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Ravidass Deras and Social Protest: Making Sense of Dalit Consciousness in Punjab (India)

  • Ronki Ram
Abstract

This paper argues that Dalit consciousness in Punjab emerged against the backdrop of the teachings of Ravidass, an untouchable saint-poet of the North Indian Bhakti movement who presented a middle path between assimilation and radical separatism for the construction of a separate Dalit identity. Dera Sach Khand Ballan, one of the most popular Ravidass Deras in Punjab, played an important role in concretizing this path by chiseling the markers of a separate Dalit identity in the state. The author assesses the long-term implications of the newly emerged Dalit consciousness in Punjab for the deepening of democracy in India.

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