Study of Gender,Caste and Religion,their intersection and interconnection in Aravind Malagatti’s “GOVERNMENT BRAHMANA”



कथा सुनो रे लोगों एक व्यथा सुनो रे लोगों

 हम मजदूर की करून कहानी आओ करीब से जानो

 खाने को खाना नही

 पिने को पानी नही

 पेहेनेको कपडा नही

 ये कैसा राज हैं भाई ये झूठा राज है भाई ll”      


                शाहीर विलास घोगरे


कशाला झाली शिक्षणाची ओळख बरा तो ओहळयाचा गोटा गावची गुरे वळली असती तर असल्या इंगळया डसल्या नसत्या. “


                     दया मारुती पवार


 Aravind Malagatti’s ” GOVERNMENT BRAHMANA” is the first Dalit Autobiography i.e 1994 in Kannada Dalit Literature under the realm of Dalitiya Sahitya which in the words of Malagatti himself implies that it’s the literature belonging to category of Dalitatva which means it’s written by Dalits with a Dalit Consciousness.It’s a weapon ought to be used in Psychological Revolution against the multifaceted demon of Caste, to which (psychological Revolution) Malagatti puts on the higest pedestal and even states that ” Psychological Revolution is more powerful than a Blood revolution”.It invokes awareness, in fact creative awarness as stated by Janet Vucinich which does the work of demolishing the Brahmanical Ideology which has a deep imprint in the realm of Religion,Gender and Caste in so called Nation i.e India.It has both the aspects of personal and its interconnection with societal realm to borrow the analogy from Christian Lee Novetzke(2007).The book doesnt limit itself in the realm of so called Dalits but speaks for the Society which is marred by “Graded Inequality” to use Dr.Ambedkars analogy from his ” Annihilation of Caste” (1936).It is a reflection of view from the bottom as noted by renowned Historian D.D Kosambi, but it potrays the holistic attitude and aptitude of Society which is brilliantly captured by ace poet Namdeo Dhasal in his poetry collection गोलपीठा which says,

त्यांची सनातन दया फाल्कलांड रॊडच्या भडव्याहून उंच   नाही

thus the above “Sanatan” idea in the realm of Gender, Caste and Religion is tried to be captured in this paper.


देहासी विटाळ म्हणती  सकळ

               आत्मा  तो निर्मळ शुध्दबुद्ध   

               देहींचा विटाळ  देहीच जन्मला

               सोवळा  तो झाला कवण धर्म

               विटाळ वाचोनि  उत्पत्ती नाही

               कोण  देह निर्माण नाही जगी ll”


  • संत सोयराबाई

तुझी  सत्ता आहे देहावरती मज माझ्यावरती तुझी किंचित नाही

                             –  संत जनाबाई

The concept of Gender that is understood here is the recent one coming from evolving theories and legal principles that are being laid down.It deals with the notion of Gender as Socially constructed rather than notions of sex as bilogical construct to borrow from Martha Minnow.

