Dalit Aesthetic Theory


  • Prof. S. R. Jalote Former Professor of English, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi (U. P.), India


Didactic, Dalit Liteature, Doctrinaire, Aesthetics, Oppression, Conventions


Dalit Aesthetic Theory has similarities with the theories of subaltern literature, African American Literature as well as with problem play, and Drama of Ideas. Dalit Aesthetic Theory is indigenous and is firmly rooted in the history, politics and culture of Dalits. In Indian literature the use of untouchability as a theme is not new. Caste consciousness is a motif in the writings of 14th century saint-poet Chokhamela, a village Mahar, Kabir, Ravidas, Jyotiba Phule, Mahatma Gandhi, and Tagore. Prior to Ambedkar the untouchable writers accepted tacitly the tenets of Hindu religion and philosophy, namely, the theory of Karma and Varnashramdharma. But at the same time they regretted their miserable condition and despicable status in the society. Contemporary Dalit Literature is Ambedkarite Literature in which there is a portrayal of agonizing reality, and the expression of a radical revolt against the age old, time honoured defective traditions, conventions, and dogmas of Hindu religion. Dalit Literature cuts at the very roots of Varnashramdharma. According to Ambedkar the root cause of social and cultural exploitation of the Dalit lies in the disparaging laws pertaining to the status of the Dalit ordained in ancient Indian scriptures of Hindu religion and philosophy. Contemporary Dalit Literature portrays dreadful and humiliating events of Dalit world. It represents inequality, sorrow, and misery of the oppressed class. Dalit Literature tells us about the cultural conflict of the socially, economically, and culturally deprived and disadvantaged group of people. It requires literature to be revolutionary, didactic, and doctrinaire.


M.N. Wankhede, “Friends, the Day of Irresponsible Writers is Over,” in Poisoned Bread, ed. Arjun Dangle (Hyderabad: Orient Longman Ltd., 1992), p. 317.

Poisoned Bread, p. 256.

Ibid., pp.264-65.




Eleanor Zelliot, “Dalit Sahitya: The Historical Backgroud,” in An Anthology of Dalit Literature, ed. Mulk Raj Anand and Eleanor Zelliot (New Delhi:Gyan Publishing House, 1992), pp.18-19.

B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, The History of the Indian National Congress,Vol.1(Bombay:Padma Publications),p.79.



Young India, 17 November, 1927.

Harijan, 23 November, 1936.

B.R. Ambedkar, What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables (Bombay: Thackere, 2nd ed., 1946; first published in 1945), p. 283.

The Laws of Manu, Translated by Wendy Doniger with Brian K. Smith (London: Penguin Books, 1991), 10.12, p.236.

Poised Bread, p. 317.

Harijan, 7 July, 1946.

Sri Ramacaritmanasa, 2nd ed. (Gorakhpur: Gita Press), p. 888.

Ibid., pp. 633-34.

Poised Bread, p. 321.

Ibid., p. 320.

J.S. Collins, Shaw (London: Jonathan Cape, 1925), p.149.

Poised Bread, p. 259.




How to Cite

Prof. S. R. Jalote. (2016). Dalit Aesthetic Theory. The Creative Launcher, 1(1), 131–141. Retrieved from https://www.thecreativelauncher.com/index.php/tcl/article/view/366