudevan Nair and ONV Kurup. To this we can add AyyappaPaniker and K Satchidanandan of more recent times. Malayalam literature prides itself with most number of Jnanpiths after Kannada.
Kamala Das shot into national limelight with her daring poetry in English. Arundhati Roy won the Booker in 1998 for her 'The God of Small Things' that brought international focus on Kerala writers and literature. ShashiTharoor and Anita Nair among others have been quite prodigious with their compelling works in English. Thus, English literature too has come of age in Kerala.
The trend continues with a large number of young writers and poets meriting attention. In this Issue we bring focus on contemporary poetry from Kerala, covering both Malayalam and English. The section has been painstakingly compiled and edited by the young and talented poet, Anupama Raju, who writes in English. Most of the Malayalam poems featured here have been translated by veteran K Satchidanandan that ensures high quality. We express our deep sense of appreciation to both Anupama and Satchidanandan for bringing this wonderful anthology to the readers of Muse India.
We are delighted to present the paintings and sketches of the noted contemporary artist of Kerala, Sajitha R Shankar to accompany the work of each poet in the section. The images have added great aesthetic appeal to the section and we are grateful to Sajitha for readily agreeing to share her work. Her remarkable work can be viewed at her website www.sajithashankar.com.
Life Writing
I have always enjoyed biographies. They are real life stories grounded in situations we can relate to, unlike the fanciful plots of fiction. Today, the genre has gone far beyond biographies to cover different forms of personal accounts, including blogs and emails, recognizing the widespread use of these technologies for personal expressions today.
This Issue features Life writing as an important literary genre with several articles and extracts from biographies and autobiographies that give rare insight into the lives of persons covered. The personalities chosen are from a wide range of fields including philosopher and statesman, DrSarvepalliRadhakrishnan; noted carnatic musician MS Subbulakshmi; social worker ChandraprabhaSaikiani; the two politicians in news today - Rahul Gandhi and NarendraModi; sex-worker and social activist NaliniJameela; veteran film actors DurgaKhote, Savitri and Nagaiah; badminton star SainaNehwal; noted women writers IsmatChugtai and Kumudini; and eminent Dalit voices BalbirMadhopuri and SharankumarLimbale, among many others. The personalities are drawn from all parts of India, from Assam to Kerala, Bengal to Gujarat, Punjab to Tamil Nadu. Glimpses from their lives show the vastly different circumstances they confronted, and succeeded to make a distinct mark in their respective fields. They are inspirational stories indeed.
Prof Udaya Narayana Singh wrote the thought-provoking lead-article on Biographical writing and DrShyamalkantiChakravarti contributed an essay that deals with romance of letter writing (Patralekha) in Indian classical literature and arts. Many others have contributed eminently readable articles on the lives of several noted personalities. We are thankful to each one of our contributors for responding to our call for contributions.
 
THE LEAF OF HOPE ON THE LOPPED TREE (CHANGIYA RUKH)
New Delhi is the Capital of India, the centre of Indian power. Prime Minister, cabinet ministers, bureaucracy, opposition parties, various NGOs and labour organizations including left and dalit groups are vying to grab their share of power. Every leader and writer presents himself/herself as an intellectual or philanthropist. Here the President has a big 'Rashtrapati Bhavan' as his home, covering a vast area of 130 hectare. But one person who indeed is an intellectual and also a philanthropist is Balbir Madhopuri, living in Palam, New Delhi. He earned his own 'Pucca Ghar (Cemented House)' which was his dream from childhood. His journey from his native land Madhopur to Delhi is full of difficulties. Balbir Madhopuri is known as a dalit writer, journalist and translator.
It was in February when I first met him at his residence. He was very active and well dressed but I was thinking time and again that he is the same person whose childhood passed barefoot. Today, in his house basic necessities are available but he never forgets the days of humiliation, starvation and child labour. He makes an impact on everyone with his forceful voice and pleasing personality. I had spent over 4 years in Delhi but never met a person who is down to earth like him.
Autobiography : Changiya Rukh (Against the Night)
Statistics present Punjab as the most developed state of the Indian Union. More than 28 per cent of its population are Dalits, the highest in India. Though there are many books and articles on working conditions of Dalits in Punjab, one can't ignore Balbir Madhopuri's autobiography. “Changiya Rukh” means a tree lopped from the top, slashed and dwarfed. Madhopuri uses it as a metaphor for the Dalit and ‘untouchables’ whose potential for growth has been 'robbed by the Hindu social order'. Significantly, by bringing forth fresh branches and leaves, the lopped tree proves its innate worth through defiant resilience.
Balbir stringently attacks the religious institutions for perpetuating casteism and mentions this as the cause of separate Gurdwaras of Dalits in almost every village of Punjab. By giving examples from his own life, he describes his own decision of boycotting the Gurdwaras after facing humiliation. He narrates his experience as "Every month when Sangrand or a Gurpurab was celebrated in the Gurudwara, we used to go for getting Parsad or having food from the free community kitchen. The organizers used to call us bad names because of our caste and uttered such words which should have no place in any religion. We used to be pushed like cats and dogs to a place where the people sitting inside take off their shoes. Bhai ji used to throw Parsad upward towards us so that his hand does not touch our hands. Many a time Parsad would not fall into our tiny hands folded in a bowl shape to get it but used to fall on the ground. The dogs standing nearby in expectation used to eat it losing no time. When the people used to leave, the dogs would get inside and search the Parsad which had fallen down by smelling here and there and eat it. If somebody tried to hit them, the other would easily and instantly say that ‘a dog is a recluse; it would go out just with a minor threat.’ Undergoing such a treatment, I stopped visiting the Gurudwara in my childhood itself. At that time, I was perhaps studying in class two. Our ancestors never visited that place as we were never a social part of the Hindus or Sikhs".
Balbir Madhopuri did child labour and also faced discrimination at almost every place. Even in the school, the experiences were no longer different. His teachers (whom we expect to rid the society from these evils) also discriminated with him. The real meaning of untouchability was laid bare before him. He mentions, “The fellow students, boys and girls used to behave in the same manner and kept a distance from us when we used to take water from the school water well. They used to wash away with water our pollution and then only take water. When piped water came and a tap was fixed for drinking water, they used to wash the tap first and then only take water. While at school, I and my classmates belonging to my caste used to walk more than three kilometers to village Sohalpur to wash and feed the animals of our Khatri teacher. We were not allowed to drink water from the water tap in his house even if it was extreme hot and we were dam thirsty. Our teacher’s wife used to give water to us from a distance above and we would drink it by accepting it in our hands folded in a bowl shape."
Differences with communists.
In 1975, he became a member of the Communist Party to bring in revolution. He used to raise slogans like ‘workers of the world, unite’ and ‘Kisan-Mazdoor Unity Zindabad’. In protest, a jat comrade proud of his caste, left the party and joined Panthak party (a Sikh political party). During the discussion on the demand for raising the daily wages by one rupee a day, all jat comrades sided with their community. He also noticed the awful behaviour of communist leaders with dalit women. He lost his faith in the Communist party. Though the communists spoke for the exploited and the poor, they did not try to permeate to the lowest stratum. He concluded that today it is most important for dalits to get educated and stand on their own feet so that they can uplift themselves and break away the shackles of caste discrimination.

Purpose of Autobiography
This autobiography articulates the experiences of a common man who tries to analyse the position of Dalits in feudal dominant society of Punjab. It reveals the predicament of the lower classes in the Hindu caste system. It traces the social history of Dalit community in Punjab, and brings out the caste relations based on prejudice and inequality. The book has been contextualized within larger socio-historical processes as it also includes the experiences of the writer as an urban-dwelling member of the middle class. Here he draws parallels between the life in a metro city and in the villages of Punjab to expose the reality behind the institutional narrative that caste no longer works as a significant force in the public sphere of modern India. Even to get basic amenities in life, he had to face humiliation, exclusion and discrimination.
By choosing writing as a medium, Madhopuri transforms an experience of pain into a narrative of resistance. The idea of contesting untouchability is expressed within the narrative, specifically regarding the construction of Dalit subjectivity. Through his own experiences, he articulates the problems, suffering and pain of the whole community.
This book has been read by thousands of readers since its publication. It has also been translated in Hindi and English. The English translation of the text titled "Against the Night" has been published by Oxford University. It is translated by Tripti Jain. Indeed, one who wishes to understand the socio-economic scenario in Punjab and the distribution of means of production, “Changiya Rukh” provides critical insights to the contemporary reality.

-Avtar
07837859404

SOURCE COURTESY: THE TRIBUNE
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2003 

Punjabi Literature
Dalit’s passage to consciousness
Jaspal Singh

INDIA, from time immemorial, has remained a fragmented society owing to the caste system. Almost one-fourth of the country’s population constitutes what B.R. Ambedkar called the "depressed classes". Though there have been many saints and social reformers who castigated the caste system in India since medieval times, there overall impact has been peripheral. Only in 20th century Ambedkar was able to sharpen the consciousness of the "untouchables" as a "class" and groom them as a powerful constituent of the present-day political system.

In recent times there have been a host of publications mainly dealing with the "Dalit situation" in India. A parallel body of literature called "Dalit literature" has appeared on the literary horizon that perceives the world from the Dalit angle. There are quite a few Dalit ideologies and theoreticians. Many universities have Ambedkar Chairs dealing with the theoretical aspect of Dalit consciousness.

Recently a few Dalit writers have published their autobiographies that dilate on the Dalit situation and the process leading to the emergence for a distinct Dalit consciousness as a parallel ideology. Mention may be made of Om Parkash Valmiki’s Juuth and Baby Kamble’s Jiun Asasda (as translated in Punjabi by Soma Sablok).

Now an autobiography of a Dalit Punjabi writer Balbir Madhopuri has appeared focusing on the situation of Scheduled Castes in Punjab in the last half a century.Chhangia Rukh (Navyug Publishers, New Delhi) is both a life story and a social critique of the caste condition in this region. Balbir was born at Madhopur, a small village near Bhogpur in Doaba, in a poor "Chamaar" family a few years after Partition.

His childhood, school and college days are meticulously portrayed without any gloss whatsoever. The author has tried to delineate every minute detail in his "Chamarli," as he calls his locality situated on the south-western side (direction of the setting sun) of the village. The filth and squalor and the improvised mud houses exposed to the vagaries of nature are presented for the readers to have a glimpse of life surviving on the margins of society.

There are many situations in this autobiography where the Dalit-Jat conflict explodes over socio-economic issues in the village structure but is contained with the intervention of the elders. The arrogance of a few Jat bullies always becomes the cause of such blow-ups. The Dalits, on the whole, remain subdued for obvious reasons unless they are forced to challenge the bullies. Time and again Dalits curse the Creator for their situation.

Despite extreme adversity, Balbir is able to receive college education and after doing his post-graduation becomes a junior officer in the Information Service. His days at Jalandhar during his post-graduation are a turning point in his life as a writer. He comes in contact with many people in the media and starts moving in the Leftist circle, which adds to his consciousness level. But he also finds that some of his Communist friends have a feudal approach to many socio-economic problems. While posted in Delhi, Balbir has to live in rented accommodations and faces problems with caste-conscious landlords.

Two characters in this autobiography stand out head and shoulder above the others. They are author’s mother and grandmother. Both the women display a lot of patience and perseverance and they never lose hope even in the most trying circumstances. Another nodal point in this autobiography is the banyan tree in the basti, where one has a glimpse of the socio-cultural life of the Dalits. In the course of time Balbir’s family is able to get out of the social morass, though in a limited way.

This autobiography appears at a time when a lot of social churning is taking place with far-reaching political consequences. Madhopuri in these 200 pages presents a short history of the Dalit situation in Punjab. Apart from writing half a dozen books, including two collections of poems, he has done a lot of translation work in Punjabi, including Catherine Clement’s well-known novel Edwina and Nehru.


The phoenixes of banishment and oppression

Author: MeenaKandasamy

  • Published Date: Feb 28, 2010 10:36 AM
  • Last Updated: May 16, 2012 2:57 PM

Dalit autobiographies are the most marketable genre of their literature today.

Recently I had the opportunity of reading ChangiyaRukh (Against the Night), the first Punjabi Dalit autobiography that has been rendered into English. ChangiyaRukh means a chopped tree — a metaphor of mutilation and a symbolic image of enforced stunting — of something made small and inferior so that the others appear larger and superior — an excellent parallel to the position of the Dalits in this deeply divided society.

BalbirMadhopuri movingly describes rural poverty and the hunger in the dry, wintry months, the closely-knit relationships among the Ad Dharm community to which he belonged and the centrality of his 100-year-old grandmother in shaping the lives of not only her immediate family, but almost every woman in that village. Burdened with the stigma of untouchability in the Jat heartland, he grows up to learn that tea is an inferior drink because only the lower castes drink it, whereas milk was the staple beverage of the upper-castes.

