Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tribute to Dhabolkar from Arthur Rd Jail: A Poem

- Sachin Malli
On the edge of a footpath In a pool of blood
lies the 20th of August, 2013.

But you obscurantist messengers of darkness
from my jail cell I witness
the beginning of your defeat.

If you wanted to strike and annihilate Dhabolkar 
why didn’t you use your black magic tricks 
putting a curse on him 
by crossing out his image 
or offering a chicken sacrifice ? 

Why didn’t you organize a Mahayagya 
with 108 Brahmins at the doorstep 
of his Committee Against Blind Faith 
and reduce his rationality to ashes? 

With hands folded and eyes shut 
why didn’t you ask for a boon 
to a millionaire god somewhere? 
Why didn’t you build more mathas and ashrams 
and gather hordes of people for your “satsangs’? 
Why didn’t you denounce Dabholkar there 
and brand him the atheist demon? 

Did we stop you from doing this? 

Today your crumpled faces are evidence 
that exhausted by your own failed fakery 
bent in your spine, you have collapsed. 
Your bag of magic tricks and all your vile powers 
could not contain the unstoppable storm 
of Dabholkar’s rebellion. 

Facing the harsh sun, strong winds, lashing rains 
Dabholkar marched on his path of reason 
a song of equality upon his lips. 

Brushing cobwebs of blind faith from our eyes 
plucking out the worms of fanaticism 
that crawl in our minds he rode the darkness 
sowing seeds of hope and light. 

From crematoriums to mathas of charlatan sadhus 
fighting casteists and caste panchayats 
demanding common water sources for Dalits 
Dabholkar kept up his relentless campaign. 

But you obscurantist ghosts of darkness 
none of your vile deeds and bags of black magic 
could osbscure his clear vision. 
Your so called power of the nether world 
could not finish the thought that is Dabholkar. 

Then finally you wielded the ultimate weapon 
the Bramhastra much used in your history. 
Stained already by the blood of Charavaka 
and Tukaram today it is soaked once again 
in the blood of Dabholkar. 

This is the latest chapter of your terrible deeds 
This the bloodied metal of your inhumanity 
This the latest link in your history of cruelty. 

On the edge of a footpath in a pool of blood 
lies the 20th of August, 2013 

But you obscurantist messengers of darkness 
I witness the beginning of your defeat. 
From my jail cell I still see 
a Narendra Dabholkar, undefeated. 

Sachin Mali
September, 2013, Arthur Rd Jail, Mumbai

Sachin Mali of Kabir Kala Manch has been in Arthur Rd jail since early April 2013 awaiting trial under the Unlwaful Activities (Prevention) Act. Originally in Marathi, this version of the poem is a quick translation by Simantini Dhuru.


Well known rationalist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was murdered on Aug 20 on a busy street in Pune. From all evidence his killing was a well planned conspiracy. Dr Dabholkar was a lifelong campaigner against superstition, blind faith, and godmen who exploited the gullible. His murder shocked many in Maharashtra. Citizens of Satara, his hometown, observed a spontaneous bandh. The city of Pune observed perhaps the first non-political shut down in its history in his memory. Popular sentiment against his murder appears so strong that the state government, which had been sitting on an anti-superstition bill drafted by him for more than a decade, passed it in two days after is death. Who could be so scared of Dr Dabholkar’s campaigns to get him killed? 

Crores of poor Indians in villages and tribal areas believe in and practice superstitions handed down through generations, which are part of their folk culture. These wretched of the earth hardly have resources to survive, let alone attack anyone. In the recent past, urban propertied sections too are increasingly turning to self-styled godmen/women, irrational practices like astrology and tarot card reading, and ritualistic religiosity. The culture of these people does not equip them for confronting challenges and stresses of modern life in a rational manner. Dr Dabholkar’s questioning of their beliefs must have disturbed these people. Yet, that does not appear to be a sufficient reason to desire, or even support, his death. Dr Dabholkar’s killers were driven by an aggressive intolerance and a self-righteous arrogance. The organization which actually planned his murder may be little known and small. Yet the ground for intolerance in current India is very large and fertile. The same Maharashtra Govt which is now claiming that the ideology that killed Gandhi is behind Dr Dabholkar’s murder, had accorded state funeral to Mr Bal Thackery, who built his political fortune by openly advocating violence against religious and linguistic minorities. The popularity of some one like Mr Narendra Modi among urban upper caste Hindus, and the wide berth given to him by the media, also show that intolerance, aggression and arrogance are looked up to by a significant section of Indians. 

Dr Dabhokar in life symbolized reason, open mindedness, and a resolute fight against exploitation based on blind faith. His murder is a sign of a deep malaise afflicting India. Saving India from it will be the best homage to Dr Dabholkar.

New Socialist Initiative - Delhi chapter


Anonymous said...

We need people from civil society to remove the bondage of the mind our nation is shackled with...which no politician will ever do......who will lead us now with the loss of Dr. Dabholkar?
Mera desh rho raha hai.......
Ms M. M. C. Antao, Goa

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