-Dr. Darla VenkateswaraRao,.
Lecturer, Department of Telugu,
University of Hyderabad, A.P., India.
Translated into English by Dr.J.Bheemaiah,
Lecturer, Centre for Comparative Studies,
University of Hyderabad, A.P., India ,
Lecturer, Department of Telugu,
University of Hyderabad, A.P., India.
Translated into English by Dr.J.Bheemaiah,
Lecturer, Centre for Comparative Studies,
University of Hyderabad, A.P., India ,
Telugu literature has about fifteen hundred years of history. In 11th century, Nannayya authored the Andhra Mahabharata. He was the court poet during the reign of Raja Raja Narendra and he wrote this eminent book only to protect the Varnashramadharmas (caste based duties) (Andhra Mahabharatham: 1-6). It was the sole duty of the rulers of those days to protect the Varnashramadharmas. These Varnashramadharmas were evolved based on the Manusmriti and other Hindu Shastras. The ancient poets treated the Madigas as Sudras in their attempt to interpret the Varnashramadharmas. Manusmriti made it clear that it was virtuous duty of the Sudras to serve the Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vyshyas without any jealousy, the three upper castes in the Hindu caste pyramid. An attempt of this ideological extension can be seen in the ancient Telugu literature. The modern literature portrayed the lives of Madigas from the human perspective, which is entirely different in its interpretation from that of the ancient literature. So the problem of caste can be discussed based on the mythological, ancient and modern interpretations. I would like to explain the Madiga life and how it began to reflect in different literary genres in their respective times. In this chapter, names of Telugu poems, lyrics, stories plays and other terms are given in English version in brackets.
1.1. Interpretation of the Madiga Community:
The Indian constitution listed different races and castes in India as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Madiga is one of the 59 sub-castes under scheduled caste category in Andhra Pradesh. However, the Mala - Madiga castes are different from each other in the State. In practice, the other sub-castes continue to remain frontal to these main sub-castes. The same situation can be seen even in Telugu literature. The Mala-Madiga castes were termed in different names such as Aspurushyas, Chandalas, Panchamas and Harijans. Dr. Ambedkar opposed those terms and coined a new term ‘Dalit’ which reflects social misery, suppression and oppression of Indian untouchables. Now the untouchables are called Dalits. In literature, Madigas can be clearly identified to the maximum extent based on their cultural characteristics in the light of the classification of the other dependent sub-castes such as Bindlas and Chidus. Madigas were involved in skinning the cattle, eating beef, making leather shoes, making drums and beating them on specific occasions for generations (Prof. Kancha Ilaiah 1996: iii). Though the poets did not clearly mention about Madigas in the interpretation of ancient literature, Madigas can be identified with their cultural and social life.
1.1.1. The Term ‘Madiga’ in Dictionaries:
In dictionaries, the term seeks to mean caste. Madigas are described as Jambavas, Arundhateeyas, Gosangas, Chandalas, Baindlas, Kommulas, Mathangas, and Pambalas etc. In ancient literature, Madigas were not distinguished from Malas in the interpretation of their life. In the light of this fact, we can understand the life reflections of Madigas in Telugu literature.
1.2. Madigas in Puranas (Legends):
It is the Jamba Puranam that highlights the self respect of Madigas and different angles of their life. The debate on the Madiga –Brahmana relationship can be seen at philosophical level in this Puranam. It is Jambavamuni who was born before the creation and next to him the birth of Adhishakthi, Trinities, Kamadenu, Saraswathi, Lakshimi and Parvathi would be seen in the Puranas.The researchers opine that Jamba Purana is one among the Telugu folk arts. The classical writers have not recognized the Jamba Puranam as one among the asthadhasha puranas (Eighteen legends) of India. There is the Hindu ideological role behind it. However, the Jamba Puranam finds its significant place in the Madiga literature.