In ChangiyaRukh, he documents the inner turmoil to which Dalits are reduced whenever they have to conceal their caste identity. We observe instances of how, sometimes, the Dalit people themselves internalise the view of caste-Hindu society and develop a feeling of inferiority. Simultaneously, Balbir reveals how he was so upset with his Hindu-sounding surname that he dropped it and instead took up the name of his birthplace Madhopur. By expunging one identity, and taking on another, he succeeds in rejecting an entire history of oppression.

He notes how neither the Communist movement, nor the movement for an independent Khalistan actually addressed the problems of the Dalits. The pleasures of discovering Communist literature and writing revolutionary poems is short-lived since Balbir’s immediate task at hand is to take up a job and support his family. He moves to Delhi, and with his wife and children, struggles even to find a house since caste Hindus are unwilling to rent their flats to a person they suspect is a Dalit. Modern literature is replete with instances of what it means to find one’s home, and literary discussions are rife with the idea of returning home, but from a Dalit perspective, the stark reality associated with ‘home’ is managing to find accommodation.

Dalit autobiographies, since their first, stunning arrival on the literary terrain, address such divisive issues that refuse to go away. Autobiographies are also the most prominent and marketable genre of Dalit literature today. The caste-Hindu elites’ interest in Dalit autobiographies spring not only from the fact that they satisfy the voyeuristic curiosity of the non-Dalits by documenting the lived experiences, but they also provide them the necessary guilt-trip.

Om Prakash Valmiki’sJoothan dealt with the Bhangis in Uttar Pradesh, SharankumarLimbale’sAkkarmashi portrayed life in rural Maharashtra, Vasant Moon’s Vasti (translated by Gail Omvedt as Growing Up Untouchable in India) spoke of life in an urban Dalit slum, and Kesharshivam’sPurnasatya highlighted the plight of Gujarati Dalits.

NarendraJadhav’s memoir Outcaste probed what it meant to be a highly educated Dalit. The publication of Dalit autobiographies, coupled with their literary assertion has recast and revitalised the literatures of the regional languages. Semi-fictional narratives like Bama’sKarukku and Sivakami’s Grip of Change recorded what it meant to be young Dalit women under the shadow of casteism. UrmilaPawar’sAydaan (rendered into English as The Weave of My Life) is not merely testimony but also manifesto — seeking to locate the position of the Dalit woman within the stifling constructs of casteism and patriarchy without sensationalising or romanticising suffering.

Every narrative has unfailingly recorded how the rural structure is strict in its segregation: Dalit wadas/ cheris/ colonies/ bastis were all set away from the caste-Hindu village, a banishment that was brutal not only because of the geographic exclusion but also because of how easy it became for the oppressors to launch violent attacks on the Dalit people. These first-person life stories are a means of expressing angst and assertion, they reverberate with an experience of pain and discriminatory politics, and they uniformly seek to exorcise the ghost of untouchability that has haunted their communities.

For a nation that lives in such denial of a basic truth, such authentic narratives will hopefully lead to a greater engagement with understanding, and possibly, eradicating caste.

—The writer is a poet and critic based in Chennai.

meena84@gmail.com

Copyright © 2012 The New Indian Express. All rights reserved.

 

Book Review by Gita Ramaswamy, Hyderabad in Vaartha (Telugu Publication in Andhra Pradesh)

Letter from Ashok Tankasala, Vaartha

Changiya Rukh Review in Telugu


Changiya Rukh (Against The Night), an Autobiography by Balbir Madhopuri, OUP, New Delhi, 215+30 pp, hardcover, Rs. 395
Some of us look forward eagerly to Indian books-in-translation. This, despite the unhappy fact that such books are not bestsellers. If great literature is at all about man in history, Indian books-in-translation should be ranked among them by readers. These books record the vast changes in human life among the majoritarian peoples of India –the dalits, adivasis, poor and women, these changes accounting for the sweeping progress in Indian democracy.
Changiya Rukh (lopped off tree) is the first ever Punjabi Dalit autobiography. A telling title which the publishers have happily retained. Dalit protest in Punjab hardly echoes in the mainstream media, though it has thrown up leaders like Kanshiram who changed the face of Indian democracy. Changiya Rukh records those details which caused this.
The book is largely about the author’s growing years in a Punjab village. More than 155 of the 215 pages deal with the boy Gudd's (Madhopuri) early life before high school. Why is it that life as seen through the eyes of a child has so much more appeal to the reader? Is it because the details of life and the portrayal of characters is more authentic? Madhopuri is of the generation that has begun to resist insults and unwelcome commands by the Jats. Uncle Phumman is the militant, as is Pashu, the washerman’s son who refuses to wash, the dirty vessels of the Jats any more, and Madhopuri, the boy Gudd, himself, who does not return for gurdwara prasad ever again, when he is insulted by caste.
The boy Gudd is send by his schoolteacher to chop fodder for the teachers’ buffaloes, while his Jat classmates are retained in the classroom. His hair will not be cut by the village barber, he finds that after he has touched the taps, others will wash before using it. It helps us to understand as Kanshiram says, `Our problem is humiliation, not deprivation.’
The book helps in building up a pan-India Dalit narrative, and the reader place his/her area in perspective. When his elders lament that they do not have any land, a migrant Dalit labourer from UP tells them, ‘You people talk of a piece of land… our peoples’ wives and daughters are their common property…. You are better off than us… you at least, have some honour.’
The Communist interaction with caste is delicately nuanced. Whn the SCs are on a strike for raising agricultural wages, they find that the CP cannot help them. The CP, as part of electoral politics, has close links with the Jat rich peasants, and therefore, cannot oppose them.
The canvas of fairs, pujas, events, different professions – is generously spread before us. Even a South Indian reader can feel the strongly pulsating Punjabi life, though over a thousand kilometers away. This book has been famous in Punjabi. Oxford , in bringing this translation to us has attempted to show the English reader the worlds that lie beyond the miniscule English-speaking society in India .
Gita Ramaswamy,
Plot No. 85, Balaji Nagar, Gudimalkapur,
Hyderabad 500 067 (Ph 040-2352 1849/09441559721)


Gita Ramaswamy,
Plot No. 85, Balaji Nagar, Gudimalkapur,
Hyderabad 500 067
Ph 2352 1849/9441559721

Changiya Rukh as Bloom Amidst By Babita Mehra
 
 

                                      Many a time

                                      I’m dwarfed

                                      Like a tree cut at the top

                                      Over whom passes the power line

                                      I get pruned out of season

                                      When in passing

                                      Someone is Curious to know what my caste is.                      

                                                                     Bhakda Pataal (The Inferno, 1998) P.41

                The word “Caste” itself is narrating its own story in the given lines. This is the agony faced by the people called as ‘Dalits’. Dalits in the Indian society has remained in the world as the most exploited person for a longer period of time. His emotional world was destroyed with his power of imagination and thinking also. This caste-based discrimination is one of the worst forms of racism as it is practiced against one’s own countrymen. Like race it is determined by birth and does not end with death but passes from generation to generation. It directly refutes the assumption of Indians that there can be any harmony between dalits and the non-dalits.

               Keeping in view all the things done to Dalits, Dalit literature has given a new life to their emotional world. Dalit literature also has provided meaning and expression to suppressed life for so many years. Having been neglected in the modern historiography, the Dalits began to represent themselves in different forms of literature. Among all other genres of dalit literature autobiographies works most because they are the realistic depiction of the life of torment and anguish experienced and being felt by these. The pain intense suffering, starvation given in these autobiographies are very disturbing. We feel more attached to them because we feel no artificiality in them and it is also true that these autobiographies challenge our deep seated belief in the human progress and by presenting before us the realities of a lived life.

               Balbir Madhopuri’s ‘Changiya Rukh’ is the first Punjabi dalit autobiography, translated in English by Tripti Jain. Changya Rukh is a life story of a dalit’s angst of deprivation, soul exclusion and humiliation as well as of resistance, achievement and hope inPunjab. Socio-cultural life in Punjab went through so many changes afterIndia’sIndependence. The Jats, dominant caste in the villages ofPunjabused all lower caste  people as animal and always remain them unpaid for their twenty four hours services. A legal provision had been made for obligatory services (including unpaid services known as beggar). The outcastes or Dalits were forced to live in the western part of village where drainage water   flows and they were not allowed to have a piece of land according to land Alienation Act of 1901, Under British rule. Moreover they were not allowed to build any brick structures and if done, then could be expelled from the land. All such laws were repealed only after Ambedkar’s initiative.

            Through ‘Changiya Rukh’ the author disproves those who say that society has now changed and there is no caste based discrimination. But the reader has to Change his view regarding discrimination that there still exists the unequal and unjust social life of the innocent and ignorant victims of the cruel victimizers, not in the rural surroundings only but it also happened in urban areas. Here, author also narrated somewhat about Baba Mangu Ram, founder of Adi dharma, a leader of untouchables, a revolutionary of ghadar party, who has done much work for the upliftment of Adi dharmis i.e. ex untouchables. Every autobiography has its own characteristics. Likewise Valmiki’s ‘Joothan’ deals with the bhangis in Uttar Pradesh. Limbale’s Akkarmashi portrayed the life of dalits in Maharashtra and Madhopuri’s Changya Rukh deals with dalits ofPunjaband their new adi-dharam. 

               ‘Changiya Rukh’ the title means a tree lopped from the top, slashed and dwarfed. The author has used it as a metaphor means mutilated for the dalits or an ‘untouchable’ Indian who is ‘robbed by the Hindu social order’. In translation Tripti Jain, added a word Against the night to show the helplessness and pain bore by him and also the resistance in turn up against the many forces of the night put by him. In the world of author, ‘it opens a window to the objective conditions that existed in the past, as well as to the social relations that have been changing afterIndia’s independence. The new generations of dalits have learnt to confront Injustice with reasons and with a sense of confidence’. ‘Between now and then there’s a world of difference’

                                                                         (Changiya Rukh, Against the night P xxiv)

                Madhopuri has given the key to that change was education as he was the first from so many generations to be educated in his family. He always hears from his bhaiya. ‘Parhai kar ke jaat badalni’ this was also the mantra given by Dr. Ambedkar to his people, ‘putt dab ke parh lai, daliddar chukk ho jau, jattan di gulami na karni paoo’. But according to the author the school is, infact, often the first sight of assault on a dalit’s psyche. For author himself, he was not at ease in his school as he has to clean the school Campus and have to go to the master’s village which is 3 km away the school to cut the fodder for his animals. But he always remembered only the song of a traveling sadhu which is a magical word:

Your acts will decide

                                  Your fate;

No one will ask you

                                  Your caste!

                                                                Changiya Rukh, translated by Tripti Jain P.609

              Throughout his childhood the author had to face obstacles in the name of poverty and casteism. They were forced to eat dead animals, work on lowest wages or without wages. He went further with the word of baba babu, ‘Work hard as you can and your poverty will vanish – and never say ‘no’ but always says ‘hanji’. During his education only, the author views various things in an ideological perspective. He raised some of the questions to his colleagues only: why the intellectuals were silent and watching all this for so long? Why couldn’t they over come their caste arrogance and why the Punjabi writers were so indifferent to dalit history? The writer has depicted naked pictures of urban life which is not free from casteism at all and where the writer has to shift so many times due to his low caste. Exploitation doesn’t stop here but on the name of caste, in village, at every second they feel humiliated. Even a low-caste boy were not tolerated as clean and dressed in new clothes. He was certain to be given a beating on the pretext that the low castes were trying to become the equals of the higher castes. But author assert his optimistic tendency by which a dalit can definitely come up in his life, and he bloom amidst cactus by reaching a prestigious place. Now also he is trying his best for the upliftment of the dalits from their past.

               Being Adi-dharmi and associated with the Doaba region he also includes the rustic language of thePunjabwhich made this autobiography more heart-touching. The words like Langar, Kirtan, Vehra, Chamarli, saal and the name given to the individuals like Tota Ram, Machar Das, Haggi Ram and Mutru Dass were sufficient enough for the reader to enjoy the Culture of Punjab. The autobiography begins with the historical life style of the Dalit masses ofPunjab. Throughout the story he captures the smells, colors and sounds of the vehra of his childhood which shows his attachment to his past. Beside attachment he also have more bitterness  for the hard agricultural  labour on the lands of zamindaar ,caste abuse ,insults ,the body language of upper caste , sarcastic remarks and

moreover which torture him most was that arrogance of upper caste people by calling all

Low caste people by their names either they surpass the ages of jats and in response upper caste were called, ‘Sardarji’. At this Phumman, his brother once said, “Merely because they own a few acres of land, they cannot resist spitting at the moon!”

