Individual and Society
Q. In context with Caste Laws to what extent does Premchand’s Deliverance reflect Phule’s claim that Dalits are mentally enslaved.
Caste Laws in an extract from the preface to the book Slavery published in 1873. This book (Gulamgiri) remains Jotirao Phule’s most influential publication till date. The title itself suggests Phule’s approach to the subject of caste. Phule considered caste and caste laws a form of slavery. Further in Premchand’s, Deliverance we see the working of caste laws which results in the death of Dukhi, the tanner. Phule analyses the emergence of the caste system from within a certain historical context and lays bare the inhuman treatment suffered by the Sudras under the system and Premchand’s story Deliverance delineates the practice of this system in the story of Dukhi. Premchand represents with a piece of life, an experience, to convey the terrible sufferings of the lower castes under the caste system.
The slavery to which the Sudras have been reduced over the centuries is both a mental and physical subjugation. They have been kept ignorant and illiterate through Brahminical cunning and have been treated as slaves in traditional society by being assigned the meanest and most degrading work. The Sudra under Brahmanism was reduced to the status of an animal such as a cat, a dog or a frog etc. With the pen dipped in acid Phule says, “If a Brahmin kills any of these animals or a Sudra he can be absolved of his sin by performing a fasting penance. On the other hand, if a Sudra killed a Brahmin he had to pay for it with his life”. A Sudra’s life was not worthy of any respect or dignity. The caste discrimination was extremely rigid that even the touch of a Sudra or shadow of the one was deemed as pollution. They were not more than chattels. Phule further affirms, “If a Sudra cohabits with a Brahminee adulteress, his life is to be taken. But if a Brahmin goes even unto the lawful...