Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dalit seminar abstracts

A Three Day-National Seminar on Personal Narratives of Dalits and Their Religion(s)

School of Humanities
Department of English
University of Hyderabad

October 16, 2007
10.00 a.m to 10.30 a.m

Introduction of the Seminar : Dr. D. Murali Manohar

Chief Guest : Prof. Mohan G. Ramanan
School of Humanities

Introduction of the Department : Prof. Sachidanda Mohanty
Department of English

Session I
10.30 a.m to 11.30 a.m

Chair of the Session : Prof. Alladi Uma

Dr. K. Suneetha Rani : “Dalit Women Construct
their Identity”

Ms. Swathi Margaret : “Dalit Women and the
Christian Expereince of

Coffee Break 11.30 a. m to 11.45 a. m

Session II
11. 45 a. m to 1.00 p. m

Chair of the Session : Dr. B. Chandrasekhar Rao

K. Satyanarayana : “Ambedkar Critical
Engagement with Hinduism”

Ajailiu Niumai : “Religion in the Liangmai
Naga Society”

Lunch Break 1.00 p. m to 2.30 p. m

Session III
2.30 p. m to 3.45 p. m

Chair of the Session : Dr. K. Y. Ratnam

Dr. P. Kesava Kumar : “Dalit Literary Narratives
and Liberation Theology:
‘Naraloka Prathana’ Nagesh Babu”

Dr. Phanindra Goyari : “Literature Development and
Economic Transitions of Bodo
Tribal people in India”

Coffee Break 3.45 p.m. to 4.15 p. m

Clipping Show on Dalits 4.15 p.m. to 4.45 p.m.

October 17, 2007

Session I
10.00 a. m to 11.15 a. m

Chair of the Session : Dr. K. Suneetha Rani

Dr. D. Murali Manohar : “Personal Narrative of a Mala

J. Anyonya

Coffee Break : 11.15. a.m to 11.45 a.m

Session II
11.45 a. m to 1.00 p. m

Chair of the Session : Dr. P. Thirumal

J. Bheemaiah : My Boyhood Memoir: A Personal

Panchanan Dalai : Bama’s Karukku

Lunch Break 1.00 p.m to 2.30 p.m

Session III
2.30 p. m to 3.45 p.m

Chair of the Session : Dr. K. Satyanarayana

Ch. Venkatewara Rao :

Prof. T. V. Kattamani :

Coffee Break 3.45 p.m to 4.15 p.m

Clipping Show on Dalits 4.15 p.m to 4.45 p.m

October 18, 2007
Session I
10.00 a. m to 11.15 a. m

Chair of the Session : Prof T. V. Kattamani

Bolleddu Siva Nagaiah : “Understanding Discursive Discourse of
Dalit Autobiographies”

Murali Krishna :

Coffee Break 11.15 a. m to 11.45 a. m

Session II
11.45 a.m to 1.00 p.m

Chair of the Session : Dr. J. Bheemaiah

Bhim Singh :

Seshu Babu :

Swaroopa Rani : Personal Narrative

Lunch Break 1.00 p.m to 2.30 p.m

Session III
2.30 p.m to 3.45 p.m

Chair of the Session : Dr. Swaroopa Rani

Nagaraju : Personal Narrative

Vulli Dhanraju : “Ambedkar’s Conversion to
Buddhism: A Note on Historical

Comparative Literature Student :

Coffee Break 3.45 p.m to 4.15 p.m

Clipping Show on Dalits 4.15 p.m to 4.45 p.m


A Three-Day National Seminar on
Personal Narratives of Dalits and their Religion(s)

(October 16, 2007 to October 18, 2007)


School of Humanities
Department of English
University of Hyderabad

Dalit Women and the Christian Experience in India

Swathi Margaret
Project Fellow
Department of English
University of Hyderabad

The present context is rife with debates around the issue of religious conversion. I will look at the ideas of religion, spirituality and conversion from a dalit feminist perspective. I do not perceive them or experience them as static entities throughout historical time or throughout a community’s spiritual/religious journey (for me, it is a socio political and cultural one, simultaneously) or even throughout an individual’s lifetime. Rather they are in constant engagement with the changing times. Moreover, if any religion is not sensitive to its times, it is bound to die a natural death. Therefore, each religion reinvents itself as it is discovered and embraced by new entrants in varying contexts, through what is often referred to as conversion.

One largely dominant notion is that a person’s religious identity is the religion one is born into and it necessarily becomes one’s “original” religion. Contrary to this notion, I see conversion as a continuous process of becoming, through exploring some of these aspects as discussed within dalit communities, often through literature.