                                                                                                             Changiya Rukh.P.42

                Two characters in this autobiography stand out head and shoulder above the others. They are author’s mother and grandmother. Both the women display their patience and resistance and never lose hope even in the hopeless situation. Another focal point is the banyan tree in the basti, which is the source of entertainment for the whole villagers and where one could have a glimpse of the socio-cultural life of the dalits. The author claims that he did not to make any special effort to ‘build up the typical atmosphere of the rural life (of Doaba region of Punjab) and that the purpose of writing the autobiography had become quite clear in his mind to make the contemporary and coming generation to be fully aware of the stark realism of the heritage of the dire poverty and excesses at every step in the lives of the Dalit community. ”

 

               The author regards himself as an atheist and sees the religion and spiritualism among dalits as an escapist from social democracy. He is also sensitive about the portrayal about the “big and little tradition” around religious and cultural practices in the village. The worship of serpent shrines, local Muslim saints like Khwaja Khizar, Hindu saints, Guga Pir, witchcraft are not confined to the Dalits alone but it includes the upper caste though they never took the Prasad of low castes. Here, the writer also introduced us to a reality or his hatred against his kinsmen who, after rising to class higher than their original one, tend to hide their real caste identity likewise his Mama who is an IAS officer but never helped his sister in her poverty and necessity.

At last, the author is looking forward for a change whereby an Individual would not be identified by his caste only. He also wants Dalits to raise their status by their individual efforts. But he also has a doubt whether untouchability or castiesm can be removed from this Hindu social order. So as conclusion we can say:

 

As I put my nice-looking belt around my waist,

I feel that someone is trying to tie a broom behind me;

To get me to sweep away my history.

                                    Satish Chander, translated from Telugu by Velcheru Narayan Rao.

 

 

 

                                                 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                       REFERENCES

 

  • Madhopuri, Balbir.Changiya Rukh, trans. Jain, Tripti.New Delhi:OxfordUni. Press, 2010

 

  • Pathak, Vandana.trans. Dalit Autobiographies: Graphs of Pain, Journal of Litt. and Aesthetics.Vol. 9, Jan-Dec, 2009. No.2

 

  • Singh, Jaspal. Article. Punjabi Litt. Dalit’s Passage to Consciousness. March 31, 2009.

 

  • Anand, Baal Updesh. Article. A Critical Appraisal and an Overview.

 

 

 

                                                                                       Babita Mehra

                                                                                       Asst. Prof.

                                                                                       Dept. of English

                                                                                        K.L.P.College

                                                                                        Rewari

 

Flames of Freedom

Khalid Akhter

Source: Hard News, September 2, 2008
 

A host of publications dealing mainly with the ‘Dalit situation' in India have come up in recent times, along with a parallel body of literature called ‘Dalit literature'. This Dalit literature, which looks at history and current events from a Dalit point of view, has come to occupy a niche in the body of Indian literary expression. Its contribution to Dalit politics has also been widely acknowledged. Its primary motive is to give a voice to the relentless oppression of Dalits in India's caste hierarchy and the possibility of their social, cultural and political emancipation.
Contemporary Marathi poet Namdev Dhasal's works express the anguish and aspirations of Dalits in India: the sense of having been the exploited and condemned builders of Indian civilisation. And the inherent, suppressed urge to emerge out of centuries of darkness and suffering to claim their just heritage and space in society. Ironically, a militant progressive poet in his initial years, Dhasal finally landed up with the Shiv Sena - a pointer to the dilemma of co-option in Dalit politics.

A kaleidoscopic variety of images of darkness and light, rebellion and revolt, and of smashing the existing structures of exploitation pervade Dalit literature. Wrote modern Indian Dalit poet Shripal Sabnis, (translated from Marathi by social scientist Gail Omvedt):

"The sun of self-respect has burst into flames,
Let it burn up caste...."

Dalit literature has several inspirations. Right from Buddha (6th c BC), who spoke of social liberation, and 14th century preacher Chokhamela, to Mahatma Phule (1828-90) and SM Mate (1886-1957), various social reformers are hailed as symbols of inspiration by Dalit activists and ideological groups.

This is because they devoted their entire life to fighting against the hierarchical caste fragmentation and unjust 
divisions in society.

However, it was modern visionary BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution of India and an ardent critic of the caste system, who demolished the myth of the divine origin of the caste hierarchy. Through his writings such as Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development and Movements, and organisations such as the Bahishkrit Hitkarni Sabha, he argued that politics cannot be the monopoly of a few, mostly upper caste landed gentry, while others who toil and till the land and do manual labour, mostly Dalits, remain condemned in the margins. In his works, he vehemently criticised the theory of reincarnation, which, in popular Hinduism, led to the development of the caste system. His writings have been the biggest inspiration for contemporary reformers and writers who want to bring about a socio-political upsurge for the total emancipation of the Dalits.

Indeed, Ambedkar insisted, that Dalits must first liberate themselves from the shackles of mental slavery, which is the first step in this protracted struggle for social and economic emancipation. That is why he chose Buddhism to reject the Hindu caste system and Manu's varna vyavastha.

The struggle against caste hierarchy has a long history in Indian literature. In Kannada, it goes back to the first Vachana poet of the 11th century, Chennaiah, a cobbler. In modern times, the Dalit literary movement started in Maharashtra, Ambedkar's home state. It grew out of the Dalit Panther movement, established by writers Namdeo Dhasal and Raja Dhale in the heady phase of the radical, early 1970s, especially in Maharashtra. Like the pulsating, robust and yet, angst-driven African-American literature in the US, Dalit writing was characterised by a new level of subaltern pride, militancy, creativity and above all, the use of the pen as a weapon. Not often nuanced, this was a potent weapon.

Marathi Dalit literature could be considered the forerunner of modern Dalit literature. Eminent litterateur and editor of the Hindi literary journal, Hans, Rajendra Yadav, calls this a "social movement" and sees this as integral to mainstream Indian literature. He argues that it is based on a wide spectrum of socio-political ideas that transcend the narrowness of the old concepts of culture and social hierarchy and opens up new and creative spaces. This was a protest movement organised against the traditional, often casteist, Hindu social theories of life and liberation. "A sense of collective identity and solidarity are seminal for a protest movement. Dalit literature has been evolving in this direction as a platform of dialogue for various segments of the movement, including writers and intellectuals."

Poems, short stories, novels and autobiographies written by Dalit writers and also non-Dalits writing on Dalit issues provide a useful insight on the question of Dalit identity. Such important writers include Mahasweta Devi, Sheoraj Singh Bechain, Namdeo Dhasal, Daya Pawar, Arjun Dangle, Ram Sharan Limbavle, Om Prakash Valmiki, Sachi Rautray, Balbir Madhopuri, Rabi Singh, Basudev Sunani and Bama. Influenced by post-modern literary movements, Dalit literature questioned mainstream literary theories and upper caste ideologies and explored the invisible twilight zones of neglected issues.

This literature is experience-based, where anubhava (experience) takes precedence over anumana (speculation), and the marginalised and under-privileged rediscover their articulation and self identity. Because of the anger at centuries of oppression, the writing is incisive and does not mince words. Commentaries such as Omprakash Valmiki's Dalit Sahitya ka Saundaryashastra (Aesthetics of Dalit Literature) deal with the definition and understanding of Dalit consciousness.
In their search for alternatives, Dalit writers have rediscovered low caste saint-poets of the Bhakti movement of the medieval era such as Ravidas, Namdev and Tukaram. An assertion is made that Dalits were members of an ancient indigenous society uprooted by Aryan newcomers who introduced varna vyavastha in India.

Dalit assertion in politics is a part of this new Dalit consciousness, which has drawn its influence from Dalit literature. Arjun Dangle, editor of Poisoned Bread and a former Dalit Panther in Maharashtra, asserts, "Dalit literature is not simply literature. Although today, most Dalit writers have forgotten its origins, Dalit literature is associated with a movement to bring about change."

On the influence of Dalit literature on Dalit politics, says Dalit novelist Sheoraj Singh Bechain: "Since ‘Ambedkar Jayanti' in 1990, the works of Ambedkar and other Dalit writers were translated in different languages and distributed at cheap rates. All this led to the growth of a Dalit political identity, which has helped various political parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Republican Party of India (RPI)." Bechain's autobiographical writings, especially his heart-rending struggle as a child labourer, surviving in a small tenement with his cobbler relative, is considered a milestone in modern Dalit literature. Currently a senior fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, he struggled his way through abject poverty and condemnation, to finally study in JNU, and become a professor in Hindi literature in IP University, Delhi. His writings describe this angst and resilience, and the transparent will to hope, against all social and economic odds.

As for how much BSP politics has to do with the ideas of Ambedkar and other Dalit writers, Bechain does not see any congruence. He says, "Mayawati's politics is power-centric, while the ideas propagated in Dalit literature are society-oriented. Mayawati and other Dalit politicians have nothing to do with the ideas propagated by Baba Saheb, as far as politics is concerned."

Rajendra Yadav, however, disagrees. He thinks there are political compulsions for the BSP and other Dalit political parties. He says, "Although Mayawati has departed from Ambedkar because of political compulsions, things in politics change with time. Mayawati's politics will mature with time and political power will enable her to bring about social change as well."

Agrees RK Singh, former bureaucrat and now a BSP coordinator in UP. He is hopeful of change if Mayawati becomes prime minister. "Things will change at every level - including social and political - once behenji gets the top job," he says.
However, at the political and social level the bright future of a Dalit voter at the ground level is difficult to predict. This is because the Dalits' economic exploitation, impoverishment and misery continues, the caste system is becoming more resilient, and 60 years of political democracy has not been able to put an end to the domination of the caste and feudal elite. Specific structures of economic exploitation and social discrimination seem to be intact and no political leader wants to challenge them to usher in authentic social transformation.

And yet, there is optimism in the shadow lines. As Rajendra Yadav says: "There is hope for both Dalit politics and Dalit literature. Both will become mature over a period of time and Dalit politics will address the real issues on the margins, as expressed in progressive Dalit literature."

A Required Reading for the Poor of the world

Balbir Madhopuri : Chhangia Rukkh (The Pruned Tree)

(Autobiography in Punjabi)

[Navyug Publishers, New Delhi, 2002. Pages 199, Rs. 130/-]

 

A Book Review by Dr. C.D.Sidhu

 

Balbir Madhopuri's autobiography Chhangia Rukkh is an inspiring Epic of Endurance.  It narrates the  heart-rending story of the growth of a child during the first half century of India's Independence.  The children of the landless poor, the untouchable (dalits),  continue to live lives worse than the bond slaves ages ago.  And that too in a part of India which boasts of being fertile, prosperous and progressive.

Balbir was born in 1955 in the Doaba region of Punjab - the land between the two rivers Sutlej and Beas.  His village Madhopur is situated in Jalandhar district and his relations are spread over Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala districts.  Balbir's family had no land and no secure means of livelihood.  As a labourer, his father gets only seasonal employment.  The rest of the year he and his community try all sorts of crafts — weaving, shoe-making and the like.  Feeding a big family is a constant struggle.  And there's the daily humiliation hurled on them by the landed castes.  Balbir's father is bitter and angry - angry against the exploiting rich castes, angry against his numerous children whom he must feed and educate, angry against the unjust social and political system, angry against the sacred Hindu books which have always preached the slavery of the Shudras and  Ati-shudras (untouchables).  Nevertheless, Balbir's father endures.  He endures all the hardships.  And lives to see his sons grow up into educated respectable individuals who can match the upper castes on their own grounds.

The cry for Justice of Balbir's grandmother and father and the whole dalit community is the refrain of the book.  This protest against the exploitation of the hewers of wood and drawers of water is the most wholesome part of this epic narration of the dismal lives led by the poor villagers.  Balbir enlivens his story by detailing the revolutionary social movements led by Dr.B.R. Ambedkar and local leaders like Babu Mangoo Ram  Mugowalia of Ghadar Party, for freeing the dalits from the tyranny of the upper castes.

Balbir is a brave man.  He confronts the bitter Truth squarely.  And he tells it like it is. Balbir is neither sentimental nor cowardly.  He ridicules the attempts of some of his dalit friends to hide their caste.  Some grow long  hair in order to pass for upper caste Sikhs.  Others flaunt sacred threads to be accepted as Brahmins.  Then  attempts are pathetic. And doomed ! Even in the metropolis, the rich castes continue to humiliate them as untouchables.  The Communist companions of Balbir prove to be equally hypocritical.  They seek the support of the despressed classes for their own benefits.  But when the dalits demand equal share in the land and the jobs, the red revolutionaries turn their tail.

Balbir Madhopuri is a writer of exceptional talents.  Primarily a poet, Balbir has a flair for the fine rustic phrase.  And he is a master of the art of characterization.   His Dickensian sense of the oddities of the people in his village and his eye for the surprising detail, give us same unforgettable portraits.

