17th July (1930) in Dalit History – Birth anniversary of famous Dalit poet – Baburao Ramaji Bagul


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17th July (1930) in Dalit History- Birth anniversary of famous Dalit poet – Baburao Ramaji Bagul. Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had huge influence on Baburao Bagul and his writings shows that. He was one of members who wrote the Manifesto of Dalit Panther.

Baburao Ramaji Bagul was born in village Vithigaon in Nashik district of Maharashtra state. After high school education, he did various manual jobs until 1968. While doing so, he published several stories in magazines, which started getting attention from Marathi readers. Eventually in 1963, came his first collection of stories, Jevha Mi Jat Chorali (जेव्हामी जात चोरली) (When I had Concealed My Caste), it created a stir in Marathi literature with its passionate depiction of a crude society and thus brought in new momentum to Dalit literature in Marathi; today it is seen by many critics as the epic of the Dalits, and was later made into a film by actor-director Vinay Apte.

He followed it up with a collection of Dalit poems, Akar (Shape) (1967), which gave immediate visibility, but it was his second collection of short stories Maran Swasta Hot Ahe (Death is Getting Cheaper) (1969), which cemented his position as an important Dalit voice of his generation. The collection is now considered an important landmark in Dalit writing in India and in 1970 he was awarded the ‘Harinarayan Apte Award’ by the Government of Maharashtra

Mother another work by Baburao Bagul is the depiction of fierce battle for life in an urban slum. The story revolves around a young, lower-caste Dalit widow and her son Pandu, who faces harsh realities of life. Their life was brought in a turmoil because their mutual understanding was breached and also because the upper caste people exploit the innocence of the child by poisoning his mind against his own mother. Their struggle to survive was so intense that there was no time for mutual understanding between the mother and the child. The story shows the pain and loss of the mother.

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After 1968, he became a full-time writer of literature which continued to deal with the lives of marginalized Dalit people in Maharashtra. His fictional writing gave graphic accounts of the lives of that class of people. The thoughts of Karl Marx, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, and Dr. Ambedkar had an influence on Bagul’s mind. He soon became an important radical thinker of the Dalit movement, and published a major ideologue of the Dalit Panther, Manifesto of Dalit Panther, in 1972. In the same year he presided over the ‘Dalit Literary Conference’ held at Mahad. Over the years his stories taught future Dalit writers to give creative rendition to their autobiographical narratives.

Baburao Bagul had said: “Dalit literature is the enemy of untouchablity and slavery. It has also the enmity against discrimination and pains. That is the genuine dalit literature which establishes human being a god more important than religion and region strongly condemns caste-Varna and liberates human being and honors him, dignifies him.”

Subsequently to his death in 2008, the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University instituted the ‘Baburao Bagul Gaurav Puraskar’ award in recognition of his contributions to Marathi literature, to be given annually to the maiden story writing productions of a budding short-story writer.

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