Dalit Autobiographies:The Expression of Experiences

  • Kuntal D. Bompilwar


conditions surrounding it. Dalit literature is a unique entity in itself. It is the creation of specific historical period and social conditions. It rejects the mainstream literary tradition and comes forth with new literary canons of its own. With the change in life and society, it has also changed with regard to its form, content and style.

This kind of literature is an expression of the newly awakened sensibilities of its author and so naturally, it takes quite a new form, making it difficult for the critics to apply the traditional critical canons to it.

Dalit writers have handled almost all the traditional literary genres like poetry, novel, short stories, drama and autobiography. But while handling these genres, they have given them new dimensions as the subjects they treat of and the experiences they write about are peculiar only to the communities in which they are born. The experiences and feelings expressed in Dalit autobiographies are so unique and strange that it is very difficult for these life-stories to accept the traditional form of autobiography. That is why dalit critics like Gangadhar Pantawane prefers the word “Atmakathan” (self-narrative) to that of “Atmacharitra” (autobiography) and thus refers to the life-story of a Dalit writer. These critics have rightly pointed out that generally an autobiography is written when the author has lived most of his life and reached such a point of his life that there is a very little possibility of happening something substantial and dramatic in his life. On the contrary, Dalit self-narratives are being written at the middle or early middle-age of the author. At this point, his life is not like a pond but an over-pouring stream that flows on and on and goes on affecting his present in the context of his past and future.