In Bama’s Karukku, the religious experience of the author is not an experience of a single individual alone in that she does the whole analysis of the Christian Church from the experience of her community.
Madduri Nagesh Babu’s NaralokaPrarthana redeploys the Lord’s Prayer in such a way as to make prayer sensitive and alive to the pragmatic and material conditions of his people, the dalits. Clearly, these narratives establish religion as a site of the social and political.
From studying the dalit intellectuals’ engagement with the question of religion, it is evident that, among others, there are two dominant strands in the historical trajectory of religion. One is the hermeneutic activities and praxis of religion by the religious heads and the other is the vibrant interventions made by the spiritual leaders.

Dalit Women Construct Their Identity
Dr. K. Suneetha Rani
Dept. of English University of Hyderabad Hyderabad 500 046 A.P. INDIA e-mail: ksrsh@uohyd.ernet.in suneetharani@hotmail.com Dalit writing has filled the glaring gaps in literature by speaking about the unspoken experiences and making the silenced voices audible. In a similar manner, Dalit women’s writing unearths and unveils the stories hitherto untold even by Dalit writing and women’s writing. Dalit women’s writing attempts to create the identity of Dalit women with all their multiple dimensions, be it a working woman in an urban situation or a jogini in a remote village. Still, some strands, corners and lives remain inaccessible to Dalit women writers because of various limitations of the writers and writing. Oral narratives help us in understanding the abovementioned aspects of Dalit women’s life. This paper proposes to examine some oral narratives of Dalit women in terms of the issues they raise, stands they take and identities they construct. This paper is based on my collection of Dalit women’s oral narratives for my Sahitya Akademi Junior Fellowships project.

Dalit Literary Narratives and Liberation Theology:
‘Naraloka Prathana’ of Madduri Nagesh Babu

Dr.P.Kesava Kumar
Dept. of Philosophy
Pondicherry University

The relation between dalits’s life and religion very complex and has been debated very often. This has reflected in both scholarly writings and literary works. Dalits being the oppressed people of India has adopted different strategies to overcome the suffering and humiliation faced by them in the every day life. Dalit’s identification with religion has to be understood in the historical context as it has many meanings. On one hand, dalits are involved with many movements of reformed Hinduism. On the other, Dalits are converted in a large scale into Christianity from colonial times. There are occasions that the dalits were even converted to Islam as in the case of Nizam state. In the post independent India, under the leadership of Ambedkar, the indigenous religion Budhism becomes the religion of dalits as a protest against Hinduism. Apart from this conversions, Marxism as a theory is critical about the very idea of religion, by considering it as the opium of the masses and the soul of soul less. Ambedkar not only counter the Marxism in this regard and favors Budhism by projecting it as humanistic religion in contrast to other religions like Christianity, Hinduism and so on. Ambedkar follows the American pragmatist, John Dewy, who argues for democratic ‘religious’ life against the institutionalized dogmatic religion. However, dalits life has rooted into diverse religious faiths in contemporary situation.

From late eighties, Dalit movement in Andhra as a socio- political movement came into forefront, in the backdrop of Karamchedu and Tsundur massacres. Dalit movement politicizes the social suffering by asserting the identity of Dalit in all possible ways. The social imagination of the Dalit writers captured the very concerns of dalits through their literary narratives. They are unanimous in voicing against the caste ridden Hinduism by following Ambedkarism and have posed different positions to counter this. In response to the rise of militant hindu nationalism and its attacks on Christians in late nineties, some of Dalit writers addressed this in their writings. Moreover, most of the dalits were nurtured in Christianity as result of colonial rule. Dalit writers realized that to build political struggles, needs a cultural strength in which dalits are rooted. There are some writers consciously worked out in this direction by identifying with Christianity. Madduri Nagesh babu is a classic example for this. He is a major Dalit writer and authored many books. The poems mostly written in the fag eng of his life reflected in his Naraloka Parthana (2002) represents the Dalit christain liberation theology. His Dalit liberation theology goes in tune with Black and Latin American liberation theologies. His liberation theology is committed for the rights and justice of the dalits. His liberation theology suited in contemporary Dalit movement. His Jesus differs from the orthodox Christianity and, his Jesus is Dalit ,who is always with dalits for the protection of rights and dignity of the community. His god is political, assertive,aggressive and fights for the social justice. My paper not only explores the strength of Dalit liberation theology of Madduri Nagesh Babu and also finds the limitation of this kind of theology in relation to Dalit movement.

Ambedkar’s Critical Engagement with Hinduism

Centre for English Studies
The English and Foreign
Languages University

I wish to analyse Babasaheb Ambedkar’s critical engagement with ‘Hinduism’. My paper will be based on a reading of Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste and other writings on ‘Hinduism’ in the 1930s and 1940s. Ambedkar’s critical questioning of ‘Hinduism’ is emanated from his desire to construct a casteless society. He argued that caste is the central social institution that derived its sanctity and legitimacy from ‘Hinduism’. Therefore, he initially advocated a radical reconstruction of ‘Hinduism’. Later he quit ‘Hinduism’. Interestingly, Ambedkar conflated ‘Hinduism’ with ‘Brahmanism’. Through a reading of Ambedkar’s critique of ‘Hinduism’, I will try to map Ambedkar’s conception of religion and its social role in a society.

