India recently celebrated the birth anniversary of revolutionary social reformer Savitribai Phule on January 3. On this occasion, Baudhkaro, a Dhamma musical band that strives to propagate the Ambedkarite-Buddhist sociopolitical and cultural ideas, released a song about Phule Wada, also known as Samata Bhoomi. Phule Wada, located in Pune’s Ganj Peth, was the house of Savitribai and Jotirao Phule, which now has been converted into a memorial and the government has given it a heritage status. The Satyashodhak spoke to Vruttant Manwatkar and Krittika Aveira about the song, Samata Bhoomi and the Phules.
The Satyashodhak: How did you come up with the idea for this song? What was the process of writing and producing it?
Vruttant and Krittika: First of all, we would like to express our gratitude to Tejas and The Satyashodhak for being appreciative of our work and engaging with our newest song, Samata Bhoomi.
A few months back, we visited the abode of Savitrimai and Jotiba Phule for the first time. It is then that we learned that the name of the place held extreme importance for progressive people — SAMATA BHOOMI.
We had always seen pictures of the place and heard the narratives of friends’ visits to this historic site. We, and we’re sure many like us, do not know its real name because we are conditioned to call it Phule Wada. We were literally awestruck to see that Phule Wada has such a beautiful name. We decided, or rather just knew, at that very moment, to create a song that would propagate basic values taught by the most ideal couple the motherland of India has ever produced while highlighting the nomenclature of Samata Bhoomi.
We decided to release this song as an ode to Savitrimai and Jotiba on the birth anniversary of Savitrimai, that is, January 3. The basic poetry of the song was written first. Then we worked simultaneously on the lyrics and composition of the song. We also needed a good video for the song and had given a public call for financial Dhamma Daan. However, that plan had to be scrapped and we needed to use old footage as we could not gather the finances.
As you can see, the song is a simple composition, including a quote from Jotiba himself. The song is written by Baudhkaro Vruttant and sung by Baudhkaros Krittika and Vruttant. The rhythmic accompaniment is given by Baudhkaro Vivek.
The Satyashodhak: What is the importance of Samata Bhoomi? Why should people visit it?
Vruttant and Krittika: We believe that Samata Bhoomi is the best name one could have given to Phule Wada and we thank those people who conceptualised and realised it. The name Samata Bhoomi symbolises discourse of Samata, which was the great revolutionary contribution of the Phules for the emancipation of many people, especially the marginalised people. The name Samata Bhoomi rightly identifies it as a part of the great movement of social democracy started by the Samyak Sambuddha.
Propagating the discourse of Samata is one of the most basic tasks of Baudhkaro. We are not in favour of having a discourse in the language of negatives. We do not name our emancipatory discourse as an ‘anti-’ (something) discourse. For example, anti-caste, anti-religion, anti-patriarchy, etc. Samata Bhoomi for us, thereby, is a very apt name for the beautiful abode of the Phules. It is the living (Jungian) archetype of one of the greatest revolutions of Truth. It is the absolute embodiment of the spirit which remains unshaken and unperturbed by its adversaries, marking the victory of Truth (satya) that is not tolerated by the Brahmanical, servile, supremacist, orthodox, complacent and conformist society. Samata Bhoomi is the celebration of the best values (mentioned clearly in the Jotiba’s Satya Dharma Pustak) which are necessary for the annihilation of bad and the establishment of good.
People must visit Samata Bhoomi in large numbers, especially on important occasions, just like they visit similar places like Diksha Bhoomi and Chaityabhoomi, which signify the discourse of Samata. The visit and celebration of Samata Bhoomi will surely deepen and enrich the egalitarian and progressive consciousness that is necessary to carry forward the caravan of Samata ahead.
The Satyashodhak: Why do you think the new generation should learn about Savitribai Phule and Jotirao Phule?
Vruttant and Krittika: Today we are witnessing a phase of cultural churning where there is an emergence and propagation of plethora of political narratives. It is no wonder that the new generation tends to get swayed away from the ideals of Samata, perhaps in the name of some “revolution” or another.
Also, the practice of celebrating caste and reducing great minds like Phules, Dr. Ambedkar, etc to their immediate caste identities is a regressive trend getting popular in the media, academics, politics etc.
Thankfully, the great ideals of Savitrimai and Jotiba serve as an anchor for the youth who seek role models for an ideal life. Savitrimai and Jotiba still stand tallest among many revolutionaries who lived a noble life while fulfilling the responsibilities of a married livelihood.
The morality of Satyadharma, established by this super-couple, has tremendous power that can guide the youth in the right direction to realise the goal of a society based on liberty, equality and fraternity. Babasaheb Ambedkar is an excellent example of a person who, in his generation, learned from Savitrimai and Jotiba Phule. Babasaheb claimed that he’s the sole follower of Jotiba Phule, a true Satyashodhak. Indeed, taking the movement of the Phules ahead, Babasaheb found the triple jewels — Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha — in his pursuit of Truth (Satya) by being a sincere Truthseeker (Satyashodhak).
The Satyashodhak: Can you tell us about the work of Baudhakaro and what new projects you are working on?
Vruttant and Krittika: Baudhkaro does the work of spreading Ambedakrite culture. Out objective is to disseminate the ideas of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Lord Buddha for the purpose of the annihilation of injustice and the establishment of Prabuddha Bharat.
We work on cultivating our minds and using our art to help others do the same through music, dance, visual art and articles. It’s the bit that we do for the spread of Dhamma as Babasaheb had imagined his followers would do — give 1/20th part of your wealth for the spread of Dhamma. As scholars and artists, we give our Dhamma Daan through our work by using our resources in order to create a Prabuddha Bharat.
Currently, Baudhkaro holds weekly study sessions for its members. Outside of that, we conduct monthly Purnima Dhamma Charchas on our social pages wherein we discuss the importance of Purnimas (or full moon) in the propagation of Dhamma, Buddhist texts, events in the Ambedkarite culture and current events that need to be addressed, with a little help from music and lots of help from Babasaheb’s speeches and writings.
Taxi Blue, Naya Rashtra Geet, Samman Geet, Ujiyara Geet, etc are a few important contributions of Baudhkaro to the movement of social democracy. The celebration of the Foundation Day of Ambedkarite Movement (May 31) and Samata Rath (Dhamma Chakka Pavattan Day Celebration) are the flagship events of Baudhkaro. One can find the moral-institutional structure of Baudhkaro in the Baudhkaro Manifesto, available at our website.