"There’s no world in which I would surrender the intimidating beauty of Yoruba-language poetry for, say, Shakespeare’s sonnets, nor one in which I’d prefer the chamber orchestras of Brandenburg to the koras of Mali. I’m happy to own all of it. This carefree confidence is, in part, the gift of time. It is a dividend of the struggle of people from earlier generations. I feel no alienation in museums. But this question of filiation tormented Baldwin considerably. He was sensitive to what was great in world art, and sensitive to his own sense of exclusion from it. He made a similar list in the title essay of “Notes of a Native Son” (one begins to feel that lists like this had been flung at him during arguments): “In some subtle way, in a really profound way, I brought to Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt, to the Stones of Paris, to the Cathedral at Chartres, and the Empire State Building a special attitude. These were not really my creations, they did not contain my history; I might search them in vain forever for any reflection of myself. I was an interloper; this was not my heritage.” The lines throb with sadness. What he loves does not love him in return."
K. HARIHARAN: We learned in our studies that several important resistance movements like the protest poems of the medieval saint-poets across India, have often been appropriated by religious institutions, and thereby lost their sting. Ultimately it is left to society whether to give the potential power back to these poems/movements or not. (Ghashiram Kotwal: An Impossible Journey)
The machine of such blatant appropriation has recently been energized and powered by a certain double A battery (AA- Arundhati Roy and Anand Iyengar) of Brahmeans (according to me the right nomenclature for a Brahmin, signifying a key Brahmanic quality, meanness, which according to Dr. Ambedkar is worse than cruelty). With their latest joint venture of bringing out ‘A Critical and Annotated Edition’ of Babasaheb’s ‘Annihilation of Caste (AoC)’, they carry forward the age-old tradition of Brahmins exploiting Dalit labour and culture.
It was the same machine that rendered Kabir toothless in the past. The act started with the very categorisation of what Kabir’s life and words meant: what should have been called a revolt was wrongly and cunningly termed as Bhakti i.e. surrender. Kabir was mutilated by a Hindi-chauvinist Brahmin organisation, which was formed for Brahminising Hindi- interpolating it with, and ”purifying” it, by sprinkling the Gangajal called Sanskrit on it. This happened in the 1890s under the leadership of a Punjabi Khatri, Babu Shyam Sundar Das, and a reactionary Brahmin, Ramchandra Shukla. To see how far their appropriation and distortion was institutionalized one must consider the fact that the Hindi-English Dictionary edited by the duo is accepted by American universities and the Government of India as standard and authoritative.
This sort of usurpation goes hand in hand with the stifling of alternative meanings and hence makes any other interpretations (other than the appropriated versions) impossible. In the above mentioned case, for example, Dalit Hindi (a language that found voice among the lower caste viz. Ahirs – its old name was Ahiri Bhasha) or any other version of Hindi, was either erased or made impossible to continue. In a similar manner, the canonization and distortion of Kabir (the mutilated Kabir) disallowed any alternative reading. For example, they had substituted ‘sunna’ and ‘shabda’ with ‘Rama’ in the renditions of Kabir. This has been pointed out by Sadafal Guru, a Saint belonging to the Kabiric tradition, in his book ‘Swarwed’.
The introduction of ‘Rama’, a strong and problematic Hindu symbol, into this tradition was very dangerous. This was tantamount to Brahminisation of Kabir. Furthermore, the very tradition of Sadafal Guru has been appropriated by his son and a certain Swantantra Dev ji Maharaj who organised hawanas and chanting of Vedas in the name of Kabir. How shocking to know that Kabir who was vehemently against Vedas and their nasty teachings was made a vehicle for propagating Vedic Karmakanda (rituals)! The Kabir Project of Linda Hess is also a product of the same ugy machine of appropriation. They all want to reduce Kabir to meaningless metaphysics.
…Taking further the example of Kabir, we must bear in mind that he was a revolutionary poet. The tampering and appropriation of his works transformed him into a spineless creature: a Bhakta (devotee).The Brahminist forces falsely reduced him to someone contemplating vacuous and obtuse rubbish on Brahma. The social resistance and struggle offered by the poet-revolutionary was erased from the collective memory of his caste peers and it was thus absent in the narratives of even Dalit history. This is a harsh reality to face because when we Dalits try to reconstruct our own splintered history, our sources are often those managed, controlled and distorted by the Brahmins.
—Shakyamuni Chandal, The Brahmean Machine: Distorting Revolt into Surrender
As in the case of Nandanar, the documentation of the north Indian bhakti movement was done centuries later by literate high-caste men. An early account was written by Nabhadas around 1600, the most influential commentary on which was by Priyadasin 1712. These not only make Ramanand into Ravidas’ main guru, but ‘Brahmanise’ Ravidas himself, analogous to the way thatNandanar’s devotion was made acceptable through his being puri-fied by fire and shown as being ‘truly’ a Brahman. In the case of Ravidas, he is said to have been a Brahman in his previous life, but because he offered Ramanand some food that had been given by a merchant who had dealings with Chamars, he was reborn as a Chamar after he died. This itself indicates the degree of purity–pollution behaviour observed even by Brahman ascetics; but worse if anything is the story that as a baby Ravidas would not accept the milk of his Chamar mother, but only of a Brahman woman (Hawley and Juergensmeier 1988: 15–16)!
Radical Dalits today question the Brahmanical interpretation of Ravidas. They claim that his guru was Sardanand, and emphasize his ability to defeat Brahmans time and again in debates. The Adi-Dharma, a radical anti-Hindu sect founded in the 10th century in Punjab, takes Ravidas as a non-Hindu, anti-caste anda founder of practically an independent religion. Indeed, such ‘vanis’ as the following are impressive, if not substantiated as ‘original’:
Ravidas says not to honour (do puja to) Brahmans, who are without merit;
Honour instead the feet of Candalas who are full of merit…
Dependency is evil, the dependent are miserable—Ravidas considers dependency the lowest of all (Shalvan Patrika, 25 June 2001).
The dominant account can be disputed on good grounds: Ravidas himself never mentions Ramanand, who seems to have lived a full century before Ravidas. The sants mentioned in Ravidas’ own poetry—those he considered his ‘family’—include the Maharashtrian tailor Namdev and the weaver Kabir (Hawley and Juergensmeier 1988: 9–23).
—Gail Omvedt, CHALLENGING BRAHMANISM
writers building East India Company National Geographic April 1973 Raghubir Singh
He does smile his face into more lines than is in the new map with the augmentation of the Indies
all india radio, delhi 1959
"Diasporic intimacy does not promise a comforting recovery of identity through shared nostalgia for the lost home and homeland. It might be seen as the mutual enchantment of two immigrants from different parts of the world or as the sense of the fragile coziness of a foreign home. just as one learns to live with alienation and reconciles oneself to the uncanniness of the world around and to the strangeness of the human touch, there comes a surprise, a pang of intimate recognition, a hope that sneaks in through the back door, punctuating the habitual estrangement of everyday life."
Svetlana Boym, “On Diasporic Intimacy” (via o8x)
"The Witness, Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi" by Karen Knorr from "India Song 2008-2012"
Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa playing cricket.
what terrible front drive form
SBTRKT - Hold The Line
mudras said: it has, it has. yep! how about you? what have you been up to recently? I was in delhi for a bit during winter break actually.
no fucking way, when were you there? i was home all of break working on my bombay sapphire game/ researching state formation in jharkhand+uttaranchal. didja get to go to amar shonar bangla?