Balbir Madhopuri's autobiography deserves to be translated into all the major languages of the world.  It should be made the required reading for the children of the have-nots.  It is a rare account of the struggles and ultimate victory of the ever humiliated but heroic child who grows into a great writer.

 

शीर्ष पंजाबी साहित्यकार बलबीर माधोपुरी की "छांग्या रुक्ख" का समाजशास्त्रीय आंकलन

हरनाम सिंह वर्मा


 

बलबीर माधोपुरी:2007: छांग्या रुख,नई दिल्ली, वाणी प्रकाशन, आई यस बी यन नम्बर 81-8143-645-8, 232 पन्ने, मू्ल्य 300 रूपये; ( मूल पंजाबी से हिन्दी में अनुवादक : सुभाष नीरव)

 

जुलाई 1955 को पंजाब के जालंधर ज़िले के माधोपुर गाँव में जन्मे बलबीर माधोपुरी पेशे से पत्रकार हैं लेकिन पंजाबी साहित्य में अपनी विलक्षण शैली और अनूठे रचना कौशल के कारण उनका समकालीन पंजाबी साहित्य में एक अनोखा और विशिष्ठ स्थान है. एक साहित्यकार के रुप में उनके 3 काव्य और 10 गद्य संग्रह प्रकाशित हो चुके हैं. इसके अतिरिक्त एक अनुवादक के रुप में उन्होंने 30 से अधिक पुस्तकों का पंजाबी में अनुवाद किया है और 40 अन्य पुस्तकें संपादित की हैं. माधोपुरी ने साफ़ किया है कि उनकी यह आत्मकथा उनके जीवन के मात्र 45 वर्षों (1955 से 2000 तक) का विवरण और मुख्यतः पंजाबी समाज में माधोपुरी द्वारा भुक्तभोगी यथार्थ ही पेश करती है. इसकी अनूठी शैली, कथ्य और उसकी मार्मिकता के कारण अनायास ही इसकी तुलना ओम प्रकाश वाल्मीकि की “जूंठन”, और तुलसीराम की “मुर्दहिया” और “मणिकर्णिका” से करने से नहीं बचा जा सकता. वाल्मीकि जी ने जूंठन का दूसरा खंड लिख कर उनकी पेशेवर जिन्दगी का उतराद्ध भी उतनी ही मार्मिकता से पेश कर दिया था. तुलसीराम जी अपनी जीवनी का जे यन यू खंड(जिसे वह "जे यन यू मौसी" का नामकरण भी कर चुके थे) पूरा करने से पूर्व ही असमय दिवंगत हो गए और उनकी आत्मकथा अधूरी रह गई. आशा की जा सकती है कि माधोपुरी भी अपनी जीवनी की यह कमी निकट भविष्य में अवश्य पूरी करेंगे.

चर्चित दलित आत्म-कथाओं की कड़ी में ओम प्रकाश वाल्मीकि की " जूंठन" का प्रथम खंड 1997 में और दूसरा खंड 2015 में प्रकाशित हुआ. हिन्दी साहित्य की मुख्य धारा ने कोई घास नहीं डाली. उसे जब दलित संसार ने सर्वश्रेष्ठ दलित आत्मकथा का तमगा दे दिया और वह अंतरराष्ट्रीय स्तर पर एक सर्वोत्तम साहित्यिक कृति मान ली गई तभी हिन्दी के समालोचको ने उसकी अस्मिता स्वीकार करना ही अपनी भलाई समझी!.माधोपुरी की आत्मकथा "छांग्या रुक्ख"(काँटा छांटा हुआ दरख़्त) पंजाबी में 2002 में प्रकाशित हुई थी. शीघ्र ही वह पंजाबी की श्रेष्टतम कृतियों में गिनी जाने लगी. सुभाष नीरव द्वारा अनूदित उसका हिन्दी संस्करण 2007 में प्रकाशित हुआ.  इसके उपरांत ही तुलसीराम की "मुर्दहिया" 2010 में और "मणिकर्णिका" 2014 में प्रकशित हुई थीं और वाल्मीकि और माधोपुरी की तुलना में तुलसीराम को हिन्दी पट्टी के चिंतकों के दो उप वर्गों ,साहित्यकारों और समाज विज्ञानियों, दोनों  ही ने हाथो हाथ लिया और उसकी भूरि भूरि प्रशंसा की! मुझे हिन्दी साहित्य के समालोचको का यह तुलसीराम का गुणगान और माधोपुरी की सर्वांगीय उपेक्षा एक बड़े ऊँचे दर्ज़े का दोगलापन लगा! मैंने तुलसीराम और माधोपुरी की आत्म्कथाओ को एक नहीं कई बार पढ़ा है और मुझे सिद्दत से यह अह्सास हुआ कि माधोपुरी के साथ न्याय नहीं हुआ.  मैंने माधोपुरी की छंग्या रुक्ख के साथ हुए इस भेदभाव की प्रतिपूर्ति के लिए साहित्यिक और समाजशास्त्रीय दोहरा आँकलन लिखने का निर्णय लिया.

छांग्या रुक्ख को लिखने का सबब

इसे माधोपुरी ने स्व्यं ही स्पष्ट किया है. उन्होंने यह पाया कि देश के सबसे खुशहाल प्रांत पंजाब में धार्मिक दिखने वाले अनेक ग्रंथों का सृजन हुआ और विश्व का सबसे नया और मानववादी समझा जाने वाला सिक्ख धर्म जोर जुल्म के खिलाफ स्थापित हुआ. लेकिन इसके बावजूद उसी धरती पर वह सभ्याचार उत्पन्न नहीं हुआ जिसकी खातिर गुरु साहिबान ने संस्कृत और उसकी संस्कृति को त्यागा था....... सामाजिक और धार्मिक संस्थानों में दलितों के साथ अमानवीय व्यवहार जारी रहा(पृष्ठ 15). आत्मकथा लिखने की इच्छा माधोपुरी में अचानक नहीं जागी. उनके दिल्ली आने पर वह मार्क्सवादी साहित्य के साथ साथ भारत के दलित साहित्य का अध्ययन पहले से अधिक करने लगे. उन्हें शिवराज सिंह बेचैन की आत्मकथा ने सबसे अधिक व्यथित किया और वह स्व्यं की खोज में जुट गए. छांग्या रुक्ख लिखते समय कथ्य और शिल्प को अपने ग्रामीण माहौल और सभ्याचार के अनुरूप रखने के लिए माधोपुरी ने कोई विशेष प्रयत्न नहीं किया. उनकी सहज-स्वाभाविक कथा उभरती गई जिसमें अपने समकालीनों और अपनी आने वाली पीढ़ियों को, अपने और अपने परिवार के बहाने, धर्म द्वारा ग़ुलाम बनाए गए दलित समाज की अमानवीय स्थिति से परिचित कराया जिसके कारण वे दुहरी-तिहरी मार झेल रहे हैं(पृष्ठ 15-16). माधोपुरी यह भी स्पष्ट करते हैँ कि यह खयाल उनके जेहन में हमेशा मौजूद रहा कि वह उन समस्याओं, असमानताओं ,बेइंसाफियो और घटनाओं  को एकतरफा और भावुक हुए बग़ैर प्रस्तुत करें (पृष्ठ 16). पुस्तक को पढ़ने के उपरांत इसमें कोई शक़ या सुबह की कोई गुंजाइश नहीं हैँ कि माधोपुरी ने अपने इस निश्चय को छांग्या रुक्ख में बखूबी निभाया हैँ.

माधोपुर का सामाजिक परिदृश्य

माधोपुरी माधोपुर गाँव की सामाजिक,आर्थिक, राजनैतिक और सांस्कृतिक पृष्ठभूमि को एक श्रेष्ठ  समाजशास्त्री की नजर से "मेरी जन्मभूमि" (छांग्या रुक्ख:19-27)शीर्षक के अंतर्गत  दर्शित करते हैं. माधोपुर का दलित भाग भी एक सामूहिक निवास स्थल के रुप शेष सभी भागों के साथ स्थित अवश्य एक था लेकिन सामाजिक, सांस्कृतिक,आर्थिक और राजनैतिक रुप से दलित और सवर्ण अंग एक दूसरे पर निर्भर होते हुए भी नितांत कटे हुए थे. उनके अनुसार गाँव देखने के लिए एक जगह बना हुआ था, पर पीने का पानी लेने के लिए अपना अपना अलग अलग कुंआ हुआ करता था.अगर चमारो / चूहड़ो का कोई लड़का नहा-धो कर और बाल संवार कर निकलता,तो जट्टी  उसके सिर पर मिट्टी डाल देती. विरोध करने पर उसकी इस लिए धुनाई होती कि वह जाटों की नकल या बराबरी करता है. जमीदार / नंबरदार उनसे बेगार करवाते .चमारो / चूहड़ो के अधिकारों में केंवल बेगार और मुफ्त में काम धन्धा करना शामिल था! मुर्दा जानवर भी उन्हें मुफ्त में ही उठाना होता था. देशी राजा लोगों ने उनके लिए तो कुछ किया नहीं था लेकिन जिन अंग्रेजों ने देश के अन्य हिस्सों में तमाम सामाजिक कुरीतिया जड़ से उखड़वा फेंकी उन्होंने भी पंजाब में अछूतों के लिए कुछ भी नहीं किया. स्वतंत्रता प्राप्ति के काफी समय बाद तक भी पंजाब के अछूत ज़मीन नहीं खरीद सकते थे. ऐसी स्थिति में अछूत ज़मीदारो और भू-स्वामियों के रहमोकरम पर निर्भर रहते, डर डर कर अपना समय काटते ;बेगार ना करने पर वह ज़ोर ज़बर्दस्ती करते,मारते-पीटते और अपमानित करते . माधोपुरी बड़ी मार्मिकता से कहते हैं कि अंग्रेजों से आजादी माँगने वालों को अपने गुलामों की आजादी का कभी खयाल नहीं आया बल्कि अपने धर्म ग्रंथों के नियमों के अनुसार उन्हें ग़ुलाम बनाए रखना अपना जन्म सिद्ध अधिकार समझा.माधोपुरी अंबेडकर के शब्दों को उद्धृत करते हुए कहते हैं कि जिन पुस्तकों को पवित्र ग्रन्थ कहा जाता है,वे ऐसी ज़ालसाजियो से भरे हुए हैं जिनकी प्रवृति राजनीतिक है,जिनकी रचना पक्षपाती है और उनका मनोरथ और प्रयोजन है:कपट और छल. पंजाब में इसी जोरो-जुल्म के विरुद्ध मंगूराम मुगोवालिया ने "आदिधर्म मंडल" बनाया और सामाजिक असमानता के खिलाफ सामाजिक आंदोलन चलाया. पंजाब के द्विजो को "आजादी" 1947 में ही मिल गई थी लेकिन अछूतों से बेगार करवाने का मौरूसी हक 1957 में ही समाप्त हुआ.पंजाब के रमदसिया समुदाय कहने के लिए दलित हिंदू धर्म का हिस्सा हैं लेकिन वास्तव में यह धर्म उन्हें ग़ुलाम बनाने का एक माध्यम है .माधोपुरी कहते हैं कि ‘अछूत, हरिजन’ से ‘अनुसूचित जाति’ तक का सफर तय कर गए पर सामाजिक व्यवहार और उच्च जातियों में उतना बदलाव नहीं आया जितनी तेज़ी से इस वैज्ञानिक युग में आना चाहिये था .बहुत से क़ानून जिस भावना से बनाए गए थे, वे वास्तविक अर्थों में कार्यान्वित नहीं हो सके .माधोपुरी और उनका परिवार इसी माहौल में जीवन व्यतीत कर रहा था और माधोपुरी का लालन पालन इसी जद्दोजेहद और मायूसी भरे माहौल में हुआ.

