BHIMAYANA: Experiences of Untouchability


Blurb: Bhimayana: Experiences Of Untouchability is the story of Bhim, a dalit boy and how he faces the ostracisation in the society. It is skilfully woven with illustrations that enhance the experience of reading it. Divided into three books, it deals with the experiences of Dr. Ambedkar as a child, as a young adult and as the leader of the dalit movement later on. The first book titled Water is set in the village where Bhim lived as a child. It describes his experiences growing up as he struggles to come to terms with his untouchable status, posing questions and mulling over answers which are not there. The second book titled Shelter, takes us into his young adulthood, where he is returning from Columbia University with an education in hand to Baroda. It encases the existence of the caste system still prevalent in the country leading to harrowing experiences which make him drop his plans. The third book titled Travels is about the time when Bhim establishes himself as a leader of the dalit movement. The trials and tribulations faced by him even as an established leader still struggling for equality is the flavour of this book. A truly poignant and hard hitting revelation of the malice of the caste system, this book with its unique and moving illustrations and narrations brings across the life and struggle of Bhimrao Ambedkar. It is being hailed as a must read for every conscientious Indian.

About The Authors: Durgabai Vyam is a Gond artist. She received the IGNCA Scholarship in 2006-07. She has presented her works in many art exhibitions in India. Subhash Vyam is also a Gond artist from Madhya Pradesh. He was given the Rajya Hastha Shilpa Puraskar in 2002. Srividya Natarajan is a dancer and novelist; she lives in London, Canada. S. Anand is the publisher of Navayana.

Review: The book “Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability” exemplified by Durgabai Vyam & Subhash Vyam and written by S Natarajan & S Anand, tells incidents in the life of B.R. Ambedkar. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes reading biographies of great leaders. This book has great Gond illustrations in comical form depicting untouchability as it was practiced in the twentieth century India during the colonial and even post-independence periods. This book showed that untouchability was widespread across social life during that era and access to basic needs of water, shelter and was limited to certain communities. Ambedkar fought for equitable rights to facilitate marginalized communities’ access to all the basic needs. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891–1956), is one of India’s leading revolutionaries, grew up untouchable. He gained multiple doctorates, campaigned against social discrimination and the caste system who went on drafting the Constitution of India. The bigotry experienced by Ambedkar continues to haunt 170 million dalits in India who are still basic dignities of life. In this book Pardhan-Gond artists Durgabai Vyam and Subhash Vyam intertwine historical proceedings with modern incidents, infusing fresh power into the lifelike idiom with their magical art. The explanatory end notes help you to understand the thinking. It is attempted in an amazing method. I hope we get to have books of these types more.

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