Saturday, April 8, 2017

Mahatama Jyotirao Gobindrao Phule (Tribute on the eve of his 190th birthday falling on 11th APRIL 2017)

By:-   Er. H. R. Phonsa ( hrphonsa@gmail.com   Contact 9419134060  )


Image result  Ever since the Caste system was invented it has brought only  hate related miseries to the  the people of the  fourth Hindu Verna. They were/are addressed as Untouchable,Shudras, Ati Shudras present day called Mulnivasies, aboriginals, Dalits(Scheduled Castes(SCs), Scheduled Tribes( STs), Other Backward Classes( OBCs) etc). They were degraded even below the level of animals. They were denied all decent ways of life. They were  not only debarred to entre Schools, drinking water sources, temples, barber shops but their cremations  places were also separated. Their rights to progress, social, economical, educational, property rights including cultural were denied for them. Religious law codes like Manusmriti were written and  given divine sanctions ..  Divisions among Hindu castes were made permanent.  Untouchable were divided in as many as  6743 Castes, sub castes, Gotras etc. to ensure that they never get united and create any problem for the  Brahmins and Brahminical thinking . Hindu way of life was not only to divide work but workers. This also gave birth to caste war. The Hindus offered milk to snakes; rice with sugar to ants; worshipped tress like Tulsi, Pipal, and animals like cows but got polluted by the very shadow of a Dalit. Dalits are non-else but the creation of the Omnipresent Almighty God. Although for God  realization Hindus observe extreme austere   like living in lonely forests, undertake long journeys to 68 places of pilgrimage, observing fasts, celibacy  etc.. How could such external acts be divine when these cause division among humen?  It is said when excesses cross all limits the Divinity  sends messengers of  humanity.  These men of vision, convictions and strength show the masses the just path of love for all and hate to none. Lord Budha, Lord Mahaveera, Mohammad Sahib, Jesus Christ, Kabir, Guru Nanak ,Guru Ravidas,Chokhamela, Narayana Guru  and many more who  rose above pretty  caste prejudices.  After  2390 years of Mahatama Budha’s birth another friend to Deprived Section of Indians was born. He was Mahatama Phule. Mahatma Phule, a contemporary of KARL MARX(1818-1883), of the Indian social revolution and the first leader of peasants. In his time there was a conflict between the rationalist and the orthodox. His period can, therefore, be a aptly described as the dawn of revolution in the history not only of Maharashtra but of the country as a whole. This brought revolutionary changes in the social, economic, Education, Caste Systems, Agriculture, Women and widow upliftment , Human Rights, Untouchbility ,Social Equality.
           Mahatama Jyotirao Gobindrao Phule was born  on 11th April,1827 to revered couple Gobindrao and Chimnabai in village Khanbari of Poona. He earned the title of Mahatma and title of Bukar T.Washington (American President and a great leader against acts of slavery & apartheid).Since Gobindarao and his two brothers served as florists under the last Pashwas, so they were called Phules. Chimnabai died when Jyotiba was 9 months old.  So his childhood was not very pleasant. He was brought up in the care of Sagunabai Khersagar ( Daughter of Gondabai maternal aunt ,Moussi  of Jyotirao). Gobindrao wanted his son to get a higher education so as to spread the Gyan Jyoti for the humanity at large and Dalits in particular. But all relatives of Gobindrao were against the education of Jyotiba pleading that his son would get spoiled by studying English and could lend no help to him in his job as florist.  So  Jyotiba was taken out of school after he passed his primary school at the age of 9 years. Despite this Jyotiba continued working in fields during day and reading at night. Good hearted Goffar Beig Munshi ( A Muslim )and Latiz Sahib(A Christian) had good influence on Gobindarao. They insisted Gobindrao to get his son readmitted in school to complete his education .On their persuasion Gobindrao  got re- admitted his son in Scottish Mission High School at Poona in  January, 1841. It was in this school that he met Sadashiv Ballal Govande, a Brahmin, who remained a close friend throughout his life. Both Jotirao and Govande were greatly influenced by Thomas Paine's ideas and they read with great interest Paine's famous book ' The Rights of Man' Jyotirao alias Jyotiba  completed his secondary education in 1847 and decided not to accept any government job but work for the upliftment of downtrodden and deprived section of society by spread of education to all with special emphasis for women and untouchables. 
 Jyotiro was convinced and often proclaimed “ Lack of education leads to lack of wisdom, which leads to lack of morals, which further  leads to lack of progress  which leads to lack of money, which leads to the oppression of the lower classes”. See what state of society one lack of education can cause!
 Jyotiba got spine shivering experience of caste hate, when he was invited by his Brahmin friend to join Barat( Marriage party procession) of his brother. But in the Barat Jyotiba although wearing good  ress was noticed by the other Brahmin Baratis.  Jyotiba was abused, insulted and finally turned out of the party for his low caste. Jyotiba discussed this with his father who advised his son to avoid such invitations in future as the high caste Hindus shall not compromise on their religious superiority complex.
This incident changed the life concept  of  Jyotiba, who made up his mind to defy the caste system and decided to serve the shudras and women who were deprived of all of their human rights due to  the caste system. Jyotiba met at Ahmadnagar Miss  Farar,a teacher  in Girls Missionary School. Miss Farar explained Jyotiba and his friend Sahashiv Govande the importance of women education. Jyotiba was greatly impressed by advice of the Missionary teacher. He decided to work for women upliftment by spread of their education and other social welfare measures.
Jyotiba was married in 1840 to Savitribai.Savitribai Phule.She worked as the true disciple and co-missionary of her husband. They changed the Indin history by opening a school on 1-1-1848 for girls in Poona where Savitirbai was admitted as first Student along with four Brahmin girls, one Maratha girl and sixth a shepherd family girl.  Jyotirao Phule continued this school despite opposition form orthodox Hindus, who considered this act against their religion, as Hindu scriptures considered educating girls & Dalits as a great sin. Savitirbai received more education at home from his husband, and was appointed as Headmistress of one of his schools by Jyotiba. Even parents of Jyotiba did not co-operated & they turned him along with Savitribai out of their parental house. It was said by Brahmin priests that by by educating women and Dalits,a sin, forty generations of sinner shall be put into  Narak (hell) fire. But Phule  couple remained steadfast on their chosen path. They opened 18 such schools including some having co-education.