बचपने का सामाजिक वातावरण

माधोपुरी ने “ कागज की गहरी लिखत" में (28-44) अपने बचपने के सामाजिक वातावरण को रेखांकित किया है. उनका परिवार बहुत बदा और गरीब परिवार होता था. खाने पीने की बड़ी किल्लत रहती थी. ऐसी स्थिति में चमार बच्चे गुरुद्वारे के परसाद के लिए एक दूसरे के ऊपर धँसे पड़े रहते थे लेकिन उन्हें गाली,धौंस के साथ आम सिक्ख से आधा परसाद भी ना मिलता. इसके बावजूद लालच में कई बच्चे कई कई बार परसाद लेते थे . माधोपुरी को मिट्टी खाने की आदत पड़ गई थी जिसके कारण पिता ने उन्हें कुँए में उलटा लटकाया और कस के पीटा. गरीबी का यह आलम था कि आग दूसरों के यहाँ से माँग कर लाते और दियासलाई की तीली की बचत करते .चाय में डाले जाने वाले गुड़ में अकसर कीड़े होते और माँ उन्हें निकालने के लिए गुड़ के घोल को छान कर चाय में डालती लेकिन उसके बावजूद भी चाय में मरे हुए कीड़े तैरते दिखाई देते. माधोपुरी चाय को पानी की तरह पी जाते. कपड़े एक ही जोड़ी हुआ करते थे जिसके कारण उन्हें धुलने का काम इतवार को ही होता. कच्छे के नेफे से ढूँढ कर जूँ मारने में उनका ढेर सारा समय लग जाता .गाँव के नल से जब भी वह पानी पीते,उनके बाद पानी पीने वाला जत्तोन  का लड़का उसे सुच्च(शुद्ध) करता ,और  उसके बाद ही पानी पीता. भूंख को शांत करने के लिए उन्होंने मरी हुई तिद्दियो को भी भून कर खाया. भूंखे होने के कारण तिद्दियान भी उन्हें बड़ी स्वादिष्ट लगीं . यह बात माधोपुरी के स्कूल में फैल गई और लड़के उन्हें "टिड्डी खाना" ,"टिड्डी  खाना सप्प"(साँप) कहने लगे . लेकिन यह संबोधन टिड्डी दल की तरह जल्दी ही चला गया.

बाली उमरिया और प्रौढ़ उमर की मुसीबतें

छोटी उमर में माधोपुरी और उनके परिवार के अन्य बच्चों को ज़िंदगी की तल्ख हकीकतों  में क्या क्या पापड़ बेलने पड़े, यह कदुई वास्तविकता "तिड़के शीशे की व्यथा" (45-55) और "थूहरो पर उगे फूल"(56-67) बड़ी बारीकी से बयाँ करते हैं.कोई भी  जत्तोन की खेतों के मेड़ों की घास काट लेता लेकिन  खेत से चारा काट लाने के आरोप पूरी चमारली पर ही लगता और उन्हें ही  गलियाँ  और धौंस इनाम मिलती.एक चमार लड़के फुम्मण ने प्रतिकार किया और उस पर बवाल खड़ा हो गया .मज़दूरी करने गए चमार को जट्ट के घर पर खाना लेने जाने पर दूर् से फेंकी रोटियाँ मिलतीं और उनकी जत्तियान गर्म दाल -साग ऐसे फेंकती जिससे शरीर पर छींटे पद  जाते .माधोपुरी के घर में हमेशा ही पैसे की तंगी रहा करती और उसी के कारण  रोज़ ही घर में कलह-क्लेश छिड़ जाता. घर के जरूरी खर्चों को पूरा करने के लिए बार बार साहूकार से कर्ज़ लेना पड़ता.फुर्सत ना मिलने और दूसरी जोड़ा कपड़े ना होने के कारण नियमित नहाना धोना नहीं हो पाता.शरीर गन्दे रहने के कारण बार बार खुजली हो जाती थी और पूरे बदन में बड़े बड़े घाव हो जाते थे. भूंख के कारण आधा गाँव चल कर जाटों के घर से लस्सी माँगने जाते. वहाँ दो दो चक्कर लगाने पड़ते और फिर भी बड़ी देर तक वहाँ सिर झुंका कर खड़ा होना पड़ता.जाटाँ की स्त्रियाँ सौ की आयु छूती उनकी दादी को नाम ले कर पुकारती . गायेन राम की होती थीं लेकिन माधोपुरी उनको चारा देते और खेलने -खाने के दिनों में भाड झोंकते .माधोपुरी ने बाप को कभी मैले की बाल्तिया ढोते, सूखे चारे के पत्ते,गन्ने के छिलके, कभी मक्की बोते हुए, कभी दादा के लिए लस्सी, चाय पानी ले जाते हुए,कभी पशुओं को पानी पिलाते हुए देखा(62). उनके घर में टूटी चारपाई थी जिसका बाण पुराना था, और घर में नितांत गरीबी,अंनपधता और औरतों की बड़ी बुरी हालत थी . विशेष आयोजनों के अवसर पर जाटों के यहाँ बर्तन मांजते तीसरा पहर आ जाता और जब भी खाने के लिए थाली उठाते तभी हुक्म मिलता कि फलाने आ गए हैं बर्तन धो दे.उनके घर के बच्चों को सवेरे उठ कर जाटों के घर पानी भरना पड़ता और स्कूल उसके बाद ही जां पाते. स्कूल की ड्रेस मिलने की बात ही नही पैदा होती थी क्योंकि उनकी हालत ऐसी होती थी कि कच्छा मिलता तो कुर्ता नसीब नहीं होता.उनके घर के बच्चे बछड़े की हाली जैसा ज़िम्मेदारियो का बोझ उठाना पैनो की मार खा कर सीख रहे होते.

घर मुसीबतों का पहाड़  

छांग्या रुक्ख के दो अध्याय ,"कँटीली राहों का राही" (62-82) "हमारा घर मुसीबतों का घर" (   (90-101)) माधोपुरी के घर की वास्तविकता से रूबरू कराते हैं. घर कच्चा होता था जिससे बरसात में छतों से पानी चूता,दीवारें गिरती, घर में पानी भर जाता, जिसे बच्चे छोटी छोटी कटोरियों से बाहर उलीचते,गिरती शहतीर के नीचे टेक लगाते. उनका घर बरसात में जगह जगह से टपकता; टपकने वाली जगहों पर घर के सदस्य बर्तन रखते और पहरा देते. एक बरसात के दिन रसोई और आँगन की दीवार गिर गई और पानी घर में भरने लगा; घर के सद्स्य पूरा घर गिर जाने के डर से बाहर निकल आए ; पड़ोसी केंवल का घर गिर गया और वह उसमें दब गया.माधोपुरी के परिवार के सदस्यों ने उसके घर के मलबे को खोदा और उसे बाहर निकाला. एक रात बारिश में घर के बीच वाली शहतीर बैठ गई लेकिन किसी तरह घर के सभी लोग बच गए .गोलू मिट्टी ,जिससे कच्चे  घर की बरसात में नंगी हो गईं दीवारें लीपी जाती थीं,खरीदनी पड़ती थी . उनके बापू कहते कि "रब ससुरा भी गरीबों पर ही जुल्म ढाता है.सूखा हो या बरसात, सुख- दुःख-दलिदर, चिंता- फिकर हमारे लिए ही रखे है साले".भारी बरसात के समय चमारली के सभी लोग अपने अपनी  छतौ पर चढ़ कर छत में छेदों को ढूँढ कर मिट्टी से भरने लगते .एक महिला रात में मकान गिराने से दब कर मर गई. मसान आदि-धर्मियो और रमदसियो का साझा होता था . ऐसी कहर ढाती बरसात को जाट अपने कुओं के पानी तीन तीन हाथ ऊपर बढ़ने की खुशी बखान कर रहे थे जबकि चमाँरली के लोग बेघर और भूंखे खड़े हुए थे .गरीब गुरबो के घर के लोगों के होंठों पर मुस्कान भादों की एक आध बौछार की तरह आ जाया करती.उनके गाँव में भगत कथा सुनाता लेकिन जट्ट उन्हें भी कुछ नहीं देते.चूहदो की स्थिति चामारो से भी गई गुजरी हुई थी. माधोपुरी के पिता कहते कि हम कहने को हम हिन्दू हैं ,कोई बताये तो सही कि ब्राह्मणों, क्षत्रियों, वैश्यो,शुद्रों में से हम किसमें आते हैं? ना हमारा धर्म,ना वर्ण. कई बार वह कहते कि हम सिक्ख बन जाएँ, लेकिन उनकी माँ कहती कि उन्हें तो हिन्दू और सिक्ख में कोई फर्क नहीं दिखता. उनके पिता भी स्वीकार करते कि जात -पाँत के बारे में सिक्खों में भी हिन्दुओं वाला यह कलंक मौजूद है. उनका मानना था कि कोई भी धर्म ले लो लेकिन हिन्दू ना रहो.माधोपुरी कहते हैं कि उन्हें यह मह्सूस हुआ कि हम पशुओ से भी बदतर हैं. हमसे तो पत्थर और बेज़ुबान पशु अच्छे हैं जिनकी कद्र होती है.गाँव के पूरब की ओर वाले दो रहट वाले कुंवे पर सिर्फ़ जट्ट, ब्राह्मण और सुनार स्त्रियाँ ही सिवयिन्या चढ़ाने आतीं. वह अच्छी कपड़े पहने होती और उनकी  चाल में एक अकड़ दिखाई देती. दलित स्त्रियाँ मैले -कुचैले कपड़े पहने होतीं ,एक हाथ में खुर्पा-दरांती और दूसरे हाथ से सिर पर रखी कपड़े या घास की गठरी को पकड़े रहती. उनके मुहल्ले के बच्चे दोलहते कुंवे का चक्कर लगा लेते और सेंवैयान माँगते समय जाति- पांति के नाम फटकारे जाते.एक ही मुद्दे पर चमारोन और जत्तोन का नज़रिया अलग अलग होता.तमाशा दिखाने वाले गाँव में तमाशा दिखाते तब ज़मीदार कहता कि इनके लड़कों ने बड़ी मेन्ह्नत से अपना शरीर बना रखा है और हमारे लड़के शराब पी पी कर पेट बधाये जा रहे हैं.तमाशा खत्म होते ही बाज़ीगरो की टोली के पास गेंहूँ का एक बड़ा सा ढेर लग जाता; गुड़,चावल, और दालों की ढेरियाँ लग जाती; देशी घी और सरसों के तेल से बर्तन भर जाते; कुछ नगद रूपये जमा हो जाते.ज़मीदार इस देन्ह तुड़वाई  और मेन्ह्नत की कदर ना कर के  उन पर ताने कसते. उनके बापू कहते कि चार अख्खर पढ़ लिया कर,नहीं तो हमारी तरह ज़मीदारोन की गुलामी किया करेगा.

घर के पास के गुरद्वारे की बाड़ के जंगल में खरगोश, साँप, गोह, और नेवले रहते और एक बार साँप उनके घर की एक अन्धेरी कोठरी में घुस गया और ढूँढने पर नहीं मिला. उसके बाद बच्चे डरे डरे घर की उस कोठरी में जाते.घर के ही एक कोने में चक्की होती जिसमे उनकी माँ पूरे  परिवार का आंटा पीसा करती.संयुक्त परिवार में ढेर सारे  वयस्क सदस्य और छोटे बड़े बच्चे होते. कई अदद बच्चे कपड़े लत्तोन पर अधलेटे पड़े रहते और घर के अन्दर ही भैंसे और दूसरे जानवर (जैसे कि बकरी) भी बाँधे जाते. जानवरों की पेशाब और गोबर से घर दुर्गंध से भरा रहता. इसकी वजह से घर में बीमारी हर समय डेरा डाले पड़ी रहती और इलाज का कोई माकूल इंतेज़ाम नहीं होता. उनकी पाँच साल की तीसरी बहन के सिर में कीड़े पड़ गए और फिर उसे मोगा की एक फार्मेसी वालों के यहाँ लगातार एक महीने पट्टी के लिए ले जाना पड़ा.परिवार के सद्स्य जत्तो के घर /खेतों पर मंजूरी और बेगार करते. घर में खाने-पीने की बड़ी किल्लत रहती.प्याज, गुड़, राब, अचार या फिर लस्सी के खट्टे के साथ रोटी ही खाने को नसीब होती. जाड़े और मार्च-अप्रैल में जब घर में अनाज की बड़ी किल्लत होती तब जत्तो के कोल्हू से मैली माँग कर लाते और खा कर अपनी भूंख मिटाते. मैली पीना एक सिलसिला था.जट्ट बच्चे इसी लिए उन्हें "मैली पीणा" कह कर चिढ़ाया करते थे. सूखे या बरसात दोनों का ही कहर उनके ऊपर गिरता.नए जंनपे के वक्त माँ ख़ुद ही सौंफ, सोंठ, छोले, गेंहूँ, और अन्य कई चीजें पीस कर रखती जिसमे बाप घी मिला देता और फिर माँ के लिए "गिज़ा" बनता जो वह बच्चे/बच्ची के जन्म के बाद इश्तेमाल करती. 

