viv wrote:JohneeG/Atri: Can you shed some light on Battle of Koregaon? It is in usual telling listed as a Mahar vs Peshwa - 500 against 20K. This latter certainly is an exaggeration I'd think unless they were so well entrenched to defend themselves. Also, am puzzled - the articles I read state that Mahars were part of Shivaji's armies (no mention of prior to that), but in Peshwa times strict caste differentiation and humiliation was put on Mahars (why? if in Shivaji's time it was not so) and that is what caused them to join the Brits. Perhaps there is some truth and some exaggeration in the telling.
sorry for not replying earlier. I didn't reply because I don't have much gyaan on this. But, since no one replied, I'll reply. First let me post some posts by Atri saar.
Atri wrote:brihaspati wrote:Atri ji,
I am mildly protesting recognizing the term "Dalit". We can talk of the "Dalit" movement, Dalit" activism, but not "he is a Dalit". Dalit is a created category of the modern period - an invention which has no connection to any real term ever used to denote a whole "people" like a "caste". It is a politically created term, deliberately not linked to any caste - because its coiners were aware that focusing on particular "repressed" castes would make the political mobilization problematic with the intra-caste fights and counter claims of hierarchies would show up. Some of them might even have not been good examples of "suppression" and repression at various periods of history. We cannot recognize and thereby reinforce claims of further distinctions. Let us specifically focus on it as a created political movement and not any real social category. In India politically created abstract categories have a tendency of turning themselves into hereditary claims of a separate identity.
agree... was just trying to clarify about narendra jadhav's "jadhav" surname.. The point being, nothing can be told about a person's caste background by knowing his surname these days. "dalit" is an artificial group. I will give an example. The caste "mahar" was part of village panchayat in medieval times. There was lot of oppression yes especially in 19th century, but it was rarely between one monolithic block of "upper castes" against another monolithic block of "lower castes". Firstly there aren't such monolithic blocks as they are made out to be. The mutual dynamics among the castes which are today listed as backwards is much more complicated than between Brahmins and non-brahmins.As for Shinde - I am friends with one who is very "active". He says he fell in "spell" when we first met at some time point. However Bhavi hates me thoroughly. The reason, I asked for my favourite old Marathi dish of jowar bread and coriander chutney [ I got fond of it when I stayed with not so well off "friends" in Narmada Parikrama] and she replied that it was the food of the "lower castes". I was younger then with a rather sharper tongue which could lash out instantly, and bhavi was subjected to a half hour lecture on how that food could be taken as holy food because it maintained the bulk of Shivaji's army. She has been angry ever since - as much as the hubby remains close.
Just keeps me wondering as to the real dynamics of the power dynamic around Shivaji with such attitudes!
hehehe, befitting reply... although bread of finger-millet (nachni) was more popular in the troops of Shivaji than bread of Jowar (Jwari chi Bhaakri)... He wasn't much popular amongst 96-clan Maratha people. His own brother in law and son in law remained faithful servants of Adilshah until their death, along with all the major Maratha families including his father and his step-brother.. The elites were further estranged by his land-reforms wherein he abolished mansabdari system.. Mahar, Ramoshi, Pardhi, Koli, Kayasthas, brahmins and other farming communities were his main support block.
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Atri wrote:Dalit is a very generic term. It comprises of thousands of castes. Not all dalits are neo-buddhists. Similarly, not all neo-buddhists are anti-brahminical. There was always a caste (which is scheduled as dalit in post independence india) which was in the power-circles of graama-vyavastha.
For example in MH, the Mahar Caste (of Mahar regiment) is a dalit caste, but was always represented in panchayat of every village. In maratha era, many mahar killedars (incharge of hill-forts) are mentioned. They were quite an integral part of Maratha armies. Yes, there was always a tussle in later Peshwa era (which had become too brahminical, especially after death of Madhavrao-1 in 1772). The Brahminization of Peshwa rule started after 1740 after death of Bajirao-1. But things were flying under radar and were manageable until 1772. Post 1780s, this started increasing. The infamous doji-bara famine made things worse (in famine, people tend to protect their near and dear ones at the expense of others). about 10 million died in maratha - india and broke the back of Marathas. Their last victory came in 1795. In 1799 Nana Phadnavis died. A huge famine broke out in same region again in 1802, again killing lakhs. This resulted in defeat of India in second anglo-maratha war. Official policies of Peshwas had skewed a lot against non-brahmins (that too against non-chitpavans).
