Omprakash Valmiki : A Great Name in Dalit Literature

28 फरवरी 2019   |  Narendra valmiki   (524 बार पढ़ा जा चुका है)

      Omprakash Valmiki :  A Great Name in Dalit Literature

The Pride of Valmiki community a famous writer of Dalit literature, poet, story writer, actor, director, social activist, a multi talented personality Omprakash Valmiki was born on 30 June 1950 in Barla Village, District MuzzafarNagar (U.P). The name of his father was Chhotan Lal and his mother name was Mukundi Devi. His wife's name was Chanda who was very dearest to him. He willingly married the younger sister of his sister in law. He was very happy to have a wife like Chanda. He named his house ‘Chandrayan’ after his wife which shows his deep love. They didn’t have a child. When someone asked, Chandra used to say that all the students who are reading Omprakash Valmiki and researching on him are their own children. Hundred of students and scholars have worked on the writings of Valmiki. Valmiki remained a fellow of Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS) and President House Shimla until his death. Omprakash Valmiki died of Cancer on 17 November 2017. His death is a great loss to the literary world which can’t be compensated. He left us very early at the age of 63. Valmiki wanted two or three more years in his life so that he could complete the uncompleted works. But it could not be possible. He had felt the pain of being a Dalit from his early childhood. It remained always with him, no matter where he lived it always inspired him to write. He wrote on the problems of the Dalit and backward community.

He travelled a number of places like Dehradun, Mumbai, Chandrapur while serving the ordnance department. He came to Maharashtra for the training of ordnance department. In Maharashtra, he got the chance to see the Dalit movement closely. He studied the movement of Dr. Ambedkar and associated himself with the activists of Dalit movement. This inspiration compelled him towards literature and after returning from Maharashtra he gave vent to his feelings through his writings. His autobiography Joothan made the Dalit literature famous all over the world. By writing the Joothan he shaatered various beliefs and opened new grounds for Dalit literature. He changed the entire history of Hindi literature as well as of sociology. He attracted the attention of society towards the pathetic condition of Valmiki community. He described how this community is living an inhuman life. After the publication of Joothan, the effect left by its discussion was extraordinary.

Joothan inspired a number of Dalit writers to write their autobiographies. The autobiography of Valmiki is considered best among all the autobiographies of Dalit literature. Joothan has been translated into many Indian languages like Punjabi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Urdu, Malayalam etc. and various foreign languages including English, French and Swedish. It has been introduced into the curriculum of various universities. Apart from Joothan there were many stories and poems by Valmiki which got attention, important of them are Ghuspaithiye, Chhatri, Amma, Salaam, Pachis Choka Dedh So and Biram Ki Bahu etc. His first collection of poems Sadiyon ka Santaap came out in 1989 and after that he published Bas Bahut Ho Chuka. Ab Aur Nahi and Shabd Juth Nahi Bolte were published in 2009 and 2012 respectively. He had published four collection of poems in his life time. He translated the book Why I am Not A Hindu of Kancha Illiah into Hindi. Thakur ka Kuwan is a very heart touching poem:

The stove is of clay,

Clay is of pond,

Pond is of Landlord,

The hunger is of bread,

Bread is of Wheat,

Wheat is of field,

Field is of landlord,

Ox is of landlord,

Plow is of landlord,

The palm on the plown is mine,

But the crop is of landlord,

Well is of landlord,

Water is of landlord,

The fields and orchards are of landlord,

Then what is mine,

Village? City? Country?

Omprakash Valmiki produced the historical, social and cultural background of Valmiki community in his book Safai Devta. He had also written two critical books Dalit Sahitya Ka Saundrya Shastra and Mukhyadhara mai Dalit. He raised important issues in these books like the reason behind his writing, his writing process and Dalit consciousness etc. Valmiki also helped in the publication of the magazines like Pargya, Dalit Dastak, Kasam etc. The important aspect of his writing is that he is being read by Dalits as well as non Dalits. He had a firm belief in Ambedkarism and once said that no one can write about Dalit literature without reading Dr. Ambedkar. He was honoured with a number of awards including Dr Ambedkar Rashtriya Samman (1993), Parivesh Samman (1996), Kathakarm Samman (2001), New India Book Prize (2004), 8th Hindi World Convention Award (2007) and Sahitya Bhusan Award in New York, America. In his last days he wrote the preface to the novel of Kailash Chand Chauhan Bhanwar. He criticized the caste system in his writings. Once he wrote that, “he don’t want to go to heaven after his death because he will be identified by his caste there also.” At one place he writes, “who has placed this noose of caste in your neck that neither let you live, nor us.” In 2013 his last critical work Dalit Sahitya: Anubhav, Sanghrash aur Yatharth was published. In the very first section of this work he writes, “the feeling of caste is so deeply rooted in the society that there is casteism even among the Dalits and they don’t want to be freed from it.” His internal conflict about caste came out openly when a story Shavyatra was published in India Today ( Sept. 1997). He raises a question which is important to discuss. Heeralal asked that these people are facing discrimination because of their work that is scavenging. Do you agree that they should left this work? Omprakash Valmiki replied, “I do agree, but they don’t have any alternative. It is the responsibility of government to rehabilitate them. How can they live their work without an alternative? When they go for other works they are being taunted. Even at the higher posts they face discrimination.”

My introduction to Omprakash Valmiki was a coincidence. I was contesting the election of student union at Ch. Charan Singh University, Meerut and my hoardings were pasted on the main gate. A book seller used to sell the books at the stall there every Saturday. When I passing by the main gate he calls me and told me that I should read Omprakash Valmiki. I came to know him from that book seller in 2012. I completed the book Joothan and then contacted Valmiki and had a discussion about his book. But I will always remain regretful that I didn’t get a chance to meet him personally. Although he invited me but I didn’t able to go for some reasons. He praises me that I am keeping my title as Valmiki.

Many of his characters are the mouthpiece of the Dalit community. He got worldwide recognition from Joothan. He is one of the most respected authors among the Dalit writers and his memories will always remain in our heart.


Narendra Valmiki

Ph.D. Research Scholar

Mob. No. 9720866612

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