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Wamandada Kardak, the greatest of all shahirs, sums up his journey of singing about the anti-caste work by the Buddha, Kabir, Phule and Ambedkar. Born in 1920 in the district of Nashik in Maharashtra, he performed for 55 years, singing about Ambedkar with the same zeal and enthusiasm that he employed when he wrote and sang anti-caste music. He staged performances throughout Maharashtra with his Chandroday Natya Mandal. People who could not attend school or did not know how to read and write became acquainted with Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and his teachings through Wamandada. Stories of people whose perceptions towards life had changed, and who understood the caste movement better as a result of listening to him abound.
All of Wamandada’s songs are human centred, focusing on upliftment from all angles — cultural, religious and economical. He gave importance to interests of a person and also highlighted constitutional values through his songs. He shared a bond with Babasaheb Ambedkar; so much so, that his songs were a reflection of Ambedkar’s speeches. He has written over 10,000
qualitative songs in his lifetime.
As Wamandada Kardak, an illustrious shahir, once wrote:
“Tuphanatale Dive Aamhi, Tuphanatale Dive
Uun, wara, paus dhara muli na aamha shive”
“We are the lamps in the storm, lamps in the storm
We are hardly affected by the sun, the rain or the wind”
Wamandada Kardak committed his whole life to spreading the message of Babasaheb; his songs defined what Ambedkarism is! Wamandada braided each word of Babasaheb in his songs, and hence, even Babasaheb had claimed that “My eight speeches are equal to Wamandada’s one song”. Wamandada with his full honesty towards Babasaheb inculcated Ambedkarism in his songs. He claimed Babasaheb as being the Mother of oppressed people, in whose shelter of love and care we are fearless, we are loved and we are humans. What else would we have addressed Babasaheb with? The Bheemgeete do not just praise Babasaheb and articulate Ambedkarism, it questions the society, it addressed the people who left the path of true Ambedkarism, and it critically analyses Ambedkarite movement.
“I broke the boundaries of Chaturvarnya. Likewise, I am free from the framework of the science of poetry. However, when it comes to songs, rhyming is unavoidable. The framework of rhyming cannot be broken down easily. I have broken the rules of musicology. Nevertheless, there is a science to our singing too.
My only duty is to talk about Buddha, Phule, and Ambedkar through my singing, in all possible ways. I have immersed myself into each and every aspect of human life, and written. I have been singing the song of humans, and humans have accepted it. It is true that I do not sing songs of the glorification of love, but my songs do not prod.
I have never cared about literary principles. I have been publishing my songs as a representation of the anxiety of a restless man.”
– Wamandada Kardak (Majhya Jivnach Gaan, 14 April 1996)*
Wamandada Kardak was an Ambedkarwadi Shahir.He dedicated his whole life in spreading Ambedkarism among the most deprived people. Wamandada prolifically talked about Babasaheb, his life and mission through his songs. His contribution to the Ambedkarite movement is incredible. His munificent quest to spread Ambedkarism was noted by Babasaheb himself.
Maharashtra’s tradition of ‘shahiri’ is several centuries old. In the last few decades of the 18th century, under the influence of Mahatma Phule’s Satyashodhak Samaj, it was transformed into a musical weapon of the masses, against the caste system. By the 1930s, the ‘Satyashodhaki jalsa’ was in decline, but a powerful new force had emerged in its place: ‘Ambedkari jalsa’. Ambedkari jalsa represented the teachings and philosophy of Dr BR Ambedkar in oral form, accompanied by songs. Over a journey that is close to completing a century, many Ambedkarite shahirs have helped hone shahiri’s as an anti-caste tool.
Source : Extracted from Yogesh Maitreya Article / Pradnya Jadhav Article