          Feeling pity on the condition of orphans Jyotiba Phule opened   orphanage, perhaps first such
 Institution by a Hindu. Jyotiba Phule gave protection to widows & assured them that orphanage shall take care of their children.  It was in this orphanage that a Brahmin widow  Kashbai gave birth to a male child in1873 and Jyotirao Phule adopted him as his son naming him Jaswant Phule & educated him to become a qualified doctor.
To earn his livelihood & to run his schools & other institutions he worked as contractor in PWD. Some of the structures including  a bridge are still standing in Pune and in its surrounding.  He termed PWD department as hotbed of corruption. He also supplied building materials required for the construction of the first masonry dam in India at Khadakwasla near Pune in the 1870s. One of Phule's businesses in 1863, was to supply metal-casting equipment. Jyotirao owned 60 acres of farmland at Manjri near Pune. In 1882 memorial, he styled himself as a merchant, cultivator and Municipal Contractor.
                      He published his book “Slavery,” in 1873, in which he declared his manifesto that he was willing to dine with all irrespective of their caste, creed, or country of origin. This book was also temed as  controversial The opening words of Slavery  are” Since the advent of rule of Brahmins for centuries( In India), the Shudras and Ati Shudras are suffering hardships and are leading miserable lives.------ Shudras  should think over their misfortune and they should eventually set themselves free from this tyranny of Bhats( Brahmins)”. Jotirao dedicated this book 'to the good people of the Unites States as a token of admiration for their sublime, disinterested and self-sacrificing devotion in the cause of Negro Slavery'. The book is written in the form of a dialogue.
 Jyotirao Phule  formed “ Satya Shodhak Samaj(Society of Seekers of Truth)  on 24 th September 1873 with Jotirao as its first president and treasurer. In 1876 this Samaj had 316 members. The main objectives of this organization were to liberate the Shudras, Ati Shudras & to prevent their exploitation by the Upper caste Hindus. He refused to regard Vedas as sacrosanct & denounced Chaturverna & instead published his book “Satya Dharma Pustak in 1891.  According to him all men & women were equal & entitled to enjoy equal rights & it was a sin to discriminate between human beings on the basis of sex or caste or creed . Widow bearning( Sati) was common those days. Widow remarriages were banned and child marriage was very common among the Hindus Society Jyotirao opposed these all social ills & worked for the benefits of sufferers. He  got re married one Shayani caste widow on 8th march 1890 against  strong protests. From the beginning of the year 1879 Krishnarao Bhalekar, one of his colleagues, edited a weekly called Deenbandhu which was the organ of the Satya Shodhak Samaj. The weekly articulated the grievances of the peasants sand workers. Deenbandhu defended Jotirao when Vishnushastri Chiplunkar, a powerful spokesman of the conservative nationalists, attacked Jotirao's writing in the most vitriolic style. Bosom  Friends Lokhande, Bhalekar and  Jyotirao addressed the meetings of the textile workers in Bombay and tried to organise the peasants and the workers. No such attempt was made by any organization  earlier to redress their grievances. This move infused a sense of awakening towards their rights, in the peasants and the workers.
Mahatama Phule opposed the evil customs so on the death of his father he did not call his caste people for meal instead he distributed meals in beggars, distributed pencils, writing wooden planks ( Patties )  & books to children which became annual function to remember his father.  He opposed the tyranny of landlords & money lenders , so he organized a protest Dharna in Poona District where  farmers joined in large number & burnt the records of the money lenders. He got a marriage ceremonised on 25 th December 1873 without the participation ob any Prohit. In the marriage feast the was only Pan & Supary nothing else. He edited  a weekly news paper “ DEEN BANDU ,” from 1st January 1877. Jyotirao Phule helper getting released in1881 from jail Lok Manaiya Ganga Dhar Tilk & Goda Adkar who were sentenced for writing in their papers “ The Kesri & the  Maratha ,”  against the policies of the British Govt.
On 2nd March, 1888,  Rao  Bahadur Hari Raoji Chiplunkar( 1842-1896) an Honorary Magistrate and President of the Association of Landlords has arranged a banquet in the honour of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. Hari Raoji Chiplunkar  was also a friend of Jotirao and had invited Jotirao too. Jotirao dressed like an Indian peasant, attended the function and made a speech. He commented on the rich invitees who displayed their wealth by wearing diamond-studded jewellery and warned the visiting dignitaries that the people who had gathered there did not represent India. If the Duke of Connaught was really interested in finding out the condition of the Indian subjects of Her Majesty the Queen of England, Jotirao suggested that he ought to visit some nearby villages as well as the  areas in the city occupied by the untouchables. He requested the Duke of Connaught who was a grandson of Queen Victoria to convey his message to her and made a strong plea to provide education to the poor people. Jotirao's speech created quite a stir( Wikipedia).
               For the life long service to the Dalits & other deprived section of the society Jyotirao Phule was awarded the Title Of MAHATAMA.  On 19 th May 1888. The function was attended by dignitaries like Justice Ranade, Dr. Bhandarkar , Tukaram Tatiya , Lokhande, Dholey & Bharkar besides . Jyotirao Phule was addressed by  Saya Ji Rao Gaikwardas Bukar T Washington in his letter to the president of the function.
               Jyotirao Phule’s  his right hand got  incapacitated in an illness, so he stated writing with his left hand & wrote a book titled as “ SARIVJANIK SATYA DHARAM , “ After ceaselessly working for over 63 years Jyotirao Phule passed away on 28 th November 1890 about 138 days before the birth  of Dr. BR Ambedkar another Dalit Maharashtrian  luminary, Father of free India’s Constitution , who also lifelong worked for the emancipation of Dalits , depressed, weak  & women. Jyotirao Phule shall be remembered for the centuries to come for the  good work he did for the Dalits & Depressed peoples of society including women.
