Omprakash Valmiki’s Joothan: A Dalit’s life as a Dalit literay text
Every human being must find liberty, honour and security from intimidation by the powerful elements of society. These values are now articulated in a particular type of literature- its name being Dalit Literature which appeared in the 1960 starting with the Marathi language, is precisely a literature that artistically portrays the sorrow, tribulation, slavery, degradation, ridicule and poverty endured by Dalits. With the passage of time it appeared in Hindi, Kanada, Telgu, Bangla, and Tamil languages. In this way Dalit literature recognizing the centrality of humanity, is a lofty image of the joys and sorrows of human being. In short Dalit literature is a literature written by the Dalits who are oppressed by the Indian caste-system. Omprakash, a pioneer in Dalit writing in Hindi, saw dalit literature as a vital part of the struggle for social justice. His autobiography Joothan which first published in Hindi in 1997 and translated into Engligh in 2003 is a memoir of his painful experiences at a village near Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, in an untouchable caste Chuhra well before the defiant term ‘Dalit’ was coined. Valmiki’s story is one his terrible experiences. It articulates him as a freer being in a society that remains compassionless towards Dalits.