The Jamba Puranam helps us to understand the culture and history of Madigas. The upper castes are trying to ennoble their caste. In the same way Madigas are also trying to ennoble their own caste based on the Jamba Puranam. Raagavaashistam (1959) (love bond of Vashista) the first legendary –social play written by Boyi Bheemanna argues in favour of the Madiga literature. Though, Bheemanna was Mala by caste, in the beginning he wrote about the Mala-Madigas with the same outlook. He clarified it in the preface to his play. Based on the legendary theme he wrote about the love story of Vashista and Arundhati Devi representing the Madiga women. Next to him, Namalakanti Jagannatham wrote a booklet titled Arundhati Devi Charitramu (1968)(history of Arundhati Devi). He tried to prove that the history of Madigas was noble and there was no caste system but in the latter period, certain caste was fastened to Vashista and Arundhati (1968:47). He inaugurated the Madiga literature with reference to the Puranas, Sanskrit and Telugu Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha and the Ramayanas. It was the Maharshi Vyasa who was responsible for the birth of the Pandavas. It was Parashara who was born to Sathyavathi, the Sudra woman. Brahmins treat the Vedas as their own treasuries which were actually sorted out by Parashara. They respect the Pandavas who were not born low. The writer is of the view that the caste differences were decided based on the deed but not on the Varna (1968:47). He also authored the book called Arundhateeyula Vamshavriksham.(chronological history of Arundhateeyas) Based on the Hindu mythology, Nallapati Shivanaraiah’s articles prove strong evidence for Madiga literature. His articles serve as base to understand the history and culture of Madigas.
Prof. Kolakaluri Enoch , in his play Munivahanudu (1976) (A bearer of Muni), narrates the story of Tiruppan Alwar, which reflects life and devotion of Madigas. B.V.S Murthy in his book Kathamanjari (1992) wrote the stories of Madigas and other untouchables. The book delineates not only the story of a devotee called Lakshimamma belonging to the Mathangi caste but also about Arundatidevi Cheritra(1992:111-118). Bonigala Rama Rao wrote Mala-Madigala Cheritra (1997:83)( the history of Mala- Madigas) in which he says basing on the Jamba Purana that Madigas were created prior to Brahmins. Madiga community was mentioned as the first community. Dr.S.T. Gnanada Kavi, in his book Scheduledu Kulalu Antaraniwara? (1997) (Scheduled Castes – Untouchables?), tried to prove basing on the stories and examples from the Puranas that Madiga were noble people in history. But he fails to give the proper evidence for his references. Talluri Laban Babu wrote Madiga Cheritra (1998) (The Madiga History) from a new perspective. He is of the view that Madigas were Jambavas and theirs was the Kshatriyas community which ruled India in the ancient times. He also says that Jambudwipam was a country which belonged to Madigas (2002:2-6). He showed the Puranas as evidence to strengthen his argument that Jambavanth is not the name of a person but it is the name of the Madiga community. Skins of the animals were used to protect from chill. Madigas, who displayed expertise in making skins into the protective clothing, were called tanners. Tallur’s book scientifically analyses the living ways of Madigas. He wrote his book based on anthropology, history and the Puranas. In Ekalavya, Prof. Kancha Ilaiah interprets the dimensions of the Madiga Purana from the economic perspective. He published a booklet, Madiga Aarthika Saangika Tatwam (1996) (Economic and Social Philosophy ofMadigas) .We understands Chadala as Madiga from his conversation with Adishankaracharya. Bonigala Rama Rao mentions this fact in Aadiguruvu Aacharya Chandala (2005) (Chandala - the first teacher) . Yendluri Sudhakar narrates two legendary stories about the Madiga life in Malle Moggala Godugu-Maadiga Kathalu (1999) (the umbrella buds of jasmine and the Madiga narratives). In the story ‘Jambamanthudu-Pichimaama’(p.17-201) ( Jambavanta and mad uncle) Yendluri writes about how the Trinities treated Jambavamuni as a low caste. From ‘Aaranjyothi’(p.113-116) (Arundhati Devi) it is understood that Brahmins took Arundhati as a low caste woman and killed her out of conspiracy. To hide their crime, they set her on marriage fire. Yendluri is of the view that the story of Arundhati lies behind this custom. The Hindu married couple is made to look at the Arundhati star after marriage. It is a kind of sanctity displayed to Arundhati. The rationalists feel that legendary stories and mythical concepts are meant for vested interests, social imbalances, caste inequalities and they serve as a curse on the part of the lower classes. Narla Venkateshwara Rao, one of the rationalists, castigated the Puranas. B.Vijaya Bharathi, in Puranalu- Kulavyavastha (legends and caste system) (2001, 2003 Hyderabad book Trust) says that if one keeps trusting the Asthadhasha Puranas, one should trust only the Jamba Purana while researching the Puranas. She continues to highlight the life of Madigas through the legendary literature.
