Dalit Aesthetics in the Plays of Raju Das

                                                Dr. Rajesh G. Karankal
                                                Associate Professor
Dept of English,
                                                University of Mumbai
                                                Mob no: 9892241987

                                                Mayurakshi Mitra
                                                Research Scholar and
                                                Asst. Prof, Maharashtra College of Arts,
and Commerce, Mumbai Central.
Mob no: 9833372423

ABSTRACT: The literature of the marginalized, unlike the mainstream Brahmanical literature, is one that is dedicated to portraying the pain, suffering and humiliation of the oppressed sections of the society. Hence, Dalit literature that depicts the bitter but realistic truth of the dalit communities in a Brahmanical society is constantly scanned from a sociological perspective. The traditional aesthetic values of Satyam (Truth), Shivam (Godliness) and Sundaram (Beauty) that mark a Brahmanical literature have been put aside with more practical features like protest, opposition, non conformity and resistance against hegemonic literature. Consequently, social commitment and community feeling are prioritised in Dalit literature with the sole objective of bringing a social change where the oppressed and the exploited can claim a more dignified human life. In this context, the paper attempts to study the plays of a Bengali Dalit playwright, Raju Das, to explore and assess the typical features of Dalit Aesthetics that mark a Dalit writing different from other mainstream literature.

Key Words: Dalit Aesthetics, marginalization, oppression, social commitment. 

Dalit Aesthetics in the Plays of Raju Das

The increasing volume of work that makes the corpus of literature of the marginalised, whether it is Dalit literature or Queer literature in India or any other marginalised literature of the world, has given rise to a fiery debate on the Aesthetics of the literature.  The aesthetics of the marginalised literature has challenged the classical concept of aesthetics that conceived literary work as a pleasure seeking exercise, prioritising form and artistic features over commitment. Like other marginalized literatures of the world, Dalit literature through its treatment of theme, diction, tone and style of writing has paved its way into challenging the established aesthetics of classical literature in India.
The classical notion of aesthetics, propagated by Edgar Allen Poe and Walter Pater, prioritises gratification of pure artistic pleasure over moral earnestness. The principle of aesthetics which Poe followed can be best summarised in his own words that, “there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem's sake” (Poe 190). However, Plato’s notion of a work of art, that was later followed by Wordsworth, Arnold, Dickens and others, laid immense significance on literature as the carrier of moral and social sensibilities.
The beneficiaries of the main stream literary aesthetics argue that in the traditional Indian Brahmanical literary scenario, the word ‘aesthetics’ has its share of both treatment of beauty and art. Indian mainstream Brahmanical aesthetics when applied to literature implies to the three basic principles of literature; Satayam (Truth), Shivam (Godliness) and Sundaram (Beauty) that constitute the archetypal Godhead. Thus, anything that is beautiful and true ultimately leads to the realisation of the ultimate beauty present in the Godhead. The ability to realise the Godhead’s eternal beauty and truth through an art form, in the Vedanta philosophy, is ananda, a type of rasa (emotion). The concept of rasa has three phases: first, it refers to the emotional states figuring in the themes of plays; second, it is the aesthetic response in the attuned heart of the spectator, and finally when the aesthetic response leads to complete absorption in the experience holder, it leads to the rediscovery of the inner spirit.
 Indian aesthetics is soaked in contradictory philosophies of idealisations on one hand and spiritual negations on the other. It is not limited only to sensuous and spiritual experiences but also appeals to material aspects of the self and Brahman” (Gupta 3). It can be claimed that Indian aesthetics is “the philosophy of art, logic and science of art with all its metaphysical abstractness” (Gupta 3). Balancing all the dichotomies found in Indian aesthetics, K. C. Pandey, an expert in Indian aesthetics, opines:
From the Indian point of view aesthetics is the science and philosophy of the independent arts --the arts which present the Absolute in sensuous garb in such a way that their products serve as the effective mediums for the getting of the experience of the Absolute for such connoisseurs as possess the necessary subjective conditions (Pandey 59-73).
