Punjab Research Group

Exploring Ravidas By Daljit Ami

Posted in Articles by Pippa on November 10, 2009

© Tasveer Ghar: A Digital Archive of South Asian Popular Visual Culture

Ravidas was a prominent figure in the bhakti movement and a renowned poet of the nirgun bhakti tradition that valued the worship of a formless God (Fig. 01). He lived near Banaras (also known as Varanasi or Kashi), already a major centre of spiritual learning in the 14th and 15th centuries. Belonging as he did to one of the lowest castes of Hindu society, the Chamar or tanner, the spiritual status he attained was profoundly troubling for orthodox Hindus of his time. His ancestral profession was the making and mending of shoes. Members of the Chamar caste were considered physically and ritually impure on account of their occupational contact with carcasses, and were deemed to be ‘untouchables’ in medieval Hindu society which operated according to normative values determined according to one’s place in the caste hierarchy. The reading of Sanskrit scriptures was prohibited to lower castes, and direct access to the deities of the upper castes was restricted. In such an environment, Ravidas chose to defy the priestly caste, and to worship a formless God who could be envisioned without the mediation of human intermediaries.

Read further: http://tasveergharindia.net/cmsdesk/essay/82/index.html

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Is caste prejudice still an issue? By John McManus

Posted in Articles by Pippa on June 9, 2009

BBC News
Groups who say they face discrimination within their religions because of their ranking in society are gathering for a conference in London on the theme of “untouchability”. But is the caste system still used as means of excluding people within some religious groups in Britain?

The first world conference on “untouchability” aims to draw together the experiences of people from as far afield as Nigeria, Britain, and Japan.

Such “untouchability” or social exclusion, based on membership of certain groups, is a continuing problem for sections of the population worldwide, say the conference organisers.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8089287.stm

The Ravidassia movement could help to bring about the end of the caste system in India, says Kathryn Lum

Posted in Articles by Pippa on May 12, 2009

Kathryn Lum guardian.co.uk, Friday 8 May 2009

 Each year thousands of pilgrims from all over India as well as abroad converge on the city of Varanasi, site of the holy Ganges river. However, this is no ordinary pilgrimage. What distinguishes these pilgrims from the hundreds of thousands that regularly embark on a yatra (pilgrimage) in India is their low caste, and the fact that they worship a formerly untouchable guru (Guru Ravidass Ji), who dared to challenge caste oppression and prejudice in the 14th century, at a time when low-caste slavery was at its height. Although untouchability has since been formally outlawed and laws passed to counteract centuries of discrimination, the social stigma attached to being low caste has not been erased.

Read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/08/kathryn-lum-face-to-faith

Understanding Change in the Lives of Dalits of East Punjab since 1947

Posted in Articles by Pippa on May 4, 2009

By Harish K. Puri. Retired as Professor of Political Science and Chairman Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Chair, Guru Nanak Dev University.

Not many are aware that the Scheduled Castes (SCs) constituted a very substantial segment of population in Punjab state – 28.9 per cent, as per Census 2001. This is the highest level of concentration in any one state of India. The present study is related to the nature of change in the lives of the Dalits (Scheduled Castes) of Punjab since the Independence of India and the Partition of Punjab in 1947. It covers the change in the external conditions of their living i.e. demographic, economic, political and social and the also the change in the subjective dimension or their perception. The subjective dimension referred to the way persons belonging to the Scheduled Caste communities viewed themselves and the manner in which they were viewed and treated by the others at the two ends of this time span i.e. at the beginning of the 1950s and at present.

Read full article: understanding-change-in-the-lives-of-dalits

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