A Gardener in the Wasteland


Story by Srividya Natarajan
Art by Aparajita Ninan

9788189059767 | Hardcover | pp. 128 | 2016 | Navayana

In 1873, Jotirao Govindrao Phule wrote Gulamgiri (Slavery), a scathingly witty attack on the vedas being idle fantasies of the brahman mind which enslaved the shudras and atishudras. A hundred and forty years hence, Srividya Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan breathe fresh life into Phule’s rather graphic imagination, weaving in the story of Savitribai, Jotiba’s partner in his struggles.

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Jotirao Govindrao Phule wrote Gulamgiri (Slavery)¬Ý – a scathing and witty attack on brahmanism and the slavery of India‚Äôs ‚Äòlower‚Äô castes that it engendered. Unlike Indian nationalists, Phule (1827‚Äì1890) saw the British as people who could tame the local elite‚Äîthe brahmans who wielded power simply on the basis of birth. Inspired by Thomas Paine‚Äôs Rights of Man and the ideals of Enlightenment philosophers, Phule mounted a critique of the vedas as idle fantasies of the brahman mind. With the objective of liberating the sudras and atisudras, he founded the Satyashodak Samaj (Society of Truthseekers).

This revolutionary text remains relevant today, and given Phule’s rather graphic imagination lends itself almost naturally to graphic art Рthe first time a historical work has been interpreted as a graphic book in India. Srividya Natarajan and Aparajita Ninan also weave in the story of Savitribai, Jotiba’s wife and partner in his struggles, who started a school for girls in Pune in 1848, despite social opprobrium.

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Story by Srividya Natarajan
Art by Aparajita Ninan









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About the Contributors

Srividya Natarajan is a dancer and the author of the novel, No Onions Nor Garlic, a comic satire on caste, and Bhimayana.

Aparajita Ninan is a graphic designer from Delhi. This is her first book.


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