Art and life in India have been inextricably intertwined from the ancient to the contemporary. Art has always been conceived as a way of life, ritual, decoration and as unity with Godhead. The arts thus strived to hone man’s intellectual sensibilities, thus raising him to the level of the transcendental, the Brāhman, the ultimate reality. Art, as conceived by Abhinavagupta, had its culmination in the enjoyment of rasa. Nevertheless, according to Abhinavagupta, as put by D. C. Mathur, the ultimate objective of art was “to promote the four traditional values of Dharma (Virtue), ārtha (economic prosperity), Kāma (pleasure), and moksha (liberation) in their proper relationship” (Mathur 224-35).
However, Dalit aesthetics strongly resists and rejects the hegemonic aesthetics of the so called mainstream literature. In fact Dalit literature is committed to portraying the real state of the Indian society, vis-a-vis Dalits in India without any compromise of any kind. It is thoroughly realistic in its approach. It captures man in a situation which is made helpless for him by the oppressive forces, with his humiliations and sufferings, agonies and frustrations. Hence, it defies the classical notion of a hero or nayak as Dhirodhata (brave and haughty), Dhiralalita (brave and sportive) Dhirodata (brave and magnanimous) and Dhiraprashaanta (brave and calm) (Phadke par.7).
Starting from the works of Vasana in Kannad in the 12th century and Chokhamela in the 13th century to the present-time Namdeo in Marathi Dalit literature, the literature of the Dalits manifest rejection and sociological resistance against marginalization, exploitation and humiliation, in favour of reconstruction. The main objective of Dalit literature is to create consciousness in the Dalits of the wrongs done to them for generations after generations, to create awareness of their rights and to claim them back for a more dignified living. Hence, according to Dalit writers artistic forms and styles are redundant, rather creating social sensibility and consciousness becomes the main agenda. The issues like addressing the essential human identity, existence and survival have replaced the conventional ideas of beauty and delight. Instead it has given birth to altogether a new set of parameters to evaluate the aesthetics of its literature. In the words of Prasad the contrast between mainstream and dalit literature lies in its objective and therefore, approach:
The purpose of traditional literature is to provide aesthetic pleasure. Though traditional aesthetics talk about three basic principles Satyam (Truth), Shivam (Godliness), and Sundaram (Beauty), it is never realistic. On the contrary, Dalit literature is based on reality and for it man is superior even to God and nation. (Prasad 6)
Interestingly, Sharan Kumar Limbale, one of the most prominent founders of Dalit aesthetics, in his seminal book, Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature defines Dalit as all those who are dispossessed and oppressed. According to him Dalits consists of:
Harijans and neo-Buddhists are not the only Dalits. The term describes all the untouchable communities living outside the boundary of the village, as well as Adivasis, landless farm labourers, the suffering masses, and nomadic and criminal tribes. In explaining the word, it will not do to refer only to the untouchable castes. People who are lagging behind economically will also need to be included. (Limbale 11)
Given an understanding of Dalits as the most oppressed and dispossessed one in a caste stratified society, definitely the literature written by them, according to Limbale, strongly rejects the three basic principles of Satayam (Truth), Shivam (Godliness) and Sundaram (Beauty) of traditional aesthetics. He proposes the replacement of traditional principles with another set of aesthetics that is “material and social” (Limbale 21) and is grounded in the discussion on “the equality, liberty, justice, and fraternity of human beings” (Limbale 22). According to Limbale the Indian theories of Rasa and Dhwani are insufficient to appreciate dalit literature. He criticises Yadunath Thatte and Acharya Jawdekar’s proposal of accepting ‘revolt’ as the tenth rasa and ‘cry’ as the eleventh rasa respectively. Rather, he considers a work rich in Ambedkarite thought and seeking freedom as rich in Dalit aesthetic values. Hence, he assertively suggests, “[T]hat work of Dalit literature will be recognized as beautiful, and, therefore ‘good’, which causes the greatest awakening of Dalit consciousness in the reader” (Limbale 117).