1.3. Ancient Telugu Literature – the Madiga Life:
Though something is talked about Madigas in ancient Telugu literature, Madigas are mentioned as Sudras and Chandalas. Among Shiva poets Palkuri Somanatha(12th century),a Madiga bhakta wrote Bogaiah gari Katha. Srikrishna Devarayalu (16th century) wrote Mala Dasari Katha. Though he mentions Mala in his story, the term should be taken as Chandala but not Mala as it is. Though Vemana (17th century) talks about Madigas and praises Arundathi, some poems written by him reflect that he has no good intention about Dalits. Though the poet reflects his progressive thoughts in his poems it cannot be taken for granted that he resented the people of his class. Gurujada Appa Rao (19th century) says about Mala-Madigas in his Lavana Raju Katha that “if the good is Mala, I shall become Mala’. Here the term Mala is not the one in vogue. It should be taken as untouchable.
From the perspective of the Telugu Literature, the literary contribution (11th century to 19th century) has been made with a view to protecting the Varna system. Though Veerashaivas, Brahma Naidu and Vemana opposed the Varna system, they could not influence the literature. It is a Brahmin who wrote Mala Dasari Katha in 16th century. When critics observe in terms of devotional concept, Mala Dasari seems to have been described as noble. When is observed from the view point of Varna system, he is depicted as untouchable by the poet (Srikrishna Devarayalu). The devotion of a lower caste man was felt necessary for the redemption of an upper caste man .But the devotion was not counted for the temple entry. It is said to be due to Varna discrimination. Palkuriki Somanatha tells this story in Basavapurana. In Bogaiah Katha, Shiva comes to Bogaiah’s house in guise and asks him to cook the flesh of a cow for him. Bogaiah cooks it. Brahmins come to know this and attack him. They blame that Agraharam will be polluted by him and don’t let Madiga koyya off. Bogaiah leaves the village saying he will not depend on Agraharam for his livelihood. The entire village becomes disjointed. In the face of the disturbing trends, Brahmins call Bogaiah back and treat him with respect.
Mangipudi Venkatasharma(20th century) claims in Nirudda Bharatham that Madigas belong to the dynasty of Mathanga Mahamuni. It is Joshua, (20th century), the poet who describes first about Madigas in Telugu poetry. He himself says that he belongs to Madiga caste. But he frequently uses the term ‘Harijans’ in his poetry. He demands the eradication of untouchability under the aegis of Gandhiji. His Gabbilam is a great poem which depicts the agony of Dalits.
Yendluri Sudhakar as an Indian and Dalit has written poetry in the direction of protecting the Madiga self identity. His aim is that SC reservations should reach not only the Mala-Madigas but also to all the 59 sub-castes under the Scheduled Category. He wrote Dakkali Pilla (Andhra Prabha (06-09-1998) appealing the Madigas for the share of the Dakkali in a way that Madigas demand their genuine share of reservation from Malas.
We had at least a hut for our heads
Under the roof of the sky
The girl wandered like a nomad (Darky-2002 – translated by MO)
Thus Yendluri depicts the Dakkali girl and says that legitimate share of reservations should be given to them to remove their misery. The poet sarcastically describes that the Madigas are enjoying the legitimate share of the Dakkalis and in the same way Malas are infringing upon the rights of Madigas.
In Dasunu Chudali, Yendluri describing the equal similarities in the miseries of Mala-Madigas says that though they move together and live happily, they have become like worn out shoes and they could not be united. This poem proves that though Malas and Madigas equally suffer the malady of untouchability, they have their own special culture from each other. There is a rift between the two categories due to Madigas’ demand for their just share of reservation from Malas. The poem wonderfully depicts the mentality of Malas and Madigas who have been temporarily parted.