Literature Development and Economic Transitions of Bodo Tribal people in India

Phanindra Goyari
Senior Lecturer
Department of Economics
University of Hyderabad


The Literature development of a society can bring various progressive changes in that society. The impact of literature development on the progress of socio-cultural and economic conditions is generally observed more prominently in case of underdeveloped communities.

The paper attempts to examine how the literature development of Bodo tribal people helped in the graual socio-economic transitions of this tribe in India. The analysis is carried out using available secondary data and various policy documents, pertaining to Bodo tribal people. The main focus is on the state of Assam, where majority of Bodo people have been living since time immemorial, even though these people are found in other parts of India as well as in neighbouring countries. The specific objectives are (i) to review the various states of Bodo literature development and (ii) to examoine the economic development trends of Bodo tribe corresponding to the various stages of literature development.

Key words: Literature Development, Economic Development, Bodo Tribal People


Religion in the Liangmai Naga Society

Ajailiu Niumai
Department of Sociology
University of Hyderabad

This paper will examine the contours of religion in the Liangmai Naga society, North East India. The Liangmai Nagas are scattered in Nagaland, Manipur and Assam. They believe in the Supreme God (“Tingwang” or “Charawang”) who is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. They have explicit ideas about gods, goddesses and spiritual beings and they perceived them to be beneath the supreme God. They believed that these deities control their lives. They worship the natural objects such as tree, stone, and the like. They have both malevolent and benevolent spirits which manifest themselves in the hills, forests, rocks, rivers, sky and the like. These malevolent and benevolent spirits are to be revered and propitiated. They do not built places of worship in the village.

In the 20th century, some of them still uphold the traditional religion by affiliating with a cult group known as “Heraka” which was founded by Mr. Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu. However, majority of the Liangmai Nagas have converted to Christianity. Most of them belong to the Protestant Baptist denomination. Historical evidence reveals that Christianity is approximately eighty-five (86) years old among them. Today, every village has a church and it is related to the social organization of the local community. In spite of their conversion to Christianity, they have been preserving their traditional tribal customs, norms and laws that govern the people with changed mode of Christian principles and values. They have assimilated the Christian way of life but retained their traditions. In other words, they do not restrict their traditional festivals although they have become Christians. For instance, the people celebrate traditional harvest festival and Blessing Ceremony (Chaga-Ngi) before the fall of winter. Besides, they also celebrate festivals such as Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and New Year. Hence, I would make an attempt to study the traditional religion and also examine an impact of Christianity in their contemporary society.

Ambedkar’s Conversion to Buddhism: A Note on Historical Background

Vulli Dhanraju
Ph.D Scholar
Department of History
University of Hyderabad

The present paper deals with the perception on the new ideology of religion of Ambedkar who offers number of reasons to reject all religions and preferred Buddhism as true dynamic of religion. He has interpreted Buddhism goes back to the original teachings of Buddha that is purely based on the equality and fraternity. Ambedkar emphasized on the transformation of marginalised in the ideological terms as well as in the practice.

This paper explains the various reasons for his embracing Buddhism. Ambedkar called fort the rejection of Hinduism in 1935 and accepted the idea of conversion to another religion. Many religious leaders belonging to Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity extended invitations to Ambedkar to join their fold. Ambedkar associated himself with Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Arya Samajists who were interested, for one reason or the other, in his ideology of religion. He seemed to incline towards Sikhism, and then he dropped the whole matter when it became clear that he could not carry the new political privileges of the depressed classes into a new religion, that never returned to a group movement for Hindu religious rights. Ambedkar seemed to have finally decided to embrace Buddhism with his followers. However, he seemed to have leaned more and more towards Buddhism. Why did he wait for twenty years to join Buddhism? This is the central argument of discussion and to know the historical background of Ambedkar’s Neo-Buddhism.


Understanding the discursive discourse of dalit Autobiographies
M.A., M.A., M.Phil.
Research Scholar, (Ph.D programme)
Acharya Nagarjuna University
Nagarjuna Nagar,
Guntur District - 522 510.
Andhra Pradesh.
Ph. : 91-99084 20169
E.Mail : derrida_2007@rediff.com, sivanag2222@yahoo.com

Dalit autobiographies are considered as the microcosms that looked into the lives of Dalits and make us understand the injustice and humiliation the Dalits experienced for generations. Dalit writers like Vasanth Moon, Joseph Maqwam, Sharan Kumar Limbale, Narendra Jadav, Omprakash Valmiki, Bhama and Dr.Katti Padma Rao have rightly discussed and intellectualized the dialectics of Dalits in their works.