Limbale perceives Dalit literature as a vehicle of pain, sorrow, questions and problems and targets at mobilising the oppressed for a movement that hopes for a better future where equality, liberty and fraternity will reign in true sense. Dalit literature tries to make the invisible visible, unheard heard and in this attempt it captures and projects some of the ugliest truths like untouchability, discrimination and inhuman treatment of the dalits that the upper castes have engaged in since time immemorial. In this sense Dalit literature captures authentic Dalit experience through a realistic chronicling of the smallest details of daily life in a language which the oppressive, hegemonic upper caste considers as crude, impure and uncivil. However, the depiction of life that the Dalit literature engages in is not of individual but of community. The chronicled events in Dalit literature are neither beautiful nor give rise to a sense of complacency; rather, depict only ‘truth’, even though it is unpleasant. Hence, the basic principles of aesthetics like truth, beauty and Godliness are completely incompatible with the thematic concerns of Dalit literature.
According to Sharan Kumar Limbale, the concept of beauty that is of prime significance in a work of art involves the feelings of pleasure and empathy. The feelings of pleasure and empathy that a work of art evoke in turn make an observer’s role as important as its creator. However, the ability to imagine and appreciate beauty requires a kind of inclination for art that is in possession of only a few who belong to the so called ‘high culture’. In order to defend his stand Limbale quotes N.G. Chapekar’s opinion, “To experience beauty, a cultured mind, health, and enthusiasm are necessary” (qtd. in Limbale 112). According to Limbale, since Dalit literature is revolutionary in nature, the notion of equality, liberty, justice, and solidarity form its bedrock. Elitist idea of pleasure has no significance in it. Consequently, he concludes, “If pleasure is the basis of the aesthetics of Marathi savarna literature, pain is the basis of the aesthetics of Dalit literature” (Limbale 114).
Hence, the main characteristic features of Dalit literature can be summarised as given below:
1.     Since Dalit literature chronicles pain, sorrow, humiliation of the oppressed ones, questions the discriminatory forces that subjugate them and targets at mobilising the oppressed, it is revolutionary in nature. Equality, liberty, justice and solidarity form the bedrock of Dalit literature.  
2.     Dalit literature in its attempt to chronicle events of pain, sorrow and humiliation of the oppressed ones, does not engage only in the individual’s experience but represent the community feelings and experiences.  
3.     Therefore, what is evident in Dalit literature is the writer’s social commitment to portray the ‘real’ truthfully with the realistic or actual event in the life of their community with the objective of bringing a social change.
4.     Dalit literature also manifests life affirming values.
5.     Language, diction, form and style that challenge the main stream Brahmanic style of writing.
The Plays of Raju Das in the Light of Dalit Aesthetics
Raju Das, a name that is oft quoted in Bangla Dalit literary circle, is one such playwright and street play performer whose plays make clarion calls for the economically underprivileged and socially marginalised to rise and rebel against their oppressors and oppressive systems to reclaim their human rights and position in a caste stratified Hindu society. His plays vocalize the silent agony of the socially oppressed and marginalised people, both men and women. They are the victims of strong caste and gender discrimination in a Hindu society. His women characters like Alodebi, Bani and Reema are not only the victims of caste politics of a Brahmanical society but are doubly marginalised because of their gender. Most of his plays, like Neel Selam, Surjo Tono, reflect the seething anger of his protagonists and their lifelong struggles to achieve freedom and equality.
On the essence of dalit literature, Muktibodh remarks, “human freedom is the inspiration behind it…the nature of this literature consists in a rebellion against the suppression and humiliation suffered by Dalits—in the past and even at present...” (Muktibodh 270). The corpus of Raju Das’s work reflects the oppression prevalent in a caste stratified society and targets at rebelling against its exploitative nature and system to replace it with an egalitarian society.  In his efforts to fight against Brahminism and its selfish ways of dealing with human lives, Raju Das has adopted drama as his weapon to attack the Brahminical social system. His angst is as much against the Brahminical system as against all sorts of other oppressive systems and institutions that have become part and parcel of the working of the society. His dramas not only voice the pain and humiliation of the oppressed but also hint at a positive ray of light, the hope for a more tolerable society that will be rooted in equality and liberty. His plays like Neel Selam, Surjo Tonoy, Ragging and Kolonko are some examples that show Raju Das’s Dalit consciousness and commitment. Based on these plays the paper makes an attempt to re-evaluate dalit ethos, dalit aesthetics and Dalit consciousness in Raju Das’s plays.
