The first Indian Utopia was imagined by Ravidas, the mystic poet and saint of the Bhakti movement. The city he imagined he named Begumpura – a place without caste and class, in which people lived in harmony.
The joyful construction of Begumpura was in direct opposition of the Brahmanical idea of kaliyuga, in which the world dissolves in strife.
With Begumpura as her anchor, the anti-caste thinker and writer Gail Omvedt demonstrates utopias posited by subaltern Indian thinkers, including Chokhamela, Ramabai, Phule, Pandita Ramabai, Periyar, and Ambedkar.
By tracing these ideas of utopias, she explores the equitable, just societies envisioned by Dalit-Bahujan leaders as being preferable to colonial, nationalist and Hindutva ideas of what Indian society should look like.
The underlying themes of the book are, in Omvedt’s own words, “reason and ecstasy, dnyan and bhakti or bhav.”
This book is an invaluable resource to gain an in-depth understanding of the anti-caste vision of some of India’s most radical and progressive thinkers and leaders.
Published in 2008.