 Words 2196
  Dated 07-04-2017                                          Er. H. R. Phonsa ( Jammu)
                                                               hrphonsa@gmail.com
                                                               Contact:-9419134060


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Importance of February Month for Dalit Movement



Er. H.R.Phonsa              Chartered Engineer(I)       
BE.(Civil) MIE, LMIRC  ,FIV(INDIA)                       ( -0191-2432712,9419134060/93136
Ex. EXECUTIVE ENGINEER                                            OFF/R #63/5
Recipient of                                                        NANAK NAGAR,JAMMU TAWI 180004.
 i)DrAmbedkarNationalAward 2012                    Email:zenithrs@yahoo.com    
 (ii)Dr.B.R.AmbedkarStateAward ( J&K State) 1994                      hrphonsa@gmail.com
(ii)Dr. B.R. Ambedkar State Award ( J&K State) 1994 
 ii) Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Distinguished Service Award 2003
iii( Babu Jagjivan Ram centenary state( J&K) Award
iv) Dr B.R. Ambedkar Plaque of Honour  2009 ,2011
v) Ashoka Mitra Award 2012
vi) Dr. Ambedkar Award2014 S/C,S/T& OBC employees Association  of JU.
  Writer of Dr.Ambedkar and His Associates
 Spokesman the Bhartiya Dalit Sahitya Akademy Delhi, J&K ( Regd)
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Importance of February Month for Dalit Movement
 Come February and the memory of a number of Dalit personalities, Saints and freedom Fighters is afresh again in  the minds of Dalit Samaj. As the circle of birth and death is continuing since the man was born on the earth planet. So people born and die daily. Unbiased historians record the contribution of dedicated persons of vision for the welfare of the society as a whole and the sect in which a particular person is born. It is a well recognized fact that since the past historians were from the higher Hindu Castes, so they ignored writing about the historic contribution of Dalit personalities. In respect of Dalit men and women of vision, the past historians have shown  contempt. With the dawn of 19th century some education institutions, particularly of Christian missionaries started parting education to all including poor, low caste, and untouchables. With this a change was brought in the whole education and writing history. Many Dalits also not only started churning out history books and consolidated truth out of existing literature but many challenged the inhuman treatment met out to them and their ancestors. Out of the limited material available I have tried here to find out the importance of February month in the Dalit history.
The following Dalit personalities, who contributed for the welfare of all in general and Dalits in particular were born in Feburary.
 1 Varale Balwantrao Hanmantrao (1901 -1977)
( His 115th  B.D falls on 2nd Feb,2016 )
       Shri Balwantrao Hanmantrao Varale an active participant of the Mahad Satyagraha of 1927 was closely associated with the movements of Baba Saheb. He was born on 2nd February 1901 at village Benadi in Belgaum and passed away in Mumbai on 9th August 1977 working with dedication for the cause of Dalits. He was personally very close with Dr. Ambedkar and was his trusted lieutenant in Dalit Emancipation programs. When Baba Saheb formed the Independent Labour Party (ILP) on 15 August, 1936, he was called to contest on ILP ticket for the Mumbai Legislative council election in 1937 which he won. In all along with Dr. Ambedkar fourteen candidates of ILP won for the election held on 17th February 1937. Shri Balwantrao Hanmantrao Varale got elected from Belgium. He was also a die hard volunteer of the scheduled Castes Federation founded by Dr. Ambedkar in 1942. When the Peoples Education Society (Registered in1945-46) established a college at Aurangabad in 1950, the college premises were named as Nagsen Van. Mr. Varale was present at college premises when Bodhivrisha (Buddha tree) was planted there by Baba Saheb. This college was renamed by Baba Saheb as Milind College, Aurangabad. Mr. Varale became the first Registrar of Milind College, Aurangabad. It is said Mr. Varale insisted Dr. Ambedkar to get sculptured his bust from Mr. R.B. Madilgekar in 1950, which the latter accepted. He accompanied Dr Ambedkar to attend the fourth Katmandu World Buddhist Conference. Mr.B.MVarale was the President of the people’s Education society from 1975 to 1977. He died on 8th August 1977. Although he lived only for 50 years, he made un- matching contribution for the welfare and well being of the Dalits.

2. Jagdeo Prasad  the Lenin of Bihar was born on February 02, 1922 at Kurtha of Jehanabad district of Bihar. He belonged to Kushwaha caste who are vegetable growers. The Kushwaha have richly contributed to the struggle for social justice and democracy. The born radical that he was, JP prevailed upon his grandfather to not perform ‘Shraddh ’ of his father. Instead of ‘Shraddh’ rituals, there a condolence meeting and a small meal was held, all without any Brahmin priest. This was not the only incident of caste-based exploitation. In 1950 he graduated. He along with 6 of his collegues won  Bihar Stae Assembly  Bye Elections-1969 on –Shoshit Dal Party. Shoshit means oppressed and exploited. His efforts elevated  Kapoori Thakur  as Dy Chief Minister in an OBC leader in 1967. Credit goes to Jagdeo Prasad for breaking the monopoly of upper castes on the post of Chief Minister of Bihar. Bihar saw first non-Congress government in 1967 under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha. Subsequently Kapoori Thakur was chief  Minister of Bihar(1970-71 & 1977-79).Shri. Satish  Prashad Singh and shri B.P.Mandal  another OBC Leaders was also chief Minister of Bihar in 1968. This practice is continuing intermittently. Jagdeo Prasad a master politician pulled down government of Mahamaya Prashad Sinha run with the support of Jansang and CPI for making space for Backward class Chief Minister. This brave son of Bihar was shot at and killed on September 05, 1974 in a conspiracy had been hatched by the feudal lords to kill him His funeral was attended by lakhs and condolence meeting on 7th Sep,1974 was attended among others by JP Narayan, Kapoori Thakuer,and R.S.Verma
Jagdeo Prasad coined slogan sums up many ideals.
