Seeking Begumpura: The Social Vision of Anticaste Intellectuals


Author: Gail Omvedt

9788189059453 | PB | pp. 304 | 2009 | Navayana

The bhakti radical Ravidas, in his song Begampura was the first to envision a castless, classless, tax-free city in India. This book rejects Orientalist, nationalist and hindutva impulses to ‘reinvent’ India. It also looks at worldviews of subaltern visionaries spanning several centuries.

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The bhakti radical Ravidas (C 1450–1520), calling himself a ‘Tanner now set free’, was the first to envision an Indian utopia in his song “Begumpura”-a modern casteless, classless, tax-free city without sorrow. This was in contrast to the dystopia of the brahmanic Kaliyuga. Rejecting Orientalist, nationalist and Hindu TV as impulses to ‘reinvent’ India, gail Omvedt threads together the world views of subaltern visionaries spanning five centuries—Chokhamela, Janabai, Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, the Kartabhajas, Phule, Iyothee Thass, Pandita Ramabai, Periyar, and Ambedkar. These are contrasted with Gandhi’s village utopia of Ram Rajan, Nehru’s hindutva-laced brahmanic socialism and Savarkar’s territorialist Hindu Rashtra. Reason and ecstasy—dnyan and bhakti—pave the road that leads to the promised land.

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Gail Omvedt









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About the Author

The author is an American-born Indian scholar, sociologist and human rights activist. She is a prolific writer and has published numerous books on the anti-caste movement, Dalit politics, and women’s struggles in India. She has written Dalits and the Democratic Revolution, Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste and Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India among others.


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