" Democracy was
also a great narrative and not merely a monolithic kind of democratic participation."
 
 
 
 

Rajvaidya Mata Prasad

His name suggests that he is a Vaidya (an Aurvedic doctor) by occupation, but it is not so. He was born on February 23, 1928 at Ganeshganj locality in Lucknow. His mother Nirala Devi was a simple housewife. His father, Mangal Pradsad, was an acknowledged scholarly person of his community. When Mata Prasad went to seek admission to a primary school, he was tied to a tree and beaten up brutally by the rich members of the Muslim community. They believed that if the outcastes became educated, then none would be available to serve them. However, he completed his primary and middle level education from Ganeshganj Basic School. He recieved education up to the Senior Cambridge and developed interest in social work. He accepted the membership of the Congress Party, but was expelled from it for his controversial role in welcoming the Simon Commission at Charbagh railway station in Lucknow in 1928.

Being a Dalit, he encountered many humiliating circumstances in the course of his education. After completing his middle level education, he took admission in D.A.V. College, owned and administered by the Arya Samaj. When he participated in the welcome of Mohammad Ali Jinnah on his arrival to Lucknow and read a Memorandum of the Muslim League, it was reported in various newspapers. The manager of the college, Sri Ras Bihari Tiwari, on learning of it, expelled him from the college. Thereafter, again he took admission to a D.A.V. College, but this time in Lahore, and completed his secondary (intermediate) level education. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree after a long gap.

During the ‘Bharat Chodo Andolan’ in 1942, he was arrested in Bombay on August 10, and imprisoned. He was released on September 7, 1945. During these three years, he succeeded in formulating a design of his future activities. Now, he started working assiduously for qualitative transformation of socio-economic and cultural conditions of the Dalit communities leading a wretched life under the Brahmanical social structure. He actively participated in ‘Jat-Pat Toro Mandal’.

During the partition in 1947, he shifted to Lucknow from Lahore and settled there. The quest for further education prompted him to take admission in L.L.B. at Lucknow. His meeting with Gandhiji at Lucknow proved to be a turning point in his life. Overpowered by his values, ideals and way of life, he planned to change his career from law tothe Ayurveda discipline of medicine, rooted in Indian flora and fauna. He completed this course from Jhansi. In 1960 he submitted his thesis on the Medieval Ayurveda.

He had also association with the Scheduled Caste Federation of India. In 1947 when he met Gandhi, he also came under the influence of Ambedkar, who earnestly crusaded for the liberation of Dalits from cultural serfdom and perpetual stigmatized social existence, for no fault of theirs. During this period, he took up a job to meet his expenses. But he had to give up the job before long because he could not bear the pain of discrimination at his work place. It was only the first of several jobs that he quit. He succeeded in getting jobs of various kinds fifteen times, but each time the torment of humiliation did not permit him to compromise with the existing system, so each time he resigned from the job. Thus, getting and quitting jobs became almost a regular phenomenon with him, culminating in giving up the very idea of serving any institution. He now stood convinced that every institution, being a part of society, was bent upon suppressing those already suppressed, humiliating those already humiliated and torturing those already tortured, and dominating the torpid beings.

He thought of undertaking the task of writing books aimed at proliferating and popularizing the philosophy and ideology of egalitarianism. He was lucky to have had good relations with Chandrika Prasad Jigyasu and Bauddhanandji, both of whom, were committed to the cause of the liberation of Dalits from the encrusted Brahmanical ideology- an ideology too obdurate and fastidious to allow even the minimum required space for inclusion of Dalits in the social stream, to say nothing of their emancipation. But were the people belonging to this category aware of their peripheral position, of the causes that had led to it, and of some alternative philosophies or worldviews with theire roots in the Indian soil? Contemplation of these issues finally impelled him to take up writing a weapon applauded for its potency by the thinkers of both past and present.

He took Bauddhanand to be his guru; for his was a personality that not only inspired him, but also provided him sufficient time to deliberate on and discuss issues and philosophy pertaining to the liberation of Dalits from the quagmire of drudgery and cultural vacuity.

With his knowledge of four languages, he translated many Hindi books into English and literature of other languages in Hindi. He translated ‘Dhammapad’ into Hindi. In 1948, he wrote ‘Hindi Sanskriti Main Varna Vyavastha’ (Varna System in Hindi Culture) which has been well received by the readers. He has also written biographies of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, E.V.Ramaswamy, Swamy Bauddhanand, Santram B.A. and Rahul Sankryatayan. Some of his writings have provoked opposition, but these have not deterred him from his commitment to writing. He was manhandled and humiliated when his book ‘Hamara Panchayti Raj’ (Our Panchayati System) was under publication. Its manuscripts were burned. After this, he wrote ‘Refitting Buddha Age’, which created tension in society. Mr. R.P. Sapru was invited at the release of this book, and on this occasion beef was served as a mark of protest against Brahmanism.

The driving mission behind his writing activity is to create awareness among Dalits about social rights and roles. He has visited a large number of villages to persuade parents to send their children to school for education. He has also organized group discussions and distributed booklets. For the last one-and-a-half years, he is engaged in working on a book named, ‘Dalit Andolan Ka Itihaas’ (History of Dalit Movement) at the age of 78 years. He hopes it will prove to be a significant source of awareness to the contemporary Dalit communities.

 

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