“ We the exploited are ninety, ninety is our share in land, wealth and power, the ninety will not allow the rule of the ten.”
3. GURU RAVI DASS –A- PREEMINENT   MYSTIC
     ( Guru Ji’s  birthday falls on 22 nd Feubary,2016  )         
  “So purifying is Guru Ravi Dass, that the dust of his holy feet is worshiped by all.” Said Guru Nabha Dass.
Since in majority cases not much was written down about the lives of the saints, by saints themselves or their educated devotees. Saints never wanted anything in their glorification and there was wide spread illiteracy among their devotees. Many things about their life events are carried orally through ages.  So confusions and contradictions mixed up later about their parenthoods, places of birth, family details, religion or castes, dates associated with their life facts including births and deaths. Later writers collected different clues from different sources forming their own views, at times varying with one another. In case of Dalit saints this version had more relevancies. After long discussions and comparison of different research works by different scholars, some facts were churned out to be most acceptable. The largely accepted facts about the life of revered Goru Ravi Das are given here. Whereas differences in different writers still persists.
Guru Ravi Dass was born on Magh Purnima (Sunday)in Samvat  1471 ( 1414 AD ) to Shri Raghu & Shrimati Mata Karma Devi of Chamar caste at Mandiva Thein ,now called Goverdhan Pura  near Banaras  Some scholars give the names of his parents as Sh. Santosh Dass & Shrimati Mata Kalsi Devi . Guru Ravi Dass lived an exalted `life span of 126 years & left his mortal frame in 1540 AD to join back into the supreme ocean of Bliss or the Creator of Universe.  However, some scholars quote his life span of 151 years. But for want of authentic information such things are bound to happen.
     Guru Ravi Dass was born at a time when the orthodox and superstitious Hindu & Muslim priests had adopted rituals, Exterior body decorations, scarifying animals, visiting different places, bathing in different rivers, recitations of their Holy religious books etc. as sole methods of salvation from the circle of births & deaths. The Hindus had closed all their places of worships (temples), schools, entry into Government services or honorable services in private sectors for Shudras. ,Instead Shudras assigned to them most dirtiest duties for the Brahmans , Khatriyas & Vaishayas as per Rules framed by Manu All decent living were ruled out for them. Keeping richness of Guru Ravi Dass’s verses in view, 40 of them were incorporated into Sri Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Arjun Dev ji,
 Guru Ravi Dass denounced caste system which is based on un-natural laws & upheld Virtue by saying ;
 If a Brahmin is virtue less, Offer him no worship ‘O ‘Ravi Dass,
Worship instead the feet of a Chandal, If he is Found full of virtue.”
Guru Rravidas further said “If thou are born to Brahmin (Superior by birth ) mother , why you have not born through a different route .”
Guru Ravi Dass advised the rulers to provide equal & decent means of livelihood to all their subjects & he said,
I want kingdoms where every one is well-fed,
And all should live in harmony, Ravi Dass is happy only then”.
Guru Ravi Dass preached the rule of Almighty, that He has created everybody equal and there cannot be any
difference between persons of different castes. He said,
                    Ask not caste “o” Ravi Dass, What is there in clan or caste?
 Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaish, or Shudra, All belong to the same caste”
 Guru Ravi Dass preach to the world true message of God realization, Love & devotion to Lord, through loving His creations he didn’t denounce other religions but dogmas & rituals. Guru RaviDass said,
Those who are not dyed internally in love, But merely make an outer display,
They will go to the world of death, Truly doth Ravi Dass state”.
Sri Guru Ravidas, preached that God realization can only be through devotion to a  true Naam dyed or realized saint and , not through Persons who preach dogmas, animal scarifying, roaming in jungles ,observing austerities, etc. He said those who are not dyed internally in love, but merely make an outer display shall not find peace after death. God becomes accessible only when He takes human form & come to the level of human in this world, as idols are lifeless, the animals & birds cannot communicate with us, the past respectable Saints and Noble persons/ Souls are as far away as God, so a living Saint or Master can only guide us.  This human form of pure spirit is called Guru by the saints. So Guru is God incarnation. Sain Bulleh Shah Said “God (Molla ) has taken the form of man (Guru)”  Sat Guru Kabir Said “Worship thou the true worshiper of the Lord .”
Guru Ravi Dass Said “God, Guru & Saint, Are the same in consciousness.” Among guru Ravidas’s disciples were Meerabai, Raja Peepa ,Rana sanga many more. Guru ravidas is said to have Three meetings with Guru Nanak.
Guru Ravidas advised his disciples to lead a clean life, refrain from animal killing for eating or scarifying before gods & Goddesses, never take wine or any other intoxicants. Guru Ravi Dass said,
“Those who eat meat, they in fact cut their own throat,
 For whosoever is meat eater, he will have to go to hell “sayeth Ravi Dass.” He further said,
 “Even ,if wine is made with Holy water of Ganga ,Saints drink it not.” 
Guru Ravi Dass spread the message of love for all, devotion to Lord, universal brotherhood, honest earning for livelihood & to discard all that does not help in God realization. By doing so he became one with Lord. Said, Ravidas. Guru Ravi Dass’s 639th birthday is falling on03th Feb. 2015 and the same shall be celebrated throughout India besides in many foreign countries with reverence. The best way to remember Guru Ji is to follow his ideals.
