(15th February 1949 – 15th January 2014)
Over last four decades, struggle of Dalit was presented to the world in the form of poem by Mr. Namdeo Dhasal (a Marathi Poet). Born in a village near Pune, Namdeo Dhasal shifted to Mumbai when his father decided to migrate. His first exposure to Mumbai was “Golpitha” a red light area in Mumbai.
Following the example of the American Black Panther movement, he founded the Dalit Panther with friends in 1972. This militant organization supported its radical political activism with provocative pamphlets. Dhasal was one of the famous and outspoken members of this group. Dhasal was a staunch Ambedkarite.
In 1972, he published his collection of poetry, Golpitha followed by Moorkh Mhataryane (By a Foolish Old Man), Tujhi Iyatta Kanchi? (How Educated Are You?); erotic Khel; and Priya Darshini (about the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi). Most of his writings are in Marathi Language.
Dhasal wrote two novels, and also published books such as Andhale Shatak (Century of Blindness) and Ambedkari Chalwal (Ambedkarite Movement), which was a reflection on the socialist and communist concepts of modernist movement founder.
Later, he published two more collections of his poetry: Mi Marale Suryachya Rathache Sat Ghode (I Killed the Seven Horses of the Sun), and Tujhe Boat Dharoon Mi Chalalo Ahe (I’m Walking, Holding Your Finger).
Dhasal wrote columns for the Marathi daily Saamana regularly after he teamed with Shiv Sena. Earlier, he had worked as an editor for the weekly Satyata.
Dhasal’s incisive poetry and equally sharp prose was his strength. He was awarded “Padam Shri” by Government of India in Year 1999 and he also received Sahitya Akademi’s Lifetime Achievement Award in year 2004.
Besides these awards, other prestigious awards received by Namdeo Dhasal include Soviet Land Nehru Award for his Poetry Book “Golpitha” in 1974. Dhasal lost his long battle to illness including colorectal Cancer. He will always remain an inspiration to entire literature world for Centuries together. The void created in Dalit Literature due to his untimely departure will remain unfilled forever.
I had privilege of meeting Mr. Namdeo Dhasal and his wife, Ms. Malika Amar Sheikh (the daughter of poet Late Amar Sheikh) at their residence in Andheri (Mumbai). It was a memorable moment of my life. During my one hour with him, we had discussions on various social issues being faced by Buddhist and Ambedkarites in India. He also gifted me his poetry book “Mi Marale Suryachya Rathache Sat Ghode!” with his autograph. He also received the Maharashtra State Awards for Literature for years 1973, 1974, 1982, 1983. Some of this significant Poetry Books are:-
- Golpitha (1973)
- Tuhi Iyatta Kanchi(1981)
- Moorkh Mhataryane dongar halvle
- Amchya itihasatil ek aprihary patra : Priya Darshini(1976)
- Ya Sattet Jiv Ramat Nahi(1995)
- Gandu Bagichha(1986)
- Mi Marale Suryachya Rathache Sat Ghode
- Tuze Boat Dharoon Mi Chalalo Ahe
- Ambedkari Chalwal (1981)
- Andhale Shatak (1997)
- Hadki Hadavala
- Ujedachi Kali Dunia
- Sarva Kahi Samashtisathi
- Buddha Dharma: Kahi Shesh Prashna
Published in Issue V, April 2014