G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

H. P. Lovecraft: "What a man does for pay is of little significance. What he is, as a sensitive instrument responsive to the world's beauty, is everything!"

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Thursday, April 14, 2016

माझे बाबा...तेजस्वी दर्शनाची एकशेपंचवीस वर्षे...B R Ambedkar@125

Today April 14 2016 is 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B R Ambedkar 

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, in the unpublished Preface dated April 6, 1956, to 'The Buddha and His Dhamma':

“I told my father that I did not like any of the figures in (the) Mahabharata. I said, ‘I do not like Bhishma and Drona, nor Krishna. Bhishma and Drona were hypocrites. They said one thing and did quite the opposite. Krishna believed in fraud. His life is nothing but a series of frauds. Equal dislike I have for Rama. Examine his conduct in the Surpanakha episode, in the Vali-Sugriva episode, and his beastly behaviour towards Sita.’ My father was silent, and made no reply. He knew that there was a revolt.”

"What is the village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow-mindedness and communalism?"


Perry Anderson:

“When Gandhi was blackmailing Ambedkar to submit to the demand that Untouchables be treated as loyal Hindus within the caste system, rather than pariahs excluded from it, Nehru uttered not a word in solidarity or support for Ambedkar.”

Arundhati Roy:

“...Dr Ambedkar’s disillusionment with the Communist Party began with the textile workers’ strike in Mumbai in 1928 when he realised that despite all the rhetoric about working class solidarity, the party did not find it objectionable that the “untouchables” were kept out of the weaving department (and only qualified for the lower paid spinning department) because the work involved the use of saliva on the threads, which other castes considered “polluting”...”
 
V S Naipaul on Ambedkar’s birth anniversary celebration at Mumbai, “India A Million Mutinies Now”, 1990:
"...There had, indeed, been a religious stillness about the people in the line. They had been like people gaining merit through doing the right thing. The Dr Ambedkar idea made sense of the flags and the emblems of which I had had a memory. The people I had seen were honouring their leader, their saint, their deity; and by this they were honouring themselves as well..."



John Updike:
”(During the fourth decade of The New Yorker 1955-1964) the foremost domestic issue of the time was the struggle of the black minority for civil rights, yet people of color are almost totally absent from these cartoons.”


For me, Ambedkar is the greatest thinker Maharashtra produced in 20th century and was not given his due by majority of his contemporary Marathi literati even after his death.

For instance, I was quite surprised to discover that T. S. Shejwalkar (त्र्यं शं शेजवलकर) had written almost nothing on him. I have also NOT seen anything substantial written by Durga Bhagwat (दुर्गा भागवत), M. V. Dhond (म वा धोंड) on him.

Shripad Krushna Kolhatkar (श्रीपाद कृष्ण कोल्हटकर) 1871-1934 was known to recognize and promote new talent in different fields. I have read accounts of his encouragement to R D Karve (र धों कर्वे) and Shejwalkar.

While reviewing very popular novel of Hari Narayan Apte's (हरि नारायण आपटे) 'Pan Lakshat Kon Gheto' (पण लक्षात कोण घेतो?)-published in 1890- Kolhatkar said:

"रा. आपट्यांनी स्त्रियांच्या दुःखाची कहाणी सांगितली आहे तशी मागासलेल्या जातीच्या दुःखाची सांगितल्यास ती मिसेस स्टौच्या 'टॉम काकाची कोठडी' या कादंबरीच्या खालोखाल क्रांतिकारक होईल अशी खात्री वाटते. "

(Mr. Apte has told the story of misery of women, if a similar story can be told of misery of the backward castes it is certain that it would be revolutionary next only to Uncle Tom's Cabin.)

[This is quoted in Keshav Meshram (केशव तानाजी मेश्राम), a prominent Dalit writer's book "Shabdavrat" (शब्दव्रत)].
 
But I have not seen Kolhatkar's views on Ambedkar (1891-1956) or his thoughts. Ambedkar was 43, and very famous after The Poona Pact of 1932, when Kolhatkar died.


