Kusumabale a brilliant anthology that still guides the oppressed for their quest to Justice


Kusumabale by D.Mahadeva  acts as Rastafarianism in the Dalit literature movement especially in Kannada Dalit literature movement which is marked by 2 strands i.e Navodaya movement and Navya movement as noted by Vivek Shanbhag in his classic introduction. It could be a work of fiction,nonfiction or even an autobiographical one woven in the form of mysticism and mythology that gives it a distinct character and rightly Vivek Shanbhag pointed it as an Indian variant of magic realism in tandem with latin American writings. To quote D.R NAGRAJ when he said its, ” A masterpiece in literature of India and not to be confined to Dalit literature!” Reading it  in a single go shall not assure that it shall be grasped and understood thus leading to  Vijay Tendulkar’s introduction of Namdeo Dhasal’s “Golpeetha” which rightly says ,”Their orthodoxy pity is no taller than a Falkland Road pimp” It is  this very feeling of trying to sympathize not empathize caused a lot of introspection and personal researches in folklore of Kannada literature especially of the marginalised taking  to the likes of Chandrashekhar Kambhar,Arvinda

Melagatti,Vaidehi,Sinddhalingaiah,Verappa Moilly and others. With this perspective and  reading it in a more nuanced form,microscopically and becoming friends with symbolism in Kannada Dalit  literature ,then  lightning strikes with names like Akkamahadevi who though a Veerashaivaite and the others from her family belonging to the same sect try to isolate her from  “sthavar” form of property which is inherent in the patriarchal and male dominated chavunism of controlling sexuality in its garb of property and can be rightly found in the verses of  Basavanna 820 translated by Ramanujan. Thus, this points to the lacunae in the post-Basavanna Veerashaivaite movement in order to get acceptance and survive and goes aginst the very ideology of Basavanna? Then theres a lot to explore from names like Pampa (adikavi)who can be explored with the legacy of Kannada literature who established a conscious form of exchange with public narratives and using images of inscriptions at different levels in divergent contexts and to sumup indentifying his work in larger poetic inscription.

Taking the cue from above to things ,the whole masterpiece unfurles  in the Karnataka region where Basavanna’s religion flourished coupled with ancient and early medieval history of Karnataka which was one of the pockets of Jainism that survived after its banishment from popular lands is of utmost importance to author who uses the jaina doctrine of ” all beings having soul,animate as well as inanimate” in the Ambedkarite framework of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity and sense of Justice prevailing in the world of spirits which is akin the Begumpura of Ravidas! But one ponders that whether  there is  any possiblity of the above ideas to exist in practical realm? Here in this world of spirits truth prevails, no casteism exists and even an untouchable spirit mocks the Brahmin spirit and so on and on in the prevailing setting of folklore underlining Ambedkar’s popular slogan of “Those who dont have sense of history cannot make history !” being very much evident in its use by D.Mahadeva.

Finally, in the true world of humans where there ought to be morality after the enactment of Constitution of India 30 years back(its set in 1980s) it’s truly a farce and makes mockery of Gandhian Idea of Villages that ought to be a ‘self-sufficient’ and marker of true Swaraj but put forths the Ambedkarite frame of Villages being ‘Dens of ignorance’ where Caste has metamorphised itself as per prevailing socio-economic and political setting as well as beats the life out of Nehru’s words of ‘Unity in Diversity’ when Channa is murdered in which the whole village is accomplice in this crime, which points to the current scenario of  prevalence of Unity even during the attrocities which was crystal clear in Khairlanji massacre as well as innumerable unreported instances like Badaun and so on… what’s more chilling is that we know Channa has died at the very beginning to protect the honour of upper caste and to uphold Manu’s doctrine of Sexuality and still story moves on making us laugh during some instances pointing to a cruel fact that an individual with aspirations, dreams are crushed and slaughtered but still all is well and we stick to the fact that show must go on and is indeed going on irrespective of what has happened to that soul…..
The  above pointed are some frames that occur in a silent backdrop. When journey begins with kusumabale via reading and many many ideas and emotions appear for which words fall short.But one thing for sure it Guides and Inspires generations, now and shall Continue to do so !

Nikhil Sanjay-Rekha Adsule has completed B.E(Electrical) and my LLB from Savitribai Phule Pune University(SPPU). He also completed  Masters in History from I.G.N.O.U and Currently pursuing a Masters In Law from TATA INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES (TISS)




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