माधोपुरी की शिक्षा,शिक्षक, सहपाठी और पारिवारिक दशा

माधोपुरी "बादलों से झांकता सूरज" (83-89) और “साहित्य और राजनीति संग –संग” (177-189) में उनके स्कूल के शिक्षकों का उनसे और दूसरे चमार छात्रों से किए गए व्यव्हार को इंगित करते हैं. माधोपुरी अपने गाँव से 4-5 किलोमीटर दूर् स्कूल को पढ़ने पैदल चल कर जाते, लौटते समय घर के पशुओं के लिए चारा काट कर लाते. कभी गन्ना छीलने,कभी 15-20 किलो आंटा पिसवा कर लाते. लेकिन बापू फिर भी हमेशा उन्हें बद्नीता (कामचोर) ही कहता. स्कूल के मास्टर को ठीक से पता होता कि माधोपुरी  और उनके ही जैसे और बच्चे गरीब घर के हैं लेकिन फिर भी वह वर्दी पहन कर ना आने के नाम पर उन्हें क्लास में खड़े रखा करता ! सोधी मास्टर उन्हें और दो अन्य दलित छात्रों को  मास्टर के ढाई-तीन किलोमीटर दूर् गाँव सोहलपुर में खेत से काट कर भैंसों को चारा देने ,उन्हें नह्लाने की आज्ञा देता. वह लोग बिना किसी ना नुकुर किए उसे पूरा करते. मास्टर जत्तो के लड़कों को इस प्रकार की बेगार करने कभी नहीं भेजता क्योंकि ऐसा करने पर उसकी नाक तोड़ दी जाती .उनका सहपाठी रोशन उन्हें ज़मीदारो की हैसियत का हवाला दे कर जमीनी हक़ीक़त का एहसास दिलाता कि ज़मीदार उनकी गलियों में ऐसे ही दहादते नहीं फिरते हैं. मास्टर द्वारा बताई गई बेगार में सोनी मास्टर की घरवाली अपनी ओर से इजाफा कर देती. उनके घर भेजे जाने पर वह उन्हें दरांती पकड़ा देती और वह और रोशन पका हुआ बाजरा काटते ,उसे  ढो  कर उनके घर लाते और फिर उसका चारा काटते. पसीने में लुहान हो कर जब नल में पानी पीना चाहते तब उन्हें गन्दे पानी की निकासी वाली नाली की ओर दूर् से चुल्लू में पानी उड़ेला जाता. आठवें दर्ज़े में पड़ते हुए स्कूल की छुट्टियों में वह ज़मीदारो के खेतों में हांड़ तोड़ मज़दूरी करते.ओढ़ने को रज़ाई ना मिलती और एक झूल को रज़ाई की तरह दो जने ओढते. माधोपुरी का बाप कहता ,' मन में पक्का भरोसा रखो और अपने बल बूते पर खड़े हो जाओ'.

चमारो के काफी लड़के पढ़ने जाने लगे तब जट्ट बूझद की प्रतिक्रिया यह थी कि पढ़ने से इनका दिमाग खराब हो जाता है. जट्ट सोंचते थे कि पढ़ लिख कर इन्हे नौकरियाँ मिल जायेंगी तब हमारे खेतों में काम कौन करेगा.उनके पिता ने उन्हें कालेज में पढ़ाने के लिए कर्ज़ा लिया था .उसे ब्याज समेत वापस करना और 7 भाई- बहन वाले भारी भरकम घर का भार सम्भालने में उन्हें पिता का भार हलका करते  रहना  उनकी ज़िम्मेदारी थी. इसी लिए पढ़ते हुए भी दिहाड़ी करना भी उनकी मजबूरी थी. मंजूरी में चाय देते समय जट्ट कहते कि चाय चमारी है. उन्हें गुस्सा आता लेकिन मजबूरी में उन्हें अपने गुस्से को पी जाना पड़ता.दिहाड़ी के पैसों से एक शीशे का लैंप खरीदा और उसे बड़ी उपलब्द्धि मान कर खुश होते रहे.चार-पाँच किलोमीटर पैदल चल कर कालेज जाते. उनकी तारों ताई ने उनकी माँ को कहा था कि वह इनकी पढ़ाई छुड़ा कर रहट हाँकने के लिए भेज दे ताकि तारों ताई का बेटा अवतार स्कूल चला जाए.

अपने घर में पढ़ाई के लिए कोई उपयुक्त जगह ना होने के कारण उन्होंने ताये की घर की बैठक की बिना पल्लों वाली खिड़की के सामने पढ़ने लिखने का समान और लैंप रख कर एक रस्सी बाँध दी. उस पर परदा डाल कर पढ़ने का अपना डेरा बनाया. एक रात तेज़ आँधी और बारिश में वह सब गड्ड मड्ड हो गया. लैंप टूट गया. पढ़ने का दूसरा डेरा उन्होंने हरी राम की बैठक में डाला. वहाँ वह ऐसे रमे कि घर के साथ वास्ता किसी काम या रोटी खाने तक ही रह गया . दिहाड़ी की रकम कोर्स के अलावा मार्क्सवादी और ढेर सारी पुस्तकें से खरीद दाली. 

जाति व्यवस्था की सोंच और व्यवहार का श्रोत

माधोपुरी जाति व्यवस्था के सोंच और व्यवहार का श्रोत और उसको पुष्ट करते रहने के विषय को "ब्रह्मा के थोथे चक्रव्यूह" (102-113) में व्यक्त करते हैं. माधोपुरी के गाँव की चमारटोली में अन्धे संत गरीब दास ने बताया कि ब्रह्मा के विभिन अंगों से चार बच्चों का जन्म हुआ था जो जाति व्यवस्था के चार वर्णों के प्रतिनिधि बने. कुछ सुनने वालों ने इस पर शंका व्यक्त की कि यह एक जानबूझ कर फैलाया गया मिथक है ताकि तथाकथित नीची जातियों के लोग भ्रम में पड़े रहे और समाज में अपनी नीच स्थिति को ईश्वर की इच्छा मान लें. जाति व्यवस्था के सोंच को ब्राह्मणों द्वारा निरंतर पुष्ठ किया जाता रहता है. इसे विभिन धार्मिक संस्थाये, धर्मगुरु और चलायमन बाबा/संत/ गवैय्ये निरंतर करते रहते हैं. उनके पिता ने कहा कि हम सब अन्धे हैं. जैसे किसी ने ऊंच -नीच के सम्बंद्ध में कह दिया ,वैसा ही हमने मान लिया. माधोपुरी कहते हैं कि उन्होंने इसके बाद महसूस किया कि दूसरों के विचारों से उनके खयालो में कुछ नया नया सा उभरता जा रहा है. उन्हें लगा कि वह ब्रह्मा के थोथे चक्रव्यूह से इस प्रकार बाहर निकल आए हैं  जैसे धरती के गुरुत्वाकर्षण से मनुष्य! "भूंख प्यास ना पूंछे जात" (109-113) में माधोपुरी यह बताते हैं कि असाधारण स्थिति में स्वर्ण भी जाति पात के भेदभाव को भूल जाते हैं! लाल बहादुर शास्त्री की मौत पर माधोपुरी के स्कूल में शोक सभा में शिक्षक ने शास्त्री की गरीब पृष्ठभूमि को याद किया. माधोपुरी ने शास्त्री की स्थिति से यह महत्वपूर्ण वैचारिक सीख ली कि गरीबी में मेन्ह्नत और ध्रढ़ निश्चय के बल पर प्रधान मन्त्री के बड़े पद तक भी पँहुचा जा सकता है तो उन्हें भी पूरी हिम्मत से पढ़ना चाहिये! अकाल और सूखे के दिनों में उनके दरवाजे एक अच्छे कपड़े पहने सवर्ण जोड़ा आया. वह दोनों और उनके दोनों बच्चे भूंखे थे. यह जानते हुए भी कि माधोपुरी का परिवार चमार जाति का था उन्होंने खाने के लिए रोटी माँगी. अकाल ने राजा को रंक बना दिया था.

माधोपुरी पंजाब के चमारो की स्थिति को उत्तर प्रदेश के पुर्बियोन से तुलना करते हुए बताते हैं कि पूरबिये उनके पिता को बता रहे थे कि उन्हें अपने और बच्चों के नाम गड़बड़ किस्म के ही रखने पड़ते हैं. एक पुरबिया दलित ने अपना नाम उदय सिंह रख लिया था तब ठाकुर लट्ठ ले कर आ गए थे यह कहते हुए कि तुम हमारे नाम नहीं रख सकते. हार कर उदय सिंह का नाम बुद्धू हो गया. पूर्वी उत्तर प्रदेश में दलितों के घर की नई शादी की डोली सीधे ठाकुरों के घर जाती थी. वह जब चाहते दलितों की बहू बेटियों को हवेली बुला लेते. होली के दिन ठाकुर घर आ कर कहते कि अपनी औरतों को कहो कि हमारा दिल बह्लाये .मुम्बई में वेश्या का पेशा ऊँची नीची दोनों तरह की जातियों की औरतें करती हैं लेकिन गॊरी होने के कारण ऊँची जातियों की वैश्याओ के रेट ऊँचे होते हैं. उनके पिता ने कहा करते कि हर तीसरे दिन ज़रीब झंदियो के साथ आ कर दलितों के घर आँगन में निशान लगा कर कहते हैं कि वह घर ज़मीदारो की छोड़ी हुई ‘शामिलात’ में हैं. इसे सुन कर पूरबिये ने कहा कि उनकी हालत तो और भी बदतर है और उन्हें ऐसा लगता है कि उनकी बहू बेटियाँ भी सवर्णों की ‘शामिलात’ हैं!

एक मित्र पिछड़ी जाति का था लेकिन खालसा कालेज में अपने को जट्ट बताता था. माधोपुरी को यकायक उसके घर जाने पर उसकी जातिगत असलियत का भान हुआ.माधोपुरी कहते हैं कि पिछड़ी जातियाँ को अछूतों को साथ मिल कर चलने की जरूरत है लेकिन वह अकसर ऐसा नहीं करते. पंजाब के खालिस्तानी दह्शत्गर्दी के दौर में सरदारनी उनके परिवार को खालिस्तान  में ही बने रहने के लिए इस लिए कहती क्योंकि उनका गोबर और कूड़ा कौन उठाता! रूसी लेखक निकोलाई ओस्तोवस्की के प्रसिद्ध उपन्यास "कबहूं ना छोड़े खेत" का अनुवाद पढ़ा. उसी से हर हालत में बुलंद हौसला रखने की सीख मिली.

जाति मुद्दे पर कम्युनिश्तो  की लाइन

1974-75 में कम्युनिश्त पार्टी के कार्कून बन गए .कम्युनिश्त पार्टी में काम करते करते यह पाया की कामरेड भी देश की सामाजिक व्यवस्था की नग्न वास्तविकता को चद्दर के नीचे ढके रहते. उन्हें कम्युनिश्त भी मेन्ह्नत्कश लोगों को मनुश्य ना समझने की बेईमानी को कायम रखने की साज़िश के ही हिस्से लगते. माधोपुरी कम्युनिश्तो  के दोगले पान को "बिरादरी का मसला" (114-124) में उजागर करते हैं.उनके पिता कहा करते कि  उनके परिवार के लोग पीढ़ियों से गरीबी-भूंख के घोर दलिदर हींन जाति की भावना के शिकार हैं. रब उनके हालात से ज़रूर परिचित होगा,नहीं तो उनका कारज़ भी संवार देता. एक ओर कामरेड लोग तकरीर देते " स्वर्ग का लालच देना, मनुष्य को मनुष्य की ओर से लूटने की एक सोंची समझी चाल है. आराम पसंद टोला जिस मेन्हनतकश समाज के दम पर पलता है,उसे ही कोसता रहता है,मोह माया से दूर् रहने को कहता है और ख़ुद गर्दन तक उसी में धँसा हुआ है".लेकिन वही कामरेड लोग मज़दूरी दर बढ़ाने के मुद्दे पर बहाना बना कर ज़मीदारो का ही साथ देते. गाँव के  मज़दूरों ने जब  एक रुपया प्रति दिन मज़दूरी बढ़ाने की माँग की तब सभी जट्ट  लट्ठ ले कर अपने खेतों के चक्कर  लगाने लगे ताकि उनके खेतों को कोई नीच जात हगने ना बैठ पाये. इस तरह आर्थिक एकाधिकार के कारण चमारॉन की बड़ी वाजिब माँग भी अनसुनी रह जाती.

