A Few Poems from “Sudirsukt – Hymns of a Shudra” – Book Which Brahmins Want to Ban


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Let me share educationist and well-known translator Prof Augusto Pinto’s translations — from the e-pages of the Goa Book Club — of Sudirsukt, a collection of poems by the former legislator in the Goa Assembly and a well-known literary figure Mr. Vishnu Surya Wagh.

Wagh has been openly critical of the caste-oriented social order and right-wing politics. His literature has often reflected this contour of thought.

In his 1998 Marathi play ‘Tuka Abhang Abhang’, which was about the life of 17th-century poet Tukaram, Wagh depicted him being murdered by a group of Brahmin priests. There is also a clear “us” and “them” binary in his poems.

Read also – Sudirsukt- Hymns of a Shudra – The Poems of Revolt against Purushaa-Sukta

Sudirsukt’s opening poem is MY LANGUAGE which begins:

“It existed.

My ancestors

Had a language.

And compared

To what you and I speak

It was forward-looking and sophisticated

And both technologically savvy as well as occult in orientation

Such was our language.”

XX

“Our ancestors

Spoke this very language

Not only with human beings

But with Nature

And the Gods of Nature.”

After establishing that his ancestors had a powerful language he then complains:

“Our ancestors

Didn’t do one thing.

For the language that swayed on their lips

They never stitched the underwear

Of a script to cover her up.

As a result their language

Remained naked

And as she roamed around naked in the forest

One day she got lost.”

XX

“Lost-

That’s what our ancestors said.

But that was a lie.

Our ancestors’ language wasn’t lost in a forest…

Those who came along with Parashuram

From Kashmir or Bengal

While chopping off forest cleanings

Chopped off our language as well.0

XX

“They only knew to mutter mantras

Our ancestors on the other hand

Would dialogue with Nature.”

XX

Later the poet says:

“Our ancestors…”

“Would speak to their face

Seeing this they began to fear…

And they connived

To make our ancestors dumb.

They built temples,

They installed idols,

They set up the procedures for performing pujas…

They learned how to write language

And slowly,

Slowly

They killed our language.”

XX

“Today these same ones tell us:

This is your mother-tongue

Work for it!

Take her to victory!

Install her on the throne!”

Wagh goes on to say that although their language was the one that was heard in the trances and voices of the seers of his community, he laments that this powerful medium was lost because of writing which the upper castes introduced.

“But they began to write their speech

Their language was brought into books

And our language

Remained jungly.”

THE FEARLESS WARRIOR

As Lok Sabha was fighting

My son watching

Doordarshan’s coverage said

To his mother-

Aai aai, look

When our Baba

Is in Delhi

He fights like a fearless warrior

XX

But tell me why

When he’s back home he’s such a funk

Who gets beatings at your hands

And who sits in a corner

And weeps?

XX

SUDHIRSUKT

I’m a Sudhir

My grandfather was dumb

And my father was somewhat deaf

I’m an original settler of our land

Where outsiders have filled their stomachs

But I’m forever starving.

This land deserved to be

A fountainhead of wisdom

Instead it became the Kashi of the south

On account of that Parashuram…

The moment I hear his name

I get enraged

He’s the one who first brought to Goa

The worm of casteism!

XX

It seems Parashuram fired an arrow

Into the sea and it receded

Repeating this tale year in and year out

They cheated the Bahujan Samaj

Through this lie they wanted to establish

That this land was created by them

You sinners: if you were the first here

Then who were the Mahars, Bhandaris, Kharvis, Pagis,

Gawdas, Velips, Dhangars, Kunbis:

Who were they?

To make this land fertile

They gave their sweat and blood

Yes, yes:

They are us Sudhirs.

XX

You saved your lives by eating

The fish from the River Saraswati

To eat more fish did you need

To gobble up this land of Gomant?

XX

You uprooted the original culture

Of the non-Aryans

And where once were immaterial Gods

There you installed stone idols

XX

We could drive away stupors and fall into trances

Walk through fire

We’d speak face to face

With forms of nature itself that were alive

But you with your Vedic customs

Tore apart the umbilical cord with our environment

You wiped out the

The gods and goddesses of nature we worshipped

And opened temples

For idol worship

XX

Whosoever came to power

You wormed your way into their favour

And by becoming Kulkarnis and Nadkarnis

You obliterated our names from the records

And in time you became the landlords

And we became your servants

Since then we’ve been wearing out

Our lives for your sakes

Yes, yes

We are exactly those Shudras.