4.Mata Ramabai Ambedkar( Her birthday falls on 7th Febuary,2016)
  Revered Mata Ramabai Ambedkar wife of  Bharat Ratana  Baba Sahib Dr.B.R.Ambedkar was born on 7th Febuary 1898 . It is rightly said, “There is a lady at the back of very successful man”.it was so in the case of Goswami Tulsidass, Shatrarpati Shiva Ji Maharaj, Tilak, Gandhi Veer Savarkar, Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Baba Sahib B R Ambedkar and may other personalities, who made history of sorts. The success of Dr. Ambedkar had incalculable contribution of his noble wife Smt. Ramabai Ambedkar, She was intelligent, kind, poise, obedient, chaste, religious, possessing high character, besides having simplicity of style and taste. This saintly lady although lived in extreme poverty but without a whisper of complaint on her face. Always turning her eyes towards God for the safety and prosperity of her husband. She was gentle by temperament, sober in manners, weak in constitution but modest in speech. Revered Ramabhai a sober and good girl came of a good but poor family. She was the second daughter of Bhiku Walandkar, a resident of Walang village near Dapoli in Konkan in central India. He worked as porter at Dopli. He used to carry fish loads on his head from sea side to the bazaar. His earning was so meager that he could hardly make both ends meet. Rama bhai was born on 7th Febuary 1898. Her childhood name was Ramibhai and she has two sisters Gorabhai and Meerabhai and one brother named Shanker Dhutrey. Shanker Dhutrey also called Shanker Walangkar  who worked in a press. These unfortunate children lost first their mother & after some time their father too in childhood so were brought up by their maternal and parental uncle in Bombay (now Mumbai). Bhiva later called Bhimrao Ramji Dass Ambedkar and Ramibhai (later Ramabhai) were married when they were 16 years and 9 years old respectively: The marriage was ceremonised shortly after Bhim had passed his matriculation examination. The marriage pandal was an open shed of the Byculla Fish market in Bombay, after the days market was over. At night the bridegroom and his relatives were lodged in one spacious corner of the open shed and that of with her relatives in another corner. The small stone plate forms in the market served as benches, where a small gutter of dirty water flowed underneath their feet. The marriage place was vacated in the early morning before sunrise to enable the merchants to carry their daily business. The marriage was ceremonies with religious rites and jollity. Ramibhai was renamed Ramabhai after marriage and later earned the distinction of being called Mata Ramabhai Ambedkar.
      Rambhai Ambedkar was initially  illiterate but her husband later taught here simple reading and writing. Educationally there was world of difference between the two but they loved and respected each other from the core of their heats. Love, faith, sincerity, sacrifice and understanding links, between the two persons formed unbreakable chain to live happily, despite both being educationally poles apart. Bhim used to call his wife affectionately as “Ramu” and she called him “Sahib”. She was deeply proud of her husband and Bhim respected here immensely. As Dr. Ambedkar was always busy in reading & could devote very little time for house hold affairs. At times she used to press here sahib’s feet in the evening, when he was reading & slept on the floor under his feet. But Ramabhai ensured that nobody disturbed him during this study or working. She cared for the health and welfare of her husband by all means.
      When Ambedkar was in America, she lived a life of destitute but without any regret. It is rare historical example of courage & conviction of a wife (Ramabhai) who used to make cowdung cakes and carry the same on her head, to use them as cheap household fuel, despite taunting remarks from neighboring women folk, when her husband (Dr B R Ambedkar), also in acute financial crisis was struggling to obtain world’s highest Academic degrees including Doctorate of Science in foreign lands. Despite financial crisis for studies and at home. Dr Ambedkar became Barrister reinforced by a London Doctorate of Science, an American Doctorate in Philosophy and Studies of Bonn University, which reflected immense sacrifices of his wife. When Ambedkar was preparing to go to America for higher studies, the neighboring women advised Ramabhai to stop her husband from going abroad, as he may marry a Mem (English lady) and desert her. But Ramabhai had unflinching faith on her sahib and replied to those ladies that’ she knew her husband well and he cannot do so”.
      Despite Ramabhai‘s little education she was an expert housewife and knew well to run her house hold affairs. On getting money for monthly household expenses from Ambedkar she used to divide the money into 30 parts keeping each part separately. Daily she opened one part and used it, so as not to run penniless on last dates of the month. Her economical habits and faith in her husband, enabled the couple to get constructed their palatial house namely, Rajgrih in Bombay. But even after moving into Rajgrih, it did not affect her simple habits.
      The wedlock of this ideal couple was blessed with four sons and one daughter, Out of his four sons namely, Ramesh, Gangadhar, yashwant and Rajratna and one daughter Indu only one son namely Yashwant Ambedkar (Father of Sh Parkash Abmedkar MP) survived, and others died mostly in fancy. This gave the couple great pains and sorrows. On the death of his youngest son Rajratan on Ist July 1926, Dr Ambedkar wrote on 16th August to one of his friends, “There is no use pretending that I and my wife have recovered from the shock of our Son’s death and I don’t think that we ever shall. - - - - - - - with the loss of our kids the salt of our life is gone - - - - “ After a long period of mourning & on the insistence of his well wishers, Dr Ambedkar settled down on the work for emancipation of down trodden but Ramabhai Continued in grief. This acted upon here health badly and she fell gravely ill. She being highly religious even during illness, she continued observing fasts on Saturdays took only water and black gram, worshipped God for His blessing on her husband. Her thoughts, mind and eyes were devoted to the service of her Sahib. At this she would say,’ Sahib what is there in having so many Degrees, cannot we live happily with lesser education , perhaps she did not know that the emancipation of million of untouchables was possible only with knowledge of order which Dr Ambedkar acquired before plunging into the war to break the age old chains of slavery of his brethren.
      On Ramabhai’s insistence and life long Dr Ambedkar took Ramabhai to Pandharpur for pilgrimage of Vethal Ji Maharaj, in whom she had lot of faith. But being untouchables they were not allowed to go near the temple, so they had to stand at a distance from the temple idol to offer prayers. It irritated the self-respecting Dr Ambedkar and he said “What of that Pandherpur, which prevents its devotees from seeing the image of God, by our own virtuous life, selfless service and spotless sacrifice in the cause of downtrodden humanity, we shall create another Pandharpur. Another Pandharpur! He kept his promise by leaving Hindu religion and embracing Buddhism and re-establishing Buddha in His motherland after centuries. Illness at last over power the weak body physique of Rama Bai Ambedkar. She was even taken to Dharwal by Dr. Ambedkar for change, but this to did not help in improving her health. No medicine could give her relief and at last on 27th May 1935 unfortunate happen. She passed away at her residence.