1.4. Modern Telugu Poetry – the Madiga Life:
Dalit poetry has a special place in Telugu poetry. Madiga poetry is one that has concentrated on the contemporary social movements. With the emergence of Madiga Dandora Movement, Madiga poetry has reached its zenith and Madigas started writing poetry claiming their rights. Yendluri Sudhakar tops among the Madiga poets.Yendluri has Vargikaraneeyam (2003), Kotta Gabbilam (New Bat-1998), Nalla Drakhsa Pandiri (Darky-2002) to his credit. He was successful in exposing the Madiga problem through his two long poems. Madiga Chaitannyam (Madiga Consciousness-1997), an anthology of poetry, published by Madiga Sahitya Vedika is said to be the first anthology of poetry. In this, Madigas themselves wrote poems and songs portraying their problems. The anthology consists of the writings of the eminent poets, which include Yendluri Sudhakar’s Dasunu Chudali,( I want see Dasu) Kolakaluri Enoch’s Cheppulaku Namaskaristhunnanu,( I Greet the Foot-wear) Nagappagari Sundara Raju’s Madigodu, Darla Venkateshwara Rao’s Madiga Manifesto, Katti Kallyan Chandra’s Uniki ( Existence) etc. This anthology has twenty three poems which include M. Johnson’s Madiga Chaitanyam,( the Madiga Conscious) Ravinuthula Prem Kishire’s Dandora, Vijaya Rathnam’s Madiga Mahathu, Anand’s Yellamma Jatara,( the Yellamma Festival) Kashi Madiga’s Roadumeeda Dandora,( Dandora on the Road) Tudi Mahender’s Madiga Jeevitham, ( the Madiga life), Kolluri Chiranjeev’s Nenumadigonni( I am the Madiga), Chitram Prasad’s Chatimpu ( the Announcement) Ashavadi Shashanka Mouli’s Peddintolla Shweta Patram ( the White Paper of the big House), Vemala Yellayya’s Katti Arini Padunupeduthunnam, Kolakaluri Srinivasa Rao’s Tera Dinchutam ( We Down the Curtain), Rajalingam’s Oh Madiga Uddyaminchu (Oh Madiga Agitate), Talluri Basupratap’s Ahavaninchu ( Invite) Masterji’s Evaranukunnaru ( Who do you think?) etc.
Nagappagari Sunder Raju published an anthology of poetry titled Chandala Chatimpu (1996) Gyara Yadaiah discusses the significance of Madiga culture in his anthologies of poetry titled Gutam Debba and Erkopi. Ravinuthala Prem Kishore has written a long poem titled Gunde Daruvu (2000). Several Madigas are writing Madiga poetry separately.
Critics have welcomed the Madiga poetry. G. Lakksmi Narasaiah, an eminent critic (1995-65) comments that Madiga poetry is forging a new trend in Dalit poetry and it is strengthening it further.
Trends in Madiga poetry
Madiga poetry is written to condemn the caste based discrimination
Madiga poetry has exposed fraud that is taking place in the name of unity
Madiga poetry protects Madiga rights besides resenting those who erode its legitimate rights.
It portrays the specialty in its history and culture
It describes the true Ambedkarism
The main thrust of the Madiga poetry is to ensure equal rights to all Dalits (all sub-castes)
Madiga poetry makes it clear that untouchability exists even among untouchables and the fact that only some sub-castes suffer its malady. In fact, it does not intend to divide Dalits nor it creates inimical contradiction among them but it tries to explain the historical facts.
After the emergence of Madiga poetry, other oppressed sections also wrote poetry reflecting their problems. Girijans and Backward Classes too started describing their problems with the inspiration of the Madiga poetry. It is playing a key role in creating social awareness among all the suppressed classes.
Madiga poetry ensures respect for the traditional occupation and protects its cultural nobility. It has introduced its terminology to literature. Thus it adds new words to the Telugu language.
Jupaka Subadra, Shyamla, Jujula Gouri, among those writing Madiga poetry, depict the new angles of Madiga life in Telangana. The sentiments of the Telangana people are truly reflected in their poetry.