In the very first chapter of his saga Malagatti writes about his Mother about her traits of being his companion, guide and protector along with exuding feminine charm.This very description of his Mother points to the aspect of liberation from Dalit patriarchy as mentioned by Karin Kapadia and S.Anandhi in their mammoth ” Dalit women : a vanguard of Alternative politics” with her successfully handling the void of her male counterpart(Malagatti lost his father when he was infant) thus rejecting the very compartmentalisation that was imposed on Women and differently on Dalit Women via the “infection of imitation ” which led to the march of differentiation of Castes as mentioned by Dr.Ambedkar in his Classic “Castes in India”(9th May, 1916).Malagatti even mentions the concept of Varna Hierarchy as potrayed in Purushsukta in Tenth Mandala of Rigveda which is in alignment with laterly composed treatise on Law i.e Manusmruti, Matsyapurana and Medhatithi, Satapatha Brahmana which push women under the realm of Brahmanical patriarchy as noted by Scholar Uma Chakravarthi via Subordination to the opposite sex i.e male.In another instance during a festive meal  he mentions of his Aayi about her assertion i.e Dalit Assertion to use Prof.Sudha Pai’s analogy when the guard who ought to catch the food theives tries to touch her, sensing the very nature of touch that has traits of patriarchy, exclusion, suppression, oppression i.e Touch when analysed from its Social and Historical Aspects along with its Society, Sociality, Sociability to borrow from Aniket Jaware’s Practising Caste points to the very understanding of hers which the above theorists have tried to theorize but the very Social Structure coming with its dilemmas and Casteist morals have imbibed in her the required sense as well the phenomelogy of Touch.This discrimination of Caste with has entered in the realm of Gender is also evident in chapter 4 of the book in which Caste has even entered in the realm of Animals in this case the mating of Buffaloes by again taking the example of Non-Brahmin Sage Vishwamitra and  Brahmin Sage Vasishta and even the animals that are created by them i.e the so called Holy which were epitome of sweetness, beauty, purity belonged to Brahmin Sage and those of opposite qualities belonging to NonBrahmin Sage and this control on intermixture of sex which is the most important of Caste system has been extended in Animals too.The above discussion in Malagattis book points to the intricacies of Caste and its spill effect in the realm of Gender which has been theorised by Uma Chakravarthi in her book ” Gendering Caste“.Malagatti asks a crucial question here that how can a society which doesn’t give chance  to the creations of Vishvamitra to make love naturally give a chance for human lovers to meet? To take this discrimination practised in the realm of animals he mentions of a instance in chapter 11 where a dog from his dalit colony is killed because he mates with the sahukars bitch of the village.He closes the chapter with brilliant lines that Dalit Colony is the maternal home for all village dogs which has a potential hidden meaning beneath it.Thus taking this analogy of Caste it can be derived that caste has certain upper tendencies and certain lower tendencies.Again in chapter 5 he mentions of the discrimination practised by Women during washing clothes by demarcating the areas where which women of what caste shall wash clothes and even differentiation of Stones on the basis of Caste.Dr.Ambedkar said Women are the gateways to Casteism, but here the problem was that the very beings which are treated as Shudras in daily lives to quote historian Romila Thapar and Untouchables during some days i.e “menstruation” could practise the very institution under which they are crushed?  This makes important to look into the claims made Dalit Women which was theorized by Dr.Gopal Guru in ” Dalit women speak differently”.In chapter 8 being a folk scholar himself he has potrayed the degrading, an assault to human dignity and hegemonic as well as brahmanical, casteist practise of Okuli which was an assault especially on Dalit women in the garb of traditions and invoking the fear of God which implies the imposed subservient conditionalities on Dalit women being crushed under dual patriarchal systems under the subset of traditions in which she had no say! Dr.Ambedkar rightly said that to undo the menance of such caste affiliated humilations it needs annihilation of caste which can be achieved by destruction of very such rituals and traditions of whose source lies in the Brahmanical Religious Books.In chapter 11 Malagatti mentions of Prostitutes who practised the profession owing to the imposition of Societal injustices on them from above owing to the Traditional  and Brahmanical System(jogtinis).It must be remembered that the women who practised the prostitution belong to particular Caste of Society for which Ambedkar in 1936 asked for giving up of this disgraceful profession and this was even a huge controversy when Panther  Raja Dhale challenged Durgabai Bhagwat to take up the profession herself when she asked support for making prostitution legal in Maharashtra.The same chapter also speaks on the the class difference among the women where he mentioned the liberated attitude of women of his caste in village while smoking beedis vis a vis hypocrisy  practised by Women of the cities for the same.In chapters 14 and 15 he mentions about the love which falls in a larger scheme of things, the love which ought to be one of the factors in annihilation of caste and also the one which ought to be a primary means for instituting fraternity and eventually for success of Democracy in the  form of mode of associated living.In both instances Caste Consciousness hinders this so called Love in the via the modes of self or societal ethos which still is a compartmentalised one and has caste consciousness as the subtext with the ideal of endogamy and preventing the respective enclosures in the name of culture.


I regard true Religion as that Religion which recognises the principle of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.


                                    Dr. B.R.Ambedkar.


Religion should be organic and based on principles and not dogmatic !


                                   Dr.B.R Ambedkar.

Karl Marx spoke of Religion is the opium of the masses whereas Dr.Ambedkar(volume 17) spoke of necessity of Religion along with the values that should be inherent in Religion.Malagattis text speaks in each instance speaks volumes on the very Hindu religion which Dr.Ambedkar in his 1942 speech equates with Hinduism, Hindutva and Brahminism as one and the same.The whole book speaks on the violation of basic Human Dignity, Basic Human Rights in pre independent India as well as post Independent India raising an important  question whether what should triump public/societal morality or Constitutional morality.Ambedkar answers this by quoting Historian Grotus and votes for Constitutional Morality.The very religion even triumphs the political Freedom  when boiling water is splashed on the chest of malagattis uncle on 15th August and Thus he says I shall always  remember 15th August  for this instance and not for Nehru’s Tryst with destiny ! This is also in alignment with Shahir Annabhau Sathe’s march on 15th August saying, ” This freedom is a Farce!” Each chapter and each line speaks on the subtle nature of caste its accommodating tendencies as per the changing domains of time space and place and thus ultimately leading to triumph of it and along with it that of Majoritarian Religion.Malagatti here mentions of Veerashaivism which came with the reformer Basavanna in 12th century karnataka but mentions that though conversion happened Castes still remained as he mentions of Veerashaiva Harijans!This he points to the inability of surmounting the barriers of caste only with religious conversion because the psychology of so called people of India is so imbibed with casteism and related tendencies that caste too found its way in the newly adopted religions which he mentions by giving examples of Buddhism in Maharashtra as well as that of Veerashaivism in Karnataka.Again he mentions of Brahmanical tendencies being percolated in the religions via the notions of purity, pollution and vegetarianism of which Dr.kancha ilaiah talks in his Buffalo Nationalism and Dr.Ambedkar in his who were the untouchables? (1948).In chapter 12 he talks of Access to the House of God was not only restricted to him in person but even the sketch made by him of Lord Raghvendra which eventually led his feeling of devotion from zero to a virtual vacuum.Again in chapter 13 he talks of his escape from a temple where he pretended to be a Brahmin and eventually got caught which left a deep imprint on his further life.In chapter 18 he speaks of people who themselves call them Marxists and practise Caste in the name of Atheism.Thus the very Hindu Brahmanical tendencies supplanted in the society are at length discussed in great detail by malagatti and makes us ponder that can there ever be a Egalitarian Society?