XX

On your shoulders the sacred thread

We wore our threads around our waists.

We exhausted our energy

Gathering your sheaves of paddy

And silently we ate

Fallen, leftover grain.

Being servants we were powerless

Slaves of your daily wage

We swept your verandas

And from our foreheads dripped a lifetime of diamonds

Yes, yes

We are those Sudhirs

XX

We have no swamis

And we have no mathas

The sanctum of the temple is closed to us

God lies in your fist

With all your differences you are all one

Whether horizontal or vertical

The caste marks on your foreheads

That indicate your Mahajanship suit you well

You lean against the temple pillars

While the rath is carried on our shoulders

You can enter the sanctum sanctorum

While we hang around outside

All the Prasad is yours by right

In our leaf

For generation after generation

Came pittances

Yes, yes

We are the Sudhirs.

XX

Placing barriers around people

You ate the best fish

You travelled on regal roads

Our paths were full of potholes

To serve the gods

You said you built temples

But besides the temples

You built harems

Those serving the gods

You turned into devadasis

What does the stone idol know of all this

You indulged yourselves to the brim

The overwhelming power of religion

Made you so arrogant

You even created

A society even lower than that of the Sudhirs

O unfortunate caste!

The world has now changed.

And like phoenixes from the ashes

They are rising in the sky

But the memories of your misdeeds

Creates even now

A terrible wound in my heart

Yes, yes

We are Sudhirs!

XX

Like oxen you rounded us up

And yoked us

And after the harvest was brought in

You kicked us in the arse

Read -  Why You Should Read Buddhist Classic Texts

In the fields we expended sweat

You counted the cash

Even your piss is sweet

Our blood is bitter!

You were really shrewd:

We kept wetting our loincloths

While you ate the thigur!

Yet you did have fear

Of our fists turning hostile

So you brutally slashed off

The veins in our wrists

Yes, yes

We are Sudhirs

XX

Perhaps you thought

Our ancestors were idiots

Who on dark footpaths

Nobody would show a torch

We rusted as you trampled us underfoot

You turned us into dregs like of cashew juice

And boiling the sap of our lives

You distilled liquor out of us

Everything was in your favour

A dumb grandfather, a deaf father

Their tradition was of hopelessness

Buried in a cemetary today

This gives us the courage to fight

Yes, yes,

We’re Sudhirs

XX

Tearing up our old clothes

We’ve formed a new incarnation In our hearts

With lamps of our eyeballs

We’ll light candles of moonlight

We want an open dawn

We’re fed up of these dark nights!

For us the Shambhukalo mantra

The writing of Tukaram

The light has become a lamp

With the voice given by Bhim!

We’ve taken the shastras to straighten them out

On all sides has begun an outcry

For a great battle

Yes yes

We are Sudhirs

XX

If you have the guts

Come before us

We’ll crack your skulls

In a flood of public humiliation!

For the first time in centuries

Our mobs are now incensed

They want reparation

And they’re banging on your door…

With tilaks of blood on their foreheads

A holy fire is burning away the darkness

Our bodies in a trance, our loins girded up

We’ve become mad pirs…

And we’ll show your Brahminism

Our strength in public…

And all who are with us

Will see that our fortunes are reversed

Not because we’re Sudhirs

But just to live like human beings…

Just to live like human beings…

We’re… the bravest of humankind

We’re Sudhirs!

GANDHI

After showering flowers

At the Rajghat memorial

They all shot off

XX

The Mahatma’s deployment of truth

Has been swept away in the flood of politics

XX

Gandhi’s photo remains

On currency notes

XX

In the chaos of a theatre queue

Someone said-

I realised how great Gandhi was

After watching Munnabhai!

