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Seeking Begumpura
Seeking Begumpura

Seeking Begumpura

by Gail Omvedt

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Product ID:24085






8189059114 - Year: 2008 - Pages: 304



Gail Omvedt
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Author: Gail Omvedt
Publisher: Navayana
Year: 2008
Language: English
Pages: 304
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8189059114


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 brahmanical kaliyuga. Anticaste intellectuals in India posited utopias much before Thomas More, in 1516, articulated a Renaissance humanist version.

Gail Omvedt, in this study, focuses on the worldviews of subaltern visionaries spanning five centuries—Chokhamela, Janabai, Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, the Kartabhajas, Phule, Iyothee Thass, Pandita Ramabai, Periyar and Ambedkar. She charts the development of their utopian visions and the socioeconomic characteristics of the societies conceived through this long period.

Reason and ecstasy – dnyan and bhakti/bhav – are the underlying themes in this book. They constitute the two main strands of the utopian vision: the joy taken in the consciousness of a promised land and the analytical power that defines the contours of that land. Together, they make the road that leads to the promised land.

Rejecting Orientalist, nationalist and hindutva impulses to 'reinvent' India, Omvedt says all we need to do is take up the India envisioned by its dalit-bahujan intellectuals and leaders—the Begumpura of Ravidas, the Bali Rajya of Phule, the Dravidastan of Periyar, the Buddhist commonwealth of the Sakya Buddhists and Ambedkar's Prabuddha Bharat.

These are contrasted with Gandhi's village utopia of Ram Rajya, Nehru's hindutva-laced socialism and Savarkar's territorialist Hindu Rashtra. Finally, Omvedt emphasizes the continued relevance of the vision of the anticaste intellectuals in the era of globalization.


Introductions / Visions

New Message / Whisper in the Kaliyug

Nama / Dancing open the Temple

Kabir and Ramdas / Envisioning Begumpura

Tuka / the City beyond Time and death

Kartabhajas / Ecstasy and Reason in the Colonial yuga

Phule / Remembering the Kingdom of Bali

Jyothee Thass / The Buddhist Utopia

Ramabai / Women in the Kingdom of God

Periyar / Imagining Tamilnadu

Ambedkar / Prabuddha Bharat

Conclusion / Seeking Begumpura


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