Malas are also writing poetry against the Madiga poetry in the name of unity. Satish Chandra, Paidi Terish Babu, Gutam Swamy are among those opposing the Madiga poetry.
Most of the Dalit poets who used to condemn every ignoble deed of the upper castes in their poetry are now writing poetry from their own perspective in the post Dandora movement. The eminent Dalit poets like Katti Padma Rao and Shikhamani have not reflected in their poetry about the Dandora Movement which has been demanding the SC classification for the last one decade. Apathy of the Dalit poets who are not interested to highlight the internal differences among the Dalits smacks of discrimination towards the Madiga poetry.
1.5. The Life of Madigas in Narratives:
Sripada Subramanyam wrote Pullam Raju Katha ( a story of Pullam Raju) for the first time talking about Madigas. Later he wrote stories like Sagarasangamam(1931) ((convergence of the River); Madiga Palle(the Madiga ghetto) ; Ilaanti Tavvaai Vasthe (1934) (if the way is like this). He describes disunity, cultural difference among Madigas. He describes how the upper castes dominate the lower classes taking the advantage of their disunity. Gopi Chand, in his story, Cheppulu Kuttevadu(1961) (shoe maker) depicts the life of Madiga shoemakers on the roads. He describes how miserably they are dying of dust in their lungs.
Kolakaluri Enoch wrote a big story, Urabavi( the public well) This is the story about the problem of drinking water. The story depicts the adventure of a Madiga woman who rebels against the atrocities of the upper castes. The story is told with the Chanikya moral. The woman champions the cause of the lower order. G. Bhanu in his Papaniki Jeetham (1969) (return for the sin) depicts how Madiga woman rebels against the upper caste landlord who attempts to force her into sex. He kills her for her strong resistance. He dies of a terrible sore on his leg because of his sin. The story describes the Karma Theory. In Talli Matti(1991) (the mother soil), Swamy describes how the educated Madigas are caught in the inferiority complex to reveal their caste. In Jeevanaadulu(1991) (assimilated culture) (Shanti Narayana describes that other community people do not attend the marriages of Madigas. Even Nayi Brahmnas don’t play their music band for Madigas. Kaluva Mallaiah in his Agnigundum(1991) (the well of fire), describes that Madigas are serving the society by drumming for the village events. But they are not recognized. To avoid this they are sending their children to the Universities for education. With conspiracy upper castes are implicating their sons into false cases. Shanti Narayana in his Ukkupaadam,(Iron Foot) describes how a minister belonging to the Madiga community is unable to use his power because of the upper caste domination. The office without economic power is nominal and it is of no use. The story proves that without social equality reservations alone would not benefit the Madigas.
In the light of the reservation classification, many writers wrote the stories about the contradictions among the Mala-Madigas. Tholeti Jaganmohan Rao’s Varnakramalu, Paidi Terish Babu’s Anubanda Prashna (the question of affiliation), Sannapu Reddy Venkata Reddy’s AnTu(Pollution), Madduri Nagesh Babu’s Doma tera (the mosquito curtain), Swamy’s Prasantam, are some of the stories written based on the classification problem of Malas and Madigas.
Kolakaluri Enoch wrote the Madiga stories from the Ambedkar perspective. In his stories, Madiga life reflects in many angles. Among other stories, Urabavi , takaTTu (mortgage) GoDla Donga, Pottapegulibbandigodu, Kulavritti are worth mention. In the story, Takattu,Kolakaluri Enoch tries to prove the true relationship between the Brahmin and Madiga teachers through mortgaging a sacred thread.
In the story goDla donga (the thief of cattle), Nagadu by name living on butchery is suspected to be responsible for the theft of the cattle in the village. Nagadu himself keeps vigil throughout the night to catch the thief. He finds that the village upper caste head (Dora) resorts to the theft of the cattle. Though he catches Dora red-handed and hands over to the villagers, he is sure that he (Dora) will be let off. So he kills him and inserts into the stomach of an ox and throws into a gorge. Since then Dora disappears and the theft of the cattle stops. Kolakaluri Enoch depicts how Doras (the village upper caste head) brand the Madigas as cattle thieves. PoTTapegulibbandigoDu portrays that Dora grabs the land of the Madigas taking the advantage of their innocence. A Madiga youth kills Dora to get back the land. Kulavritti (2006) (caste based occupation) demands respect for the traditional occupation of Madigas like other occupations in society. Kolakaluri Enoch occupies the first place among those who write stories about Madigas in all angles.
