This article is in continuation to the last article focusing on Dalit Bahujan Social Reform Movements in Telangana. Leaders like Bhagya Reddy Varma had initiated several cultural and spiritual activities while opposing the caste dharma in the society Bhagya Reddy Varma initiated several cultural and spiritual activities for the growth of Jagan Mitra Mandali. Harikatha […]
This article is in continuation to the last article focusing on Dalit Bahujan Social Reform Movements in Telangana.
Leaders like Bhagya Reddy Varma had initiated several cultural and spiritual activities while opposing the caste dharma in the society
Bhagya Reddy Varma initiated several cultural and spiritual activities for the growth of Jagan Mitra Mandali. Harikatha cultural programmes, saha pankti bhojanaalu (inter-caste dining) etc., were organised by the Jagan Mitra Mandali. Bhagya Reddy Varma was inspired by the preachings of Gautama Buddha, who opposed caste dharma and vedic philosophy in ancient India, as his ideal. Members of Jagan Mitra Mandali, influenced by Buddhist teachings, opposed vedic dharma and caste structure and followed Buddhist thought.
Buddha Jayanti was also organised on the day of Vaishakha Purnima every year under the guidance of Bhagya Reddy Varma. Jagan Mitra Mandali followers quit animal sacrifice and adopted vegetarianism. Saha Pankti Bhojanam conducted during Buddha Purnima celebrations from 1913 to 1938, helped build unity and brotherhood among the Dalits. Besides popularising Buddhist dharma, Jagan Mitra Mandali also organised Nandanar and Chokamela celebrations to build awareness and understanding to fight against casteism among the Dalits.
Bhagya Reddy Varma also founded Manya Sangham in 1911 towards making Dalit awakening become a large scale movement. Manya Sangham organised several programmes against superstitions and social evils among the Dalits. The movement was built for eradication of alcoholism, animal sacrifice, child marriages, and atrocities against Dalit women in the name of Jogini, Devadasi and Basavi practices.
The education and employment opportunities were also important for the progress of Dalits and thus, Bhagya Reddy Varma started special schools for Dalits with his own resources in 1910 – and soon the number of schools increased to forty. Running these schools was not possible with limited resources that Bhagya Reddy Varma had and so, he sought financial assistance from the Nizam government to run these schools. The Nizam government agreed to support and these schools were subsequently run by the government.
Also, the schools started by Bhagya Reddy Varma taught in Telugu, the mother tongue of the learners, instead of Urdu, which was the official language and medium of instruction in other schools. These schools run by the government continued to teach in Telugu instead of Urdu as desired by Bhagya Reddy Varma.
Voluntary organisations started under his guidance also include Dharma Pracharini Sabha, Ahimsa Samaj, Jeevaraksha Gnana Prachara Mandali, Swasti Dal, Sangha Sanskrana Nataka Mandali, Raja Rammohan Roy Library, Adi Hindu Vaishnava Sammelanam, and Adi Hindu Social Service League. These organisations conducted social, spiritual and cultural activities to build unity and brotherhood among Dalits by fighting against Vedic dharma and the casteist practices. Many Dalit youth of Manya Sangham like Vellati Sheshayya, Jakkula Muttaiah, Yadari Adayya grew into leaders and contributed significantly for spreading the Dalit movement under the guidance of Bhagya Reddy Varma.
The educational institutions and voluntary organisations started by Bhagya Reddy Varma played a major role in building Adi Hindu society. Besides working for the unity among the Dalits, he also strived for the progressive of sub castes like the Madiga community. Similarly, Subedar Sayanna, an Arundathiate, made significant contributions to the upliftment of untouchable castes. Sayanna organised hundreds of meetings in Dalit settlements (bastis) for eradication of superstitions and social evils among Dalits during the decade of 1920. Unity among Dalits became possible because of the efforts of these two leaders. New awakening spread among Arundathi and Matangi communities along with the Adi Hindu movement.
Gunti Mallappa led the meeting of untouchable castes in 1932, at Nampally. This meeting was aimed at bringing unity among the Dalits. Bhagya Reddy Varma also participated in Arundathiya Mahasabha presided by Rao Saheb L C Guruswami in 1928, in Perumbudur, as part of his efforts at bringing together diverse communities and sub castes among Dalits. However, one could say that the age old traditional practices among Dalit sub-castes did not allow fructify his efforts.
To be continued…
Prof. Adapa Satyanarayana
Department of History, Osmania University