Raju Das’s major plays like Neel Selam, Surjo Tonoy and Ragging depict the ramifications of caste discriminations and the position of women in a stratified society. His play Neel Selam besides focusing on the personal struggles of an abandoned mother of two blind children also depicts the struggle of a partially blind Bani and her completely blind brother for economic independence. Hypen Noi Coma Chai explores how the social conventions impose restrictions upon the free will and liberty of the socially marginalised people. His play Ragging is a token of Reema’s journey towards equal opportunities for education irrespective of caste and gender.    
The major concern of Raju Das’s work is to articulate the real picture of a caste based Hindu society. The element of realism in dalit aesthetics that define the success of a creative piece as a Dalit writing is strongly evident in his plays. He draws inspiration for his plays from real life incidents or social situations. Hence his plays are realistic in true sense.  Ragging is based on the suicide incident of a tribal young woman called Chuni Kotal. Chuni was the first woman of her tribe who managed to have higher education and then a government job in a college as a lecturer. However, unable to bear the caste criticism and humiliations because of her low caste identity, she ended her life leaving a note against the rigours of a caste stratified society that does not recognise their presence as human beings. The hardships that Reema’s family goes through in their endeavours to give Reema the light of higher education reflects the hardships that the playwright and his wife, Namita Das had taken to educate their three daughters, especially their eldest daughter. The thematic concerns of his plays like Neel Selam and Kolonko have their origin in his acute observations of the caste mechanisms in a Hindu society. The themes and characters of his plays reveal the ruthless reality of the marginalised sections of the society that otherwise go unseen and unheard by the mainstream writers and readers.
A socially committed playwright as he is, Raju Das in his essay on “Drama and Dramatists in Dalit Movement”, observes that the significance of drama, especially street theatre, lies in initiating a change in the society. In this essay, he advocates “to bring a change, we need to be changed” (Das 260).  Emphasising on the role of drama to achieve this, he observes:
The need of the hour is good orators, poetry readers, singers, actors and actresses who can go from one place to another sometimes narrating, sometimes reciting, or maybe even acting out episodes of their lives, of their feelings and desires. Probably there is no other alternative better than these that can stimulate the conscience of the distressed ones for a revolution. It should be their prime responsibility to stand by those who have been suffering since ages under the burden of caste discrimination and waiting for someone to direct them towards a better future. (Das 260)
In his commitment to create social awareness and mobilise his people for a revolt to reclaim their lost human dignity, he never aspired to stage his plays in proscenium theatres. Rather he has chosen the narrow lanes and by-lanes of remote villages, courtyards and grounds in villages and small towns as his stage to reach the real receivers of his plays, the economically and socially marginalised people. His plays are severely criticised for multiple themes but he never reacted and showed agitation against such criticism. Instead he defends his trend of introducing several ideas in his plays in the following words:
As a Dalit playwright I hardly get an opportunity to stage my plays. Sometimes to get the right audience is also a challenge. Therefore, whenever, I get chance to stage a play, I try to accommodate as many ideas of social interest as possible. (Das, A Preface to A Collection of Three Street Plays, 1)
Raju Das’s creation of his characters also reflects his social commitment. His characters are socially responsible ones who boldly and confidently handle their oppressive situation and leave no opportunity to raise their voice against the oppressive system. They are in fact ‘role models who rebel against ‘today’s exploitative society for a better tomorrow’. Pishima in Ragging is an outstanding example.  In her conversation with Anupama, Reema’s senior in her new college, Pishima not only brings out the exploitative tendencies of the Brahmins prevalent in the society since ages but also pinpoints how the upper castes have restricted the access to education exclusively for themselves:
Brahmin and Khastriya children only had access to education. The Vaishyas  and Shudras were never given the right to education and that is why the great archer Dronacharya had cut off the thumb of Eklavya as his punishment for secretly learning this art. It is also because of this that Lord Ram dared to cut off the head of Shambhu. The Brahminical system of education and running the society was existing till 18th century, even would have continued for some centuries had not reformers like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, E.V. Ramaswamy  Periyaar, Swami Naicker. arichand Thakur Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Ram  Lohia Monohar and Guruchand Thakur had not contributed to Dalit cause.  (Das, Ragging 5)
          The dialogic exchange between Alok and Panu Master in Surjo Tonoy is an eye opening conversation on the creation of different castes to perpetuate the existence of exploiter and exploited; the oppressor and the oppressed; the master and slave. It also highlights on the discriminatory nature of religious scriptures like Vedas that maintain the feminine gender as lower than the other creations of God. Ultimately it establishes the fact that the present degradation of women has its roots in the Manusmriti that propagates and establishes the belief that ‘All women are shudras’— Nari Matroi shudrani – (Das Surjo Tonoy. 8) as a universal truth.  