Yendluri Sudhakar wrote Mallemoggala Godugu Madiga Katalu (1999) signifying the Madiga life and he ennobles the Madiga occupation, culture and language. He portrays the conflicts and problems in Madiga life from the Puranas to the present day. The writers declare that shoes are the goddesses for Madigas. They depict the innate talent of Madigas who displayed it in their tanning and won accolades from the Navabs (Lords) of that time. In the beginning, though Christianity took care of Madigas, in the later period caste discrimination and exploitation were practised even in that religion. There are some stories which describe that liberation is possible only with Ambedkarism. Commenting on these stories, Lakshminarasaiah, an eminent critic, describes Yendluri Sudhakar as Madiga Gorky Nagappagari Sunder Raju’s stories under the title MadigoDu (the Madiga person) help understand the Madiga culture. Critics are of the view that the stories of Yendluri Sudhakar and Nagappagari Sunder Raju have introduced the genre of autobiography in Telugu Literature.
On the whole, many writers wrote stories depicting the Madiga life with varied theme. The stories written by the non-Madigas reflect the issues of untouchability, temple entry, and inter-caste marriages. The stories are written merely out of sympathy but they do not reflect the conflict of Madiga life. Some upper caste writers wrote stories from the perspective that though Madiga are educated and seeking employment by virtue of reservation, they are unable to reveal their caste. For equal opportunities they are taking to the other religious faith. Kolakaluri Enoch, Yendluri Sudhakar, Boya Jangaiah, Nagappagari Sunder Raju, Gogu Shyamala, Jupaka Subadra and J. Gouri are those among the Madiga writers who depicted the depth of Madiga life in their stories.
1.6. Madiga life in Fiction:
In Kandukuri Veerasha Veerasha Lingam’s Rajashakara Charitram (1878), a social novel, the protagonist does not take water offered by an untouchable. But in Rangaraja Cheritramu (1872) written by Gopala Krishnama Shetty, one can find the story of a Kshetriya woman who grows in a Girijana family. Talla Pragada Surya Narayana’s Helavathi (1910) is the first Telugu novel that sympathetically portrays the problems of Mala-Madigas. There are some other novels like Unnava Lakshimi Narayanas’s Malapalli (1921-22), Veluri Shivarama Sastri’s Obaiah (1920), Ranganayakamma’s Balipeetam ( 1953), Akkineni kutunba Rao’s Sorajjam (1981), Volga’s Aakashamlo Sagam (1990), were written from the Mala-Madiga perspective.
Only after 1980, the novels with the Dalit consciousness began to appear. G Rama Mohan Rao’s Kakibathukulu (1980-82) was written under his pen name, Spartacas.
Sadananda Sharada’s Manchinilla Bavi (1992), Kaluva Mallaiah’s Gaddaladu Tandayee(1996), Neebanchan Kalmokta (1987), Sambaiah Chaduvu Batuku Pustakam (?), Chilukuri Devaputra Panchamam (1998),P. Nasaraiah’s Madigapalle(1998), G. Kalyan Rao’s Antarani Vasantam( Untouchable Spring-2007), Vemula Yellaiah’s Kakka (2000), Sidd i(2006), Gopararu Nageshwar Rao’s Dandemmeedi Chilukalu (2001),Boyi Jangaiah’s Jatara (1997), Maromaarpu (2002) delineates the life consciousness of Dalits ( Mala-Madigas).
Vemula Yellaiah’s Kakka portrays how the upper caste landlords create troubles for Madigas. In this novel, language, culture and traditions are discussed in detail. In Chilukuri Devaputra’s novel, Panchamam (the fifth caste), the protagonist, Shivaiah belongs to Madiga caste. His father is a drummer. Shivaiah who seeks higher education with the encouragement of an upper caste man, becomes a District officer. The dominant upper castes become ministers. They want to see that the land reforms are not implemented by Shivaiah who is working in the Revenue Department. When Sivaiah does not cooperate with the ministers, they get him suspended on charge of accepting a bribe. Even the Deputy Chief Minister belonging to Madiga caste is unable to protect Shivaiah. The novel proves that though higher positions are offered through reservation the political offices cannot uplift the Madigas. In this novel, social reality of fifty years of Dalit life is portrayed. The novel also discusses the classification issue of Malas and Madigas.
