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