दलित ब्राह्मणों में सामाजिक पूँजी का अकाल 

माधोपुरी दलित ब्राह्मणों में सामाजिक पूँजी के अकाल का  को "बरसात में सूखा" (125-132) में बड़े मार्मिक ढंग से प्रस्तुत कराते हैं. वह बताते हैं कि 1964 में बड़े भाई बिरजू (बख्शी) ने दसवीं  में  पढ़ाईं छोड़ दी और उनके निर्णय से  इससे बाप को बड़ा ही सदमा लगा. फिर बिरजू बाप के साथ मंजूरी को जाने लगा. माधोपुरी के मामा आई ये यस बन गये थे. उनके पिता ने अपने ऐ ये यस साले को बिरजू को उस मिल में नौकरी लगवाने के लिए कहा था जिसमें उनकी पोस्टिंग थी लेकिन वह हर बार कोई ना कोई बहाना बना देते रहे . आख़िर में उन्होंने कह दिया कि वह गैर -पढ़ें लिखे की सिफारिश नहीं करेंगे.पिता ने उसके बाद उनसे कहना ही बंद कर दिया लेकिन माँ से पुलिस महकमे में भरती के लिए कहलवाया लेकिन बिरजू  की भर्ती इसी तरह नहीं हुई जैसे सावन-भादों के बदल साथ वाली मेंड़ को सूखा छोड़ जाता है.फिर बिरजू को बस के कंडक्टर के लिए लाइसेंस बनवा कर उसे तेम्पोररी कंडक्टरी दिलवा दी गई लेकिन नौकरी पक्की नहीं हुई क्योंकि उनके मामा किसी सीनियर या जूनियर से बात के लिए तैय्यार नहीं हुए. वह दूसरों के काम तो करते थे लेकिन "अपनो" को पीछॆ छोड़ देते थे, उनके बाप कहते थे कि बड़े अफसर बन जाने पर ऐसे लोग रिश्तेदारिया छोड़ देते हैं.

दादी के माध्यम से पारिवारिक ज़िन्दगी का इतिहास 

माधोपुरी "मेरी दादी-एक इतिहास" (133-141)में उनके परिवार के द्वारा जी जाने वाली ज़िन्दगी का एक बीती पीढ़ी का इतिहास बयाँ करते हैं. स्कूल में बंद डिब्बों का दूध गरीब बच्चों को दिया जाता था जो माधोपुरी जैसी पृष्ठभूमि वाले ख़ुद ना पी कर घर को चाय बनाने के लिए ले आया करते थे. उनकी दादी दूसरों के घर की मुर्गी काटने का काम करती. एक दिन दादी ने उन्हें ही यह नेक काम सौँप दिया.दादी के समय में उनके घरों में पहले मरे हुए जानवरों का मांस भी खाया जाता था. घर में पशुओं की चर्बी के पीपे भरे रखे रहते थे और घर का दिया चर्बी से ही जला करता था.रोज़ खाने को अन्न नहीं मिलता था और इसी लिए मरे हुए जानवरों का मांस सुखा कर खाने के लिए रख लिया जाता था. लेकिन यह धीरे धीरे छूट गया. माधोपुरी को कभी कभी फांके भी करने पड़े. दादी  इतनी मेन्ह्नत्कश होती थी कि वह  सुबह होने तक दस सेर अंता आंटा  पीस चुकी होती थीं. वह अपनी सलवार कमीज ख़ुद ही सिल लेती थीं. वह नहाने के लिए पानी ना गर्म कर धूप में रखे पानी से ही नहा लेती थीं. जट्ट औरते उन्हें रोटी देने के लिए बुलाती और वह वहाँ जा कर रोटी ले कर तुरंत लौट आतीं थीं . वह पास के गुरद्वारे से बाँटा जाने वाला पूरी थाल दलिया भरवा लाती और फिर देशी घी डाल कर खाती. उन्हे पीपल के पेड़ के नीचे बैठे बैठे रस, गुड़, साग, मक्खन, और गन्ने मिल जाते. लोन्हड़ी के दिन जत्तो के घर से चावलों की खीर आती जिसे माधोपुरी का परिवार कई दिन खाता.गाँव के जट्ट शादी ब्याह के कारजो में दादी से सलाह लेने आया करते थे. वह जैसा कहती वैसे ही वह कारज पूरे किए जाते. उनका यह रुतबा था कि किसी जट्ट के आने पर भी वह अपनी चारपाई से नहीं उतरती थीं.वह अपने कपड़े भी ख़ुद ही धोती थीं. सेहत गिरती रहने पर भी वह लस्सी, गन्ने का रस, मैली, साँग, मक्खन, मक्की की रोटी पहले की ही तरह खाती रहीं. खाते वक्त रोटी का टुकड़ा चिड़ियाओं को ज़रूर देतीं. चिड़ियाओं को भीउनमें अपनापन दिखता और दादी के  चारपाई पर उनके बैठते ही उनके पास बीस-तीस चिड़िया आ बैठती.अंत में दादी खाट पर पड़ गईं .वह 100 साल के क़रीब उम्र की होंगी. उन्होंने आखिरी बार गोश्त का शोरबा खाने की इच्छा जाहिर की. खाने के बाद वह 2 मई, 1976 को दिवंगत हो गईं.

एक अमानती स्थान का वैयक्तिकृत इतिहास 

तुलसीराम के गाँव के मुर्दहिया मुहल्ले को समालोचको ने मुर्दहिया संस्कृति के व्यक्तिक्रत संस्कृति के प्रतिनिधि के रुप में स्वीकारा है. मेरी नजर में माधोपुरी की आत्म-कथा में कई अध्याय ऐसे हैं जो उससे एक्कीस साबित होते हैं. "हम,चमारो का बरगद" (142-154) एक ऐसा ही अध्याय है जो माधोपुर की चामरली के बरगद के स्थान  और स्थानीय अप-संस्कृति का अनूठा वैयक्तीकरन है! माधोपुरी बताते हैं कि 16 मरले की ज़मीन,जो उनके परिवार ने बिना लिखत-पढ़त  के खरीदी थी, पर बरगद का पेंड़ लगा था.उसके साथ एक पीपल भी था. यह बरगद -पीपल चामरली के इतिहास के गवाह थे! जट्ट, ब्राह्मण,आदि सभी जातियों का सतनाज़ा बरगद को चमारो का बरगद कहता था. मज़दूरी पर गेंहूँ काटने के लिए जट्ट कच्छा पहने हुए रात को बरगद के नीचे चक्कर लगाया करते थे. उस समय तीनों बखत खाना और दो बार की चाय मंजूरी में शामिल होती थी. इन पेंड़ों  पर सुबह-शाम मोर और दूसरे पंछी बैठते. बरगद में मौली के धागे बाँध कर ही शादी ब्याह किए जाते.उन्ही के नीचे बिरादरी के कई परिवारों की खद्दियान  थीं जिनपर उनकी रोज़ी रोती चलती थी.पड़ोसी जट्ट भी बातें करने वहाँ आ कर बैठते. खद्दियोन पर फौज के लिए तौलिये, लहरिया,सिल्क-लिलन की 110-110 गाज के थान बुने जाते.चमार बुनकरों को मात्र पाँच रूपये एक थान के बुनने के मिलते. कच्चा  और बना माल बुनकरों को अपने सिर पर  लाद कर ही लाना-ले जाना होता. कच्चे माल को लाने और बने माल  को ले जाने जाए वाले गाँव 7-27 किलोमीटर की दूरी पर होते थे.थानेदार दो थान रख लेता और धेला भी ना देता. उनका ताया हीर-रांझा का किस्सा इन्ही बरगद-पीपल के नीचे अपनी सुरीली आवाज़ में सुनाया करता . अन्धा साधु गरीब दास गर्मियों में बरगद के नीचे तमाम 'किस्से' सुनाया करता. बरगद के नीचे ही एक चमार सूफी बन गया साधु असलम गुरु ग्रन्थ साहिब का पाठ किया करता.बरगद-पीपल के नीचे चामरडी में गुरु ग्रन्थ पाठ आयोजित किया जाता और वहाँ पर सभी बिरादरी के लोग उसे सुनने को आते लेकिन परसाद लेने के समय बहाने बना कर खिसक जाते. उन्ही पेंदो के नीचे उनका परिवार दूसरों की भैंसे पालने के लिए रखता लेकिन भैंसे ब्याने के समय उनके मालिक खींच ले जाया करते.चमार नाई रुलिया ही उनके उलटे सीधे बाल काटता. हिन्दू नाई चमारो के बाल ना काटते.बरगद के नीचे 'नकलेन' और 'साल'(पशुओं के मुँह और खुर की बीमारी रोकने के लिए सिद्ध देवता को रिझाने का आयोजन) होता. गाय-भैंस के दूध न देने पर भी 'साल' के ओझा से ही झाड़़ फूँक करवाई जाती. इसकी पूरी रस्म पशुओं को एक एक कर निकाल कर पूरी की जाती.नंबरदार  थानेदार की घोड़ी के लिए घास ले कर थाने को आने का हुकुम देता. किसी भी हालत में उसे ले जाना ही नहीं होता बल्कि उसके ठीक-ठाक होने की परख हो जाने तक चमारोन को वहीं खड़े भी रहना पड़ता.जैलदार  और नंबरदार  की घोड़ी की  तापो की अवाज़ ना सुन पाने के कारण उसकी रास ना पकड़ने पर बड़ी धौंस जमाई जाती और बुरा भला कहा जाता.ज़मीदारो द्वारा फरवरी 1972 में, जब माधोपुरी 10वीं  में पढ़ रहे थे, बरगद-पीपल काट डाले गए. इस तरह चमारो का एक इतिहास समाप्त हो गया.

भावनात्मक लगाव वाले रिश्ते 

"रेगिस्तान में बहा दरिया" (155-170) माधोपुरी के कुछ भावनात्मक लगाव वाले रिश्तों का ज़िक्र करता है. सोहलपुर में रहने वाले उनके एक ताये से उनके परिवार के बड़े घनिष्ठ सम्बंद्ध रहते थे.उनके पिता जी उन्हें बहुत मानते थे. वह घोड़ा बन कर अपनी पीठ पर माधोपुरी को झूल देते.1965 में उनकी मौत हो गई.ताये की मौत के समय उनकी यह चाची गर्भ से थीं और  मौत के बाद उनके एक लड़की (देबी)हुई. माधोपुरी उसे बहुत घुले मिलें होते थे और बहुत मानते थे. दादी उनकी बड़ाई के लिए जब उनसे कहती कि कन्धे पर रखे फावड़े से तो तू निरा जट्ट लगता है,तब जत्तोन के व्यवहार से खुन्नास माधोपुरी को इससे बहुत बुरा लगता.1977 में चाचा अर्जन सिंह भी गुजर गए. वह कभी कभी माधोपुरी की फीस और दूसरे खर्चे भी पूरा किया करते थे.माधोपुरी की जब यफ सी आई में नौकरी लगी उस समय देबी 7वीं में पढ़ रही थी.1980 में बाऊ भी खत्म हो गए और नदी में बाढ़ के कारण माधोपुरी के गाँव कोई सूचना देने नहीं आ पाया.मार्च 1983 में उनकी दिल्ली बदली हो गई.उनकी दादी दिल्ली के बंगला साहिब में अरदास के लिए अकसर कहा करती थीं. उनके दिल्ली आने पर दादी और बुआ दिल्ली आई और गुरुद्वारा बंगला साहिब में अरदास की. उसके कुछ ही दिन बाद वह दिवंगत हो गईं.

पेशेगत ज़िन्दगी में भेदभाव और शोषण

"अपने नाम से नफरत" (171-176) माधोपुरी के बलबीर चंद के जाति सूचक नाम से चिढ़ होने से संबंधित घटनाओं से संबंधित है. उन्हें अपने नाम का पहला हिस्स 'बलबीर' का अर्थ अच्छा लगता. दूसरा हिस्सा 'चंद' हिंदू आस्था से जुड़ा लगता जिसने चमारो को शिकंजे में कसा हुआ है, और उससे हीन-कमीन की दुर्गंधि फैलती महसूस होती. वह नाम बदलने की जुगत सोंचते थे लेकिन नाम बदलने में बड़े झन्झट थे.

माधोपुरी नौकरी और पेशेगत ज़िन्दगी में भेदभाव और शोषण की त्रासदी को छंग्या रुक्ख के पृष्ठ 180 से आगे के पृष्ठों में बड़ी साफगोई से सामने रखते हैं. वह यफ सी आई में 1978 में भर्ती हुए थे और उनकी यफ सी ऐ कर्मियों के सामूहिक हितों के मुद्दों पर सक्रियता के कारण अगले साल उसकी यूनियन के जिला सचिव भी चुने गए.यफ सी आई में माल बनाने के हजारों तरह के धन्धे चलते, शराबखोरी  और औरत बाज़ी होती. चूँकि वह ऐसे नहीं थे इस लिए उन्हें 'काना ' करने की बातें होती.काले धंधों में भागीदारी ना करने की वजह से उनका तबादला एक पैंतिस किलोमीटर दूर् जगह कर दिया गया. घर से इतनी दूर् रोजाना साइकिल से आना जाना संभव नही  होने के कारण वह हफ्ते में दो-एक बार ही घर आ पाते.ईमानदारी के अवगुण के कारण वहाँ  से भी तीन महीनो में उन्हें भुल्लथ के स्टोर का इंचार्ज बना कर तबादला कर दिया गया. वह वहाँ भी धान की चोरी रोकने की कोई कसर नहीं छोड़ रहे  होते. ईमानदार माधोपुरी के लिए यफ सी आई के इस खुले भ्रष्ट वातावरण में नौकरी एक बोझ हो गई. वह नौकरी छोड़ने की सोंचने लगे . उन्होंने इसी के चलते प्राइवेट ये में पास किया.