1.7. The Madiga Life in Plays:
According to the researchers, Korada Ramachandra Sastri’s Manjari Madhikariam (1860) is treated as the first Telugu play. In his research on Harijanabhyudayam –Telugu Naatakam (1994) (the Progress of Harijans and Telugu play), V. Potanna explains about Madigas as portrayed in the plays. He mentions Mala-Madigas as Harijans in his research. An opinion is formed among Malas that only Madigas are Harijans but not Malas. Potanna clarifies that many people call both Malas and Madigas Harijans (1994:54). There are a very few dramatists who have shown specialty in recognizing the Madigas in their plays. However, it is not difficult to recognize the Madigas in plays based on their culture and tradition.
Boyi Bheemanna’s Raagavaashistam (1959), the legendary-social play, delineates the love story of Arundhati and Vashista. The book can be described as the first Telugu play.. Vashista Maharhsi, a Brahmin hesitates to marry Arundhati, when he comes to know her caste. At last, he realizes her devotion and nobility and marries her. K. Chiranjeevi’s Neeli Deepaalu) (the blue lamp) social play, depicts the atrocities of a landlord against a Madiga woman and her community for rebelling against his son who forces her into sex. Parama Padam (the journey to heaven) a social play, written by K.S.T Sai also reflects the same theme.Kolakaluri Enoch s play, Munivahanudu, the story of Thiruppan who makes a successful attempt into the Sriranganatha temple, portrays the life of Madigas. God would not object to entry and worship by a Madiga but the objection is from the priest. Kolakaluri Enoch, in another play, Nirbhaya( Fearless), depicts the caste based humiliations to a Madiga student from his fellow students in the college. In his another play, Thyagi (a Bestower),Kolakaluri Enoch greatly portrays the Madiga-Brahmin happy couple, but the conflict arises when they come to know their mutual caste. This drama proves that caste will be insignificant when the coexistence of the people continue on their mutual understanding. Ratnagarbhalo Nithya Daridrudu(a pauper on the rich land) a play, written by M. Kanna Babu, describes a Madiga who lives on his caste based occupation. In Harijanoddaranam ( Upliftment of Harijans) a play, Maganti Paarthasarathi describes the love marriages of the Madiga-Brahmana varnas, caste norms and social conflicts arising out of them. He suggests how to overcome such sensitive problems. Patibandla Ananda Rao’s play, Nishiddaksharam(the banned letter) describes how Madigas were denied education for generations in society. Thus so many plays have come out portraying different angles in .Madiga life.
Many writers have portrayed different things related to untouchability, love, inter-caste marriages, disunity among Mala-Madigas and their social, cultural and economic conditions. There are some plays which suggest alternative occupation for Madigas for they have neither recognition to their traditional occupation and nor have they economic sustenance in their living. On the whole, the plays written by Dalits have touched upon the different angles of the Madiga life. In the Dalit plays, the psychological angle is exposed to the maximum extent. But only non -Dalits wrote plays reflecting the Madiga life.
Madiga literature finds its place in different genres of Telugu literature. It is written in different angles and discussed in different dimensions. It is treated as an integral part of Dalit literature. In ancient Telugu literature, Dalits and Madigas in particular were described as untouchables. With the emergence of Dalit literature the concept of untouchability underwent a lot of change that Madigas have secured their own identity in terms of culture among all untouchables. After fifty years of independence, Madigas began to be educated and they have started writing their literature out of their own experiences. They have produced lot of literature in different genres. Though Madiga literature reflects culture of Madigas, it has no a particular platform to share its way of life with the mainstream literature. Even media is not interested to spread the spirit of Madiga culture all around. Despite this fact Madiga writers are producing their own literature and they are evolving their own literary plat form to share their experience with other societies.
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