Thus came the end of the nobility of mind and purity of heart. But fortunately Dr Ambedkar was by the side of her death bed. About 10,000 people rich and poor, educated and illiterate, important and common attended here funeral procession. Her son Yashwant Ambedkar preformed all Hindus rites at the bidding of a Maha priest Sambhoo More, who was Baba Sahib’s colleague since their school days. After the death of Ramabhai, Baba Sahib was a completely broken person. Over a week he kept weeping like a child and it was difficult to console him. He put on a dress of a hermit and got his head tonsured. The saintly saffron robe indicated a hermit with world negating attitude. On the repeated requests & advice of his trusted friend and well – wishers he again took in his hand the oar to sail across his suffering fellowmen and to cut their age old chains of slavery.
5. Sri Sri Guru Chand Thakur ( His death anniversary falls on 9th February ,2016) Photo here is of his father sri sri Hari Chand Thakur
 Sri Sri  Guru Chand Thakur  son of Sri Sri Hari Chand Thakur a  social reformist of Bengal  ( Now Bangla Desh)  reportedly  passed away on 9th February 1897. He was born in Namasudra or Namassej(also called Chandal ).From early age he had inclinations for reformist. His father Sri Sri Hari Chand Thakur  who founded “Matua Mahasang”was born on 11March,1811 and passed away in 1877 .The Matua believe that male and female are equal. They discourage early marriage. Widow Remarriage is allowed. Both men and women can be religious teachers.Main principles Namasudra were: (1) No necessity of entering the temples of higher castes for the purpose of worship, (2) Discarding Brahmin priest for any ceremony, (3) Worship on Shri Hari, (4) Not to worship idols and not to visit pilgrimage centers of Hindus and (5) Maintain good moral conduct and lead an ideal family life. The sect became popular in East Bengal (now a part of Bangladesh) and he led the untouchability movement called the Chandal movement in India. He built an English high school at Orakandhi ( now in Bangladesh ) for the people of lower  community called Nama Shudra (untouchable community). He united the people of this community, but was against religion conversion. However some Bengali Brahmins have made him a Maithili Brahmin. Harichand’s doctrine is based on three basic principles-truth, love, and sanctity. The doctrine treats all people as equal. Shri Shri Harichand Thakur and his son Guruchand Thakur were great social reformers who worked to  reform the society of chandal (charal). Guruchand Thakur started Namasudra Welfare Association.He called an all Bengal Namasudra Conference  in 1881 at Duttadanga in Khulna district( Now Bangladesh). He united the people of lower community people, and protect them from religion conversion. Guruchand Thakur appealed to the then Governor of West Bengal and Assam to give employment to Namasudra in Government services.He also worked to get removed Chandal,a disdraceful name  by a new name. In the censes of 1911 Chandal word was substituted by  four different clans or Gotras.(  Source:-Wikipedia)
6. Shri Sant Ram B.A. ( His birthday falls on 14th Feb,2016  )                      
      Shri Sant Ram B.A. a Dalit( Megh) by caste was born on 14th Feburary 1887 at Puranni Bassi Hoshiarpur( Punjab).He had studied up to B.A. and there after devoted himself for Dalit upliftment social work. He was also a devoted Arya Samaji sect of Soami Dayanand Saraswati. To abolish caste system he worked to establish his own organization “Jat-Pat- Todak Mandal”. One of the plank of his organization was to promote inter caste marriages and to get abolished caste system from with in the Depressed classes. Since Arya Samajis did not co-oprate with Jat-Pat Todakl Mandal ideals, so Sh.Sant Ram  made it an independent organization to continue his efforts for  achieving  his set goals.
Shri Sant Ram invited Dr.Ambedkar to preside over  1936 annual convention  of the Jat-Pat Todak Mandal to be held at Lahore and also deliver his presidential address. Dr.Ambedkar wrote the Presidential address,but the Mandal  committee wanted some changes in it,to which Dr. Ambedkar did not agree. The convention was cancelled and the presidential address was published by Baba sahib as “Annihilation of Caste” in 1936 itself and this book is considered as one of the best books written by the author. It has gone into so many reprints since then. Sant Ram himself translated into Hindi and published in the Kranti  an Urdu monthly magazine. Sant Ram authored many books as well. He breathed his last on 5th June 1988.
7.Mahatma Jyotirao Phule ( His birthday falls on 20th Feb,2016  )                      
Mahatma Jyotirao Phule was born on 20-2-1827 to revered couple Gobindarao and Chimnabai in village  Khanbari of Poona. He earned the title of Mahatma and title of Bukar T.Washington (American President and a great leader against acts of slavery & apartheid).Since Gobindarao and his two brothers served as florists under the Pashwas, so they were called Phules.Chimnabai died when Jyotiba was 9 months old..Gobindrao wanted his son to get a higher education so as to spread the Gyan Jyoti for the humanity at large and Dalits in particular..Jyotirao completed his secondary education in 1847 and decided not to accept any government job but work for the upliftment of downtrodden( Women included ) and to spread education among them.
                         One day when Jyotirao accompanied the Barat of his Brahmin friend, but was insulted and abused as to  how a Dalit dared to take part in Barat (Marriage Party) of a Brahmin. After this incident Jyotiba made up his mind to defy the caste system and decided to serve the shudras and women who were deprived of all of their human rights under the caste system.Jyotiba was married
in 1840 to Savitribai. Savitribai Phule,  worked as the true disciple and co-missionary of her husband. They changed the history by opening a school on 1-1-1848 for girls in Poona where Savitirbai was admitted as first Student along with four Brahmin girls, one Maratha girl and sixth a shepherd family girl.Jyotirao Phule continued this school despite opposition form orthodox Hindus, who considered this act against their religion, as Hindu scriptures considered educating girls & Dalits as a great sin , defying the Hindu scriptures & Orthodox preaching of Caste proudly Brahmins , they opened 18 such schools including some having co-education. Thus the Phuley couple  became father & Mother Women Edfucation in India.
