Jotiba Phule And His Work And Efforts For The Dalits

Jyotiba Phule (1827-1890):

Jyotiba Phule is hailed as the father of the depressed castes and non-Brahmins movements in south India, for he was the first Indian leader to start a movement for the removal of the social and economic ills of the lower castes suffered for ages.

Phule endeavoured to secure social equality and social justice for the depressed castes of Maharashtra such as the Mahar, Mang, Dhed and Chamar who occupied the lowest social status in the Hindu social hierarchy.


Gail Omvedt notes that “Phle is today taken as a founding figure in Maharashtra not simply by the anti-caste but also by the farmers, women's and rural-based environmental movements. He questioned the Aryan race theory which was prominent during the time and greatly influenced some of the Dalit leaders of the 1920s who framed their movements according to race or ethnicity”.


Jotiba Phule, the 19th century social revolutionary and main founder of the anti-caste movement in India, the national unification of the masses of the people in India required an attack on Brahmin domination and Hinduism itself.


In many ways, dharma and caste are at the centre of Phule's thought. His opposition to Brahmanism did not relate only to the Varna system. It also related to almost everything within the Hindu system.


In his view Hinduism as we know it originates in the Shrutis (the Vedas) and the Smrities. He was convinced that these books were a part of the Brahmanical attempt at creating texts which would nationalize and perpetuate their dominance.


The Brahmanical position claimed the Chaturvarna system to be god-given and eternal, and therefore unassailable. As such Brahmin superiority had divine origins. He rejected the supremacy of the Brahmins and useless Vedic rituals. For Phule, Brahmanism was historical, constructed over time, and since it was ideology of oppression and dominance, it had to be opposes and ultimately smashed.


Further he states that there was nothing sacred or divine about it. But because it presented itself as divinely ordained; it was necessary to oppose this system in it's entirely.


The bulk of Phule's writings on religion therefore consist of a severe polemic against Brahmanism, and discrimination on the basis of castes. He struggled hard for the restoration of the dignity of human person and human rights as he considered all Indians are equal.


It was Jotiba Phule who first opened a school for the depressed castes children in his own house as early as 1848. In 1873 he also founded the Satya Shodhak Samaj (society for seeking truth), which is the first well known Dalit organization and which took over the amelioration of the condition of the untouchables.


The vision of the Phule was to open schools and to organized the organization to save mainly “lower castes from the hypocritical Brahmins and their opportunities scriptures”.


Like Phule, Dr.B.R.Ambedkar also laid great stress on the elevation of the depressed castes through the education. Dr.Ambedkar awakened his people to their age-old disabilities and instigated them to fight for their removal. He exhorted the untouchables to fight for self elevation.



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