Why did Phule describe Amit Shah’s Vaman as “mean, treacherous and ungrateful”?

BJP president Amit Shah has sent out Vaman Jayanti greetings despite the fact that Vaman is not liked by the majority of people. If in Maharashtra you hear people say, ‘Eeda-Peeda Jaye, Bali ka raj aaye!’ (May all evil flee far from hence, and may Bali raja’s kingdom come!), while in Kerala and parts of Karnataka people celebrate the Onam festival wishing for the return of the mythical king.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reveres Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, never forgets to tweet greetings on the latter’s birth anniversary. But Phule’s book, Gulamgiri (‘Slavery’), while Bali is presented in a positive light Vaman is seen as cunning, deceitful, treacherous and ungrateful.

Here, are a few excerpts from Slavery, an English translation of Phule’s book by Dr K Jamnadas:

  • “Bali was a valiant warrior. He freed his many satraps from the depredations of terrorists and lawless elements and organised his kingdom into a well-knit structure. Vaman who then was the leader of the Vipras did not fancy this at all”.
  • “Vaman was very greedy, enterprising and haughty of temper”.
  •  [Dhondiba in conversation with Jyotiba]: “So then, (we are told that) Adi-Narayan incarnated himself as Vaman in the form of a pygmy beggar to banish Bali and hoodwinked him by asking for the gift of only three steps (of the earth). [Having been granted his plea] he abandoned his pygmy beggar’s form, assumed a gargantuan form, and having occupied the entire earth and the sky with his two steps, posed a problem before Bali as to where he should now put his third step. The ever generous Bali having become quite helpless now, told the gargantuan form to rest his third step on his head. At this the gleeful wicked gargantuan form banished Bali to the nether world by resting his foot on his head. Thus was the stratagem fulfilled. All this (fiction) has been described by the Upadhyas in their fictitious books of scriptures like ‘Bhagwat’ etc. Your narration conclusively proves that all this is rank fiction and bull-shit. So what so do you have to say about the whole thing now?
  • [Jyotiba]: “Now just reflect for a while. When that gargantuan form occupied the entire earth and sky with his two steps, it stands to reason to suppose that whole villages may have been crushed under his first step. How did Bali escape unhurt is a mystery to us. It is not stated therein that Bali was lifted gently and placed on the giant’s feet. Secondly, when the gigantic form placed his second step in the sky many stars and galaxies must have dashed against one another and, hence, must have been crushed. Thirdly, if he occupied the sky with his second step, where does he rest his torso? A person can raise his foot only up to his navel at best. So, his trunk (torso) may have reached the utmost limit of the sky. He could have fulfilled the contract by putting his third step on his own head. But he chose instead to put it on Bali’s head (a sheer treacherous deed!) and pressed him down to the nether world. How do you explain this?”                            
  • [Dhodiba]: “The gigantic form claimed himself to be the incarnation of Adi-Narayan. How dared he indulge in such rank treachery? Fie on those Bhat composers of the spurious scriptures who term this giant as an incarnation of Adi-Narayan! Their own compositions prove that Vaman was very mean, cunning, treacherous and ungrateful, because he condemned his benefactor unto the nether world”. 
  • [Dhondiba]: “On what must that gigantic form have subsisted? Where could the four pall-bearers have been found to carry his corpse to the cremation ground? Where could they have produced such a vast quantity of wood or cow-dung cakes to cremate his huge corpse? If enough fuel was not readily available for his cremation, then perhaps stray dogs and jackals feasted off his corpse. As all these doubts which have arisen in our minds are not satisfactorily resolved, we are constrained to conclude that these original fictions (legends) may have been the basis of the spurious scriptures which the Bhats composed later on (to dupe us all).
  • [Phule]: If you read the Bhagwat carefully, Dhondiba, you will conclude that Aesop’s Fables are much better (are far more credible) than the Bhagwat (of the Bhats).                                                       

The full text of Gulamgiri in Hindi may be accessed here.

The English translation by Dr K Jamanadas may be accessed here.



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