An overview of Pethavan (The Begetter) as a Dalit Literature

  • K Keerthana II MA English Literature, PG & Research Department of English, Presidency College (Autonomous), Chennai


Dalit Literature is a body of texts produced by writers whose caste background used to be referred to as “Untouchable” or “Scheduled Caste” and whose writings engages with caste, caste discrimination and their life from a Dalit point of view. This literature is specifically written to present the typical social, cultural and historical aspects of the Dalit communities. Dalit Literature emerged in the 1960s in Marathi language and it soon appeared in Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Punjabi, Sindhi and Tamil languages through narratives such as poem, short stories and autobiographies which stood out due to their stark portrayal of reality and the Dalit political scene.
The word “Dalit” mean “ground”, “suppressed”, “crushed” or “broken to pieces”.
The term Dalit is used as an adjective or noun to describe the people or communities that have remained down- trodden or at the margins of society throughout India’s long Social and History. The famous 19th century social reformer and the protagonist of thee4 interests of Dalits in Maharashtra, Jyotiba Phule first used this term in the context of the exploitation of the people who were conventionally called “Shudra” and “Outcaste”. The term “Dalit” is not an indicative term but it refers to such people and communities that are historically and structurally suppressed and excluded from the mainstream of society. “Dalit” is not a caste but a socio-economic category of discriminated people belonging to many castes and social groups speaking many languages. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar used the term to give a new respectful and empowering identity to the so called “untouchable” castes in preference to the term “Harijan” (Children of God), which was found to be a patronizing word.

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