One famous story which reflects this mindset - During 1795 battle of kharde (maratha vs nizam where nizam was defeated again), a mahar general put up his tent amidst the tents of Brahmina nd 96-clan Maratha generals. There was a huge fuss and the argument went to the ears of peshwa himself. The elder named Hiroji Patankar (a brahmin himself) in court persuaded the brahmins and 96-clanners that "this is a battle-ground (Ranaangan) and not a pankti of lunch in temple that Mahar should not be among them". The brahmin and 96-claner generals were openly unhappy, but agreed to accommodate the old man's verdict. This shows how the mindset was skewed and how the fissures were present among various social groups. With fall of marathas in 1802, this mindset remained.
Now, Mahars have always been an aggressive social group. Dr. Ambedkar too belonged to this caste. Amongst dalits, Mahars is the most emancipated dalit caste. They have most taken advantage of reservations and many of them have risen above. I think our HM Shinde too is a Mahar. The antibrahminism is predominantly seen in this caste of Mh-neo-buddhist dalits. This again is not a rule and most of them (so many are my personal friends, I can say that almost 60-70%) are normal. Yes, occasional gibe at brahmins here and there is fine. It happens everywhere and is helped by the fact that brahmins tend to talk and behave in snobbish and at times pretentious manner and this is ridiculed by others.
But this is also true that most of the virulent haters of brahmins come predominantly from this caste. Ridicule is different from hate-speech which is again different from being anti-dharma and anti-national. A section of these (BAMCEF, for eg) take to to such an extent that they start mirroring and repeating the words and ideas of Zaid Hamid and Hamid gul types. They are supported by some 96-maratha organizations under aegis fo NCP. The Brahminical IB killing off Karkare story has a lot of traction among this class.
This is where I draw the line.
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It seems to me that Battle of Koregaon was not really of much importance. What I mean to say is that the real things might have happened in negotiation room rather than battle field. That explains the retreat of Peshwa even though he had larger forces in the battle. Also, there may have been a fear of more brit forces joining from other sides.
All in all, I think the role of Mahars in this particular battle is exaggerated. And I think this exaggeration is done by the brits to keep the Mahars loyal to themselves. I am sure one can find many other instances of real Mahar bravery compared to this one.
It seems internal divisions within Maraata faction was on rise from the time of 1761(Panipath 3.0). As the pie stopped expanding, various factions start squabbling to get the largest pie by suppressing the other faction. This tendency seems to have steadily increased and became extreme in the famine conditions.
The famine itself may have been caused due to the bad policies of various rulers of the time(including Maraata).(from 1760 onwards) Frequently, the rulers resorted to scorched earth policy. And most of the time, no one was able to overpower the other completely. So the wars continued on and off without any decisive victor.
Of course, the policies of jihadhis and the policies of brits seem to have amplified the famine conditions. In fact, the famine followed the spread of brits and their railway network. There was a 20 year famine(or several famines in a 20 year period) immediately after 1857. Do you think that was accident? I think it was deliberately done by the brits.
It was this period when the India, which was previously seen as a golden peacock, came to be associated with extreme poverty in the west. 1857 - 1877. After that, India was regarded(by the west) as a poor country that needed a white man(the brits) to civilize.
By 1900, revolutions were brewing in the desh and by 1920s, it was ominous for the brits. Dear Bapuji enters the picture and delays the freedom by 2 decades.
I think the lesson is to expand the pie. All this reservation or no-reservation is also more or less the continuation of the same phenomenon. People are fighting because the pie is small and is not going to cover everyone's hunger. So, people are always at each other's throats. That allows the sarkaar to decide whom to empower how much. The sarkaar acts as a mai baap(or a referee) between various factions fighting with each other.
The real solution is not reservations and neither is the problem with having reservations. Reservations are an issue only because the pie is small. Once the pie is expanded and all people have enough opportunities, having or not having a reservation will become an irrelevant subject.