एक कटे हाथ वाले बिहारी को कुछ मदद दी लेकिन वह भी उनके घर खाना खाने के बाद उनकी जाति जान कर उल्टी करने की बात करने लगा.1983 में अँगरेजी से पंजाबी और पंजाबी से अँगरेजी अनुवाद करना सीखने के बाद उन्होंने उसका टेस्ट पास किया और बुआ के बेटे दौलत राम की मदद से सूचना और प्रसारण मंत्रालय की पी आई बी में उन्हें क्लास टू की नान गजेतेद अफसर के रुप में उन्हें नियुक्ति मिल गई. वह पंजाबी समाचारों का अनुवाद और खाली समय कुछ लिखने लग गए. खालिस्तानी आतंकवाद के दिनों उन्होंने बड़ी दह्शत् भरी ज़िन्दगी जीनी पड़ी. गाँव के पास आतंकवादियों ने घेर लिया. पर्स और घड़ी रखी और वहाँ से भाग कर  जान बचाई.बचे भी इस लिए क्योंकि सिर पर  पगड़ी बाँध रखी थी.

1986 में उनका प्रोबेशन पूरा हो गया और उनकी नौकरी पक्की हो गई. उनकी बदली नई दिल्ली हो गई. वह पार्टी के द़फ्तर गए वहाँ ज़िला सचिव ने कहा कि अब तू मैनेजमेंट का हिस्सा बन गया है..... तू अब इधर अधिक ना आए. वैसे भी तू कौन सा कार्ड होल्डर है.चलते वक्त पिता ने उन्हें चेताया कि यह ना हो कि तू पीछॆ मुड़ के ही ना देखे. अभी पूरी कबीलदारी ब्याह -शादी के लिए पड़ी है.

सजातीय जातिवाद और सवर्ण जातिवाद से निबटने का उपाय

"मानवतावादी थप्पड़" (201-5)में माधोपुरी ने परजीवी साहित्यकारों के कुछ चुटीले शब्दचित्र पाठकों को परोसे हैं.उनके नाम बलबीर  चंद को ले कर स्वजातीय डा0 मोहे से बार बार व्यंग बाण सुनने से तंग आ कर उन्होंने सरकारी कागजों में अपना नाम बलबीर माधोपुरी करा लिया. इन साहित्यकारों की मीटिंग पार्लियामेंट स्ट्रीट की पी टी आई बिल्डिंग के बाहर लगा करती थी लेकिन इनमें साहित्य- संस्कृति  संबन्धी कोई बात नहीं होती थी! मोहे और उनका एक दलित साथी माधोपुरी को जड़ -बुद्धि कहते.एक दिन वह मोहे के साथ गुरु डी डी शर्मा के सत्संग  चले गए. बातचीत में शर्मा ने रविदास को गुरु ही नहीं माना. वह स्व्यं को पिछले जन्म का याज्ञवल्क  बताते लेकिन जात पात को पिछले जन्म  का फल बताते. इन गुरु शर्मा जी की पृष्ठभूमि के बारे में कुछ जानकारी एकत्रित की गई तो शर्मा जी की लड़की ने बताया कि पिता के कारण अब वह ना विवाहितों में है और ना ही कुंवारियो में!  माधोपुरी का सत्संग से मोह भंग हो गया . शर्मा जी के साथ रहने वाली औरत मोहे को कह गई कि तुम रहे चमार के चमार ही! गज़लगो साहित्यकार ने डा0 मोहे को रिटायरमेंट के बाद पालिश की दब्बी और ब्रश ले कर वहीं बैठने का व्यंग बार बार  किया और आखिरकार तंग आ कर मोहे ने उसके गालों पर कई थप्पड़ जड़ दिए.कार्यालय के सवर्ण साथी अधिकारी राव ने उनकी असोसियेशन के अध्यक्ष चुने जाने पर बराबर बैठने पर ऐतराज जताया . उन्हें लगा कि जातिवाद ऐसी बीमारी है जिसपर मोहे फार्मूला (जातिवाद  के मुँह पर करारा थप्पड़) ही  अधिक कारगर होगा! 

दिल्ली में किराये के मकान में जातिवाद

माधोपुरी "किरायेदारी की लानत" (206-14) दिल्ली में उनसे हुए  किराये के मकान की उप्लब्द्ध्ता में बरते गए जातिवाद को दर्शाते हैं. उन्होंने बग़ैर दहेज और कुल 11 लोगों की बारात के साथ शादी की. दिल्ली में नौकरी के शुरुवाती दौर में कई साल वह अपने बदे भाई के साथ बड़ी कठिनाई  में रहे. नों,दो बहनों और अपने से बड़े दो भाइयों के विवाहों ने उन्हें तंगी के समुद्र में फेंक दिया.प्रोविडेण्ट फंड से बार बार रकम निकालने की वजह से उनका वेतन घट कर दो हज़ार हो गया. उसमे से वह अपने लिए तीसरा हिस्सा  रखते और  शेष  दो तिहाई रकम माधोपुर और  बड़े भाई को गुजारे के लिए देते. भाभी ने आखिरकार घर से चले जाने को कह दिया. उन्होंने किराये के मकान में रहना शुरू किया और यहीं से उनकी राग जाति किराये मकान शुरू हुआ. मकान लेते, और जिस समय मकान मालिक को पता लगता कि वह पंजाब के सिक्ख नहीं बल्कि रमदसिया चमार हैं वह उन्हें घर से निकाल फेंकता. उन्हें बार बार घर के लिए अद्वांस और बच्चों के स्कूल के डोनेशन के लिए भारी रकम का इंतेज़ाम कराना पड़ता.उन्होंने मुनीरका में एक कमरे का किराये का मकान लिया. तब तक शादी के 6 सालों में उनके तीन बच्चे हो गए थे.पाँच जनों का परिवार  एक ही चारपाई पर एक ही रज़ाई पर सोया करता. मकान मालिक ने जात पूंछी और मकान खाली करना पड़ गया. पाँच हज़ार अद्वांस दे कर आर के पुरम् के सेक्टर -4 में पन्हुचे.बेटी का स्कूल बहुत दूर् हो गया था इसलिए उसे स्कूटर से छोड़ने और लेने जाते.  यह सरकारी मकान था जिसका आधिकारिक आंबतन एक महिला के पास था. उस महिला ने उसे किसी दूसरे को सब्लेत कर दिया था. माधोपुरी ने यह मकान इस सब्लेती से किराये पर लिया. यह गैर- कानूनी था और जब अधिक्रित महिला को इसकी जानकारी हुई तब उसने माधोपुरी से इस तथ्य का पूरा फायदा उठाया. माधोपुरी को मकान को फिर खाली करना पड़ा. दूसरा मकान उसी मुहल्ले में पाँच हज़ार का अद्वांस दे कर लिया और फिर थोड़े ही दिनों में  उसे भी खाली कर पालम के जैन मुहल्ले चले गए. .चार वर्षों में 6 मकान बदले. जर्जर आर्थिक स्थिति से निबटने के लिए वह अनुवाद का काम करने लगे . पालम में ही एक प्लाट खरीद लिया और  निजी मकान बनवाने की जुगत में लग गए.

मेरी नजर में माधोपुरी और छांग्या रुक्ख

मेरी नजर में हिन्दी में अभी तक प्रकाशित सभी दलित आत्मकथाओ में बलबीर माधोपुरी की आत्मकथा सर्वश्रेष्ठ है क्योंकि जैसा कि सतिन्दर सिंह नूर कहते हैं कि वह दलित साहित्य शास्त्र के शिल्प और सौन्दर्य को परखने के लिए विवश करती है; वह गद्य में लिखित बड़ा प्रभावी काव्यात्मक और गहन समाजशास्त्रीय विश्लेषण है; उसके विभिन्न अध्यायों के शीर्षक तक काव्यमय और प्रतीकात्मक हैं; उसकी शैली अन्य पंजाबी और हिन्दी के साहित्यकारों से बिलकुल अलग है. इस आत्मकथा की श्रेष्ठता इसी तथ्य से स्थापित हो जाती है कि वह हिन्दी के अतिरिक्त कई अन्य भारतीय भाषाओं और अँगरेजी में अनूदित हो कर प्रकाशित हो चुकी है. इस पुस्तक में ही कमलेश्वर ,प्रोफ सतेंदर सिंह नूर, और श्योराज सिंह बेचैन का अपना अपना आँकलन भी साथ साथ में संलग्न है जो माधोपुरी की शैली, शिल्प और कथ्य के निरालेपन को रेखांकित करते हैं.

मेरी नजर में तुलसीराम प्रथमतः एक चर्चित समाज विज्ञानी थे.  ‘मुर्दहिया’ और ‘मणिकर्णिका’ लिखने के उपरांत वह समाज विज्ञानियों में उन कुछ बिरले हंसो में शामिल हो गए जिन्होंने अपनी भुक्तभोगी आत्म-कथा   समाज विज्ञानी शोध की एक कठिन विधा, होलिस्तिक आटो इथ्नोग्राफी में ऐसे लिखी कि वह एक उच्च श्रेणी के साहित्यकार भी स्थापित हो गए. माधोपुरी की स्थिति तुलसीराम से ठीक विपरीत रही. माधोपुरी समाज विज्ञानी नहीं थे लेकिन वह छांग्या रुक्ख लिखने से पूर्व ही एक उच्च श्रेणी के पंजाबी साहित्याकार के रुप में स्थापित थे.  'छांग्या रुक्ख' इतनी उच्च श्रेणी की  होलिस्तिक आटो इथनोग्राफी है कि वह उन्हें एक उच्च श्रेणी का ही नहीं बल्कि बिरले किस्म का समाज विज्ञानी भी स्थापित कर देती है! साह्त्यिक और समाज विज्ञानी दृष्टिकोणों से तुलसीराम की मुर्दहिया और मणिकर्णिका और माधोपुरी की छांग्या रुक्ख की तुलना करने पर यह साफ़ हो जाता है कि अपनी भाषा और शैली की दृष्टि से माधोपुरी तुलसीराम से कहीं बेहतर हैं यद्यपि दोनों की ही होलिस्तिक आटो इथनोग्राफी बेमिशाल है.

पंजाब के समाज में रमदसिया, मज़हबी और पुरबिया तीन प्रकार के दलित रहते हैं और भेदभाव, शोषण  ,अपवंचन, और हिंसा के शिकार होते हैं लेकिन यह सब कुछ इन तीनों से पंजाब के सवर्ण समाज द्वारा किया जा रहा व्यवहार अलग अलग श्रेणी का है. समाज विज्ञानियों ने इन सभी का अध्ययन किया है. माधोपुरी एक रमदसिया दलित हैं और उनकी छांग्या रुक्ख मात्र रमदसिया  दलितो की भुक्तभोगी आत्म- कथा है लेकिन अपने मर्मस्पर्शी  विश्लेषण से वह हिंदू और सिक्ख दोनों ही धर्मो के अनुयायिइओ  द्वारा बुरी तरह शोषित किया जाने वाला ऐसा कथ्य प्रस्तुत करती है जैसा पंजाब में  अभी तक किए गए किसी समाज विज्ञानी अध्ययन ने कभी नहीं किया! एक अन्य दृष्टिकोण से भी माधोपुरी की छांग्या रुक्ख बड़ी नायाब कृति साबित होती है. उसका रमदसिया दलितों से किया गया भेदभाव, अपवंचन, शोषण और हिंसा का विश्लेषण कई ऐसे कई पहलू भी उजागर करता है जिस पर छुआछूत निवारण अधिनियम,अनुसूचित जाति और अनुसूचित् जनजाति न्रशंश्ता निवारण अधिनियम और भारतीय दंड संहिता कोई संज्ञान ही नही लेते!    

छांग्या रुक्ख के पंजाबी लालित्य का रसास्वादन शायद मैं कर ही नहीं सकता था यदि सुभाष नीरव जी ने उसका इतना उच्चस्तरीय अनुवाद हिन्दी में ना उप्लब्द्ध कराया होता. नीरव जी ने उसकी पंजाबी मौलिकता को अनूदित हिन्दी रुप में सँजोये रखा है और इसके लिए वह हम सभी से बधाई के पात्र है.      

 

                                                                          (     17 सितंबर,2016   )

( कापी राईट : हरनाम सिंह वर्मा, द्वारा नीता वर्मा, पियाजियो रेजीदेंसियल कालोनी, आर-2, यम आई डी सी, बारामती-413133 ,पुणे : टेलिफोन : 08756894213:   )