Vision of the Project

A scrutiny of cultural resources of marginalised communities revealed that there is a big role of popular saint poets of the medieval period of India in constructing the notion of social justice among marginalized communities of north India. In the oral tradition of marginalised communities popular saint poets have created their own aesthetics which often goes against the injunctions of the traditional social system and mainstream culture. The cultural narratives composed by them caused a furor in the society and culture existing at that time and instigated a social revolution. Through these new cultural narratives they tried to change the scenario of society by inducing turbulence in the prevailing social order. Although initially their efforts were rejected by labeling them rustic and culturally corrupt, they introduced a whole new lexicon in their poetry that was replete with community dialect, slang and street language. The impact of this cultural onslaught was that the dominant section was also forced to refashion the culture held sacrosanct by it for so many years because of its subversion by the newly formed cultural narratives. The Bhakti saint poets also played quintessential roles in the creation of an alternative dissenting culture among marginalized groups like the dalits and tribals as the issues of egalitarianism and social justice on which all their discourses were based were greatly relevant to these communities that had been facing gross exploitation and social injustice by the upper castes for many centuries. It is remarkable that all these saints belonged to the lower castes and were poor and illiterate and had also faced the same kind of oppression which their other caste members suffered but they had the courage to overthrow all the imposed identities which compelled the people of their communities to suffer. The critical consciousness that developed in them as a result of their sufferings became an essential component of their cultural narratives. Alongside the consciousness that was generated through these narratives had a deep impact on the social psyche of the marginalized communities as it infused the notions of social dignity within the members of these communities.

The cultural narratives created during the Bhakti period laid the foundation of dalit consciousness in north India which further took a radical form in the modern period and is increasingly developing as an integral component for the dalits to claim space in the mainstream public discursive sphere in the contemporary period.