My ‘Political’ Poetry – Namdeo Dhasal

*This text has been reconstructed by Dilip Chitra from and interview with Namdeo Dhasal by Marathi poets Satish Kaleskar and Pradnya Lockhande in the Marathi literary journal Anushtubh, July – August 1997.

I do not differentiate between political poetry and non-political poetry, I have been criticised by many. Whenever I find the time I read what my critics write. However it does not affect me, I understand from the criticism that the literary establishment such as this, finds unacceptable only poetry that deals with the political and social processes of our life. Our time are such that we have to move on, leaving the establishment in it’s own fix.

Poems in Moorkha Mhataryane Dinga Halavile (The Stupid Old Man Moved Mountains) have been criticised and the critics say Namdeo Dhasla is a political propagandist poet. I do not think so. That collection has poems on one’s beloved own wife, one’s aunt anyone’s mother. They capture the spirit of a period and I am happy I could write poems of this kind as well.

The poem on Indira Ghandi in the collection Priyadarshini is an ode. Every word in that poem bears the weight of responsibility. I am a commited person and I am constantly involved in political activity. However, during these activities, I write poem too. On the other hand, if I read a book like Dialectic Materialism I enjoy it as though it were a poem. Others become serious when they read such a book. They are stunned I am inspired to write a poem.

The poems in Moorkha Mhataryane Dongar Halavile were written during a period when the organisation I founded was in full form and I was reading a lot of Marxist literature. The poems in that collection reflect my life in that period. They may be called political or non-political. I have no such differences in mind. At any given moment of my life, whatever springs up from my mind and takes a spontaneous verbal form becomes a poem for me. My so-called political poems belong to that rich period of my life when Dalit Panther was on the right track. That is where the force in those poems comes from.

When that book came out, our so-called aesthetes were scandalised. I have never paid any heed to the section of that class of critics. First, genuine literary critics and interpreters do not exist in Marathi. They never did even in the past. Those who were known as literary critics were on the side of our enemies. Literary criticism and interpretation in Marathi are lacking in rich awareness.

One does not boast about ones poetry after having written it. One does not regard the writing of poetry as anything other than the indivisible part of one’s daily life – such as breaking bread. It is just as natural as eating. Therefore, one does not need to keep scratching in search of themes and reasons.

It is for these reasons that I did not take part in and shoddy literary discussion or cheap gossip. I am not a narcissist to be in such love with my own creative process. I have a mission in life and that is to oppose all forma of exploitation – economic, social, cultural. My poetry is a product of my spontaneous commitment to my mission. What I write is spontaneous, natural. I make no compromise there.

In the period we were passing through, Indira Ghandi was a heroine to me in the international context and in the political situation in India. Then I wrote the poem Priyadarshihi. I am captured intuitively the future I felt she represented and she met an end such as I had foreseen, It was one’s vision that the poem had expressed. Priyadarshini. was written in the style of the Bible. I solved the problem of its style by choosing that register because I regard all scriptures as poetry. Priyadarshini. in my view is a powerful ode and I do not think there is any other poem to equal it written on a political figure. However, I should not praise my own work.

Two Poems of Namdeo Dhasal Their Eternal Pity & Now Now

We love to hear back from you ...