On the other hand, read the way Ambedkar analyses the greatness of M. G. Ranade (महादेव गोविंद रानडे) on January 18 1943....it sounds so contemporary and incisive:

 "...Ranade never received the honours of apotheosis as these great men of India today are destined to receive. How could he? He did not come with a message hot from Senai. He performed no miracles and promised no speedy deliverance and splendour. He was not a genius and he had no superhuman qualities. But there are compensations. If Ranade did not show splendour and dominance he brought us no catastrophe. If he had no superhuman qualities to use in the service of India, India was saved from ruin by its abuse. If he was not a genius, he did not display that perverse super subtlety of intellect and a temper of mind which is fundamentally dishonest and which has sown the seeds of distrust and which has made settlement so difficult of achievement. There is nothing exuberant and extravagant in Ranade. He refused to reap cheap notoriety by playing the part of an extremist. He refused to mislead people by playing upon and exploiting the patriotic sentiments of the people. He refused to be a party to methods which are crude which have volume but no effect and which are neither fool-proof nor knave-proof and which break the back even of the most earnest and sincere servants of the country and disable them from further effort. In short Ranade was like the wise Captain who knows that his duty is not to play with his ship clever and masterful tricks, just for effect and show in the midst of the ocean but to take it safely to its appointed port. In short Ranade was not a forged bank note and in worshiping him we have no feeling of kneeling before anything that is false..."

My feelings about Ambedkar's intellect are summed in the following quote. 

आचार्य प्र के अत्रे (P K Atre):

"...टिळकप्रेमाने आंधळया झालेल्या महाराष्ट्राने त्या वेळी गोखल्यांचा जो अनन्वित छळ केला त्याची आठवण झाली की  खरोखर अंगावर शहरा  येतो. पण अलीकडच्या कॉंग्रेसच्या जमान्यात गोखल्यांपेक्षाही आंबेडकरांचा जास्त छळ झाला… म्हणून राजकीय पूर्वग्रहाचा काळा चष्मा डोळ्यांवरून काढून टाकल्यावाचून आंबेडकरांच्या जीवनाचे आणि व्यक्तिमत्वाचे देदीप्यमान स्वरूप जनतेला कळून यावयाचे नाही आणि आंबेडकरांचे  हे तेजस्वी दर्शन झाल्याखेरीज त्यांच्याबद्दल आदर आणि प्रेम स्पृश्य समाजाच्या अंतःकरणात निर्माणही होणार नाही! डॉ. आंबेडकरांएवढा प्रचंड बुद्धीचा, विद्वत्तेचा आणि कर्तृत्वाचा दुसरा एकही महाराष्ट्रीय माणूस  आम्हाला तरी दिसत नाही!..."

[Navyug (नवयुग),  July 13 1947, ' from 'Dalitanche Baba' (दलितांचे बाबा), 1960/2002 ]

There is no great cinema (unlike Richard Attenbough's 'Gandhi', 1982) or great play (quite a few decent plays in Marathi on Gandhi, Tilak, V K Rajwade exist) on Ambedkar in any language or a great painting. I have so far not liked any of his biographies too.

Thankfully there is some great poetry, most notably by the late Namdeo Dhasal (नामदेव ढसाळ).


Publisher: Parchure Prakashan Mandir (परचुरे प्रकाशन मंदिर )

Artist: Alan Dunn, The New Yorker, May 7 1927

2 comments:

रेघ said...

Ambedkar was not given his due- agree!
But I wonder what Atre's quote explains about Dr. Ambedkar's intellect specifically except stating that he was an unparalleled intellectual. Typical Atre style superlatives and no deep exploration.

Aniruddha G. Kulkarni said...

Thanks.

Ambedkar's intellect is self evident to me. Over the years and very slowly, I have realized what a giant he was. His speech on Ranade is an example of blazing intellect expressed in a language that gets an immediate echo from my heart.

Atre always spoke to masses and therefore he does not explain the way perhaps you and I would like him to explain.

But I was happy to read in his book what I wanted to say for a very long time.

best,