CASTES

Here nobody asks

About the other’s caste

But everybody knows

Who’s who

XX

That’s a Gawda, that’s a Bhandari,

That’s a Kharvi, that’s a Chari,

That’s a Vani, that’s a Devli,

That’s a Kunbi, that’s a Gawli,

That’s a Madval, that’s a Kansar,

That’s a Mhalo, that’s a Kalaikar,

That’s a Maratha, that’s a Satarkar,

That’s a Chamar, that’s a Mahar,

That’s a Shet, that’s a Kumbhar,

Everyone knows each other

XX

Castes don’t spring up just like that

On someone’s lips

But like mynas

Stay in Mugren

In everyone’s stomachs.

XX

At least we are okay

Among them there are castes within castes

Some are the horizontal kind

Others are the vertical

And besides

There are walls between walls

This one’s a GSB, that’s a Kudaldeshkar,

That’s a Chitrapur, and the other’s a Bardezkar

XX

Are the priests at least one?

Among them too some are Chitpavan

Some Dravid, some Padhe,

And some Kirvont

XX

People have castes

Do castes have people?

Hunger has no caste

Does caste have hunger?

Every caste has some desire

Some agony

But does desire and agony

Have any caste?

XX

All praise to the son of a cunt

Who invented caste

And on humanity’s corpses

Built fences.

“Here’s another of Wagh’s rockets which reminds me of Lucio Rodrigues’s ‘To Kon’nallo’.”

SECULAR

At first

I wasn’t aware

Of the techniques they used to identify caste.

One day I went to a friend’s home.

In the veranda sat an uncle.

We were introduced.

XX

Wagh? So you’re one of us, son!

Uncle said chuckling.

I was confused.

XX

Still, to clear any doubts

He asked-

“You must be related to the Kamat Waghs of Ribandar”

“No”, I replied.

“Then you must be from Karwar.”

“No. We’re from Goa itself.”

“Really? From where?”

“From Dongrim.”

“So you must be the Mahajan of the Ram temple.”

“No. Our goddess is a Sati.”

XX

Even after speaking so much

Uncle wasn’t sure – so he asked-

“Okay so who is the god of your clan, tell me ?”

I replied, “Siddhanath!”

“Of Shiroda?”

“Yes.”

“Which means… you aren’t a GSB!”

“No Uncle, we’re Bhandaris.”

XX

Uncle laughed aloud. He began to say-

“Don’t be offended. I just happened to ask.

We don’t believe in caste and creed. Come, have your tea.

You know: the greatest loss to Goa

Has resulted from these caste divisions.

Who’s Brahmin? Who’s Sudhir?

What meaning do these differences of caste and creed have?

‘We should be secular

We must have a casteless society, you know?'”

XX

Uncle in the hope

Of getting a reply, kept watching.

My head was bent

But as I drank my tea

My gaze got affixed on

The sacred thread on Uncle’s shoulder.

THE FAMILY

India is my country.

I have great admiration for my country.

For the ruling party

Running this country I have more admiration

And for the great leaders of that party

I have even greater admiration!

And for their families

My admiration knows no bounds!

XX

I don’t use my father’s name

My grandfather’s name doesn’t come to mind easily

I’ve no idea who my great grandfather was

So don’t even talk about my great great grandfather.

But I know the names

Of the dead of the family of my leaders

By heart.

I sing praises to this great family.

I am the devoted servant of all the customs

And traditions of this great family.

This family has given so many leaders to this country

That no other family has given

This is my confident belief!

XX

My party

Does not believe in family rule

This is also what I greatly admire!

My party’s family rule

Is set out on democratic lines

Of this I have even greater admiration!

XX

SWAMI

Their Swami

Sits in their ‘mathas’

Sits in their temples

And on their people alone

Stamps his ‘mudra’.

XXX

Photographs of their Swami

Along with their people

Are printed

In their newspapers.

XXX

In their Swami’s name

Prizes are instituted

And awarded to their own people.

XXX

(A ‘matha’ is a kind of Hindu monastery. A ‘mudra’ is apparently a kind of a seal that is heated by a swami and used to brand a devotee’s arm or stomach.)

THE DIFFERENCE

They eat fish

We eat fish.

XX

They booze

And we booze.

XX

They fuck women

We fuck women too.

XX

They bathe

And we also bathe.

XX

After they bathe

They become pure

We however

Remain polluted.

 

From – Tony Martin Barreto’s Facebook post

Image credit – The Qunit

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