Further in the play, Raju Das gives the character Panu Master the role of a historian who dwells deep into the cultural history of Dalit Movement that originated in 1779 with Baba Tiloka Majhi, a tribal, as the pioneering head of the movement who raged war against the British Cleaveland and ended his life n 1784. He also provides insight into Saotal Movement that spanned from 1855 to 1885 and sowed the seeds of the present agitation. Raju Das’s creates Panu Master as his spokesperson and gives vent to his detestation for the principles of Brahminism as against the Brahmins by birth, “I respect The Brahmins, but I hate Brahminism” (Khati Brahman kea mi sraddha kari, ghrina kari bhramanabad ke) (Das, Surjo Tonoy 12).
Sanchari, also called as Khenti by her maternal uncles, is another bold creation, quite difficult to even think of in our society. She challenges the traditional system of matrimony where a woman is treated as a commodity in the marriage market and what would seem quite indecent in the eyes of a conventional society, attacks the age old system of matrimonial prerequisites that a woman is expected to meet, “Namaskar! My name is Khenti Boral. (Sits on a chair) see my palm. See my feet. See my hair. I have no makeup on my face. If you can’t believe that, you can touch and see” (Das, Kolonko 50) and continues emphatically,                
What you people want is that all marriageable girls in the best of
their attire and makeup silently and submissively sit before you to answer a series of very foolish but insulting questions? After that you show preference for those women who are either working or their families are ready to pay a good dowry, take them home after marriage with a new promise of a happy married life but reduce them to the state of slaves. Tortures, physical and mental abuse remain as their only share in their new family. Please forget such days. New days will come when women will assess and choose their own life partner. Please remember that. (Das, Kolonko 51)
Shanto voices out Raju Das’s angst against Hinduism as a religion and the position of women in Hindu society. He attacks Hinduism for giving birth to a stratified society, for debasing the position of women and undermining their significance that is otherwise an essential requirement for the existence of a healthy society. Though he does not support Marxist ideology, he criticises Hinduism for its oppressive nature and quotes great philosophers and thinkers like Karl Marx, “religion is like opium, people who consume it put to sleep their conscience” (Das, Neel Selam 3). Through the staunch anti Brahmanism protagonist, Shanto, in Neel Selam, Raju Das cites the example of Ramaswami Periyar who believed religion and rationality are complete opposites and observed, “He who created God is a Fool” (Das, Neel Selam 3).  
Through the character of Shanto, Bani’s friend, Raju Das provides an example of a liberal man for whom caste boundaries are not permanent, rather flexible and can be dissolved when required. He transcends caste boundaries and extends his humble proposal to marry a blind woman. His decision to marry a blind woman, however, is not based on mercy or an eagerness to help the poor helpless family. Rather it is a manifestation of his respect for such bold and confident women like Bani who are ready to challenge the society that tries to cripple all those who are socially and economically disadvantaged. His love for Bani is not based on her physical features but one that has birth in her life affirming qualities of life that is evident in the given conversation between Bani and Shanto:
Bani:  Why do you want me to marry? What so special have    
      `you seen in me that you thought of marrying me?
Shanto: Your work efficiency, sense of responsibility. Your
determination to struggle for a better existence in spite of your blindness is something that creates you as a unique person. (Das, Neel Selam7)
The plays of Raju Das are also marked by his frequent references to those stalwarts whose contributions in Dalit lives have been immense. He often refers to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and his research and analysis of a caste based society. He shows his indebtedness to the works and contributions of Harichand Thakur and his son Guruchand Thakur in starting and leading the Matua Movement for offering the Dalits the much needed human dignity. Raju Das celebrates the contribution of these Dalit bahujan leaders and gurus in his plays. In most of his plays an elderly person like Pishima in Ragging, Bordakanto in Kolonko, Panu Master in Surjo Tonoy are given an active role of archives of the socio-political and cultural history of the community. Pishima is a strong creation who vocalises the exploitation that the dalits like them had to suffer from. The suffering that Pishima mentions is not only hers or her family but it is the story of her community. Her reference to Ekalavya’s case and the punishment that he had to bear for aspiring to be as skilled as the Pandavas is not just a story from Mahabharata. In fact, it reflects the social hierarchy and the resultant subordination and oppression of the powerless by the powerful ones that are prevalent in the society since ages.