Though Dalit literature has its significance in Indian literature since centuries, it was influenced and limited by the Hindu religious beliefs. Dalit literature has become distinct with the emergence of Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s philosophy. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s dedicated contribution in eradicating the Caste system from the domination of Hindu religions has awakened many Dalit intellectuals across the country. Most of the Dalit intellectuals have rendered their experiences of humiliation and agitation in the genres like poetry, short story, essays, songs and autobiographies etc.... Dalit autobiography is considered an authentic platform to depict the different cultural aspects Dalit life in reality. The commitment and vibrancy of the Dalit writers in presenting and accepting the Social injustices is meticulously presented in their autobiographies.

The contention of my paper is to present the evolution of Dalit autobiographies and locate their significance in the changed literary scenario. The paper will also concentrate on the critical and analytical explication of Dalit autobiographical representation in Omprakash Valmiki’s “Joothan-A Dalit’s Life” translated into English by Arun Prabha Mukerji.

Centre for Comparative Literature
School of Humanities
University of Hyderabad

Dalits can recount their own life experiences. They need not imitate social suffering because they themselves are the victims of caste society. Social discrimination has assumed several forms. Of course, it may vary from place to place and from person to person but the spirit of it is same. It manifests its cruelty in physical attacks against Dalits. In rural environs, it is terrible.

With the intrinsic feeling of discordance and oppression, the dominant caste Hindus maintain superfluous human relations claiming that caste discrimination is ousted from society. And it is also maintained that there are no distinctions of any kind among the people and the notion of this appears deliberately misleading. The distinctions are manifest not only in terms of material possessions but also in terms of social relations. However educated a Dalit may be, the place given to him or her is marginal and insignificant. It is an undeniable fact. Equality remains an object of mockery in this caste ridden society. Safety of life for the vulnerable communities appears to be a mirage. Socio-economic justice for the majority proves to be merely an illusion in every sense of the term. Modern circumstances which may have given equal opportunities to the broken people, failed to address their socio-economic misery.

Given the above social realities, in this paper I would like to profile my boyhood days of social suffering and economic misery, the dreaded twins in my life. I also want to stress the need for perseverance and hard work to overcome economic hardships at an individual level and collective strength to give a death blow to the social oppression.



The present paper is about the worship of village goddesses and the belief system of Dalit communities in rural coastal Andhra Pradesh.
In the context of Indian village religious life, the worship of the village goddesses plays an important role in the devotions of lower caste people. The village goddess cult gives lower caste people a recourse against their superiors. Even today, in many Brahmanical temples lower castes are not allowed to with in the precincts of the temple. Where as, in contrast the village goddess engages them directly by being associated with their local existential concern. She is perceived to be their deity and to be concerned especially with their well-being and that of their village. The paper will explore the reversal of roles in the context of a lower caste man acting as a priest and upper caste men observing the rites under the priesthood of a lower caste man during the annual Jataras of the village goddesses. It is also true that, lower castes find a degree of compensation for their low rank in their power to control upper caste persons through the rituals performed during the annual festival of the village goddess. Whenever the goddess spoke through the possessed lower caste woman, the upper caste men who were present would bow and touch the earth. Even if she scolds or uses abusive language any upper caste person, he or she should not retaliate in any way (Elmore, 1913). The sole object of the worship of these village goddesses is to propitiate them, to avert their wrath. When a misfortune comes, it is a sign that the goddess is angered and it is time to take steps to appease her. They are thus associated with the attribute of heat and require to be cooled. There is no act of uniformity and no ritual calendar regulating the festivals or forms of worship of village deities. Often offerings are made once or twice a week on fixed days usually on Sunday, Tuesday and Thurs days. These offerings consist of fruits flowers, cooked rice, curds and occasionally goat, sheep, pig and fowls.
One of the chief offering to the village goddess is blood sacrifice. In olden days, a he buffalo sacrifice was a must. When the village rituals are not performed to the gratification of the goddess for too long or performed to her dissatisfaction, she commands by possessing (Punakam) individuals and her commands have got to obey. Lest she may turn malevolent and calamity may befall on the village. While there are rites for observance of purity in the folk realm, no taboo of pollution is attached to blood offerings. The blood of the sacrificed animal mixed with kumbam (cooked rice), is sprinkled in the houses and along the Polimera (village border) to rid the village from the dangers of evil spirits and shades of the dead.
The mother goddess thus comprises several subsets of super natural beliefs and practices. By inspecting rituals, verbal texts and other goddess related matters the present paper will also try to seethe variations between the religion of the upper social groups and the cults of the lower social groups.

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