     “जात ना पूछो साधू की, पूछो उस्का ग्यान l”


                                                –संत कबीर


Discussing Caste separately falls beyond the scope of this paper as the whole experience of Author which are narrated via chapters in the book speak of various instances which falls exclusively as well as in tandem with Gender and Religious domain.But to sum up the lacuna of treatment or addressing of Caste system by Scholars it implies that there’s an emphasis only on ritual aspect of Caste System i.e ideology inherent in working of the system i.e evident in the writings of scholars like  Michael Moffet and Louis Dumont rather than that of Gerald Berreman and Joan Mencher owing to their treatment of Caste System as a set of consensual values which also addresses the experiential dimensions of Caste system by both the dominant and dominated too.Dr.Ambedkar put forth a new perspective by treating Caste within the realm of Sociology as well as Cultural domain in the realm of purity and pollution but taking a view from the bottom which has been very selectively neglected by academicians.It is a gigantic task to analyse only caste so its other varied aspects are discussed below.

Intersection and Interconnection:

Aravind Malagattis masterpiece is one such fora where a deep analysis of graded inequality can be resorted to along with its mobilities  in the domain of Gender and Caste which is specific in India along with regional diversity.Caste does not operate solely on its own basis it always searches for a medium via which it could reinforce the hierarchies to establish the supremacy of few via keeping a huge chunk of populace in subordination by denial of basic rights, instituting inequality which hampers their access to basic necessities like food, clothing, shelter, health and education.As mentioned above in the sections of Gender and Religion, Caste has manifested itself in order to suit the requirements of specific modes of operation thus making course corrections in the way and have emerged  as a victor in maintaining the status quo of keeping Brahmanical hegemonies intact with the changing notions of time, space and place.It has maintained patriarchy via the medium of Caste in Indian context to borrow the analogy of Gerda Lerner by both psychological tendencies of Caste as per Tarde’s law of imitation as well as Mechanistic process, both are mentioned and explained in detail by Dr.Ambedkar in his scholarly work “Castes in India” thus imbibing the notions of being fissiparous as well as its virtue of self duplication in the realm of Gender and Religion  in India.This has been put to work via the mode of conscious command of supreme authority as well as unconscious growth in the life of a human society as noted by Dr.Ambedkar.


Thus the paper discussed the events in Malagattis “Government Brahmana” from below to use D.D Kosambis analogy and from the perspective of a Dalit with empathy and not sympathy in words of poet Namdeo Dhasal.It argues about the Nature of Caste which uses the medium of Gender and Religion to maintain its Supremacy via Psychological and Mechanical modus operandi via Scriptures, Shastras and so on.The pain mentioned in the book is specific as well as representative as Malagatti himself mentions in start of his Autobiography and in the very first stroke distances himself from the technique and attitude of M.K.Gandhi towards the issue of Caste.Thus the line of thought that ought to emanate from the book is Annihilation of Caste cant be taken with intermartiage and interdinning though both are important in their own sense but striking  at the very roots of this POISON to borrow from Arjun Dangles compilation, which is a mixture of Hierachies of Gender, Religion, Caste, Class i.e Destroying the very Authorities that give sanction to them which is striking a blow and destruction of so called Holy Religious Texts and thus destryoing their Sanctity for once and all as rightly espoused by Dr.Ambedkar in his Annihilation of Caste(1936).


  1. Castes in India
  2. Annihilation of Caste
  3. Ambedkar speeches and writing(Volume 17)
  4. Seeking Begumpura by Gail Omvedt
  5. Kondhwada by Daya pawar.
  6. The making of Brahmanic hegemony by suvira jaiswal
  7. Caste by suvira jaiswal
  8. Golpitha by Namdeo Dhasal
  9. D kosambi
  10. Ancient India by Romila Thapar.
  11. Gendering Caste by Uma chakrvarthi.
  12. Why I am not a hindu by kancha ilaiah shepherd
  13. From shepherd to intellectual by kancha ilaiah shepherd
  14. Buffalo Nationalism by kancha ilaiah shepherd.
  15. Poisoned Bread by Arjun Dangle.
  16. Dalit panthers by j.v pawar
  17. Dalit panthers by Sharan kumar limbale
  18. Bijak of kabir
  19. Ambedkar and Democracy by Christopher jeffrelot.
  20. Justice engendered by Martha Minnow
  21. Homo hierarchicus by Louis Dumont
  22. Untouchable community in south india by Michael Moffat
  23. Siva and her Sisters by karin kapadia
  24. Dalit patriarchy by karin kapadia and S.Anandhi

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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