Bordakanto in Kolonko narrates the political exploitation of the Dalit refugees in Sundanban and Marichjhapi areas. The memories of the physical and sexual abuse that he and other Dalit refugees like him had witnessed at Marichjhapi still disturb him. Evident in his narrative of Marichjhapi massacre is a reference to a strong ‘we’ feeling.  Hence, in his narrative of the Marichjhapi massacre that took away the life of his elder sister like many others, he goes beyond family tragedy to represent the mass suffering of his community.
Since that day many young women, wives and mothers went missing from the land of Marichjapi. They cannot be traced even today. Some of them unable to bear the shame of physical and sexual assault have committed suicide. My pregnant elder sister, mother of Sanchari whom you have come to see as a prospective bride of your younger brother, was one amongst many such women who was sexually assaulted. Unable to stand the pain and shame of sexual abuse in the hands of the comrades, she committed suicide by hanging herself from the branches of the tree. (Das, Kolonko, 49) 
Dalit writing that is often marked by a strong sense of solidarity for the community leave no scope of showing abhorrence and utter disgust for the Sanskritised Dalits; the ones who in spite of being a part of the community fail to identify themselves with the exploited condition of the community. Mahendranath and Kumaresh are such examples who are content with the fruits they have reaped out of their dalit identity but do not intend to delve deep into the oppressed condition of their fellow dalit brothers and sisters. Thus, on realising the death of dalit consciousness in the newly sanskritized dalits like by Mr. Bose, Bordakanto leaves no scope to make the newly sanskritized dalits, represented in the play by Mr. Rao, feel ashamed of their ignorance. With utter disgust he observes, “People who in spite of belonging to shudra caste fail to recognise the contributions made by Guruchand Thakur, Jogen Mondal and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, but instead are aware of Marx, Lenin and Jyoti Basu are stigma in the name of shudra caste” (Das, Kolonko 49)
Dalit aesthetics is characterised by a conscious rejection of form, content and style of the so called conventional main stream literary aesthetics. Dalit literature reflects the extraordinary and ugly experiences of the lowest of the lowest in social ladder. The language, form and style of a piece of writing depend heavily on its choice of content. Hence, Dalit literature that expresses content that is full of agony and humiliation, distressing and frustrating, its medium undoubtedly becomes one that is coarse and smutty, unpleasant to hear but honest.  The experiences that are projected, though subjective in tone, represent collective experience and identity.
Raju Das’s plays are typical examples of Dalit writing that showcases neither the verbose use of vocabulary nor the so called refined language of the mainstream Savarna literature. Rather, the dialects, in which his characters engage themselves are simple but powerfully and realistically vocalise the pent up agony, frustration and humiliation of the oppressed sections of the society. His characters engage in long dialogue that reflects the disappointment of the individual as well as the community in general as in Pishima’s long dialogue with the hostel girl, Reema:
Brahmin and Khastriya children only had access to education. The Vaishyas and Shudras were never given the right to education and that is why the great archer Dronacharya had cut off the thumb of Eklavya as his punishment for secretly learning this art. It is also because of this that Lord Ram dared to cut off the head of Shambhu. The Brahminical system of education and running the society was existing till 18th century, even would have continued for some   centuries had not reformers like Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, E.V. Ramasami  Periyaar, Harichand Thakur, Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar, Ram Lohia Manohar and Guruchand Thakur had not contributed to Dalit cause. (Das, Ragging 5)
The fragmented, incomplete, oft repeated sentences like “I am the illegitimate son, I am the other...” (Das, Surjo Tonoy 26) spoken by Alok, the victim of illegitimate birth, vocalise his pent up frustration and pain stemming from his identity crisis. Sanchari, on the other hand, engages in a vocabulary that is bereft of intonation or punctuation. She barges into the sitting room where the guests were seated and to everyone’s surprise introduces herself and attacks the intention of her guests in words that the guests who have visited them to fix the matrimonial alliance have ever thought of:
What you people want is that all marriageable girls in the best of their attire and make up silently and submissively sit before you to answer a series of very foolish but insulting questions? After that you show preference for those women who are either working or their families are ready to pay a good dowry, take them home after marriage with a new promise of a happy married life but reduce them to the state of slaves. Tortures, physical and mental abuse remain as their only share in their new family. Please forget such days. New days will come when women will assess and choose their own life partner. Please remember that. (Das, Kolonko 51)   
The words that Sanchari speaks to challenge the traditional practice of assessing a woman’s suitability for marriage, reflect her anger against the system that humiliates the very existence of women and perceives them as commodities in marriage market.  
