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Title: The Representation of Dalits in the History of Bengal from Ancient to Medieval Period (Around1000 B.C.-1757A.D.)
Authors: Karmakar, Debabrata
Keywords: Bengali Dalits
Dalit history
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Vidyasagar University , Midnapore , West Bengal , India
Series/Report no.: Journal of the Department of English;Vol 13 No 1 [2020]
Abstract: This paper aims to explore the representation of Dalits in Bengal in ancient and medieval period through a subaltern intervention in institutionalized historiography. The paper will investigate the narratives of established historians of ancient and medieval history of Bengal like R.C. Majumdar, Nitish Sengupta, Niharranjan Roy, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Richard M. Eaton and others, from a subaltern perspective in order to discover the missing Bengali Dalit history. It will show through Foucault’s concept of Right, Power and Knowledge/Truth triangle how the history of the underprivileged is subverted by institutional hegemony. In a caste-ridden Vedic society, there were prohibitions concerning sacred Vedic texts and Hindu temples that denied accessibility to Shudras or untouchables. These prohibitions interrelate, reinforce and complement each other to form a complex web of power and desire to dominate the untouchables in order to reproduce labour power. Vedic society possessed another principle of exclusion–division in society that rejectedShudrasand appropriated them by the proposition of “reason” to justify Vedic texts and rituals; and “folly” of the untouchable’s previous birth (much like the Divine Right of the Kings) for which he/she has been degenerated in his/her present life. The priests and Aryan kings actually created what Althusser calls common people’s “imaginary transposition of the real conditions of existence in order to ‘represent to themselves’ their real conditions of existence.” By fortifying this discrimination the Aryans encounter with the culture of Bengal, which was dominated by indigenous cultural signifiers like the worship of local goddesses, the dialects of ancient Bengal, non- Brahmanic social structure (counter to Manu), and so on, saw loss of representation of the Bengali Dalit voice in the process. This happened due to intermingling of cultures where non-Aryans deities were adopted in the Aryan pantheon and certain strict rules slackened to incorporate non-Aryan Bengali culture. This lost narrative due to hybridization of cultures is evident in texts like the Caryapadas, Mangal Kabyas, and other extant literary compositions of the time. The paper attempts to give a glimpse of that history which was in subaltern aphasia.
ISSN: 09733671
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Department of English - Vol 13 No 1 [2020]

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