                      Feeling pity on the condition of orphans Jyotiba Phule opened   orphanage, perhaps first such institution by a Hindu. Jyotiba Phule gave protection to widows & assured them that his orphanage shall take care of their childrenirrespect of casteor colour..  It was in this orphanage that a Brahmin widow gave birth to a male child in1873 and Jyotirao Phule adopted him as his son & educated him to become a qualified doctor.
                         He published his controversial book “Slavery,” in 1873 ,in which he declared  his manifesto  that he was  willing to dine with all irrespective of  their caste, creed, or country of origin Jyotirao Phule  formed “ Satya Shodhak Samaj on 24 th September 1873. The main objectives of this organization were to liberate the Shudras, Ati Shudras & to prevent their exploitation by the Upper caste Hindus. He refused to regard Vedas as sacrosanct & denounced Chaturverna & instead published his book “Satya Dharma Pustak in 1891.  According to him all men & women  are equal  so are entitled to enjoy equal rights & it was a sin to discriminate between human beings Widow remarriages were banned and child marriage was very common among the Hindus Society Jyotirao opposed both & worked to benefit them and  got re- married one Shayani caste widow on 8th march 1890 against  strong protests He opposed the evil customs too.
 He edited a weekly news paper “DEEN BANDU,” from 1st January 1877 Jyotirao Phule got his right hand incapacitated in an illness, so he stated writing with his left hand & wrote a book titled as “ SARIVJANIK SATYA DHARAM , “ After ceaselessly working for over 63 years Jyotirao Phule passed away on 28 th November 1890 about 138 days before the birth  of Dr. BR Ambedkar another luminary, Father of free India’s Constitution , who too worked lifelong for the emancipation of Dalits , depressed, weak  & women Jyotirao Phule shall be remembered for the centuries to come for the  good work he did for the Dalits & Depressed peoples of society.
 

8.GADGE JI MAHARAJ( His birthday falls on 23rd Feb,2016  )                      
A great social & religious reformer of 19th century was born on 23 -02-1879 in the village Ron of Maharastra, to respected Sh. Singraji Janorkar & Mata Shrimati Sukhbai of Preet caste, a watermen’s community. He was married in childhood to Shrimati Kunnabai & both parented one girl child. Dabuji was his childhood name. Once Dabuji dared to take meals in a community function along with his community persons in the same row where upper caste Hindus were taking meals, but he was turned out. This incident made unforgettable dent on his tender mind, so in later years he opposed caste     System with all his might. He used to say that there are only two castes created by God namely man& woman. We are all human & Dalits or untouchables have nothing different than upper Caste Hindus. The superiority claims of upper Caste Hindus is nothing more than cheating & deception .He advised all to take lessons from the Sun, the Fire, the Trees the Animals, the Birds , the mother Earth , who provide equal services to all irrespective of caste, creed, sex , religion or place of birth of a person. He always wore rags & carried a Garwa (Water pot with a curved short, spout ) ,so he was called as Gadge Ji Maharaj . He said, “God realization is not in observing fasts, worshiping idols, undertaking long journeys to identified religious places,, listening to religious sermons but in service to humanity, particularly those who are poor, deprived , sick & needy .” he preached not to slaughter animals  to please gods & goddesses, do not waste money on pilgrims , do not drink wine , but serve your parents & poor’s well,  do not indulge in untouchability , do not be under the inferiority  complex , cut your expenditure on marriage functions and do not take or offer  dowry. He decried / cursed those who took the services of animals like cows, goats, horses, donkeys; buffalos etc during their youth but did not care them in their old age.
In  1949  when Dr. BR Ambedkar, the then Law Minister of Indian Union met Gadge ji ,  he advised  his Visitor to leave the Hindu religion, which is resistant to reforms, but also not to embrace Christianity or Islam. Dr Ambedkar followed advice of Gadge Ji & converted to Buddhism in 1956.  Gadge Baba dedicated Sant Chokhamela Dharmashala, Pandharpur to Dr Ambedkar for his love for Dr Ambedkar.
          On way to Amravati Gadge Baba ji passed away on 20th December 1956 on the Bridge of Perry River.   On the Tappi river between Khandla & Nagpur is situated his Samadhi named Shri Gadgeji Maharaj, “ GYANI DHAM ,” .In his Samadhi here  an  Asti-kalash or a pot  containing  Gadgeji’s ashes is stored in the basement of the memorial . Gadge Baba ji shall be remembered as a great emancipator & true guide of Dalits, who preached to live with dignity, compassion,love and mercy His main teaching are as;- Give food to the hungry
                                    Give Shelter to the needy
                                    Protect the environment.
                                    Protect Animals.
·      The Indian postal deptt issued a memorial postal stamp “ Baba Gadge” on 20th Dec.1998 to mark 42nd Death Anniversary  Baba Ji.The Government of India has instituted  a national award’ sant Baba Gadge Swachata Abhiyan”in 2000-01.
sant Baba Gadge Swachata Abhiyan” should be adopted by Indian Prime Minister   in his crusade for cleanliness.
                       This saint shall be remembered as a great emancipator & true guide of Dalits, who preached them to Live with dignity.                                



9. Shri Joginder Nath Mandal (1904-1968)
( His 118th B.D.falls on 29 Jan.2016)           
        Shri Joginder Nath Mandal was a trusted lieutenant of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and became the first Law Minister of Pakistan and also the Chairman of Constitution Drafting committee of Pakistan after the partition of India. Prior to the partition of India Shri Joginder Nath Mandal gained national prominence for winning the election in 1946 on SCF ticket and for being included in the interim Ministry of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Then Babu Jagjivan Ram was another prominent Dalit leader of Congress party and a minister in the Interim Ministry.  In free India Babu Jagjivan Ram served in different capacities including Deputy Prime Minister .