The words of despondency spoken by Alok, the lack of inflection as evident in Khenti’s conversation and the confidence exuded in Pishima’s well modulated dialogues reflect the mixed emotions of hopelessness and dejection that define the lives of these marginalised people as well as their determination to vocalise their oppressed condition against  the systemic oppression. To rise, rebel and revolt are the ruling words of Raju Das’s life that keep him motivated to write plays on Dalit concerns and inspire his audience and readers to raise their voice and rebel against the exploitative systems of a Brahmanical society. In this sense, Raju Das’s plays serve the purpose of Dalit literature. Sharan Kumar Limbale characterizes Dalit literature as purposive: revolt, transformation and liberty as its key goals; transforming the condition of Dalit and challenging the caste system are revolutionary causes. 
Raju Das’s plays, though marked by a form and style that do not follow the Brahmanical main stream aesthetics of drama, yet conform to the essentials of a street theatre to some extent. Street theatre, in general, has its roots in Indian folk drama of the masses which is practiced on the streets with the sole objective of changing the society by challenging the people and systems which are ‘more powerful’ and engages in the exploitation of the powerless. Often perceived as a catalyst of change, awareness, revolution & liberation, street theatre has always been a prized possession of those who wanted to bring a social change and Raju Das is one of them.
The tradition of street theatre in West Bengal is Leftist in nature. However, Raju Das is strongly anti Leftist. According to him, though the objective of Left ideology is to obtain equality for all and to have an egalitarian approach for overall social development, they have blissfully forgotten the need of the Dalits. There is a deliberate attempt to erase the Dalit existence to obliterate them from the history of human existence. Rather, his plays attempt to, what according to Downing should be the objective of a street play, “raise consciousness and mobilize communities” (Downing).
Raju Das’s plays under such socio-political scenario serve as a weapon to challenge the corrupt and biased state machinery, the hegemonic people in power and the discriminatory/ casteist social systems. His objective of writing plays is neither to reach the urban elite audience or readers nor for proscenium theatre. Hence, like a conventional street theatre, Raju Das’s plays are performed in the narrow lanes and by-lanes of small towns or in remote villages. The themes of his plays complement his choice of staging his plays. Since his plays are revolutionary in nature, urging for a social change, Raju Das stages his plays anywhere and everywhere he finds appropriate to convey his message to the masses through the medium of drama. This has been made possible not only because of his choice of thematic concerns but also because the setting of his plays require bare minimum. The characters in his plays though many in number do not require any special make up or costume. This naturally gives him the convenience of performing or staging his plays at places where he can target a big crowd as his audience. These, in turn allow him to reach the masses easily and create social awareness and dalit consciousness on the condition of dalits in a caste stratified Brahmanical society. However, this has not spared him of any criticism. Though often criticised for his choice of place for his performances, yet he is quite content with his choice as long as his objective of arousing and creating consciousness in his audience is achieved.
Raju Das perceives his plays as weapons for social change. No doubt, over a period of two decades even if his plays have not been able to stir the urban lot, they have considerable positive impact on his rural audience, so much so that even before leaving the place after their performance, they have witnessed the first signs of transformation. This, of course, has become possible because of the effectiveness of “Dalit Aesthetics” in which the plays of Raju Das are deeply rooted in and part of it. His commitment to mobilise the socially marginalised has become possible with his judicious choice of the real and simple language of his illiterate as well as culturally and socially marginalized audience. Thus, his plays are truly about the marginalized people and for the marginalized masses, here and the world over.

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