      Shri Joginder Nath Mandal was also fondly called Mahapran. Shri J.N. Mandal was born in Namashudra caste of Scheduled Castes on January 29th, 1904. He was born to a farmer Shri Ramdayal Mandal and Shrimati Sandhaya Devi of village Maister Kandi in Barisal district of undivided Bengal. He was admitted to a school when he was eight years old. He was meritorious and passed his Matriculation examination securing First Division in 1924. After passing his B.A. from B.M. College at Barisal in 1929 he secured admission for M.A. in Dacca University. Due to his weak financial position, he discontinued studies at Dacca University. However later he passed Law Degree in 1934. He was aware of the suppression of the Scheduled Castes by the upper Caste Hindus, who were denying them their due share in political, educational, social, religious and economical fields. He thought that only political power can mitigate the Shudras from their man made miseries. So he entered politics and contested his maiden election as independent candidate for the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1937. He defeated congress candidate, a very powerful and rich landlord. Therefore he became the member of the Legislative assembly when he was only 33 years old. There were 20 other Independent Scheduled Caste party leaders. Shri J.N. Mandal was elected as secretary with Shri Hem Chander Naskar as President of the Independent Scheduled Caste Party. The joint effort of the M.L.As succeeded in securing 15% reservation in services for Scheduled Caste candidates in Bengal. Observing sincerity, intelligence and organizational qualities of J.N. Mandal, Jenab Khawaja Nizamudeen, the Chief Minister of Bengal, inducted him as a minister in his cabinet along with two others from Scheduled Castes. So Shri J.N. Mandal became undisputed political leader of Scheduled Castes in Bengal.
   The Independent Labour Party (IPL) formed by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on15th August 1936 had got itself engaged in the welfare and the struggle to secure political power for Scheduled Castes. When in 1942 Dr. Ambedkar tried to broaden IPL’s base so changed its name to The Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF). Units of SCF were established in several states including Bengal.  The unit in Bengal was given the name of Bengal Provincial Scheduled Caste Federation. Meanwhile Shri J.N. Mandal started a weekly paper called “Jagran” through which he continued the crusade to enlighten the Dalits about their just rights.  This paper could not last long. He also started another weekly paper “The People’s Herald” in 1943 and in its inaugural function Dr. Ambedkar was present to bless the project.
On defeat of the ministry in 1935, fresh elections were ordered in 1946. Shri J.N. Mandal contested as a SCF party candidate from a general seat and won. After the elections, a new ministry under Jenab H.S. Surahawardy of Muslim League was formed. Shri J.N. Mandal was again included in the Ministry. Under Cabinet Plan in 1946, the Muslim League also joined the interim ministry formed by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and Shri J.N. Mandal was included from Muslim League quota and allotted Law portfolio.  The SCF in its convention held at Agra passed a congratulatory message to congratulate Shri Mandal on his selection to the interim ministry. The Provincial assemblies had the right to choose their representatives to form Constituent Assembly. Since Dr. B. R. Ambedkar had failed to win a seat from Bombay on SCF ticket, the prospects of his election to the Constituent Assembly were blocked.  Sardar Patel said that all doors and windows of the Constituent Assembly were closed to Dr. Ambedkar and now he cannot enter it. Here stepped in Shri J.N. Mandal to suggest that Dr. Ambedkar should contest for Legislative Assembly from Bengal.  Dr. Ambedkar agreed and so with the support of Scheduled Caste and Muslim members, he was elected from Bengal Legislature to be a member of Constituent Assembly of India. Subsequently Dr. Ambedkar was selected as the chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, thanks to the vision of Shri J.N. Mandal.
     Shri J.N. Mandal had clear vision of the rights of the Scheduled Castes, but declared that congress leaders were adamant not to give any such rights to the Scheduled Castes in free India, so the rights will have to be secured by dint of their unity. He was a strong supporter of united Bengal. He pleaded that political turmoil of partition was temporary and shall pass off soon.
   Things changed with the formation of the new country Pakistan on 14th August1947. Every individual was given the right to choose the country of his or her choice to live in. Shri Mandal opted to be a citizen of Pakistan to oversee the interests of the Scheduled Caste people left over there.  Jenab Liaquat Ali Khan became first Premier of Pakistan. Sh. J.N Mandal was included in the first Pakistan government as the Law ,Justice and Labour Minister. He was also the second minister of commonwealth and Kashmir affairs. So in the divided India both countries had the first law Ministers from among the Scheduled Castes. Shri J.N. Mandal as Law Minister had the honour to preside over the first meeting of the Pakistan Constituent Assembly. Since Pakistan Government was not prepared to grant constitutional rights to scheduled casted in Pakistan, so Shri J.N. Mandal decided to come back to India. He resigned on October 8, 1950 as Law Minister and as President of Pakistan's Constitution Drafting Committee. He came back to India in 1950 to continue his struggle for the rights of Dalits.
  After returning back to India he continued his work for the up liftment of Dalits. He played an important role in Dr. Ambedkar’s dream project of establishing the Republican Party of India (RPI). Shri J.N. Mandal contested for Lok Saba as an RPI Candidate from a general constituency in West Bengal in 1967 but lost.
This son of the soil, one of the important and brave soldiers of Dalit cause passed away in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on 5thOctober, 1968. He shall be long remembered for his life long fight for the Dalit cause
 Words 6,275 Dated 15-01-2016 By:- Er.H. R. Phonsa Jammu
The writer can be contacted on hrphonsa @ gmail.com  or zenithrs@yahoo.com   M-09419134060
 Source material References:-
1. Wikipedia
2. Galit Movement In India and Its Leaders by;-R.K. Kshirsagar
3. Dr Ambrdkar and His Associates by
“ Er.H.R.Phonsa”.Jammu